Any follower of this blog will know that I haven’t always had the most success with Carp. Whilst Dan has had numerous twenties the elusive bottom feeder has evaded me on many occasion include more than a “few that got away”; well that was all about to change on our most recent trip to Hardwick/Smiths Lake in Oxfordshire.
Hardwick/Smiths Lake is a great gravel pit holding Carp to 40lb, tench to 10lb and Roach to 3lb 15oz! The gravel pit really does hold some cracking fish and offers anglers the opportunity to target a whole variety of species, something which both Daniel and I enjoy. In fact the Lake has smiled upon both Dan and I on a couple of occasions before with Dan netting a 2lb Roach and myself bagging a stunning 8lb Tench.
Our bi-annual trip to the lake had been delayed due to work commitments and therefore pushed back to late September. We arrived at the lake early Thursday morning and began to search the lake for signs of fish. After an hour or so we decided our best option would be to setup on the left hand spit. This swim gave access to both the Hardwick and Smiths sections of the Lake and both the shallows and deeper water. The weather was sweltering which made the long walk to the swim all the more gruelling but this swim would provide us with the best chance of capturing a Carp and so we made our way around the lake. We setup all rods on conventional Chod rigs fishing high visibility hook baits with a few freebies scattered around for good measure. We then sat back with a cold beer and started to watch the water hoping that a Carp would be tempted into our trap.
After a couple of hours we were already contemplating changing tactics due to the high temperature and sightings of moving fish on the water. However within two hours Dan’s baitrunner leapt into action and we were into our first fish of the session. After a short fight the fish was ready for the net, I jumped in and netted her well away from the shallows of the swim. The fish was a stunner, hitting 22lb! We celebrated Dan’s catch that evening with a cold beer and BBQ (a theme of this trip) and set the rods up for the evening. After our earlier success we decided to stick with the Chod rigs on all rods with the exception of my left hand rod, which was setup on popup plastic corn in the hope of tempting a Tench.
As night crept in my bite alarm sounded and I ran to my rod. Straight away I knew the fish on the end was not the Tench, but what was it? As the fish came to the surface and into the net both Dan and I looked at each other in shear stunned disbelief, surely not, we thought as the giant Roach stared back at us! The fish weighed in at a staggering 2lb 8oz, but all was not as it seemed! Both Dan and I knew that we would have to perform the “Roach test”; the test consists of checking the position of the dorsal fin and more importantly the mouth. Although this is not a foolproof test we both feel this suffices and if all adds up then we are happy to call it a Roach. Unfortunately this beautiful fish failed the test with the top lip protruding the bottom and therefore the fish was declared a Roach/Bream hybrid but nevertheless a fantastic creature.
The next two days past and both Dan and I decided a change of tactics was required. We decided to stay in our swim from two reasons, the first being we had caught from the swim two days prior and the second being that we were both lazy! We did however opted to put two rods out on Zigs, leaving our third rod on the trusty Chod rig.
As the early afternoon set-in on day four and the sum beamed down on the lake my right third rod leapt into action and I was into my first Hardwick Carp. The fish didn’t put up much of a fight, which both Dan and I put down to the hot conditions but nevertheless what a stunner she was! Weighing in at twenty four pounds she was my first twenty and what a fish to catch. Dan and I were chuffed, I had caught my first twenty pounder and there was only one-way to celebrate! So out came another cold beer and we sat back to enjoy. However before we had time to drink our beer Dan’s rod now jumped into action and this fish definitely gave a fight! After playing the fish for a few minutes I managed to net her about 5 yards out in deeper water, much to Dan’s relief. The fish again was a corker, with dark markings and a massive paddle of a tail. She weighed in at twenty five pounds and capped off what had been a fantastic four days fishing culminating in three beautiful Hardwick carp of twenty two, twenty four and twenty five pounds.