23/05/14 – 26/05/14
– Linear Fisheries has always been one of my favourite day ticket waters that offers everything from lovely big dark carp to enormous tench, roach, pike and bream. Hardwick and Smiths Pool is my preferred lake on the complex and although it doesn’t contain the number of large carp that St Johns and Manor contain it does have a healthy stock of gigantic tench. I had meticulously planned a long session on the Oxfordshire water specifically to target the late Spring tench in hope of catching a spawn bound double however when I arrived I was informed by one angler that they had spawned last week. With some slight disappointment I completed my routine walk around the lake gathering information on catches from each angler in hope of locating the fish. It didn’t take long before I found a bay where I was treated to a firework display of tench and carp throwing themselves from the water. Access to this area was also ideal with a double swim tucked away at the end of the lake and as my mate Danny was arriving tomorrow I quickly jumped in.
I had planned the session carefully and decided to use my carp rods because I knew that I would have a good chance of hooking a carp on the scaled down tactics that I had opted for. The rigs were simple straight forward hair rigs in conjunction with a lead clip system allowing me to dump the lead should a fish bury itself in a weed bed. I used the Maggot T rig complete with a size 10 rapter hooked onto a mesh PVA bag filled with dead maggots cast to showing fish every three to four hours. I must have witnessed over eighty shows from tench and carp within two hours of watching the rods and the fish seemed to be spread all over the large bay making it difficult to choose and area to fish.
My rods were out and I was now fishing but I wasn’t to happy with the position of my left rod because the fish were now showing closer in and so I reeled in and recast to the next fish that poked its head out the crystal clear water. As I walked back to the shelter my alarm sounded and the rod screamed into a frenzy with line peeling of by the second. I picked it up and felt a heavy resistance followed by a kick that ignited another furious run. The fish must have taken more then eighty yards of line on this powerful surge before reaching the sanctuary of a thick weed bed. After a good ten minutes the fish confirmed it was still hooked by a kick from its tail and then another powerful run straight into another weed bed. After some constant pressure I decided to slack the line and see if the fish would swim out. I was confident that I had a good hook hold with the barbed raptor hooks I was using. Suddenly out of the blue my other rod whipped around and I was once again attached to an angry carp. This time however it was a small stockie that I originally thought was a huge tench. Once safely in the net my other rod began to bend again and on picking up the rod I could clearly tell that the fish had freed itself from the weed. After a long rest being buried in a thick weed bed the fish was full of power and took me around the lake for over ten minutes. By now I am in the water up to my waist in my jeans and soaking wet. Again the fish found a weed bed and the battle stopped for another five minutes or so until I manage to get her moving once more. It had now been over half an hour since the battle began and she still wasn’t ready for the net. Eventually I managed to get her under control to the
top of the water and all I had to do now was slip the net under her large apple slice scales. I got in a right mess dropping the rod and having to scoop the fish in the net with both hands. At last she was mine and I knew she was a stunner no matter what weight the Rubens stated.
The fish was an absolute stunner with huge linear scales all down one side and a half broken linear on the other. Dark black shoulders and a huge paddle tail complimented the chestnut flanks of this old warrior. She weighed in at 29lb 2oz but the weight wasn’t important to me but more so was the beauty of the fish and the battle that we had both fought. This mirror was a new PB and the bailiff confirmed was one of the older carp in the lake that usually comes out between 29lb and 33lb. She was slightly down in weight but this was not important. I had only been fishing for three hours and had caught two carp.
The fish continued to show regularly throughout the session and the next morning I managed another take that left me tangled in a weed bed minus the fish. I awoke at 3.30am and checked out the water in hope of locating the fish. They were showing at range and so I changed my lead from 1 1/2 to 3oz and cast to the horizon. I had the take within half an hour but it dint take long for the fish to rid my small tench hook. At 2pm my right had rod signalled a take and I bent into a fish that immediately came to the surface. I used this to my advantage and gave it some stick not allowing it to find the weed bed. The fight was over quickly and I had originally thought I had caught my target tench but it turned out to be a carp. This was becoming a strange tench session. The fish weighed 20lb 12oz and was fat with spawn. It was another great looking fish with a two tone flank and great big scales creating a half linear.
My mate Danny came down and we got all the rods out all with the same rigs and tactics. Danny managed three carp to 20lb and it was great to have someone around when fishing which for me is a rare moment. Danny went to the shops to grab some essentials and on his return informed me he had seen Jan Porter in the car park. Jan Porter for who doesn’t know is a former famous match angler that turned his attention to specimen fishing. I used to watch him co-present with Matt Hayes on Total Fishing in the late 90s. Luckily for me he decided to set up in the swim opposite and I took this chance to walk around and have a chat. I am please to say that Jan is an absolute diamond and a genuinely nice bloke. He was really chatty and it was great to discuss his work with Mick Brown and Matt Hayes and meet the man himself.
The session continued and I managed to lose around four carp some of which seemed good fish but due to the scaled down tactics that I was using it was inevitable that some were going to escape. After losing these fish I moved into a swim opposite for the final night. I had seen one lad land no less then seven fish in a day from this swim and so moved in on his departure. The night passed uneventful and I couldn’t manage a take. The rain decided to fall and blow into my brolly soaking me in the process and I was really down so ordered a curry to cheer myself up. It went down a treat and I settled in for the night. The session ended and I was pleased to get home and see the kids.