Tag: carp

Hampstead carp and tench

There was a moment of drama during the recent school tuition day on Hampstead Heath, when one of the pupils connected with a large fish which eventually broke away. The general consensus was that it was probably a tench – one of my favourite species.

A few days later I came back at daybreak to try and catch one. It was warm, overcast and still:

Highgate boating pond

Nothing happened for a couple of hours, except that twice I saw large tench roll silently right over my bait. They have a way of smoothly breaking the surface with barely a ripple. As you can imagine this kept me in a state of tense expectation, but my float remained motionless.

In a shallow corner of the lake not far away, I could see signs of life – boils and splashes at the surface. I crept in quietly with my gear and after checking the depth, cast in with a piece of bread set to fish on the bottom. As a couple more fish showed I could see that they were carp, but I was still hopeful of a tench.

The float shot under and the rod started bending round before I could pick it up. When I did, there was a massive surge of power. I was only using a 4lb hook length so I had to just let it run at first. It took a few minutes to get it in the net, with the help of a mate who had turned up to fish just before – a 21lb carp:

Hampstead carp

A few days later I gave it another go. It was a misty morning:

Misty lake

I was standing there in the half light deciding where to fish, when a tench rolled right in front of me. That made my mind up for me, and I placed my bait in the exact spot where the tench had been.

An hour later, the float lifted and twitched before disappearing. A tench of 6lb 9oz was responsible – a handsome fish with its olive scales and bluish-black fins:

Hampstead tench

Soon after that, the rising sun started to burn off the mist and light up the far bank of the lake. Eventually its rays crept round to my corner, and I was glad of their warmth after the chill of the early morning.

Early morning sun on the lake

Pond life

A rather grey and rainy day found me exploring a small pond at Rib Valley for the first time. I took a waggler rod and maggots to test the small fish potential, plus a heavier outfit in case of carp.

The pond has a fringe of reeds along the far side:

Rib Valley pond

Also some beds of lilies:

Lily pads

The maggot rod close to the lilies got off to a flying start with a constant stream of fairly small but brightly coloured rudd:

Rudd

I catapulted a few bits of bread out to float on the surface, hoping that this might attract the larger rudd. Some landed amongst the reeds, where after twenty minutes or so, gentle movements at the surface indicated that something was taking an interest. Watching more carefully, I could see a carp bumping and sucking at the bread. Occasionally it would gently take a piece, but it was cautious – never venturing out from the reeds – and it seemed reluctant to break the surface.

On my heavier rod I rigged up another float rig which would allow me to present bread either floating at the surface or sinking slowly. After a few attempts I landed it right amongst the reeds, with my bait floating in a small gap. The surface rocked gently as the carp approached, then there was a subtle swirl as it took the bait, the rod already bending as I picked it up. Only about 3 pounds, but I was glad of it:

Common carp

After that I went back to the maggot rod, throwing in some maggots and a few grains of sweetcorn with each cast to try and attract some larger fish. This seemed to work as the rudd were getting bigger, especially when I used a piece of corn as bait:

Large rudd

Sweetcorn also produced a couple more small carp:

Small carp
Head of common carp

It had been an enjoyable and interesting few hours.

Westmill carp

Back on Westmill Lake for an afternoon method feeder session. I was quite optimistic because the last few days had seen stable, mild, overcast conditions with a south-west breeze. Tree work over the winter had left the banks looking rather barren, but they would green over soon enough:

Westmill Lake

In one spot, a small group of carp was holding at the surface, tempting me into a few chucks with float tackle. I hooked one almost immediately which surged off strongly, putting a good bend in the rod, before coming adrift. The rest disappeared after that so I went back to the original plan.

It took about five minutes after my first cast with the feeder for the quivertip to start jangling. A bream was responsible:

Bream on method feeder

Three more bream followed in quick succession, but bites then dried up as though someone had flicked a switch. Twenty minutes later, a savage pull signalled the arrival of what was obviously a carp. It put up strong resistance, making several long runs that had me checking the drag, before finally coming ashore. Probably about 8-10 pounds:

Westmill carp

Another, smaller carp followed quickly. There then followed a long period when the quivertip was twitching and jumping every ten minutes or so, but never pulling round convincingly. Thinking that the fish were shying off the rig, I switched to waggler float again for a more subtle presentation, with less resistance to a taking fish. It sailed off straight away, bringing another bream:

Bream on float gear

Apparently I had not cracked the problem though. The float kept dipping sharply, then reappearing, with nothing to really strike at. This went on for an hour or so, during which I kept on scaling down the tackle. Eventually I was on a single maggot on a size 18 hook. As the light went, I got a rod-bending bite on this, bringing the third carp of the day:

Carp on float tackle

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