Sunday, 19 August 2018

The winds of change

I’d been working at Carp-Talk magazine for 24 years, since the very first issue back in 1994. It then all changed in the middle of June 2018 when sadly the last issue hit the shelves. It was a sad time as I had many great memories of working there. However, as the saying goes, nothing lasts forever, so when the opportunity arose to start work for the growing Avid Carp brand it came at exactly the right time. It was a full-time position in the dream job as a full-time carp angler. Sadly it meant I had to drop my consultancy with Nash tackle and bait which had lasted for many years. I was sorry to leave the brand but we parted on good terms.
As luck would have it there had been a cancellation on Weston Park in the boathouse swims exactly when I had to make my first visit to the Avid office, at the beginning of August. It couldn’t have fallen any better as Weston Park is only down the road from Telford where Avid is based. A quick call to the RH Fisheries office saw me take the Weston cancellation and the next minute I was on-route to one of my favourite venues.
It was to be my second visit to Weston this year. I absolutely love the place. Not only is it set in the most picturesque of surroundings, it is well run with an awesome stock of carp. I’d done really well on my first trip, catching plenty of fish to 35lb 8oz, which turned out to be one of the biggest mirrors in the lake.  I’ve fished there quite a few times now, each year in the boathouse swims in June. One thing I’d noticed over the years was how a pattern was developing. I’d do really well for the first 48 hours, catching multiple fish from the far margin, including some bigguns, before the action tapered off. I knew the procedure well, so set about lathering the far treeline margin with bait as soon as I arrived.
I’d done really well on Nashbait over the last few years, but this trip saw me with a new bait sponsor too. At the same time as joining Avid I’d joined DNA Baits, another rapidly growing company which has produced some excellent catches over the last few years. Based not far from where I live in Yorkshire, I’d been to the factory on the morning of my Weston trip and collected some of their big fish bait SLK (which stands for Shrimp, Liver, Krill). It smelt really good and although I knew it would catch fish, I needed weaning off the confidence I’d built up with Nashbait.
Thankfully I didn’t need to wait long as within half an hour of the rods being cast out I was into a Weston mirror. It was an old wrinkly mid-twenty which looked as old as some of the trees surrounding the banks. Weston is a simply stunning place, with ancient history all around.
The fish was just the start I needed to boost my confidence in SLK. Another followed a short while later, and going into the night I knew there was more to follow. It really was kicking off, just like it always did during the first few hours of being at the lake. The Weston fish are some of the biggest boilie munchers I know, but accurate casting is always a key too. My rigs had to be as tight to the far margin trees as I could get them or I’d be wasting a rod. Too short and they’d be falling into thick blanket weed which caused havoc with presentation. Tighter in was clear from fish activity as they passed through the swim, moving from one side of the lake to the other.
By morning I’d landed ten fish to almost 30lb. The biggest was a common of 28lb. Although I’d caught a lot of thirties from the venue before, I’d yet to have a common over thirty. I’d lost count of how many I’d had around the 28lb mark, and I’d even had two that had fallen only an ounce short at 29lb 15oz. I dearly wanted a thirty common from there as I knew there were quite a few in the lake.
I kept the bait going out regularly along the far margin, landing another couple of twenties before last light on my second day. I’d already gone through 10kg in the first 24 hours. The second night turned out to be a lot quieter than the first, with only a couple of fish landed. However, at first light it really kicked off when a group came through the swim that seemed to be eating everything in their way. At one point I had all three rods out of the water with fish in nets and slings! Once I’d done the photos and redone them all, I then had two fish on at the same time, including the one I’d come for, a 31lb common! This was followed by a mid-twenty mirror, and just when I’d finished the pictures, my final rod trundled off with one of the most prized carp in the lake, the Dark Mirror looking stunning at 30lb.
I’d landed twenty fish in two nights. They’d all come on the 25lb Captive hooklink which I’d stripped to the inner core and tied knotless knot style to size 6 hooks, finished off with line aligners – the same style rigs I’d used for over twenty years but with different components. On the hair I’d gone with 22mm bottom baits straight from the bag, baiting with a mix of 18mm and 22mm freebies.
It turned out to be the perfect day to be starting work for Avid. I was due at the office for 3.30pm and what a way to be arriving, smelling of carp! The dream job with a dream catch, and a new chapter was now open in my carping career.