We all love to walk our local Rivers, we all say to ourselves ‘im going to have a go on here’ but when it comes down to it we never get around to doing it. The questions in our heads start… Is there carp in my stretch, how do I fish it, where do I start, a whole host of things to dull the dream! But once we commit and hit into our first River Carp, dare I say ‘Wild’ Carp, you are more hooked than the Carp itself pulling on your line. The rush is immense not knowing what it is and how big, although I will add now that the size is always irrelevant with River fish apart from my one special exception where the size really did matter.
It was early on in 2014, my previous year I had apparently been noticed through the wonderful Facebook for some of my captures and I had a few people offer bait and tackle in return for some captures of these special fish, i'm a really old skool angler so although the privilege of saving £££ was fairly awesome my fishing wouldn’t feel right if I sold my soul. I declined and moved on making plans for the coming year, to start with I will walk the banks as much as possible planning, planning and then a bit more planning. I would try to be those Carp in the vast River that suffers more highs and lows than a hookers knickers, thinking how I presume they would think and then introducing bait when I felt I was onto something. At this point I received a message from Infusion Baits
who cut to the chase and offered Bait for me to use, at first my feelings were the same as the other others, thanks but no thanks, nothing personal but its who I am. They were cool with that and we shared a few messages talking about how River carping can be. At this point my head grew stronger than my heart and I asked about their baits, as soon as The Snatch was described to me I felt I at least needed to see a sample, that was sorted and I was very pleasantly surprised when it smelt like Old Grannies Perfume, this was a clever bait that was designed for the Carp and not the angler, I liked this and struck a deal. Enough about the bait though as this is purely about the Fish and the Fishing, however I felt I needed to explain my baiting arrangements to give a better picture.
So , 2014, my plans are made, bait sorted, boilies and particle laced with aniseed…. And then some Pellets! All this excitement is unbearable but in the back of my mind is the dreaded Closed season, from past years I know that just as I get my plan hatched we start the shut down, what a bummer every year but essential I believe. This year i'm prepared for it, I locate them and just feed them, yes it makes it borderline insane but I know I got them when they keep returning, I can watch them feed and learn about each and every fish that visits me, this I feel made all the future captures very well earnt.
I have settled on a section and have found a submerged island around 7m x 4m in size, this is covered for a lot of the winter and appears on low water through the warmer months, shallow margins dropping down to 8-9ft gave me plenty of options and a lot of water to go at and watch.
I get down for my usual checks this on day in May, I hear some commotion, a man is really shouting in my direction, maybe he needs help but he looks more angry than anything, maybe he heard im on Infusion and he is a Mainline boy, who knows so I continue but he makes his way over and when he gets close is ranting that its closed season…. Oh dear so it is, my predicament is now do I politely tell him to do one, do I respect he is simply enforcing an excellent rule, I chose to just lift my marker float out of the water and explain what it was and he then found it funny, I can see this year being fun on the bank.
We’re approaching the end of May and things are coming together nicely, the work i'm putting in is unreal, carrying my inflatable boat and motor to my spot then cruising the area to drop bait and monitor activity, the pellet and particle were gone from the start, the smaller Roach and Chub and even some Barbel were on it and smashing my spots to bits, I noticed the boilies were going too but not as quick and never any signs as to who was having them, I know it’s the carp but as i'm doing this routine every 3 days on average I need to figure when and how quickly they are getting on it. I move towards one of my spots and there we have it bang to rights are two carp having their fill, they didn’t take long to do the off and I went away happy that day. We now have around 16 days to go until we can officially fish, this is going to drag but I know this year will be my year, the work was there, the carp were now there and I was 100% going to be there!!
We finally hit the 15th June, this was it, let's have them….. gear all loaded, both dogs in tow and were off, the walk is a killer but like it all we know we have to do it, get to my spot and my smile is huge then it just drops and a frown appears.. Nooooooooo!!! I don’t believe it after all this hard work I have forgot my bait, what an absolute Goon. I race back and collect the bait, then do it all again with a heavy head, the excitement is still there hugely but what a passion killer. Take two, we get back and set up, that’s it now for the bad luck surely? The night passes without so much as a beep, nothing too unusual though as River Carp can be very nomadic and then it happens at 6.30am the Chain Ferry comes through my swim, what?? All my baiting was done in the evenings so I massively miscalculated this one!! What to do, I have put in so much work to this swim and have some nice fish visiting but this changes everything. I decide its too much and revert back to some areas from last year, I know them well and know how to catch from them, a stretch between Henly and Hurly and one that had done me some nice fish.
I cant just get over my wasted time and it affects the way i'm fishing, thinking about what could have been instead of taking whats now in front of me, snap out of it I tell myself…. That’s it, i'm back in the game and I now take control, i'm catching a lot of Chub and Barbel, both of very large and impressive sizes but this is not what had happened previous years. Was something wrong, was the bait wrong?
Carp moved and other species flooded the area? What started as my biggest ever year with such confidence was quickly turning into a disaster, i'm considering getting onto Ebay for some Golf clubs when my buzzer melts away, bang, im on it and its pulling hard, a short but hard fight results in a stunning upper double Leather in my net, this was the changing point, such a regular carp but one that changed my year. Confidence grew again and shortly after another but this one was a mutant, one eye and looked like he had a big story to tell.
I only ever fish two rods on the Rivers and this is my choice due to the Crazy fights the Carp put up, I cannot lose another carp due to being greedy with rods, one is placed out 70 yards to a lovely area where some gravel meets a big weed bed and the other is placed into the main flow, not usual for me but this was seeming right. Baits deployed and we sit back, me and my two dogs. We arrive mostly in the dark to avoid detection and its how we like it although it makes things tricky you will soon get used to it and hit your spots time and time again.
We have only done a few nights and with a couple of Carp under my belt what was heading towards disaster is now feeling right, I fall asleep happy and then the next I know its early morning, my dogs go flying into the air and my alarm is raging, i'm on it before I have realised what is happening, we have a great ability as Carpers to be able to do that don’t you think? I hit into a dead weight, this is the usual as they use the flow to pull back but what was different was this fish has risen up to the top and I have around 80 yards of line clear of the water and im asking myself ‘whats all this about then’? , line starts clicking off the clutch slowly and i'm starting to think this could be one of the good fish in here, maybe a 30lb+ to reward me for all my failed work and bad luck, how nice would that be?
The fight is a good one, no crazy runs just pure strength and i'm getting excited, just as I think its about to surface I grab my net and bosh its away to my left, its heading for a tree and im worried, I got to act fast and I manage to turn it and it heads back out into the river. 10 minutes later I manage to net my prize which is clearly a good fish, i'm happy with any fish so I just pin the net down to sort my camera for pictures and my underwater camera for the return filming. A quick call to my mate to say I got something special, i'm messing with him saying ‘40s club this dude’… I go back to get the fish out for the pics and I struggle to lift it, my 30 just got real big… out she comes onto the mat and I part the net, oh my days this fish blew me away, i'm getting some serious rush right now, this fish is big, very big and no matter what i;m thinking 40 not 30. This fish needed weighing as if I put it back I would always wonder how big? Up she goes and a weight of 43lb is taken and my head is gone, come on Katch, shake yourself man, a quick second and i'm back with it, sort the pictures and get her back safely
All my efforts have now been rewarded, I remember why I put myself through such hell and discomfort and my Love for the River is stronger than ever before, new targets need to be made and a spot of Canal Carping too I think.
Word soon gets round about my capture and talk of it being a River record starts up, it may be I don’t know, that doesn’t matter to me, one thing for sure is that fish is special and if you can build the confidence to tackle your local Rivers then you too could be feeling the way I did that day. The fish can travel such distances through locks and Marina’s and for what, do they know what and where they are going? I'm still very hooked on my River Carping and I hope that if you follow my Facebook page Katch Bullet River Adventures you too will have a go and share your captures with us all!