Carp Fishing At Linear - Richard Howland

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Carp Fishing At Linear - Richard Howland

Back at the start of May I accompanied good friend Darren Nokes, whose name you might recognise from Dovetail Games Euro Fishing, on a 36hr trip to Linear Fisheries, near Oxford. We had our pick of the lakes but, after a little research, we set our minds on Oxlease.

Our trip was planned for a Tuesday, so on the Sunday before I set to work prepping my bait of choice: 4kg of Advanta Pineapple and Coconut which I chopped with the Korda cutter and soaked in a mix of pond water and flavouring. I always try and prepare my baits this way, a day or two before my session, as it softens up the baits nicely making them perfect to use in a spod mix.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a serial over-packer, and Darren is just the same, so come 5am Tuesday we had loaded the car roof with all our tackle and just about enough bait to feed the entire complex!

7 The weekend before we were due to arrive had been the hottest of the year so far, with temperatures in the high 20s. We were rightly concerned and, upon arrival, it was clear to see that the fish had things other than feeding in mind – several areas of the lakes were roped off for spawning fish. The warm weather had also brought out those anglers who like to hibernate over the winter and our lake of choice was packed out. We took the time to scout out the other lakes and, after a brief chat with site manager Chris, we settled on Hardwick Lake. Chris informed us that it had been fishing well and wasn’t anywhere near as busy as the other lakes on the complex. I suspected this was because Hardwick could be a tricky lake to fish at times – it was originally two separate lakes divided by a small strip of land. This strip now has a small, 30yrd, section dug out, allowing fish to move between the two lakes, and the lake offers lots of different depths, gravel bars, and weed. Darren and I were up for the challenge, though, and began our walk around the lake to try and find two swims close enough together to allow us to have a good catch up whilst we waited for bites.

We had a chat to a couple of anglers who were already set up, one of whom informed us that he’d got a 34lb common and a 10lb tench in the past few days at a spot near a pair of swims. We placed down our buckets to guard our territory and took the long way back to the car, keeping an eye out for any movement. Thank goodness we did, as we spotted two fish pop their heads up a little way from our original choice of swims. We hurried back, moved our buckets onto the promising area, and dashed off to get our gear.

With a car fit to burst I was grateful that I’d managed to squeeze in my Carporter! It’s amazing how much gear you need, even for a short 36hr session. Back at the swims we set to work erecting the bivvies. I always make this my first job on the bank, no matter how eager I am to get my rods out. I got caught out by a torrential downpour a number of years ago in France, drenching me and all my gear – being cold and damp for a week meant I learnt my lesson quickly!

4 As soon as all our gear was safely undercover we got out the marker floats and looked for areas that the fish might feed in that weren’t too weedy! We found a nice spot between 17 and 18 wraps out at the back of a weed bed where the lake bed came up from 20ft to 13ft.

My preparation came to the fore as I put out my spod mix. I’ve had great success with the Advanta Pineapple and Coconut boilies over the past months and between us Darren and I put out around 50 spombs of mix! We both cast the rods out to three different distances: the first at 18 wraps, the second at 17.5, and the third at 17.

I had begun to get to work tying rigs when I heard a shout from Darren. He was stood up, pointing at my rods, and waving a receiver in the air. I remembered that, during our setup, I had taken my receiver to his swim! I looked to my rods and saw that the right one was peeling off line at a steady pace. Lifting the rod and setting the hook, I was into my first Linear fish. After a short battle Darren did the honours with the net. My first carp from Hardwick Lake went to 20lb 8oz, not a bad start. With the photos done we returned the fish back to its watery home and sorted the rod out.

6 I sharpened off the hook and popped another Advanta boilie onto the hair before casting out to the same spot – placing another 10 spombs over the top for good measure. The next few hours passed uneventfully, with only the thought of dinner on our minds, although Darren was getting lots of line bites and kept running out in the rain only for it to stop before he could strike the rod.

We enjoyed a lovely takeaway from one of the firms who distributes their leaflets to the lake and, at around 8.30, I was deep in conversation with Darren when he pointed out that my right hand rod was off again! Slipping in the mud down the bank, I was into my second Hardwick fish. Darren helped out with the other two rods as the fish decided to go under this one, over that one, but we eventually had it in the net. With the scales going round to 17lb 2oz, I was more than happy – not as big as the first fish but just as pretty. With no more action we both turned in for the night, as it had been a very long day and the rain was back.

5 It was a miserable night, with the rain pouring from the sky – so much so that I felt rather lucky that I didn’t get a take! The rain was still falling when day broke, although I was able to enjoy the sight of two young cygnets wandering around the bank before returning to the safety of the water. It’s those special moments that remind me that angling is about so much more than fishing. After a few moments of peace I decided it was high time for a brew, so I walked over to Darren’s swim to borrow a splash of water.

As I neared his rods I noticed the left hand indicator was moving up and down, and the line going into the water was over the other two rods. I shouted to Darren who emerged from his bivvy bleary eyed, saying he’d been getting what he thought were line bites for about an hour. Striking the rod and lifting into the fish, it was apparent that the fish had picked the bait up and just kited right not taking any line. Luckily it hadn’t picked up any of the other rods, and he managed to get it all the way back, where it decided to go under a tree to his right. The fish had gone through a snag, as it was up on the surface but would not come any closer, and was just out of landing net reach. The next time the fish went down and Darren pulled it back up; the rig came up hanging on a branch. The fish was gone.

We baited up the area again and recast before we cooked breakfast. The rest of the day was spent in and out of our bivvies as the rain came and went. When the rain did eventually stop we had to start thinking about getting things dry in time to pack up. However, the line bites had started again on Darren’s rods and we decided to both bring a rod in closer, away from the baited area, to try to intercept a fish before we had to pack the gear away.

2 It was about 5pm and Darren was in the middle of answering a call from nature when the rod he’d moved experienced such a violent take that it was ripped out of the rests! Luckily the reel was still able to spin or else he would have lost the rod and the fish with it! Darren legged it back, still pulling his zip up as it grabbed his rod. Once I’d stopped laughing I managed to help him land his first carp from the lake. Again it was a lovely looking fish, and on the scales went 24lb. The biggest fish of the session meant that Darren was one very happy angler! Photos done we put her back and decided to put the kettle on to celebrate. While standing in my swim with a cup of coffee and reflecting on our trip, and how much we had enjoyed it despite the rain, my right hand rod was off again. Darren kindly took my cup so I could strike the rod and play the fish.

Without too much fuss the fish was in the safety of the net. At 15lb 3oz it was the smallest fish, but by a long way by far the prettiest. Size isn’t always important when you catch a fish like that. It was soon time to start loading the car for the long drive home. We would have loved to stay another night but we had with work in the morning. Besides which, explaining to the good lady at home that we were not coming back was out of the question!

Until next time, thank you Linear fisheries for a very enjoyable 36 hours.

Richard Howland

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