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17/05/24

TERRY BARRET – DAYS ONLY

by JAG JOURNAL

A few years back now I was coming to the end of my time on the North Met, over in the Lea Valley. I was a good few seasons in and was just starting to struggle stringing regular trips together, and if I’m being honest, my drive to get there and put the effort into it was dwindling. My wife and I had not long had our second daughter and my time was better spent at home – rightly so! Working shifts as a fireman involved working nights twice a week, so even squeezing in the odd nights fishing becomes a little bit much, especially with a young family. However, being so keen, I still felt I needed something to concentrate my efforts on. I needed somewhere to get my fix, but also needed to look for something slightly different; something that I could make work better for me, for the time being at least.       I’d had my eye on a pit close to home. The Lake was lovely, being around 25 acres or so, with deep, tap clear water.  One bank was easily accessible, however, the other bank would require thigh waders to fish effectively. Weed was present, but there wasn’t vast amounts, and the presence of crayfish soon became apparent too, but having fished the North Met and other lakes in the valley, I was now used to the little critters. What drew me to the lake was that it was strictly days only, so I felt I was never missing out or competing with anyone. This rule meant the pit was pretty quiet. I did occasionally find evidence that others were bending the days rule but for me, I didn’t want to fish the nights. The days only rule was a significant factor in fishing the place and only added to the appeal.

“I bet lots of opportunities in fishing are missed or ruined when we make too many casts in an area looking for a particular drop or spot, even though every time you skip the rig in its fine.”

To lessen the impact on home life, I decided that I would fit fishing in before work, which I’d generally start at 9.30am. Working in Wood Green in the outskirts of London meant that if I left the lake for work at around 8.30am, I’d still have a good few hours fishing every morning if I got to the lake for around first light. I soon set about prepping bait and stripping my gear back to the bare bones., ending up with a rucksack and flat mat which I folded to house the rods and net. Having just the morning hours meant I really needed to be on my toes, so I didn’t want to be weighed down lugging a barrow or tons of gear. Early April marked my first trip. I remember arriving about an hour before first light with that buzz that you only really get which fishing a new water. I decided I would hold off fishing until I saw definite signs, you know, ten minutes in the right spot and all that. It wasn’t until my third trip that I saw the first fish show – a small stockie, at around 6am, in a corner sheltered from a chilly breeze, around 100 yards down the bank from me. I walked down for a better look, and with a real lack of good climbing trees, low light and slight chop I didn’t see any more, but I made a mental note of the show and made sure to put a few baits, ready for my return the following morning. Heading straight back into the corner an hour or so before first light, I flicked three rods out in the zone as quietly as possible. When fishing like this the only rig that fits the bill for me is a choddie. They fish over literally any bottom, the crays find them tricky to mess with and the biggest thing for me is that they go out in one cast with no messing about. I didn’t have time for messing about! I bet lots of opportunities in fishing are missed or ruined when we make too many casts in an area looking for a particular drop or spot, even though every time you skip the rig in its fine. One thing I do if the distance allows is to overcast the area and draw back letting the rig go in with minimal disturbance.

At around 7am I had a typical slack line, chod bite, with the bobbin lifting steadily to the blank as the tip pulled down…. Something I never get bored of! The result was a small stockie mirror of sound ten pound at a guess. The first bite is always a result, and I remember taking a quick pic and heading of to work smiling.The following week I was back and headed straight back and pretty much pressed reset, repeating last weeks process. The only difference that comes to mind was that a change to plastic hook baits on all of the rods as the crays had nicked one the week before. With such short sessions, I couldn’t risk that. This time the rods had only been out around half an hour or so, and as I felt the first bit of warmth from the suns rays on my face, the neville signalled another classic bite. Although this time the fish tore off at some pace, stripping thirty yards or so of line on a right hand kite. Staying deep and with heavy slow head shakes it felt a proper one and soon after, a proper brute lay there in the net. Yes! Two tone, one of the ones I really wanted. I secured it in the net and managed to get a local friend to come down to photograph it. I took advantage of having no rods in the water, taking the chance to plumb up the peg, something I rarely had a chance to do on my short sessions. I’d soon discovered a hump coming out of the deep water near where I’d fanned my rigs. I then headed off to work, absolutely soaking wet, but more importantly, mega happy! 

 Now, having the range wrapped up and bottom make up identified, I switched over to low hinged stiff rigs over a tighter spread of baits. This way I was able to wrap the rods up in the garden at home, enabling me to accurately fish the zone whilst maintaining a stealthy approach. On the following trip. I noticed a lot more fish where showing all over this end of the pit. As the morning wore on the shows became more concentrated to the bank to my right, and just as I contemplated a move, the right hand rod was away – how’s your luck! The result was a stunning fish; incredibly dark with a big ‘C’ shaped scale on one flank, wearing the most beautiful chestnut browns… A proper nice one. Before leaving, I headed the area where I’d seen the bulk of the shows and had a feel with the leading rod. It was a lot shallower, with low lying weed and I guessed they had moved here to enjoy some spring sunshine. After assessing the bottom, it’d became apparent it was prime chod territory. 

Fishing in that area was mega productive, with probably twelve or so fish coming to the chods fished over the weed with a scattering of boilies via a throwing stick. If I could bait the evening before hand I would put a kilo or so out, and if I couldn’t I would stick a few out first thing, just to push any fish away, then I’d over-cast as far as the small lead would allow and silently draw it back. The biggest during that hit was a lovely mid thirty common with the biggest pecks I’ve ever seen on carp, nearly hand sized!

We were now well into the month of May, and with shows still peppered all over I started to think that a big bucket of bait might draw fish into a zone and concentrate them a little more. I decide on an area that was tricky to get to and out the way, and although I hadn’t seen another angler up till now, I didn’t want the worry. Over the next few evenings I baited with about twenty kilos of particle, with the bulk being seed and pigeon mix. I remember that first trip after the bait ups brought with it a South Westerly wind, causing a chop on the water.  This made spotting bubblers difficult, however I was so confident it would work that I wasn’t overly fussed. I remember just getting the third rod out in the half light, sitting it on the buzzer  and clipping the bobbin on when the line suddenly pulled up to the blank. I initially thought that I had laid the line over a weed-burg but soon realised it was. A bite when it pinged out the clip and pealed off. The morning really couldn’t have gone better. I think I ended up with six carp coming my way. I get a proper good feeling when a plan starts to come together, especially on the tricky, low stocked Lea Valley waters. I continued in that zone for a few more weeks, continuing with the heavy baiting. I had a good few hits of fish before work, but the area never produced any of the better fish for me. This area did give a different view of the pit though, which luckily enabled me to locate frequent shows in a different zone. Continuing with the successful approach, I slipped into this new area and again used chod rigs to feel my way in and transitioned over to hinged stiff links after having an opportunity to a proper feel about with a leading rod. This new area had a lovely gulley consisting of gravel and firm silt. The gully just screamed “but a massive bucket here”, and when the opportunity arose, a friend and I went on a mission, armed with two spod rods and twenty five kilos of bait, which we emptied out in one sitting, the bait being mainly a seed mix with a few nuts. The swim itself had two good options as to where to place rigs, but was divided by a snag tree that entered the water around two rod lengths out. I gave the bait a few day to settle and was soon back. I was fishing all three rods to the left of the tree, at around sixty yards range. After about an hour I’d caught eyes with two good fish to the right of the tree, and to cover that water, I would have to split my rods either side of it. After another few shows I couldn’t resist and skipped two in to reposition, leaving one on the baited area. After another hour or so, the rod that I had left on the baited spot absolutely melted off, taking a ridiculous amount of line almost instantly. By the time the fish came to a halt in a weed bed my mainline was going right through the tree snag right of me. I knew there was no way my line would take being pulled through the tree to get the fish moving again so decided to open the bail arm of the reel attached to the fish, skip the 2 rods right of the tree in and using one of them to cast over the line attached to the carp. I then cut that line and tied it to one of the other fishing rods I’d just skipped in, via back to back blood knot. I was then frantically back in direct contact with the fish, and after some serious surges, a good sized common rolled over the cord, although my SS spool was literally bursting with the additional yards of fluorocarbon! I’d soon realised it was a recapture of the big common, so it was slipped back. That recapture marked the end of a short intense spell of angling over a quiet, forgotten pit in the Valley. The early starts started to take there toll, but after 35 different captures, I was fairly sure I had pretty much got through the stock, and was happy to move in, having adopted a style of angling that I take with me almost every where I go now. So if your times limited, strip the gear back, get on your toes, and go catch some carps! Cheers – Terry

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