A bird in the hand

14/7/19 – Kirton Hall Lake

My second trip in 9 months! I toyed with the idea of a potentially fruitless ‘Monster Carp’ hunt, but when you’ve been away from the bank this long, sometimes you just need a dead cert to ease you back into things. Aside from that, a house-move on the not so distant horizon means that funds are tight and as I’ve already paid membership for Kirton, well … you do the math.

Despite a fairly late start (9am arrival) I discovered one of my favourite swims (peg 6) was still free. Result. It was a warm day and pressure was fairly high, but this is the shallow end of the lake and i was determined to catch off the bottom today, as it seems like a lifetime since regular tactics have paid off, so i just needed to prove to myself that i haven’t completely lost my touch. Both rods were started on the deck. One to the pads (in the swim to my left) and the other to the far reed line.

Half hour passed before the first bite from the pads, which resulted in a snapped hook link. Soon after that, the swim was taken so i moved both rods to the far reeds. I lost another fish on the right hand rod and then decided to try the floater rod for a while, as they had started taking some freebies. It proved hard work though due to the bird activity today – a full compliment of ducks, moorhen, coots & gulls, all trying (and managing) to beat the fish to it. So I persevered on and off, switching between surface and bottom tactics.

It seemed like the surrounding pegs were also quiet but the silence was finally broken at about 2.45 with a hard-fighting fish from the far reeds. The noise attracted the angler to my left who thankfully was able to help untwist both rods (as i some how allowed the fish to go under my other line close in, despite having back leads on) and we performed the maypole-style rod dance to free things up. Once the fish was in the net and the second rod back on the pod, the second alarm started chirping. Too much to be the rig re-settling I couldn’t ignore it and lifted into … something anyway, and as long as it takes to wind a rig straight in, a 1.5 lb bream dangled above the water. I unhooked in hand and went straight back to the carp in the landing net.

It went 11lbs and thanks to my fellow fisherman for the photo. Good to know my bottom rigs do still work.

Action was slow after that. I pressed on with trying to work the surface on & off and after fowl play had died down a bit i whacked out a few bread crust casts, finally resulting in a last minute take and a 9lb common, the speed of which I’ve never seen before. I mean, it was ridiculous. One minute it was out on the surface in front of me, and within a second it was in the next swim!

Great fun.

And to round off again, another pheasant arrived for a feed.

Happy days.

Tight lines people.

I’m back baby!

Kirton Hall Lake – 11/6/19

It’s been exactly eight months since my last trip. Eight months! Fucking ridiculous. Not by choice i should add. An ‘imperfect’ storm of work and personal commitments. I think it’s safe to say that there’s no time as slow as that between fishing trips.

Back to the job in hand. Facebook page posts weren’t saying anything so i was praying that the carp had finished spawning as the prospect of wasting my first outing in 8 months didn’t bear thinking about. Upon arrival, bankside reports confirmed they were all done but unfortunately the peg i was hoping for today was taken.

I settled halfway along the lake where there seemed to be plenty of fizzing plus a few fish cruising on the surface. On my last few trips here I’ve struggled to catch off the bottom and today I couldn’t risk blanking so it was one rod on the deck and the other would be on top with dog biscuits. I baited up an area and started the bottom rig about halfway across but conditions dictated that the fish were probably all in the top half of the water column. If i was sensible and more disciplined/organised, then i would have changed to some sort of zig, but that’s not the way i roll.

I later moved this rig to two more ‘squeaky-bum-pin-point-perfection-casting-long-distance-far-margin-spots’ before the sesh was over, but none of them produced even a knock. The surface was where it was at for me today. I kept the floaters going in to the left of me covering a reasonably large area, as the fish were constantly on the move, and i just waited till an area was busy with a few fish before introducing the hookbait. It was hard work battling with old dog biscuits which seemed to only keep their buoyancy for about two mins plus the fish seemed wise of a squared-off brown pop-up so i was having to use and constantly replace hair-rigged biscuits. I might have to invest in a fake dog biscuit or use some king of cork insert (any tips welcome).

Nevertheless i managed to land six fish and lose two. All ranged between about 7 & 10 pounds. I started off trying to take timered selfies but gave up after seeing that the photo of the second fish (& obviously the biggest) was utter shit.

As is normally the case with me when surface fishing, i barely sat down all day, but the rain held off and it was absolute heaven just to be back bankside again.

As an extra little treat, just as i was packing up (after about a dozen ‘last casts’), i had a visit from this confident little fellow. What a perfect return it was and I look forward to being able to do the same again very soon.

As they say – “A bird in the hand… “

A record of a year.

Well that’s it then. Another year over and what a strange year of stats it has been –

A disgraceful 10x fishing trips

3x of them overnighters

A pathetic 9x blog posts

4x (carp) blank sessions

42x carp in total (over the 6x successful trips)

& 1x new pb !

Happy New Year to you all.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing your own individual adventures.

I wish you all the best of luck for 2019

Beauty and the beasts

20/10/18 – Kirton Hall Lake

This session was almost a month ago now but it certainly deserves a post. Unfortunately, work commitments have ruined weekend plans and the opportunity to get bankside again seems a long way off currently, which is incredibly frustrating because the weather is unseasonaly tempting.

The session in question was no different and I’ll go so far as to say it was possibly the most beautiful session at Kirton i have ever had the joy of experiencing. The autumn colours were simply breathtaking and the sky was a fantastic blue. An incredible feast for the soul.

I started with both rods on the deck, but went to work immediately trying to get the fish feeding off the top, which as it turned out, was the way to go, as nothing was doing down below and the pressure was up at around the 1030mb mark (which i wasn’t aware of till a passing angler pointed it out)

As you can see, the surface tactics certainly paid off, with all fish ranging between 9 and 14 pounds. A mixture of beautiful Kirton mirrors and commons, all with plenty of fight.

And so on to the Beasts.

For me Kirton really is about the whole immersive being one with nature experience, and more often than not, alongside the plethora of feathered friends, bugs and insects, as with most other fisheries, the flora and fauna will include a rat or two.

They say that you’re never more than 10 feet away from a rat. Recently at Kirton, I would say you’re never more than a foot away from ten rats. Ten friendly rats.

For me, it’s all nature, even if populations have been slightly skewed by the intervention of man, and I was entertained by their swimming and foraging all day. Then, mid afternoon, the Loch Ness monster arrived.

I have never seen one in the wild before so it was a precious experience. An experience slightly tainted with the obvious concern for the immediate impact on the fishery, twinned with the concern for the creature itself, and its impending ‘control’.

The less I think about that, the better I’m afraid.

Till next time.


The rise and fall.

Fri 24/8/18 – Sat 25/8/18, Hintlesham

Plans were made for an early exit from work and a repeat performance of last weekend’s milestone success. Everything was following the script to the letter (apart from the addition of having to administer an injection to a cat), right up to the point where i get to the lake and realise that there are only two swims remaining. No sweat. The lake was clearly on fire, with fish already coming out left, right and centre. Any peg was bound to produce. I was right in the middle of eeny, meeny when as if by magic, the shop keeper appeared to say that they were both booked and would very shortly be occupied. I couldn’t believe it. How short-sighted was i, not to have booked ahead on a Bank Holiday weekend at the peak of the season. Something Phil the shopkeeper/lake owner was also quite eager to point out. I think i might have been able to kick myself harder, had i been able to take a run up. The predator lake had some spaces though. Fuck!

The predator lake contains a good head of sizeable pike, some very large cats and some carp, plus the lake itself, situated on top of a hill and with it’s blue/green water, looks about as man-made as they come. I was just about as moody as the sky.

The wind and rain then arrived so I sat in my cave and sulked for a bit. Once the rain had eased and I’d got my head round the whole situation, i finally got the rods out, opting for the least cat-friendly bait option (Mainline cell). The prospect of catching my first Moggy (potentially up to 70lb), in the middle of a dark, wet night, frankly put the shits up me.

My alarm receiver remained silent through the night, and the constant chorus of alarms from the lake below rubbed sufficient salt into the wound to send me stropping off to sleep.

Daylight improved both my attitude and my bravery so i switched to Sticky Krill boilies on both rods to try and tempt anything that would bite.

I tried my hardest i have to say. Moving the rods every hour, but not being familiar with the lake and with the only signs of life being the occasional pike smashing up the surface fry, i was getting absolutely no feedback to work on. And that was the story of the day.

Hero to zero.

But believe me, i won’t be making the same mistake again.

Book you next time.

…those who wait

17/8/18 – 18/8/18 Hintlesham Specimen Lake

Friday night 6pm and I’m still at work, blissfully unaware that a surprise overnighter is on the cards, but a text to my wife suggesting a cheeky trip to the cinema is rebuffed with an ‘out of the blue’ offer that rather than fish tomorrow, i get my shit together and go tonight instead.

I’m on my way home!

I break out the ‘Overnighter check list’ and just throw it all in the van.

A quick call to my nemesis Suffolk Waterpark, revealed that the gates were closing any minute, ruling out another guaranteed blank. Never mind. Hintlesham was my next nearest option, and has always looked after me in the past. I made the lake by 7.30pm. Still plenty of daylight left.

I’ve always fished the far side with access to the gravel bar but the far side was pretty busy and as the lake seemed alive all over, and with time tight, i opted for a near side swim and something different.

For the night i had one rod close to the overhanging bushes directly opposite, where the lake narrows, and the other one near the pads to the right where the fish were bubbling.

Pitch perfect. Everything in it’s place and no need to make two trips with the barrow.

For once, the night passed without a single bleep, so I actually managed to get some sleep. I was up at 5am next morning moving the rods, both closer to the pads with a scattering of boilies around each. If I’m honest, i wasn’t really happy with their positioning, but as usual, i just sat it out for a couple of hours before deciding to change again. This time though, both rods landed smack bang in between each set of pads, and i felt instantly positive. You know that feeling when the rig lands exactly where you wanted it to, and you just say to yourself “that’s a bite right there”.

The danger then became the risk of losing a fish to the pads. Normally I’d tighten the freespool right up so they had nowhere to go, but with the rod pod precariously perched on the staging and no means of locking it down, i decided to give the freespool some movement, rather than wave goodbye to the whole lot. This meant being ready to pounce at the first beep, and sure enough, within 5 minutes, i needed to pounce. After a heavy connection and a thumping battle to try and prevent the fish finding the pads, the hook pulled (i thought).

Upon closer inspection though, the hook had actually snapped!

I was right in the middle of attaching a new link in order to get the rod straight out again and before I’d finished the other rod was off.

As they say – Location, location, location.

A hard fighting common finally made its way into the net and i breathed a sigh of relief, happy that I’d avoided the dreaded blank.

10.5lb common

The next couple of hours were quiet and i assumed that the two struggles had cleared each area.

I re-cast and rebaited around both rods again and yet again, within 5 minutes the left hand rod screamed off and i was again struggling to steer it through the pads. As it came towards me i could see it had clearly brought some of the pads with it, adding to the hefty resistance, but when the fish surfaced i could see it was big. My mind raced and then i immediately started to worry that i was about to lose a new pb, but somehow i managed to steer the fish and thread it through the trailing lily. For some reason I decided to net it myself despite offers of help, and then instantly regretted my choice when the fish refused my first net lunge and disappeared once again into the depths. Second chance came around though and i made it count. One look at it in the net and i knew I’d done it.

23lb exactly on the scales, but i hadn’t zeroed with the net so less 2lb 3oz and we have a new pb of 20lb 13oz (previous best an 18lb 12oz common, Jun 2015) so a long time coming, but well worth the wait.

As it says on the tin, it’s SO not about catching fish, but sometimes it so is.

The Comeback Kid

28/7/18 – Kirton Hall Lake.

Yet again i hit the road this morning still without a definite destination. Sanity did prevail however and i found myself entering the gate at Kirton bang on 7am. The previous night had seen the much anticipated appearance of the overdue thunderstorm which turned out to be a real mother-humper.

One unsuspecting individual had endured a turbulent overnighter at the high-banked shallow end, which had apparently involved watching an incessant mudslide pass through his bivvy, right under his bedchair. By the time i arrived he seemed quite positive that the overnight drama had stirred the lake into life and there was obvious surface activity up and down the lake.

I wished him luck and made my way to the wider, deeper end where fish were topping out all over the place. There was practically no wind, making the surface easy to read so i simply got to work with the floater rod.

The first fish came pretty quickly. A mirror of about 7lb.

I had the fish feeding confidently close in to my left. The next bite took me straight under a fallen tree though and i ended up having to pull for a break. Having lost my swanky Korda controller float, i had to break out the my trusty old (25 year old) DAM bubble float. The next three bites, despite being kept away from the snags, resulted in two snapped hook lengths and one straightened hook. 9lb Guru quick-stop hook lengths, which I’ve never had problems with before.

The wind then picked up sharply and shortly after brought with it another huge deluge of rain which left me absolutely no choice but to batten down the hatches and just cower under a leaky brolly.

When the rain finally blew over, the skies instantly became a landscape artists dream.

I quickly got back to the job of dog biscuit distribution. And there still appeared to be plenty of takers.

A 14lb half-tail common
A slightly tired looking ghost of 11lb
9.5 mirror

By this time, i had also set up the other rod and cast just short of the pads on the far side. After about half an hour i got a hefty drop-back and by the time i wound in far enough to finally connect with a fish, it was halfway across the lake heading straight back towards me. It turned out to be a beautiful 4lb tench.

Oh yeah, and then i broke my landing net pole! Specifically the end where the spreader block screws in. There were already signs of stress, a few cracks here and there and very wobbly, plus the end kept threatening to fall off. But enough about me, on with the fishing 🙂

Another 10lber

Yet another 10lber

What a fantastic day with 8 off the top and another 1 plus the tench off the deck. And great that they were all a decent size too.

Tight lines and Happy Days!

Dangling a Carrot

21/7/18 – Suffolk Water Park, Big Lake.

Up and at ’em, on the road by 5.30am today! A. Nagging itch convinced me the time was right to throw three rods in the direction of another big lake blank. Scorching weather all day naturally made for tough fishing. I started with two rigs on the deck, plus the third rod set up as a floater rod.

Just before 11 the right hand rod signalled a slow take and shortly after a bream of about 4lb slid into the net.

Towards the middle of the day the fish started cruising. I glanced over to my left and it looked like someone was playing around with a marker float. I suddenly realised though that it was the lake’s most notorious resident ‘The Carrot”.

One of your 5 a day

This 30lb+ bright orange lump absolutely loves the sun and its appearance normally sends people into a mad surface-fishing frenzy. It’s not hard to see why.

Not my prize veg, unfortunately.

Anyway, the right hand rod trickled off again and i lifted into what felt like a slightly better bream, which appeared to follow the regulation bream battle plan, until just a few rod lengths out when it felt like it had climbed into a discarded shopping trolley. I dragged the trolley a couple more yards before the hook finally pulled. I’m still convinced i lost a pb bream right there.

So another Big Lake carp blank notched up. Must be almost a dozen now.

More unfinished business.

I’ll be back.


19/6/18 – Kirton Hall Lake

A week off work allowed for a most welcome mid week day session and a steady recovery from a recent bad back dictated a straight forward, no-frills trip to Kirton, but still hoping for a few hard-fighting carp in the process.

I arrived at 7.15am and there were two others already setting up. That left me needing to choose from the remaining 52 pegs on this long 6 acre freshwater lake. A welcome luxury.

Two days earlier, there had been a match on the lake, with the winner bagging 64lbs of fish and second place netting 50 something pound so i was happy the lake was producing well in most areas.

At the wider, deep end of the lake i found a few fish topping out and plenty of bubbling so i put a couple of rigs out on top of some spod mix, while trying to get some feeding action going on top, with the surface rod at the ready.

A slow take produced the first fish of the day – a bream of around 2lb.

As the sun was out, i swapped this rod for the surface approach and despite struggling with attention from ducks, i managed a couple of carp, one at 10.30, the other at 11.00.

10lb recent stock
11lb recently stocked mirror

Bizarrely, when i landed this second fish and placed it on the mat, i rolled it over to reveal it’s little stripy buddy. Where the hell did that come from!?

“Say hello to my little friend”

I then struggled for a long while with no action on the deck, and with the duck activity on top. I finally managed another one off the surface at about 2.30pm and that was to be all for the day.

9lb mirror

A great day in gorgeous surroundings. What more can you ask for?

Taking the biscuit

27/5/18 – Somewhere in Suffolk

My intention for this blog was always to report each session, good or bad, exactly as it happened, blanks an’ all!

Due to various other commitments though, the trips this year have been few and far between, however, since my one reported overnight session a few months ago, i have managed two more undocumented trips. The first, a fruitless visit to Melton (expected), and the second, two weeks ago, another non-carp affair with an intentional last minute consolation tench (frustrating as hell).

So, today meant only one option – guaranteed bites. 

When i first happened upon this little lake a couple of years ago, the bailiff regaled me with a story of two young boys hauling 50 carp out in a day between them. A feat i have since decided is entirely possible. Today i wanted to put it to the test so I went armed with a controller float and a bag of dog biscuits. I arrived before 7am to ensure a spot and quickly fired a ledger rig out under the far bank bushes where the larger fish usually patrol. The plan was just to sit this on the alarm and pretty much forget about it while i dealt with the main objective of the day.

I don’t have a huge amount of experience with surface baits and I’m quickly learning that it’s not all plain sailing. The carp will lap up the freebies all day long, but a hair-rigged biscuit will only float for a few minutes and for two casts at the most, meaning constant re-baiting which, with a broken bait drill, is what wasted the most time.

Nevertheless the bites came, and fish started to find the net. I started to realise though that they were beginning to shy at the last minute from the hooked biscuits, presumably due to being able to see the hook. The addition of a small section of pop-up boilie between biscuit and hook, seemed to lift the hook enough to bring the bites back again.

The ledger rod was pretty much inactive all day until late afternoon when i connected with a drop back bite which i promptly lost at the net. I wasn’t bothered though. In the end i lost about 8 carp in total but i’d managed to bag 22, averaging between 3 & 5 pound, with the largest being 8lb. 

Mission accomplished, lessons learnt and spirits lifted, even if i was on my feet all day!