Monthly Guest Feature Page

This Month’s Guest Feature is by Simon Crow

many thanks for this Simon

Naseby reservoir, Northamptonshire

If you’re after a well-stocked water to try this winter then Naseby Resevoir and its 10,000-plus head of carp might well be up your street…


Sometime last year I put a posting on Facebook asking fishery owners who wanted a review on their water to get in touch. A short while later I was contacted by Naseby bailiff Mike Madeley inviting me to go and have a try for its 10,000-plus head of carp. Being the middle of winter it sounded absolutely perfect for getting a cold water fish on the bank: after all, there aren’t many waters in the UK which contain more than 10,000 carp so it sounded kind of easy, which I was lead to believe it was from some of the other anglers who messaged me about it.

Mike and I set a date in the diary, and typically with that time of the year when it came around to visiting, the country was hit with sub-zero temperatures and a white over. Being the mad heads that we carp anglers are, the two of us didn’t let it put us off, and we carried on with our intentions, arriving to what can only be described as an Antarctic-like fishery. As we surveyed the banks it really did look bleak with not a sign from any fish at all which didn’t surprise us. There were sheets of cat ice in the margins and the banks were rock hard underfoot. As we began to set up a couple of other die-hard anglers arrived for a fish, but unsurprisingly nothing at all was caught all day.


Another go

Fast forward to October this year and Mike and I set a date for a return leg when conditions looked much more promising. It was the start of the autumn period and it really did look like we’d timed it perfect. Mike had been up to the water a few times in the build-up and there were fish coming out all over. It sounded a completely different lake, and more like the Naseby I’d been told about. Additionally, just as we pulled into the car park an angler was pulling off after a three day session in the eastern arm. I loved what he said to me as I began to unload the car: “You’ll fill your boots. They are having it big time! I just fished when I fancied it, casting out when I didn’t want to sleep.” It sounded just what I needed as I had my head into my local Yorkshire fishing and wanted to get back up there as quick as I could. If I could fish the one night on Naseby and have a few, I’d be laughing!

With only an hour or so before dark began to roll in, Mike walked me to the swim where the angler had been. It was only twenty or so yards from the car and perfect for doing the night. Additionally there were two or three swims nearby which gave me a selection to choose from at this side of the fishery. Having compiled these features for almost twenty years now I know only too well how jumping in on the back of someone for a night can work in your favour. Besides, the dam wall looked busy with anglers and I didn’t fancy a long walk to some of the other swims since my leg was still not healed from an injury I sustained last year.


I opted to jump in the same swim the other angler had pulled out of which was the furthest to the left, whilst Mike went next door to my right, although he was only staying for a couple of hours as he was doing a night-shift at work. My swim was bordered by marginal weeds with plenty of scope out in front. There weren’t any swims down to the left so I was the last one in the line. It was an arm of water that looked to run for some distance and the perfect area for the carp to move out of the main body of water. Even if the lad in the car park hadn’t told me what he did, I’d have still been very confident in the swim as it just looked carpy.

A quick cast about with the plumbing rod revealed 5-6ft all over between 40-120 yards, sloping up to a couple of feet at 40 yards back towards the bank where the weed was. I had to have a rod at the base of the slope as it looked likely the carp may follow it as they moved into the arm and followed it down into the bay to my left. Knowing the lake is quite well stocked with silvers I scattered thirty or so 20mm Scopex Squid in the vicinity of the slope and put my left-hander here on a single bottom bait straight out of the bag. If there really were 10,000 carp in the lake, they’d soon find the bait and get munching. The middle rod I did next, fishing this at 70 yards into no-mans land with the same amount of bait around it, with the final rod going at 120 yards on exactly the same set up as the other two rods. Basically, the three rods were scattered in a diagonal line, the aim being to intercept any fish that passed through the swim; the bait put out with a stick and because there was no breeze it went out exactly where I wanted it.



You could feel the autumnal air dropping over the reservoir as the evening turned to night. For the next couple of hours I sat in Mike’s swim drinking tea and chatting waiting for the big feed to begin. The guy in the car park had also told us that the nights were much better than the days, most of the action beginning at 10pm and continuing right the way through to first light. Mike had to leave at 9pm to get to work, at which time it really was cold, well into single figures. The Titan already had a coating of moisture and the vapour was present in front of my face every time I exhaled. As it closed in on 10pm I was getting nearer and nearer to the bag to try and warm myself up. I hoped it wasn’t going to a tough one like the previous trip, and just as I was about to get into it, the close-in rod broke the silence as it let fly!

There was no warning bleep; the Siren just screamed a one-toner as an angry carp was hooked. It’s always a buzz getting that first take from a new water, and having blanked the last time down, I was understandably longing for to get into the net! The fish powered off on a 20 yard run, before I brought it back to the net. It then went off on a similar length run. It was certainly giving a good account of itself and eventually I had it in the margins and ready for the net. In it went first time, a lovely Simmo-looking upper-double. I was a very relieved man, meaning I had the feature complete and I could head for home in the morning!


I’d not even lifted the fish out of the water when the right-hand rod surged off in exactly the same fashion as the first take! This rod was a lot further out and the carp surged off to the left in an arch. Like the first one it took line straight away; the Naseby carp certainly looking like they packed a punch. I had trouble weaving the line in and out of the middle rod which was still in position, but a short while later I had the fish in a safe place and ready for netting. I only had the one net with me so it was a little bit fidgety getting the second fish in there whilst ensuring the other one stayed safe. I managed to do it with no bother though, and when I compared the two fish side by side they were like two peas in a pod. They were both of a similar size and looking at their flanks they had almost the same scale pattern.

Busy night

Being my first two fish of the trip I had to set the camera gear up to make sure I had them recorded in the memory banks for the feature. It didn’t take long and once sorted I rebaited the rods and topped up both areas with the same amount of Scopex Squids. I had visions of it being a busy night, and although they weren’t going to break any personal bests, I was enjoying the moment.


An hour or so must have passed, by the time I was all done and ready to get back into the bag. I was buzzing with confidence as I knew it wouldn’t be long for another fish to come along.  My head had only been on the pillow for what seemed like a couple of minutes before the middle rod was away! Another hard fighting Naseby carp neared the net moments later and I was looking down on a fish that looked just like the two I’d only moments earlier photographed! I unhooked it in the water as I was happy with my photographs of the other two and didn’t fancy doing any more unless I got lucky with a twenty or the light improved. I’d only just released the fish when this time the left-hander roared off…


To cut a long story short, the rest of the night was basically a mirror image of what it started like, with the action coming thick and fast whenever I wanted a fish. I ended up reeling in for a few hours when I got to seven landed so that I could get some rest. This was around 1.30am, putting the rods back out about 6am. I only cast two rods out this time, not putting much bait around them either, knowing they would both sooner or later go once the hungry car found them.

The left-hander was only out twenty minutes before I had one, and the other rod went probably ten minutes after that. It was clear the Naseby fish were hungry and I could almost catch them to order.

Mike turned up at 7am after his night shift, armed with a sausage sandwich. He was just in time to do the honours with the camera and was only popping in to see how I’d ended up. With nine fish under my belt in only a few hours of fishing I was more than happy with how it went. By 8am therefore, I was all packed up and on my way home with the feature in the bag. It had been a really good night, lots of fun and certainly very different to the first time we’d tried to complete it.



Address: Carvells Lane, Naseby, Northamptonshire, NN6 6JF.

Size: 93 acres.

Number of pegs: 80 or thereabouts depending on water level

Run by: Harry Bosworth.

Contact: 07904 493417.


Carp stock: Approximately 10,000 carp averaging mid-upper-doubles, with a best close to 30lb.


This Month’s Guest Feature is by Shaun Harrison

(which was Original featured on his website (

A suprise encounter whilst winter chub fishing

Really enjoyed myself the day before

Well, after a really nice afternoon chub fishing on Saturday afternoon I decided to spoil myself to some more but on a different river on the Sunday. So, after a pleasant drive into Derbyshire I arrived at the car park late morning and was delighted to see no other cars parked there. So laden with just a small canvas bag, a chair and my rod I made the long trudge up to the top of the beat which was as far as I really wanted to walk anyway and was more than ready for a drink by the time I was settled into the first swim.

First drop in with my Absolute Seafood Paste and a definite bite which I wasn’t totally ready for and subsequently missed, second drop in and another bite just as I was gently teasing and trundling the bait through the swim which I connected with and soon a chub of a size that I was  just about able to swing to hand. Although to be fair I regretted it as soon as I tried thinking it really was a bit too much. Not a monster but my first intentional caught chub from this river for a long while.

I then started to drop down river having a cast into every likely looking hole. It  hardly looked as though it had been fished at all, just in the same way as the river I had fished with much success the previous day. It really was total bliss, in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside with not a soul around, just me and the fish at a  place which gave little indication of human interference that could have been anywhere and any moment in time.

Next fish came from a swim with a dead tree in it. I had trundled a bit of paste with a topping of flake around to no avail then cast slightly up river and kept the rod tip higher as I teased the bait back to me. The bite came and a great fight on my old chub rod ensued and eventually a 4 lb 2 oz chub was having its picture taken.

As I continued my way back down the river, the next swim I tried I had a half hearted bite in but then nothing, so carried on down and dropped in again in the next promising looking spot. It didn’t take long to conjure a bite up and soon I was connected to another one which had fallen for the upstream trundle back method. This fish surged around taking line from me in the swollen river but was eventually beaten into surrender and at 5 lb 1 oz I was suitably delighted with that one in such beautiful

I continued down river and eventually ended up in my ‘Millers Thumb’ swim. First cast trundling it around and I was into another chub. Not so

large this one, 3lb plus and it had pulled well so I was still very satisfied..I fished on searching the pool and eventually cast a bait further out to trundle around and then eventually settle before creeping back towards me in the back eddy. I was slowly and carefully winding the slack when a tap came, followed by a lunge and a much larger feeling fish was hooked. I hung on as hard as I dare with a fine wire hook and 6lb line but made no impression on it. This fish kept taking line in impressive surges and I really did seem to be in a stalemate situation with it. My tackle was simply feeling inadequate against whatever I was playing and memories of my 200 lb blue shark on 12 lb class gear came to mind.

I was pretty certain that I was connected to a carp for the duration of the fight but eventually after what was quite an age a Barbel popped up on the surface. I messed the netting up the first attempt, it seemed too big for my 30” armed chub net. Second attempt was a proper scuffle, I had not extended the telescopic handle and the net head twisted with the barbel’s head and pec’s in and nothing else. Things were desperate but somehow or other it ended up in the net. I couldn’t believe I had won this battle on the gear I was using and particularly with the extra

water the river was carrying. But win it I did. Fortunately the last job as I left home was to pack my lightweight 30lb scales in place of my 11lb Super Samson’s I had been carrying whilst chub fishing the day before.

Well, the scales read 12 lb 4 oz of very long prime winter barbel. To say I was happy would be a very modest statement indeed, I was absolutely bubbling with joy. Not my largest barbel but in the circumstances it was certainly one to remember for many years to come.

The light had dropped whilst playing the veritable monster (considering the tackle being used) so not feeling as I could possibly feel any happier or more content I packed away to return once again to a warm cosy fireside.

Best fishes
Shaun Harrison

This Month’s Guest Feature is by Simon Crow

many thanks for this Simon


I think it’s fairly safe to say that carp fishing today most definitely goes through fashion phases. An influential angler or company will say something is good and before you can say “I don’t agree with that”, everyone and his uncle is using and advocating it, regardless of any theory being put forwards.


It is only when you try to offer an opposing thought that you see this, because it doesn’t matter how experienced you are or what you have to say; if you dare say anything against the masses you are in for some serious flack on the bank and social media sites.

I probably sound like I’m getting old – and maybe I am – because this month I want to touch on something which just baffles me about carp fishing today. I know I’m going to get some stick for what I write, but I couldn’t care less because I know the sensible anglers out there will be able to relate with what I say.

En vogue

Slack lining is definitely sweeping through the industry like a virus, and if it hasn’t reached your country yet, it will do soon. Walk the banks of any lake in the UK and eight out of ten anglers are sat there with their bobbins on the floor and the line all drooped through the rings whilst their tips are in the air.

I’ve seen all sorts of anglers fishing like this, ranging from the complete novice right the way through to the experienced. Whilst I’m not doubting its effectiveness in some situations, I do know from speaking to the anglers I have seen fishing like this, a large percentage of them simply do it without thinking why they are doing it and whether or not it is helping them.

I saw a guy last summer fishing 100m out in 15ft of water with his lines all slack and he was surprised when he had a take and the fish had kited 90 degrees before he had any indication at his end. I even witnessed one of my mates doing it at 60m range in 11ft when exactly the same thing happened to him. Interestingly, that followed the two of us having a deep conversation about why he was fishing in that way. The worst of the lot, however, was when I saw a guy doing it on Manton New Lake last year, fishing out into the middle which is probably 80m and over the top of half a dozen weed beds only to find out the next morning that he had had a fish on for god knows how long!


I don’t know about the rest of you but everything I do in my carp fishing I need theory to back up my decisions. Sometimes I get it wrong, but having done lots of tests on indication when myself and Rob Hughes wrote our first book in 1996, I like to think I’ve got that side of my angling almost perfect – a single bleep usually meaning I’m in.

I think you’ll all agree that the sooner we know when a carp has picked up our hookbait, the better the chance is of landing the fish. The only sure way of knowing this has happened is to actually watch them do it when stalking, but obviously most of us prefer to fish in the long-stay style with static lines, meaning it isn’t possible to do this. Instead we rely on buzzers and indicators to inform us.


I know when I was at school, I was taught physics and that a straight line is the shortest distance between the two points of A and B. It therefore makes perfect sense to me that when the end of a line is pulled, if it is straight the other end will feel the pulling motion quicker than if there is slack in it. It also makes sense to me that if a weight is added to the line (like a bobbin), should the two points become shorter, the bobbin will take up any slack that is created on the line. If the bobbin is not there, the line simply becomes limp and before any movement is felt at one end of the two points, it must be tightened so the slack is taken out. In the case of a fish pulling at a line therefore, or swimming towards you, it makes sense to tight line with a bobbin indicator if you are wanting the perfect indication when static bait fishing.

This theory makes me wonder why then, so many anglers currently prefer to fish with slack lines instead of tight. I’ve heard it said that slack lining is more sensitive than tight lining which based on science just can’t be true. Those trying to argue this case say that the pressure of water adds weight to the line which makes it act differently to when you do the tests out of water. Well, all I will say to these people is I don’t believe you’ve ever done the tests properly. If you had you would be of the same opinion as Rob Hughes who compiles most of the underwater carping features in the monthly titles. Both Rob and I might not agree on a lot of things, but we most definitely agree on this. Take a look at Strategic Carp Fishing, the title of our first book, and you will clearly read that tight lining with the right weight of indicator results in the best indication.

Line shy

The other theory put forwards by slack lining fans is that carp don’t like bow-string lines in the swim. I can understand where they are coming from with this theory, as not only am I convinced that carp can sense vibrations passed down the line if you are noisy when fishing in this way, they also see it much more easily when fished in shallow water.


Last year I watched the carp in Orchid Lake spooking at close quarters on line they could see, and although it looked OK to me from where I was stood only a few yards away, there was clearly something about it that the carp didn’t like as they closed in on it. You had to see their reactions to know what I mean by this, the fish coming into the zone of the hookbait, going down on it and spooking once they were right next to the line.

Of course there could have been other factors that caused them to do this, but I know from what I saw they were spooking on what they saw rather than what they sensed. They especially didn’t like the line when they got close up to it, several fish spooking at the first sighting and not coming back into the swim until several hours later.

This all happened in 1m of water, and just like Steve Briggs pointed out recently in Carp-Talk, such a reaction is understandable when you consider the science of how carp see. Basically they use the under-surface of the water to create a reflection which bounces back at them. This reflection works better the closer the fish is to the surface and the flatter the surface is, hence the reason why they see well in shallow water. I couldn’t tell you the exact depth their eye sight becomes less effective (I believe it is around 5ft) because every lake is different and it will depend on water clarity. All I can say is the deeper you go, the less they use their eyes to feed compared to their other senses such as taste, smell, hearing, etc.

Another example

The carp I watched feeding at Orchid spooked every time they saw a bit of line. I tried slack lining and they reacted to it in exactly the same way. In the end I really had to go to town with my presentation to get myself a bite, disguising it by freelining and adding putty all along its length right into the margins so that it was pinned down on the deck. I had to do this whilst slack lining to meet the contours of the bottom and it was proper finicky stuff, but the extra care I took got the bite in the end, watching the fish take the hookbait and then striking almost instantly.


A day later I ended up finding some fish in slightly deeper water in the next door swim and a little bit further out. The trouble was it was much harder for me to see the hookbait here so I had to rely on a lead to do the work for me. Try as I could to pin down the line, it was nowhere near as good as it was the day before. The depth was about 2m in this spot, and I could see the line clearly from where I was perched up a tree, but the carp’s reaction to it was completely different. In this area they knocked and swam into the line closest to the rig without spooking and it wasn’t until one came up in the water and saw the line closest to the surface that I had my first spook-off. That fish was not to be seen again, but I did go on to catch two fish in quick succession a short while later.

I could have put that result down to all sorts of other reasons because there are always variables behind why we catch more one day than we do the next. However, my experience told me it was down to the carp not seeing the line in the deeper spot. I’ve seen carp react to line on so many other occasions, and the best examples are those when surface fishing. When you see carp leaving your hookbait on the surface it makes you wonder how on earth we manage to catch anything; they don’t even go near it because it stands out like a sore thumb.


Line shy carp and rig shy carp are two completely different hurdles the carp angler is faced with. On the underwater dvds we see fish regularly mouthing and blowing our hookbaits out which is much different to them not even going near to the rig. If they know what anglers are, when they see your line they spook, it’s as simple as that, so the secret is keeping it as disguised as you possibly can.

There are definitely pros and cons to slack lining, however, the pros in my mind are very few and far between. In close quarter shallow situations I can definitely see the advantages of keeping that line pinned to the contours of the marginal features and taking all of the tension out of it, but the deeper you go the sight of the line becomes less important. Furthermore, the further out you fish, the harder it is to see what’s going on by the rig, so the priority then should be about knowing when a fish has picked up the hookbait and you getting the indication that this has happened.


I spend most of my static-bait fishing with rigs placed some distance away from where I’m set up so I use tight lines more than I do slack. There are times when I fish in shallow water at long range too, but in these instances I weigh up the situation and try to work out how much of that line may be visible close to the rig end. The further out I’m fishing, basic science lessons tell me the lesser the angle in the line will be and the more likely it is to be on the deck.

Of course there are situations when you have to sacrifice a bit of indication in order to get the take so slack lining or slipping on a back lead may prevail, but the only golden rule here is to fish safely. Doing it over the top of weedbeds, gravel bars or close to snags that are some distance out is just asking for trouble.

Chinese whispers

The overuse of slack lining today is definitely related to companies selling indicators designed for that type of fishing. However, I don’t think it is fair to blame the industry for this, because in my mind it is definitely a bad case of Chinese whispers. One angler picks up on something and then passes it on in a slightly different way to what he heard or read. Before you know it, it’s gone viral and everyone is talking about it. It then gets even more distorted when a few whackers get caught on it; everyone thinking it is an edge and no-one considering whether or not the angler was fishing safely or if he may have caught more had he been tight lining instead.


The moral of this feature therefore is to think about what you are doing when angling rather than doing something because someone has told you to do it. I’m not saying you should not slack line end of story because that would be foolish. I just think it is massively overused in carp fishing today (certainly in the UK), and it is not necessary to fish like it in every situation. I’d even go as far as to say it has got out of hand and become more of a danger to our carp than it has the asset that many believe, especially when fishing beyond the margins or over the top of features


This Month’s Guest Feature is by Shaun Harrison

(which was Original featured on his website (


Jimmy Greaves famously said “Football is a funny old game” and those words could so well have been pointed towards carp angling.  Winter carping in particular can be a prime example for throwing up unpredictable outcomes during those long dark winter months.

I love my winter angling, always have. I have tried to analyse this on many an occasion when I am sat there with painfully cold toes and fingers that don’t want to set about packing the frosty gear away. Over the years I have justified my winter angling by telling people I love the fact that it is just me against the fish a lot of the time rather than me trying to slot into a decent area amongst lots of other anglers as can be the case during the summer months.

To be honest my love of the winter is much more deep rooted than that though. I love the rawness of it all. I love being out when nature is trying to persuade us to stay indoors. I love the sun rises and the sunsets which so often give a much more powerful image than many of those in the summer. But above all I have the memory and the knowledge that most of my P.B. carp right from the early 80’s have slipped into the net during the winter. Even my biggest fish from overseas have been winter captures. My personal best U.K. French, Slovenian and U.S.A. fish have been winter fish.

With well over 30 years of winter carp catching experience behind me you would have thought I would have certain methods and baits that will work everywhere. Well, I have but I will be the first to admit that no two days are the same and often I have to keep tweaking things with hook bait colour, bottom baits, pop-ups, snow men, trimmed baits, big baits, little baits, it goes on and on but for some reason the carp constantly change in what they want.

Or do they?

I have been thinking about this quite deeply these past few weeks. I have been fortunate to have been catching the fish during a period that I haven’t seen another fish caught yet the last few have all been on totally different coloured hook baits. Same rig, same flavour, but a different colour and interestingly the last 2 have come from re-casts to exactly the same spot as I had been fishing but with a different coloured hook bait.  The simple change in colour has triggered the response.

So, although I have the background feed there giving a very clear visual which the carp are obviously homing in on I find I get a pick up much quicker by fishing a different coloured bait over the top of it. Almost the daisy in a field of grass if I were to fish for cows but often that daisy has to be replaced by a buttercup to get a quicker take.

I think what is happening in this situation where the approach that was good enough last trip isn’t working this trip, isn’t so much to do with the method not being right, but more to do with different fish being present.  Different things trigger different fish. This is so noticeable when you look at repeat captures of a particular fish on one bait yet another bait will constantly repeat capture a different one.

Best fishes
Shaun Harrison

These words first appeared in a Blog I wrote for Angling Lines.



This Month’s Guest Feature is by Simon Crow


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Overcoming shy feeders

At this time of the year, it’s important to pay attention to much more than just your rigs, location and bait. Only last week I experienced some really cagey fish when they regularly cleaned my freebies out without so much as a bleep on the indicator. Basically, wherever I managed to catch a fish from, the next day the area would be cleaned out as the carp sussed out that something wasn‘t quite right in the swim. I was using a boat which allowed me to take regular visits to the baited areas to see what was happening, and as seems to be the norm when carp do this, there wasn’t just the hookbait that was left, but also half a dozen other baits, one or two of which had been chewed up and spat out; and that was from about thirty or forty free offerings!



When does it happen?

When you know this is happening, obviously you know something needs to be done. The hardest part is knowing it’s happening though, as not every lake has clear water to allow you to observe the environment. Initially I got around the problem last week by pre-baiting several spots that I didn’t fish until I knew the carp were sussing out my rigs, and then it was just a matter of re-positioning my hookbaits to the areas that had been pre-baited, something which always pays off for you when you have time on your hands, as I did. At the beginning of the trip I picked a selection of areas in my swim which I thought looked likely to be visited by the carp, baited them all at the beginning of the session, and then alternated where to put the hookbaits once I knew the carp were up to no good.


Later in the week I did note that the carp began to really get cute as pressure took its toll, even on spots which I’d not fished before. Even then, however, I managed to get around a few problems by adjusting the way I fished. One particular morning I woke up and hadn’t had a touch on all of my rods, including a couple of new spots that had not seen carp caught from them. A quick scout out in the boat revealed that all the rods had been cleaned out and that the idea of pre-baiting obviously didn’t always work if the carp had their defences up, as they proved after a few days of pressure. I knew the spots were getting visited, so there was something in the swim which really put them on guard and it was just a matter of finding out what it was. At first I played with my rigs, dropping down a hook size from 6s to 8s. I also shortened the rig slightly in case they had too much margin for error, however, none of my rig adjustments seemed to sort it.

Personally I think there’s a misconception amongst anglers that when you’re being cleaned out, you’ve always got a problem with your rigs. Whilst this can be the case at times, I knew it would be stupid to ignore other factors such as the obviousness of the main line and the way I had my indicators set up, so my fiddling didn‘t end at just the business end. I was using Quiver-Loc indicators and I had the sensitivity on my buzzers at midway because there’d been quite a lot of heavy rain during the first part of the week. The Quivers I had quite tight because I was using heavy leads, even at close ranges of 30m (I must confess I’m more of a tight line man than a slacker as I don’t like the margin for error carp get with slack lining). The trouble with Quivers though is they are great for keeping the line tight, but whenever a carp pulls at the other end (unlike coming towards the angler), because there is tension in the indicator pulling down on the line, it needs a lot of pressure or movement to make the indicator rise if you have them set fairly tight like I did.

Missed chances?

During the course of the week I’d noted a couple of drop backs which were ever so slight; both which had happened without a bleep on the buzzer. This is the reason why a lot of the time I fish with my indicators all set at the same height so that I can see if anything has moved. What I concluded was that this had happened whilst I was getting cleaned out, with the carp pulling at the rig, but because of the tension on the Quiver-Loc I had it set at, nothing had bleeped whilst the fish sussed the rig and dropped it, causing the indicator to drop back gently once they’d moved the lead.



Thankfully I’ve seen this kind of thing happen all too often before when the fish are under a lot of angling pressure. I managed to overcome the problem by simply adjusting the tension on the Quiver-Loc, slackening it off so that it could easily rise once the rig end was pulled, whilst at the same time I upped the sensitivity on the buzzer. This is quite a balancing act really, as you want the tension not too light so that there’s none on the line at all, whilst at the same time you need the buzzers only to bleep when you know something is happening in the swim.

The very night I adjusted things, I started getting early warning signs of fish activity in the swim. The Siren began bleeping two or three times (without any movement on the indicator) which I put down to liners. I also had two very slight lifts on the indicator which were on single bleeps, both of which I hit and turned out to be hooked fish. During the week I had a further two single bleeps coupled with a slight lift, and these too ended up as hooked carp, meaning that I finally sussed out the fish.


I’ll admit it does take a lot of confidence to hit single bleeps, especially at this time of the year. However, I’m convinced plenty of us are allowing the carp to get away with it as a result of our ignorance.


A couple of weeks ago I was at Pool Hall in Wolverhampton for a feature in a UK magazine when young Alexei Bygrave commented on the fact that I was hitting single bleeps and turning them into fish. Although not every single bleep on that occasion turned out to be a fish, a week later I hooked four from single bleeps, all of which coincided with a slight lift, perhaps as the fish tightened up on the rig which up until that point I’m sure I would have missed if I hadn’t adjusted my set up.

            It’s a fine line working out what is going on in the swim and then being able to counter any sly movements from the fish. Often all it is down to is confidence and effort, believing that the carp you are targeting are capable of sussing you out and that a single bleep actually can be turned into something positive. The effort comes with being willing to get out of bed fast enough to hit it, and knowing that even if it doesn’t turn out to be a fish, it really isn’t too much hard work to recast a bait back to where it



This Month’s Guest Feature is by Paul Selman

Memorable Moments Part 3 – Harefield Lake July 1993
by Paul Selman















First Harefield session of 1993…..

The first session of a new season on any difficult water is always a test. You go really expecting to blank with the optimistic hope of catching and getting that confidence-boosting first fish under your belt. This year on Harefield was going to be a challenging one as always, as the syndicate contained a lot of well-known and very experienced carp anglers and it was going to be very, very busy!

I’d travelled overnight from Cheshire to arrive early to try to get pole position in the queue at the Harefield syndicate rota changeover on Monday morning – in the hope of securing The Point, a swim which had been fishing well since the start of the season.
I arrived at 7am, only to find the two ‘Gaylords’ and Tony ‘Olly’ Olivo ahead of me – and with ‘the Gaylords’ determined to fish The Point and Olly opting for my second choice swim, the Stick Bar, I had to re-think my options, swim-wise.

It is often said that you should not decide on your choice of swims before you get to the water. Whilst this can useful guidance on the odd occasion, the truth is that on most biggish lakes (and Harefield is forty acres plus) there are a few very good swims, some good swims and a lot of poor ones – with the very good swims always producing carp week in, week out, regardless of conditions. Anyone who ever rejectsThe Point at Harefield – if it is free – is a very foolish man indeed!

The expanse of Harefield.
Looking across to The Causeway.




It was necessary for me to have a good look around to weigh up all the remaining swim options. However, aware that other syndicate members might arrive at any time, I dropped my gear in another of my favourite swims, The Hump on the Causeway Bank. I spent the next hour or so, checking out likely swims with the binoculars. Other than a couple of small fish I spotted in one of the Back Bays, the carp were playing very shy. A moderate south-westerly wind was forecast for the next couple of days and I knew from experience that this would push the odd fish into The Hump, so I gave up on the fish-finding quest and made my way back to my tackle.

As I set-up on The Hump, I kept looking for signs, and scanned the water with my binoculars. It really does amaze me that many carp anglers don’t seem to use binoculars at all – and yet they can be a tremendous aid to fish location.

As I was scanning the little swim to the left of the Hump, known as the Mad, I noticed something moving quite close into the gravel workings on the edge of The Mad which initially with the naked eye I took to be a leaf. Careful scrutiny with the binoculars, however, revealed this to be the tail fin of a feeding carp. Concentrated observation for a couple of minutes also revealed a few other tiny tail portions and the occasional dorsal fin breaking the surface momentarily…. several carp feeding. That’ll do!

The Mad is on the left.
A classic-looking swim!



The Mad is a famous old Harefield swim and acquired its name due to the severe gravel bars which used to predominate in the early 1980’s which resulted in many cut-offs and lost fish – which could make the poor carp angler at the receiving end literally mad. However, over the years as the Harefield gravel works had expanded its operations The Mad had been largely filled in, and all that remained was a foot to eighteen inches of water covering several feet of very soft silt. However, on a warm south westerly wind the carp really did like to move into this small amount of water in the swim.

I was now in a dilemma, for I was torn between moving into The Mad or staying where I was and simply casting across. The danger was someone turning up and dropping into The Mad. I also knew that it was very easy to spook fish out of The Mad, and it could be a couple of days before they returned to the swim once spooked. As the swim was so shallow, a simple cast could spook them and hooking a fish in The Mad could really scare the other carp away from the area. I didn’t want to get marooned in The Mad if the lake got busy.

From experience I knew that because of the gravel features on the bottom and the weed in The Hump, if the fish did move out of The Mad, they would often still hang around The Hump and remain quite catchable., Also, there was always the prospect of new fish working themselves along the Causeway bars and drifting into the swim, especially if the wind remained south-westerly.

Consequently, I took the risk then of staying where I was, and to cast across to The Mad. Due to the deep silt in The Mad, many anglers tended to use a hookbait popped-up straight off the lead so that the hookbait doesn’t disappear into the silt. Martin Clarke has been one such ex-Harefield angler who has enjoyed success from the swim on the method.

However, I was using large bottom baits at that time – of 25mm or bigger – and had absolute confidence in them – even in very deep, soft silt. The carp feed deeply in the silt in The Mad and I wanted them to find the hookbait where they would expect to find it – under several inches of silty soup.

On reflection, most of my silt-caught carp in the last decade or so have been caught on bottom baits sitting in silt. Is there a more natural presentation? I don’t think so, and the carp are less likely to test baits presented exactly where they normally find food, either in the form of baits or natural food such as bloodworm. I often suspect also, that a pop-up is often less clear of the silt than many think, even if fished off the lead or several inches off the bottom. The rig as always with me was pretty simple.

I was a consultant for Premier Baits at that time and was using their brand new bait, Aminos, which had not been introduced into the water. However, I was certain the carp would take an instant interest in it.

Premier Aminos Base Mix
6 eggs
6 drops Black Pepper Oil
8ml per egg Hi Vit Oil

Hi Vit Oil was an experimental fish oil blended around halibut oil. The oil was particularly rich in amino acids and vitamins, particularly E and D. It had that ‘carp are gonna love it’ smell. Black Pepper oil I incorporate into many of my fishmeal baits, and it complemented the Hi Vit oil perfectly. As usual, all the freebaits and hookbaits were glugged in Hi Vit oil to provide a thin coating on each bait. Even today, I still glug all my warm water baits, as I really do think it makes a significant difference when competing against other baits on pressured waters.

I had learnt from bitter experience at Harefield not to fire out any free offerings on top of the fish, no matter how enthusiastically they appeared to be feeding. They could be easily spooked by boilies falling in around them and would often vacate a swim very quickly. I knew just a stringer was my best chance, since it would cause minimum disturbance and introduce some free baits around the hookbait – however casts had to be spot-on first time – as the carp didn’t like leads going in around them either!





I put three of my big boilies onto the stringer. One point about PVA string. I have always used the Gardner Original PVA string which is sold in those yellow packets. This is a source of amusement in the tackle shops I frequent today, and Barbara at Bailey’s tackle gets it just for me as no one else buys it nowadays. I like the Gardner string for a few different reasons. Firstly, it is the only PVA string I have used which if you knot, it totally dissolves all year round. Secondly, you can stretch it. Thirdly you can knot it along its length to stop the boilies coming together either on the cast or when melting. Fourthly it is stiff enough to allow looped and clustered presentations. Finally, it can cope with the strongest of casts, which is important when fishing at range. As long as it remains available I’ll continue to favour it over any other type – even though I have to pay for it! Wipes tears from the eyes…

Out went two hookbaits and stringers to where I could still see carp activity, and one well away towards the hump. Luckily, the few carp I could see through the binoculars seemed comparatively undisturbed by the activity. I sat back and awaited events.

I did not have to wait long. The bait nearest the gravel workings was taken and my buzzer screamed out as there was an eruption in the Mad and a fish charged off angrily in the shallow water off towards the Hump and in the process panicking other fish which shot off in all directions.

Enjoying a joke with Frogger after my
‘early bath.’

I had no fears about losing the fish as there was nothing but silt and a few strands of soft weed to contend with, and it wasn’t too long before I bundled an obvious big fish into the net. Peering into the landing net in the margin, I recognised the fish as one of Harefield’s known thirties, a fish we called Bitemark.

I whistled Ollie and he came down with our friends Simon ‘Frogger’ Lavin, Colin “Gaylord” Nash and Geoff Rendell to assist in the weighing and photographing of the fish which was a tad down in weight at just over 31lb. Ollie thought it must weigh more than it appeared and suggested a re-weighing on his scales. However, I was keen to get the fish back as quickly as I could to see if I could catch any further fish out of The Mad, although I thrown out the necessary blind that I’d caught it out of The Hump.

We photographed and videoed Bitemark in the Loftus Road swim on the Causeway, and I ended up swimming briefly with the fish in the margins as I underestimated the depth somewhat for ‘ The Captor Returns’ shot!

One of the commons.
Geoff Rendell managed not to cut off my
head on this shot!

By the time I’d got dried off, changed clothes and generally calmed down, a couple of fish were still in The Mad, although I suspected the majority of the carp had high-tailed it following the capture of Bitemark. Within four hours, I’d captured two twenty-plus commons which Geoff Rendell photographed for me – without cutting my head off completely! After the two commons the fish moved off down the lake and the rest of the session was a blank. There were no promising swims to move into when they did.

I didn’t care. I’d got that first big Harefield carp of a new season under my belt and my confidence was sky-high.

What followed was quite a remarkable Harefield season for me and I have no doubt that getting off the mark so quickly was one of the factors that led to so much success.




This Month’s Guest Feature is by Shaun Harrison

(which was Original featured on his website (

Jimmy Greaves famously said “Football is a funny old game” and those words could so well have been pointed towards carp angling.  Winter carping in particular can be a prime example for throwing up unpredictable outcomes during those long dark winter months.

I love my winter angling, always have. I have tried to analyse this on many an occasion when I am sat there with painfully cold toes and fingers that don’t want to set about packing the frosty gear away. Over the years I have justified my winter angling by telling people I love the fact that it is just me against the fish a lot of the time rather than me trying to slot into a decent area amongst lots of other anglers as can be the case during the summer months.

To be honest my love of the winter is much more deep rooted than that though. I love the rawness of it all. I love being out when nature is trying to persuade us to stay indoors. I love the sun rises and the sunsets which so often give a much more powerful image than many of those in the summer. But above all I have the memory and the knowledge that most of my P.B. carp right from the early 80’s have slipped into the net during the winter. Even my biggest fish from overseas have been winter captures. My personal best U.K. French, Slovenian and U.S.A. fish have been winter fish.

With well over 30 years of winter carp catching experience behind me you would have thought I would have certain methods and baits that will work everywhere. Well, I have but I will be the first to admit that no two days are the same and often I have to keep tweaking things with hook bait colour, bottom baits, pop-ups, snow men, trimmed baits, big baits, little baits, it goes on and on but for some reason the carp constantly change in what they want.

Or do they?

I have been thinking about this quite deeply these past few weeks. I have been fortunate to have been catching the fish during a period that I haven’t seen another fish caught yet the last few have all been on totally different coloured hook baits. Same rig, same flavour, but a different colour and interestingly the last 2 have come from re-casts to exactly the same spot as I had been fishing but with a different coloured hook bait.  The simple change in colour has triggered the response.

So, although I have the background feed there giving a very clear visual which the carp are obviously homing in on I find I get a pick up much quicker by fishing a different coloured bait over the top of it. Almost the daisy in a field of grass if I were to fish for cows but often that daisy has to be replaced by a buttercup to get a quicker take.

I think what is happening in this situation where the approach that was good enough last trip isn’t working this trip, isn’t so much to do with the method not being right, but more to do with different fish being present.  Different things trigger different fish. This is so noticeable when you look at repeat captures of a particular fish on one bait yet another bait will constantly repeat capture a different one.

Best fishes
Shaun Harrison

These words first appeared in a Blog I wrote for Angling Lines.

                               This Month’s Guest Feature is by Simon Crow

many thanks for this Simon

Two nights at Birch Grove

I was fortunate to be a member of the Birch Grove winter syndicate for five happy years, leaving at the end of March 2002 if my memory serves me correct.


I have fond memories of a very beautiful lake and some exceptional fishing which saw me finish my campaign with a session to remember which included three of the then biggest fish in two days, including the Video Fish at 36lb, the Lovely Common at 35lb and Starburst at 34lb 12oz. The following season tragedy struck when around 30 fish mysteriously passed away in the space of a couple of weeks, including most of the biggies and fish that had become famous through the writings of Tim Paisley. At the time I felt sick but at the back of my mind I knew that Birch would come again as it’s one of those waters which for its size is rich enough to produce good carp time and time again.

Until Tim invited me for a session for this feature, I’d not stepped on the banks since I helped with the netting of the stock ponds to introduce a further injection of 30-odd fish to supplement those that were lost. I think that was around the spring of 2003. When I arrived in late May this year it was obvious a great deal had changed. The new lodge had been built and a great deal of work to fell old trees and build new paths had been carried out. Much to my surprise, a new swim had also been constructed. In the days of when I was a syndicate member, there were only five swims on the lake, with the far bank completely out of bounds. I knew from talking to Tim that in the early days of when he fished the lake that the far bank used to have several swims on and one in particular was a very productive area, known as Bouncing Bobbins. After negotiation with the owners and much hard work of the syndicate members, this particular swim had been reinstalled.



I had two days to complete the feature, arriving at the lake at 7pm on the Friday, pulling off on the Sunday at around 10am. When I arrived the weather was very mixed, with the sun out one minute and then hidden behind clouds the next. It was one of those days when the jumper was on and off every few minutes, although the air temperature remained constant due to a lack of wind. The lack of ripple meant it was easy to spot fish, and after an hour of looking and walking, I knew exactly where I wanted to be. The End Boards is the shallowest end and boasts some lovely marginal lily beds amongst which I could make out the odd cruising and basking fish. I had a drift over the area in the boat and straight away I saw a few good chunks drifting under and close to the boat. I saw at least three nice commons which I’d have said were close to if not over 30lb as well as a mirror which was not far behind. Amongst them I also caught sight of several nice 20s, and it wasn’t a difficult choice of where I needed to be.

Half an hour after making it back to shore I was all set up, with the view being to put all three rods along the lily margin at 30 yard intervals. I was armed with a variety of different baits, but knowing how good tiny seeds are amongst pads I knew each rod was going to be fished over a bed of hemp which you’re allowed to bait up with from the boat. I didn’t want to cause too much disturbance so I drifted ever so gently along the margins of the lilies looking for some nice clear areas where a hookbait would go well. The right hander was an obvious choice as there was a small clearing between two sets of pads with 4ft of water below. Here I scattered three large handfuls of hemp as well as a handful of pellets and a light scattering of 18mm boilies. I’m not a great fan of fishing boilies only over the top of hemp as the carp can become so preoccupied on hemp that they leave the boilies alone. With a few pellets amongst them of a similar size though they seem to pick up anything in the close proximity.

The middle rod went in a much more isolated spot in the middle of a thick set of pads. From the surface you wouldn’t have noticed the clearing that was below the water, but thanks to a bit of intermittent sun, my Polaroids and some perseverance, I found a firm clear patch about 6ft wide that looked as though it had been cleaned by the fish. There were pads covering the surface but below it looked lighter on the bottom and just screamed fish. Here I scattered exactly the same approach I used for the right hander. Not wanting to put all of my eggs in one basket, the left hander I fished differently. I could make out the odd fish topping close in to the far margin, and when I say close, I mean right in the edge. I didn’t want to create a very obvious man made pile of bait for these fish, instead just going for a single hookbait fished alongside a stringer which I’d roam around depending on what activity I saw during the trip. I had two days in front of me so there was plenty of time for experimenting.


All three rods I fished with 18mm hookbaits snowman style, and knowing that Birch has a history of rig shy fish I had to make a few adjustments to my normal presentation. There were several times when I was a member of the syndicate that I knew the fish had ‘done me’. A single bleep lift of an inch, followed by a drop back of about two inches was known amongst the syndicate members as being an aborted take. Single bleeps had on several occasions been converted into takes too, so anything with any anti-eject properties about it needed to be used at all times if you were to succeed. I remember seeing Frank Warwick do extremely well on the water with his Long Shank presentation. He wouldn’t always land fish, the odd one would fall off, but it was obvious that his rigs were frequently turning what would normally be aborted takes on my rigs into confident pick-ups. With this in mind, I decided to go for size 4 Long Shanks with the line aligner, alongside 10-inch 25lb Super Nova hooklinks. The turning properties of this rig when I did the palm test with it were much better than when I did the same with the shorter shank hooks I tend to prefer. You may well wonder why I don’t use the Long Shanks all the time then, well the answer is I don’t like losing fish, and I do think Long Shanks lose more fish than shorter shank hooks, but the difference is that at Birch I know you can get away with losing the odd fish and not spook the others. At a lot of other waters I think if you lose one fish, your chances may well have been completely lost.


Great start

Anyway, back to the session. I was all set for about 9.30pm on the Friday night and I was buzzing with enthusiasm. Here I was set up at Birch Grove all by myself. Wonderful! I soon drifted off to sleep hearing the ducks every now and then climbing up into the boat to pick away at the odd grain of hemp that was around. For a Friday night the road behind was very quiet, and at 2.30am the middle rod broke the silence when it just roared off. I scrambled out of bed, throwing the mozzi shroud attached to my sleeping bag to the floor, and hooping the rod up as soon as I was on it. I held tightly as the fish tried to battle amongst the pads. The rod was bent full and I made the odd bit of ground in between it going solid.


I knew the fish was still there as the tip would flick every now and then, the secret to getting them out of pads being to just let them find their own way on a tight line. I did exactly that and a short while later the fish was plodding up and down the margin. It was pitch black and I couldn’t see what I had on the end although it did feel heavy. Up to the surface the fish came on several occasions and I tried to steer it to the net, each time without success. I remember talking to myself while I tried to coax it to the net and I think I made about three unsuccessful attempts. I just couldn’t see what I was doing because of the dark. I kept chuckling to myself like John Wilson does, and in the  end I had to go back to the bivvy to get my head torch which I usually don’t like to do. Once I was back to the water’s edge I flicked it on and caught sight of the fish. It didn’t look as impressive as I first thought it might be, and it continued to charge from left to right up and down the margins. It was a right battle. Eventually I coaxed it to the net and she was mine. It was only then when I drew the net towards me that I knew I had a decent fish. Had the hook pulled at any moment I would have thought I’d lost a double, but in the torch light it looked very wide, and certainly close to thirty. The scales shot round to 35lb 4oz, but the net was dripping wet and needed to be deducted from this. I settled on 32lb 4oz, and I sacked her up for some photos when the light would be better in an hour or so. I also re-did the rod which had just produced the fish, and settled back down for some more shut eye.




An hour later I was woken by some single bleeps on my right hand rod. The bobbin wasn’t moving at all, but during a period of ten minutes I had four bleeps and rod twitches which could only be down to movement in the swim. I expected it to burst into life at any moment. As it turned out I had to wait another hour until it was 6.30am when off it went. The fish had gone sideways into the pads and needed some lengthy persuasion to come out. Eventually I had it free and in open water, when it decided to give me a proper good battle under the tip. This fish felt much better and I was really surprised to see a 22lb mirror in the net when I eventually showed who was the boss.

By the time I was all sorted again the time was 7am so I text Tim to tell him I had a 32lb 4oz in the sack. I knew he was due down to the lake to see how I was getting on, and knowing how much of an early bird he is I expected him at any time. He arrived at 8am and duly fired off some lovely shots of the biggie for me. The 22lb I’d returned by the time he arrived, having taken some half-decent self-takes.

Tim departed about 10am and I was back to being alone on one of the most tranquil lakes I know. It was lovely just being there and walking the banks, let alone fishing the place. For most of Saturday I spent time mooching around in the boat looking for fish. The majority still seemed to be around the pads end, although I did see a couple of good uns’ on the far margin to the left of Bouncing Bobbins. I could tell from their movements that they were spooked and that they knew anglers were on the lake. I wondered if my chances were all but gone. I contemplated going home as I had a lot of work to do, but it’s not very often you get the chance to fish Birch by yourself in spring so I stayed put. The rest of Saturday passed by uneventful, as did the night, before I departed a very happy man at 10am on the Sunday morning. Birch didn’t owe me anything, but I left with yet more happy memories of a lake that has given so much joy to many anglers all over the country.




Fishery info

Lake size: About five acres.

Location: Somewhere in Shropshire. The exact location will be revealed at the time of booking. This is an exclusive venue which doesn’t allow anglers to just turn up and walk round.

Fishing details: There is a winter syndicate in operation which runs from November until the end of March each year. The rest of the season is open for bookings from the beginning of June whereby the whole lake is booked by the week for a maximum of four anglers. Anglers can bring non fishing guests who are able to stay on site.

Price: On application.

Contact details: Telephone Angling Publications on 01142580812 and ask for Pip or Jemima. Alternatively contact Pip on 07808741158.

Carp stock: There’s estimated to be between 100-150 carp in the lake, of which the vast majority are 20s, the biggest of which is around mid-thirties



                          June Guest Feature is –The Rig Issue By Paul Selman


I often cringe when I see some of the more ‘elaborate’ carp rigs pictured in the magazines.

There is no way sometimes that the rig could work as described and I often wonder if the writer has actually used the rig at all, or is it simply just a convenient way of filling up column inches…

I cringe, because being a fishery owner, you know that someone, sometime, will turn up with the published monstrosity on the end of his line and wonder why it isn’t working as it was in the magazine.


The best rigs are simple I feel with the most important component being a good sharp hook.

Being a fishery owner puts me in a position where I see lots of different anglers’ rigs, and it’s amazing how many people make the same mistakes over and over which handicaps them when it comes to catching carp.

One of the most common errors I see is anglers using rigs which are far too short and then make things even worse by combining the very short rig (4”- 6”) with heavy and large leads. Now there can be a use for such a rig, especially with a bait popped-up straight from the lead, but with a bottom bait (with which I see it used most) you’re asking for trouble, especially when fishing over silt. A cute carp will soon work out that the bait doesn’t have much movement, because it’s tethered to a heavy lead. If it does feel daft enough to pick up the bait, it’ll soon drop it or blow it out because it instantly feels the heavy lead, with the result that the hapless angler gets the odd bleep and rod knock and a great deal of frustration!

The solution is a simple one – by doubling or tripling the length of the hooklink to 12” or 18”, the carp then has the chance to swallow and move a distance with the bait before it feels the lead – greatly reducing the chances of ejection. A change of material can also help too. I see too many using braid when a switch to nylon or fluorocarbon would make ejection of the hookbait far more difficult for the carp.

In silt, a heavy lead is really not necessary but only recently one of our clients was using 5oz leads in very deep silt, thus burying the hooklink and also probably the hookbait. Not surprisingly he didn’t catch with this approach. I think it’s far more effective to use much lighter leads of 1oz/ 1.5oz/2oz, and I only go heavier if I need to cast a long distance. You want as much as the hooklink as you can resting on the silt and working for you, and also a very easily found hookbait.

Another common mistake I see is an angler using far too short a hair – virtually non-existent in some cases. This leads to easy bait ejection by the fish and if the fish is hooked very poor hookholds, which often leads to fish dropping off. Again, you’ve got to use a longer hair to enable hookbait ‘play’, this looks far more natural and gets better hookholds. I tend to go for an inch away from the hook.

Why is it most carp anglers seem to think the only position for the hair is mid-way down or fully down the shank of the hook?

The original hair when invented by Lenny Middleton was mid-way along the bend of the hook, and I find this a very effective position to revert back to when the fish are being somewhat finicky.

Why is it most carp anglers use the same material for the hair as the hooklength? I see Stiff Rigs where the hair is also stiff and of Amnesia etc. This was never how inventor Mike Kavanagh envisaged it, and fished this way it is far less effective. Mike designed it to be fished with a soft, braid hair.

When times are hard and the fish are really finicky ever tried using 2lb nylon as the hair as in the early days, fished off the middle of the bend of the hook Maddocks-style? I have, and it has brought me many fish in such situations when I would not have caught with more ‘fashionable’ rigs.

In conclusion, really think about your rigs wherever you fish, but keep things simple and sensible. There is no such thing as the Super Rig which will catch in every situation – there really isn’t!


                                May Guest Feature By Shaun Harrison

This Months Guest Feature, by Shaun Harrison which was Original featured on his website (

I have written at length in the past regarding re-hydrating boilies, soaking and softening boilies and so on. In fact it is very rare for me to feed dry boilies on any water that has seen any amount of pressure as I know I can improve their effectiveness with just a little bit of extra effort.
I get bored with reading comments along the lines of if you have to soak the baits then there is too much flavour in them in the first place. This is something that usually comes from the angler not thinking things through properly. What I actually do is add extra attraction to the bait and lose nothing of what is in there in the first place.
Here is a simple step by step guide to my usual bait preparation. I am writing this on a Thursday and this morning before work I started the preparation of my bait ready for Saturday.

It’s February as I write so I don’t intend to be feeding too much on Saturday. My usual approach is a couple of casts with a Mini Spomb clipped to the safety clip  in place of my lead and then I replace the Spomb with my lead and sail a rig out to the same area as the Spombed bait had gone. Simple but very effective and I would definitely prefer to have a little bit of bait in the swim than relying just on the hook bait or the oh so boring and obvious bag, stringer or stick presentation.
So I won’t be needing a lot of bait but I want something to introduce to kick out much more attraction than a bag/stringer/stick approach ever can.

500 ml of Naked Hemp (hemp seed without the shell) is poured into a container and 750ml of boiling water (you can use less water but I am wanting to create a cloud with this bait as well – more of which later) is poured over the top and the lid to the container put into place whilst the Naked Hemp is scalded and basically pressure cooked.

Once the water is cool you will see the amount of  natural hemp oil in the excess water. It smells gorgeous and so much fresh/cleaner than hemp in its shell that has gone through all sorts of processes to prevent people growing it.

I break up 500 ml of boilies and add these to the container being careful not to mix them in but leave a layer on the top of the hemp.

Another 500 ml of boilies which at this time of the year I prefer to be 10 mm with just a hand full of 15 mm’s as well. These are then added on top of the broken boilies and again I am careful not to stir them in of mix the bait up.

The lid is replaced on the container and the whole lot quickly turned upside down. This is the reason I was careful not to stir or mix the baits in. The hemp is cooked but now the broken boilies and the full boilies are left to soak up that beautifully attractive hemp juice. My fingers still smell really pleasant from this morning. That fresh hemp oil really does stick around.

By Saturday the 10 mm’s will be like little paste balls and the 15 mm’s will have nice soft outers with the pores stretched open to allow the boilie additives to seep through as well. Drop one in the edge and you will be amazed how long these little hemp impregnated balls keep on pumping and oozing attraction. Any fish in the upper layers will be breathing this column of attraction in. They can’t miss that there is bait below them.

Now for the double whammy and why I used more water than really needed. As well as this column of  attraction forming from bottom to top I also want a big visual stimulation as well as decent leakage of stimulants around the actual baits. This is created by adding Maximum Action Pellets and Micro Feed in equal amounts to soak up any remaining liquid. It is whilst these are being added that I finally mix and stir everything in together.

Well, there you have it. It might sound like a lot of messing around but it really takes very little preparation time so long as you remember to put 10 minutes aside a couple of days before you go so start the soaking process off. Besides, it is worth a little bit of messing around to keep those indicators flying.

On a final note to those who keep ranting about washing flavours out – you will perhaps now see that my nice soft baits are far from washed out. Everything that was in them in the first place is still there with added extras.

I think I could be giving a few too many little edges away here. It is rare for me to feed dry boilies these days. The above process is what I am currently using. I have done similar over the years utilising lake water or bottled water (flavoured and normal). I am in no doubt whatsoever that carp definitely prefer to eat soft wet baits than dry hard ones. Particularly the older ones with teeth problems and never more so than during the long cold months of winter.


Best fishes
Shaun Harrison

                          April’s Guest Feature is by Simon Crow



Although I’ve been down to Elphicks a couple of times in the past, I’d never stepped foot on the banks of the North Lake until May 2012. The first time I paid the complex a visit was to fish at Pullens Lake in 2006 when the previous owner had it, and then a couple of years later to fish on West End Lake for a night. On both occasions, being the jewel in the crown, the North Lake was rammed out with anglers so I left them to it. However, a lot has happened to the lake since then, the complex now being in the hands of Mark Pallet, an experienced carp angler who to be fair, has transformed it into something very special indeed.

The main attraction is the venue’s 60-pounder, a fish formerly known as The Pig which is now referred to by the lads on the lake as The Big Girl. For quite a while the fish hovered around the 50lb mark, but a destocking of the carp and the catfish by Mark has seen the fish push on past the magical sixty.

The trip started at the end of May on a Friday afternoon, following a week which had seen only one fish out to ten anglers. It was slap bang in the middle of the high pressure spell which saw the country hit by a heat wave with temperatures averaging mid-twenties every day. The drive down was horribly hot and I knew it was going to be pretty much the same when I arrived. Luckily I had the first two days to myself, meaning I could wander around with a stalking rod and do a bit of surface fishing, something I absolutely love to do.


It was baking hot and the lake was flat calm. I’d been told by quite a few lads that the end closest to the entrance was the place to set up. Sixty percent of the biggun’s captures were from this end, but when I walked the banks, almost the entire stock seemed to be down in the shallows. There were backs out all over the place and within no time I had a few taking. Fishing standard controller tactics with a 10lb mono hooklink and a single softened Mixer on a size 6 hook with the barb squeezed down, it didn’t take me long to get my first one on the bank. It was a lovely 28lb 8oz fully scaled ghosty, an absolute beauty which kicked things off nicely.

It was late evening by the time I’d got everything back to normal so I sorted myself out for the night, plotting up on the grassy bank side half way between the first island and the dam wall. The plan was to steadily feed a few spots with boilie during the week in an attempt to catch the biggie. Being a known boilie muncher I wasn’t interested in numbers of carp, I just wanted a chance of the biggie so I started with a base feed of 18mm boilies. They were air-dried for the week ahead and were perfect for what I wanted. I found a lovely gravel strip in the margins a few rod lengths out where it dropped to 5ft. One rod went there, a second rod going out towards the corner of the island to my left where another strip of gravel was located. The third rod was then fired to the opposite margin where it was again hard and gravely. All three spots looked perfect patrol routes so were baited with a few kilos of boilies to begin with. I also put out 30 Spombs of mixed hemp, Red Band and maize which my mate Derek Fell had prepared for the trip.



First night

I’d been told that the nights and early mornings were a good time on the bottom and true to form at 5.15am my margin rod at my feet was away with a 26lb mirror on the end. It was sweltering for so early in the morning and I knew instantly it was going to be another day of stalking on the cards. By 9am there were again loads of carp on show in the shallows so I headed there. By the end of the day I had another three carp under my belt, all off the top on Mixer. The highlight was a clonking 37lb 8oz starburst mirror. It took me an hour of feeding that fish up to stalk it, bringing them closer and closer to my feet and then singling out the biggest of the group. It was awesome seeing it coming up for the bait at my feet. The night passed with another two fish to my credit, both in the early morning, including a 30lb 12oz grass carp which went absolutely ballistic in the fight and on the mat. It was too early to get a self-take with one of them so I just slipped it back without a picture. Having caught grassies to almost forty in the past, I knew full well it was going to smash me to pieces and I didn’t fancy it.


Time for company

Just before Rob Hales arrived for a couple of nights I managed a lovely 27lb mirror on the float from the shallows. By now it was getting tough to get them to come up for bait as it was so hot. It fell for a couple of grains of sweetcorn fished in the margins.


When Rob arrived, I instantly saw the lake take on another status. As soon as another angler was added to the equation, they started hiding themselves away a bit more. They were no longer cruising about so obviously in the shallows; during the day they started to head for the deeper water up by the entrance end. It made sense really as this was the only safe area they had on the lake, the volume of water giving them some cover.

Rob had arrived at completely the wrong time. Anyone who’s fished with him will know how good he is, but in the conditions he fished, it was just horrible. The heat was 27-degrees and it was flat calm. The fish just weren’t interested in feeding. During his first 24 hours neither of us caught a fish, and only on his last night did things change when he pulled out of one on the surface. Around the same time I had a small grassy off the top, and an hour before he left I had a hard-fighting mirror of 34lb which would have easily been an upper-thirty pre-spawning. It was a really aggressive fish that took some handling.


Last few days

The last few days of the trip were equally as hard going. A change in tactics may have seen a few smaller carp grace my net but I wasn’t interested in any of them. I had a rare sighting of the one I wanted up in one of the corners off the dam wall one afternoon. It looked colossal compared to the other fish I’d seen, coming up for five Mixers I slung out next to it before heading off into the centre of the lake. Had I had my surface rod to hand I may have had a chance for it, but nonetheless it was wonderful seeing a sixty-pound UK carp so close up.


Derek Fell and his mate Adam joined me for the final few days and it was equally as tough going for them as it was for myself and Rob. During their time on the lake only three other carp were caught and I had two of them, the best a 29lb 14oz mirror off the top. Derek had a 23lb common whilst Adam lost a mid-twenty at the net. The last night saw carping legend Martin Locke join us, and it was just as frustrating for him watching the carp topping all over whilst not being able to entice a pick up. It was one of those trips when I really wish I’d been arriving when I was leaving, but overall I really enjoyed it, finishing with stats of eleven fish to myself topped by the 37lb 8oz.


A walk around the lake

There’s not an easy way of describing the lake because none of the swims have names or indeed numbers. It’s a bit of a free-for-all when you arrive, simply heading off to wherever you want to fish and just making sure you don’t get in anyone’s way. All the swims are gravel bedded and very comfortable, with the ones towards the lodge end on the track side being the most popular. It’s also around this area where the biggie tends to get caught the most, although it does come out from all over so bear this in mind. The shallows at the far end is definitely worth a look if the lake is quiet as they will get in there, but if it’s busy expect to find them in the deeper water where they’ll have more cover. The shallows averages a couple of feet and you’ll soon know if the carp are there as you’ll see them bow-waving about.

Features wise, most of the margins seem to have a gravel shelf, even the islands do, and you’ll find it easily with a marker. It was from this area where I caught a couple of my thirties, but out into open water can also be productive on the right day, where it’s nice and soft bottomed.




Overall opinion

The North Lake is a fantastic commercial fishery which is run to a very high standard. It’s set in peaceful surroundings and at the height of the summer it really is beautiful. It’s maturing very well and since the lake was destocked so is the fishery itself. It’s no longer somewhere you can just lob a bait out and reel them in all day; you now need to think about your fishing a lot more and be versatile in your approach. Expect a few frustrating hours from time to time because they are very riggy, and you may have to endure a few blanks along the way to get what you want. When they switch into feeding mode, however, anything can happen and you really can experience some incredible catches, topped hopefully by an absolute brute of a carp that is most definitely worth targeting, whatever your level of ability.



General info

Address: Elphicks Fisheries, Spelmonden Road, Horsmonden, Kent, TN12 8EL.

The complex: The Elphicks complex is one of the most famous open access fisheries in the Kent region. It has seven lakes, the most famous being the North Lake which is home to carp to 62lb. Other lakes on the complex include Pullens which is 3 acres with carp to 40lb-plus, Kettles at 2.5 acres which is a runs water with lots of small carp in, Prairie at 3.5 acres which has carp over 30lb, Sandwich at 1.5 acres which is a general coarse lake, Plantation at 1.3 acres with carp to over 30lb, and West End with carp to 57lb.

Facilities: There is a lodge at the main entrance which sells top name gear and bait, including Solar. It also sells a selection of light refreshments and has a toilet (both male and female) and shower which can be used at a small charge. On site there is also a café serving some delicious meals throughout the week.



Telephone: 01580 212512

Lake size: The North Lake is approximately 6 acres with 19



                                               March’s Guest Feature is by Paul Selman

Some Sound Advice for French Virgins
by Paul Selman 

Are you thinking about your first trip to France or do you have one planned for the near future?

Hundreds of UK and Dutch carp anglers visit my French lakes every year and I’ve been fishing all over France for over 20 years now, so I feel reasonably qualified to be able to offer the newcomer to French carp fishing some very good tips and advice!

Have the correct attitude

Many people go to France with the view that French carp fishing is so easy.

All they have to do is cast out and big carp will climb up the rods day and night! Unfortunately, this just isn’t true and anyone going to France with this ridiculous attitude (and many still do!) has a very good chance of ending up very disappointed. Please don’t leave your angling brains at home in Dover!

French Forty. Easy – not!

Many French carp lakes see many more anglers each week than many English lakes. Three of my lakes are fished every week from mid-March to the end of October – this is constant angling pressure. Many other French fisheries are fished week in, week out too.

The main difference between English and French lakes is that the latter are usually more heavily stocked, which makes them overall easier to catch carp from, but not easy. For success in France, you must work for your fish, the same as you do in England.

Another important aspect here, is to always listen to the advice of the resident bailiff. You might be the bees-knees on your local UK pond, but your French-based bailiff sees the people come and go, watches those that catch well and those that blank (yes, people – including myself – sometimes blank in France!) and knows what tactics work and don’t work. Ignore the bailiffs advice and help at any venue at your peril.

Bait Choice.

Twenty years ago cheap carbohydrate-based semo boilies and maize etc, were perfectly good carp baits in France, and on occasion the likes of maize still can be. However on lakes that see new anglers on every week, the use of high quality boilies and pellets sees many more carp banked.

I always advise my clients to use whatever quality boilie they have the most confidence with in the UK, coupled with whatever pellet the fishery feeds the carp with throughout the year. Most sensible fishery owners have banned the use of nuts and particle baits such as hempseed as they do the fish and fishery no good whatsoever – check bait rules before going.

If I had to choose one bait to use in France it would be the Trigga or Trigga Ice readymade in 20mm and 14mm. These catch everywhere and once enough is used it becomes the dominant bait on many French lakes. On a few I’ve fished the Trigga readymades have outfished other baits I’ve tried by 10-1! So if you are scratching your head about what bait to use, opt for Trigga in readymade form or frozen, although I find the readymade just as good and more flexible as I don’t need to worry about freezers etc. I prefer the 20mm version, but the 14mm are often good where the fish are being a bit more finicky.

Tackle Choice

Unless you are fishing the inland French seas such as the Lac de Orient or Chanteqoc, for the vast majority of French fisheries conventional English tackle in terms of rods and reels etc in use on your local pond is perfectly adequate, providing the rod is at least 2.12oz t.c..and the reel of good quality such as the Daiwa big pit reels (such as the Emblem or Emcast) which you can pick up new for around £50 nowadays.

Keep it simple.

Main things to think about are main line breaking strain, hooklink strength and hook strength. These three tackle items tend to be the problem area and many visitors to my lakes are under-powered in these aspects and lose fish as a consequence.

French carp are usually bigger and more powerful fighters than their English brethren. Throw in any possible French Wels’ catfish you may catch on many lakes on boilies and you really need to focus on strength.

I’d recommend no less than 15lb b.s. main line, a hooklink of 15lb -20lb b.s. (where allowed) and a very strong hook with a minimum of size 4.
I find 15lb – 20lb nylon hooklinks more effective in France than braided. My favourite hook is the Drennan Continental Boilie hook in size 4 or the Short Shank Nailer in size 4. Both of these are very sharp but also very strong.


French carp are just as wary of nylon lines as English carp, so don’t forget your back-leads or slack-lining methods. I’ve switched over to 20lb X-line which sinks like a stone and eliminates the need for backleads, but there are disadvantages too with this line – it is difficult to cast long range with this for example.

Watercraft is equally as important in France so quietness, observation and mobility is very crucial. My most successful clients don’t just statically fish from the bivvy 24/7 but also go stalking for fish with one rod free-lining or fishing with a float or light lead in the margins in the daylight hours too.

Many French fisheries allow boats for placing rigs and baits as I do on my lakes. When using a boat, take care to only row out at quiet times and once your baits and rig is out be very patient and wait until you get a take. Don’t keep rowing around especially on a small lake- fish are not that stupid!

Son Matthew with a lump from my Orchard Lake.

Other Essentials

Accidents do happen and you may become ill so make sure you obtain your free European Insurance medical cards which you can send for on-line from If you need hospital, dental or other health treatment you may initially have to pay but then you can claim the costs back if you have your medical card once you return to the UK.

Always take more euros than you need in case of unforeseen circumstances, or take a credit card with you. Cash dispensers can be found in all French towns today and they all take Mastercard, Visa etc.

Always get car breakdown cover when travelling to France such as Green Flag see – without breakdown cover you could end up paying out lots of cash if you car breaks down as well as having to delay your return to the UK!

Always, always, remember, you are supposed to be on holiday!

Happy French Carping!


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