Day Ticket Dreams
During the winter one of the Impulse Team lads Tom Smith was lucky enough to win a very special raffle prize during a carp night. Exclusive use of The Quarry Lake in Essex for 48 hours ! Upon leaving the carp night I spotted my opportunity to collar tom in the car park and I happily secured a place on the trip. Your a good lad mate ;)
Dates were set and plans were made in preparation for the off. We decided the first week of June could be a bit of a gamble weather wise but one we were willing to take. With the possibility of arriving too a spawning lake, it really was 50-50.
As the weeks rolled by you could hear the excitement growing in the voices of the attending lads. For some it would be their first trip down south and for others the opportunity to angle for some of the oldest carp around.
I've been lucky to fish many beautiful places in my time and for some real cracking fish but The Quarry holds a true gem that goes by the name of Radish, one i deeply desire to have in my album. The Quarry has always been 'dead mans' shoes in terms of obtaining a syndicate ticket but thankfully a little over 12 months ago it became open to all on a day ticket basis, giving me my opportunity to have a crack at banking the mighty Radish !!
The weeks slowly dwindled away until finally 6am Saturday morning arrived and it was time to hit the motorway. I can't say Roxy the carp dog was as enthusiastic as myself at the prospect of a 3 1/2 hour car journey! The sun shone and the birds sang as we pulled out of the drive way and all was well in the world.
After risking my life on the M25 I was the first to arrive at the lake. Shortly followed by a lost Simon Williams who drove straight past me, how Iam not sure ! After a brief catch up we were greeted by the rest of the lads falling out of their vans giggling like school girls in anticipation.
When first arriving at a new lake you never know quite what to expect. The mental pictures you build in your mind can sometimes be more mystical than what is presented in front of you. The Quarry far exceeds your expectations, it's a place of natural beauty and tranquility that not even dreams can come close too. At every turn you are greeted with vibrant green lightlight cover and crystal clear water screaming carp at you.
With the lads eager to get started a peg draw was arranged to which yours truly here came 7th ... Out of 8 ! Never the less the peg I wanted was still available come my turn. Luck was on my side I thought as I strolled off down the path bursting with confidence.
The area of the lake I had chosen to fish was the shallower end. The forecast had given blue sky's and high pressure so my first thoughts turned to getting the dog biscuits out. With the water been fairly clear and the shallows averaging 4-5ft deep it wasn't too hard to spot the 30 or so carp sunning them selfs in a bay to the left of my swim. After annoying them for an hour it was clear to see they were not interested and were drifting off in small groups back up the lake.
With all the goings on in my own swim I hadn't noticed that a little further up the bank Phil Barker had helped himself to a very nice dark common around the 20lb mark. Now I have to admit as pleased as I was for Phil I couldn't help but feel I had messed up my chance in the bay which had cost me an early fish. I spent the next few hours scouting every corner of the shallows but the carp had well and truly sussed me out and done the off !
By now the sun had started to drift over the tree tops and the temperatures were slowly dropping. I wasn't expecting to have much during the night but had opted to stay put for when the sun and hopefully the carp made a return the next day. The alarm clock was set for 3.30am due to not wanting to miss any signs of carp at first light. As the alarm buzzed and I slowly came around I thought I could hear the sound of "chunks" boshing up near the islands. This was soon to be confirmed by the mass of txt and phone calls that followed from a very excited Simon Williams.
"There showing like dolphins" he kept repeating ! "And another" followed by "bloody hell that was big"!!!!
This really did put me in an awkward situation. Then it happened !!!! The unthinkable, it was like God himself had decided to laugh at yesterday's miss fortune and my life less bay ! Simon sent the txt
"30 plus of fully scaled mirror carp"
I have to admit Simons fish was a true stunning carp and likely to be over 30 years old. Stunning is a very over used word in carp angling today but if ever there was a fish that deserved the title it was the one in the bottom of his net. Well Done Mate.
The morning sun made its way around to my bay and I had decided to stay put until just after dinner. I would have kicked myself if I hadn't and the fish had of shown up to sunbath once more. By 12.30 I had spotted nothing !!!! Not a roach fart could be seen across all of the shallow bay. It was time for a move. A few calls around the lake revealed 3 available swims directly facing the opening between the two islands. This was the area the carp had decided to settle in during our trip and it was clear to see they were present in numbers.
Between the lads so far there had been a few fish landed and a few lost to the weed so as a group we weren't doing to bad. It was time for me to get in on the action and with the fish now in front of my new swim I would only have myself to blame if I failed. Lucky for me I didn't have to wait too long as a little after 6.30pm my left hand Delkim let out 2 bleeps ! The rod tip gave me a slight nod and that was enough, with a gentle lift I connected to my first Quarry carp. The nerves of a school boy kicked in and I was shaking with excitement only to be kicked between the legs as the fish buried itself in the weed. Everything was locked up solid, bubbles were pluming to the surface as one angry carp tried to shed the hook.
There was only one thing for it ! Time to launch captain pug wash. Slipping the life jacket on I jumped into the boat with my net dragging behind. Slowly winding myself to the offending weed bed I could see the fish was still attached. Once above it I applied a little pressure and she came up first time, full of energy mite I add. For the next 15 minutes I felt like an amateur water skier been towed around my swim. With little I could do but wait for her to tire out i just enjoyed the moment. It's not every day you find yourself in the middle of a beautiful lake attached to an old dark warrior doing battle.
Slipping the net under my first Quarry carp felt like a weight had been lifted. With a cheeky roar to the lads signalling my victory I made my way back to shore.
On the scales she weighed a dash over 20lb but that mattered non. It was my first Essex carp and a belter at that. Her chestnut colours glimmered in the evening light and the smile on my face grew as I held her up to the cameras. Such a great moment that still makes the hair on my neck stand up now.
With the congratulations out the way my attentions turned to my upside down swim. There was tackle all over the place and just as I bent down to pick the weigh sling up the right hand rod burst into life. This was unreal ! I was attached to another angry carp.A short lived battled had the strangest of looking fish wallowing in the bottom of my net. At 24lb I was pleased the weights were heading in the right direction even if the looks weren't.
I decided to re do all 3 rods for the night. The last 2 fish had had fell to short stiff fluorocarbon rigs using a Deception Angling long shank size 6 hook. It was obvious they couldn't deal with the stiffness of the rig once sucking the 18mm bottom bait in.
With 3 identical rigs tied up the rods were dispatched to their relevant spots followed by 100 Impulse Baits Apex Formula 18mm bottom baits. One thing I like to do is tip my baits with Enterprise fake corn or maggots. Knowing maggots are banned it seamed a simple chose to opt to use a fake grub as the hair stop.
The lake bed seamed fairly clear close to the island but I never cast a rig out without a bit of PVA foam on the hook, better safe than sorry I say ! With all 3 rods settled I decided to sleep under the stars that night. If the fish moved I wanted to move with them. A 3.30am alarm was once again set ready for what I hoped would be another good morning display. This time I didn't have to wait that long as moments prior to the alarm going off the left hand rod was bent around.
The fish swam towards me with some speed leaving me to pick up the slack. Under the rod tip I could feel this fish was heavier. The previous head shacking from the smaller fish was not present in this battle. With an opportunist scoop of the net she slipped over the cord first time. Peering down I could see a short fish with a huge back. Upper 20 I thought , that will do !!!
Neo and Simon the photographers made there way around to help out. With a second glance in the net reality set in that this fish may just go over the 30lb mark. With Simon confirming my thoughts I tried to act casual when really I could have run around the lake starkers screaming my head off I was that pleased. With the Rubés zeroed out the final weight settled at 32.4 of chunky mirror carp.
It really was turning out to be a very special weekend with great company to share it all with. Feeling very content I half settled my self to that been my fill. So far I had banked 3 fish and unfortunately lost 2 too the weed, il wash over the loses tho as there a bit of a sore point.
With a few reinforcing words from Neo that there was still time for another out went another 200 Apex bottom baits split between the 2 recast rods. With 4 hours left he was more than right when 45 minutes later the right hand rod tip started to knock. A scrappy head shaking fight from the start indicated it could be one of the 20lb stockies the lake contains. True to form a long dark chestnut mirror lay in the folds of my net. Now Iam not a religious man but I did say a small thank you, who too exactly Iam not sure ? Manners cost nothing and any things worth a try to keep the lines tight !
For the record that was the last fish of the trip weighing in at 22lb. 6 takes with 4 landed was enough for me. Iam not normally a day ticket angler but it does go to show even on a day ticket lake traveling light and moving with the fish really can pay off.
Finally a huge thanks to Tom for inviting me along and to the lads for making it a trip to remember.