A Time to Reflect

3rd April 2020

Chris Douce looks back on the great memories he made last year fishing with his twin daughters Maisy and Ayla.

Due to the current state of play, with no one going out fishing, and many people having much more free time, we decided to ask our team to put pen to paper on some memorable moments. Chris Douce and his daughters Maisy and Ayla aren’t regulars on the Sticky social media pages but we knew there would be a few stories to tell, that may not have seen the light of day in the normally busy working life. You only have to look through a small portion of Chris’ Instagram account (@chris_douce) to see how well the last 12 months have gone for the trio.

Chris revealed:

“As I sit here bound by the restrictions that our government have (rightly) inflicted upon us, and with my carefully thought out spring plans having been curtailed at a moment’s notice when only at their stages of infancy, I can’t help but reflect on the angling adventures that I enjoyed with my twin daughters throughout 2019.

“You see, we like to angle for many species through a calendar year, and as such, there is usually very little time for reflection. As any carp angler will know, preparation is both key, and time consuming. So, when you consider the fact that we are often switching from species to species each week, because quite simply, that’s what we enjoy most, then time suddenly becomes a premium commodity that I often yearn for. Now I find myself with plenty of it! Of course, in this case, carp angling is what will be of most interest to the target audience, hence, I’ve had a scroll back through last year’s folders and although most of both mine and my daughters carp angling was carried out on venues with strict publicity bans, we did manage to get to a few venues with more relaxed views, and we enjoyed a few captures which were of significance to us.

“We started off with a trip to an old haunt of ours, a day only venue which is renowned for its lovely old Commons. They love their boilies in there and with that in mind, we went prepared with 5kg of 50/50 Krill and Manilla which had been pre-soaked for a day in hot water, Liquid liver, and Cloudy Manilla liquid. A cold-water combo that has really served me proud. It was a busy day with all of us catching some fantastic commons in the peak of condition. I had mine on white Krill pop-ups at range, whilst the girls were sneaking theirs from an island margin on Krill wafters, all over straight boilie loose-feed.

“Following a few trips to our syndicates, we went to another open access, days only lake which has done the girls proud in the past. They have caught many PBs there over the years and this trip was no different! Ayla upped hers with an extremely hard fighting common which stripped 60 yards of line from her on two occasions and then did its best to dig an undercut into the near margins! After 20 minutes, Ayla’s arms were ready to drop off, but she did such a great job and her prize was eventually bound within the confines of the net manned by her sister Maisy. That one was nicked from just in front of the boards of an all but ignored swim on our favourite hookbaits for that venue; half a Krill Dumbell wafter soaked in Liquid Liver and dusted in GLM powder with a trimmed down sliver of a Pineapple & N-Butyric Pop-up. Small mesh bags of Krill and Manilla crumb ensured effective presentation amongst the masses of dead leaves on the lakebed.

“Our next trip was another day session, this time at a favourite venue of ours, Hacche Moor. They love their pre-soaked 12mm Krill and Manilla in those lakes and, as we often do, we fished ‘off the barrow’ with our little wafter hookbaits and little mesh bags of crumb, only this time we scattered a generous amount of the super soft 12mmers over each hookbait. The girls’ best fish of the day was a nice big super clean mirror, and when Ayla held it up for some shots amongst the buttercups, I couldn’t think of a scene which signified the season of spring more aptly.

“It was soon time for my annual trip to Ashmead, only this time I had the company of both kids and both spaniels! Anybody who has fished Ashmead will be aware of the importance of exercising stealth. This trip required a different approach altogether! With a bit of careful thought as to our positioning and the positioning of the traps, I soon had things sorted. In the past, those Ashmead carp responded really well to big beds of Krill for me. However, this year was different. Following the extensive weed raking carried out by Skeff (the owner), a massive number of shrimps, snails and all kinds of other natural goodies had been deposited in the near margin shelfs at various points around the lake. The carp were absolutely tuned into these naturals, almost to the exclusion of all else, as recent catch reports had reflected. I decided to bait very lightly with 16mm krill, with just six baits for each rod, with each bait spaced a good sit foot apart. The feasting carp gave away their presence as they harvested nature’s larder amongst the weed beds, so the rigs were carefully lowered onto the patrol routes observed. To our utter joy, we were blessed with a couple of gorgeous Somerset commons.

“Following a number of trips to our syndicates, we returned to the scene of Ayla’s PB earlier in the year for another day session. I remember us talking in the truck as we drove through the gates in the pouring rain. We were excited and actually optimistic that we might beat one of the girl’s PBs that day. Small Krill hookbaits, bags of crumb and soaked Krill and Manilla made it happen again for Ayla! Maisy also chipped in with a common that came very close to her PB.

“Our last trip chasing carp was actually just me, fishing with a good friend. It was yet another day only session to the Commons lake. By its standards, it actually fished pretty slowly, but the white Krill pop-ups at range to an island brought me five commons, topped by an ancient and special old carp which had lived in its environment for a considerable number of years. It once weighed well over 40lbs, and although not in the condition it once was, it still commanded the utmost respect. It’s one of those carp that makes me feel in awe of its presence. A true Devon relic, and a lovely way to end our carp angling for the year.

“On reflection, it had been a good year for all three of us when it came to big carp. The girls had both caught numbers of 20lb+ fish from both their public and private waters, including some fantastic old mirrors, and I had fared pretty well myself, but that as they say, is a story for another time. Keep yourselves safe in these testing times guys. All the best, Chris, Maisy & Ayla.”

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