Mitch Hammonds takes us through his step by step guide on how to avoid nuisance species and catching carp
The Dream Maker - Text Only
Daren ‘Tinpot’ Norman made his dreams happen on Roach Pit. Not only did he set a new PB, he caught a thirty, forty and fifty pounder all in one trip!
It was the start of May and surely the fish would wake up soon? Two months previously I had never dreamt I’d be fishing down in Ringwood but the sale of Wraysbury, and a couple of mates putting in a good word, saw me holding a ticket to one of the best syndicates in the country. It was a cold spring and I hadn’t got remotely close to catching on my first four trips. A handful of fish had been caught on single hook baits but they certainly weren’t ‘having it’ and with some hot days forecast I hoped this might be the trip, as I put the gear in the back of the van ready for an early start in the morning.
The alarm clock went off at 4am and I was up and on my way. Two hours and 125 miles later I pulled into the car park and began my first lap of the pit. It was a blissful morning, with mist rolling off the still lake and anglers dotted about, peering from underneath their brollies. At the far end of the lake, on the Chesil Bank, I bumped into a friend, Mark, who pointed out a group of fish showing in front of him. Fish were also showing in front of the swim next door and it looked the place to be. He gave me the nod to say it was ok to get in there, so I got my gear together and excitedly set off for the swim. Mark was fishing in shallow water on top of a large plateau with four feet of water on top of it, and it looked really good for it. Unfortunately, the swim next door offered very little in the way of shallows and I had to settle for long 15ft drops that seemed to take forever to touch down. The fish were in the area though, so I was in with a chance.
I spent the day in the swim with high hopes and it was the first time I’d really been on fish and, with nothing else to go on, I decided to stay put for the night. At around 4am the following morning, a huge fish crashing out woke me; it sounded enormous! I sat up, got out of bed and squatted by the waters edge. Not one ripple hit the bank. The fish must have crashed a lot further up the lake and I guessed it had been somewhere in the channel. In the morning I witnessed a day to remember unfolding for my friend next door. He ended up catching three thirties that morning, starting with a 34lb mirror called the Long One, then a 31lb double linear and finally the Thick Wristed at 31lb. It had been a very cold night but the bright sun was warming the water and the fish were obviously up for it in the shallow water. Mark had been the same as me, searching for his first Roach Pit carp and he went and caught three belters in a morning; a mega result!
Even though the swim next door was going off I had the feeling the depth of water in my swim just wasn’t right, so went on a hunch and moved up to where I thought the big one had crashed out the night before in search of some shallower water.
I made the move and dropped my barrow in a swim that was just up from the entrance to the channel, an area that joins the two ends of the lake. I got the marker rod out and quickly found just what I was looking for. The left-hand rod was placed on a bar in 8ft, with 11ft behind it as it dropped into the silt. The middle and right-hand rods were placed on a different bar, once again in 8ft, but this one was surrounded by 13ft of water. I didn’t want to use the spod, so opted to just catapult a kilo of mixed 12mm, 16mm and 20mm Krill boilies over the left rod and two kilos over the other two. Pop-ups on hinged stiff rigs were put on all three rods and they all went down lovely with a reassuring thud. The night was quiet but at 5am, while sitting a couple of swims down having a coffee with Olly, we saw a fish show close in front of my swim. I ran back and wound in one of the rods on the furthest bar and dropped it in short. Not less than 20 minutes later, the middle rod was away on the bar I’d just reeled the other rod in from! As soon as I picked the rod up, I knew it was a good fish. It felt really heavy, hugging the bottom, making powerful lunges in an attempt to shake the hook. Once I had gained a bit of control, it decided to kite to my left on a 50-yard line. This was a nightmare as a large tree entered the lake to my left and the powerful fish was kiting around it. I sunk the rod as low as I possibly could, with only the reel above the surface, and prayed that it stayed on as I started pumping it back towards me. I could feel my line rubbing against the branches and I was shaking like a leaf. Once I thought that the fish had cleared the tree, I gingerly lifted the rod to see the line moving slowly away from the branches. What a result, it was game on again. After a few minutes of plodding about, it came to the surface and we could see it was a good fish and, thankfully, Olly got it in the net first time. Neither of us knew how big the fish was, all I cared about was that I had just landed my first Roach Pit carp.
Initially, I thought it was a mid-thirty, but after a closer look we could see it was a really big fish and put it at 43lb-45lb. Once we zeroed the scales, I made my way down to the net to carry her ashore. As soon as I tried to lift her up I knew it was bigger than anything else that I had caught before and Olly and I looked at each other in shock as the penny dropped and we realised which fish it was. A few of the lads arrived in the swim to give me a hand with the weighing and pictures.
It was a fish known as the Mug, not a name you would normally associate with such a beautiful fish, and she looked wonderful with her dark-chestnut colouring and huge frame. She weighed in at a staggering 50lb 4oz and not only was it my first from the lake – it was a new PB too. We noticed that she was passing out Krill everywhere, so it was obvious she had been feeding hard before I had the take. All the lads were brilliant and took some stunning pictures, making the occasion extra special with the friendly banter. It whizzed by in a blur and soon I was in the water, giving her a kiss goodbye and thanking her for making all my dreams come true.
I spent the morning eating bacon sarnies and drinking beer. It was party time in my swim and the atmosphere was brilliant. BIG CARP BUZZ! All of the lads were great, sharing the special moment, each knowing that it could be their magic day soon too. That’s what I love about places like that; everyone appreciates other captures and we all share the highs and lows. Seeing as I’d caught a 50 pounder, I thought it only right that I spend 50 pounds celebrating and fifty quid’s worth of finest Keskins pizza was ordered for the evening, washed down with plenty of beer, cider and laughs. I slept well that night, before being woken by a take at 3.30am on the left-hand rod. This time the fish didn’t give me too much grief, just what you want from a night-time fight. I could see a large fish vortexing about in the edge and almost talked myself out of it being another big one. I slipped the net under it and it was time for the magic moment, when you flick the head torch on to see what you’ve got. Bloody hell, it was another monster and definitely over 40lb! I got it on the scales and they read 44lb 10oz. I was still unsure about which fish it was. I had most of them on my phone, but I didn’t recognise this one.
I slipped her in the retainer sling and put the kettle on to compose myself and take it all in. At 5am one of the other rods tore off and this one didn’t come in quite so easily. After perhaps 10 or 15 seconds, it felt as though I had lost the fish. I began to wind as quickly as I could and all I could think of was the feeling you get when a fish has either cut you off, or you’ve had a hook pull. Just as the line was near the edge, it pulled tight and my rod arched round. The fish gave a powerful surge down the marginal shelf and in doing so, proceeded to wipe the rest of my lines out. I could feel the fish head-butting the bottom and peeling line off the other spools that I’d opened the bail arms on. After a very hairy five minutes, I managed to get the fish in the net. It turned out to be a fish called Len’s Fish at 37lb 10oz. It was black and a prime example of why I’d wanted a ticket so badly.
A few of the lads were in the swim for first light and we were all excited to identify which fish the big one was. We carried it over to the mat and gently unzipped the sling. There was silence for a moment, mainly because people were in shock that I had a fish known as Barbs. It had not been out for over a year and many thought the otters had got it. It was almost a double celebration now, for my capture and the fact that this lovely looking carp remained in the pond.
We got plenty of pics of both fish and after it was all done I started to try to take it all in. A fifty, a forty and a thirty in the same trip! Unbelievable! I drove all the way home with the biggest grin you’ve ever seen on my face and a memory that I will cherish forever.