Mitch Hammonds takes us through his step by step guide on how to avoid nuisance species and catching carp
The Bovington Common - Text Only
Rob looks back on a truly memorable capture that saw him embark on a campaign which led to the capture of the incredible Bovington Common.
Most anglers might think that starting on a new lake in January isn’t the wisest move, but I disagree, and that’s exactly what I did on Bovington Pit 1. It’s a small club lake close to where I live, which holds, in my opinion, one of the nicest-looking big commons in the area.
The reason I chose to start in the middle of winter was simple – quiet banks. By starting my campaign at this time, anything I was lucky enough to see or catch could be kept nice and quiet. I’ve fished numerous busy club waters in the past, and knew full well that there are usually a few anglers who wouldn’t think twice about jumping on any hard work you had done should they see you catch, so any captures would be kept very close to my chest.
Although I knew a couple of people who had caught the common, my knowledge of the lake was somewhat limited, to say the least. My first trip was just a few hours during an afternoon. I didn’t want to make too much disturbance, so I had a few casts with a bare lead, just to get a feel for the depths and lakebed make-up. I soon located a lovely silty area in around 12ft of water that felt prime for a bite or two, so this is where I started my campaign.
As expected, nothing happened that day, but as I left the lake just before dark, I made sure to spread a couple of kilos of boilies over the area, ready for my first overnighter, which was to be 2 days later.
On the first night, I was surprisingly confident when getting my rods out in the dark after work. The weather was unseasonably mild, with southerly winds and temperatures of around 11-12°, but despite my confidence, I was still a bit shocked when my left-hand rod tightened up less than 2 hours later! The fish put up a good scrap, but soon enough I bundled a half-decent mirror into the net. At just over 24lb, it was a great start, and I was chuffed to bits to be off the mark so soon.
Nothing else happened that night, but I kept the bait going into that area two or three times a week between overnighters for the next couple of months, and caught fairly consistently throughout that time. I even had a double take one evening, which was mad considering it was mid-February, and this was known to be quite a tricky lake at the best of times. I knew it was only a matter of time, and midway through March, the lake started to get a bit busier; being a small lake, it did put me off a bit. I ended up having a couple of months away from the lake, but after catching my target fish from another lake (which I had been after for 5 years), and hearing that the big common still hadn’t put in an appearance, my attention soon turned back to Bovington.
As luck would have it, my first session back actually coincided with the common’s first capture of the year. I got to see her on the bank in all her splendour, and if I’m honest, she looked better than I could ever have imagined. The following morning I caught a cracking mid-20 common from a bait waded along the margin to the back of a snag bush. I love that kind of fishing, so was over the moon to catch one doing so.
Only 4 days later I was back at the lake, but despite having a strong feeling that she could well do a quick capture after the first, I wasn’t overly confident of it happening. However, I would have been made up with one of the other 30lb commons the lake holds, as they too are lovely-looking fish. I waded my right-hand rod to the back of the snag bush, and dropped a couple of handfuls of hemp and pellet over the top to complete the trap. The left rod was flicked along the left margin, but slightly further down the shelf.
Just before dark, the right-hander wrapped around, and quick as a flash, I was on the rod and doing battle with what turned out to be a scaly upper-double mirror. I quickly slipped him back and attached another rig before lowering it onto the spot, confident of another bite.
It was around 4.45 in the morning, just as the sun was poking above the trees, when the same rod signalled a strange tenchy-type bite. Upon picking up the rod and winding, I was initially met with absolutely no resistance, but it soon became clear that the fish had picked up the bait and was coming towards me, rather than bolting for the bush and trying to steal my rod like the other fish from that spot had done.
Once I had caught up with it, it was immediately apparent that it was no tench. The fish bolted and took 20 yards of line in the blink of an eye. It fought hard for at least 5 minutes before I even saw my leadcore, but when it did surface, I glimpsed what I thought was one of the lake’s 30-pounders. It wasn’t until she was actually in the folds that I could see it was the big girl, so my feeling of her doing a quick capture was confirmed.
I quickly secured the net and rang my mate, and photographer of all big-carp captures in Essex, Elliott Gray, who held this particular carp dear to his heart. He was only too happy to come and see her on the bank once more. We carefully weighed her in at 41lb 4oz, and I couldn’t have been happier because Elliott fired off some amazing shots. Thanks again, mate.