Mitch Hammonds takes us through his step by step guide on how to avoid nuisance species and catching carp
The Quest is Over - Text Only
Ross recalls a memorable session, where a 10-year-quest for Oxford’s finest finally came to an end.
I have fished the lake when I can for a long time now. I have a full-time job and I’m limited to fishing weekends when possible. I have been fortunate to catch over 50 different fish from the lake, but when I joined there were five fish over 45lb, and now there is only one. For me, these carp are in a league of their own, both for looks and the challenge they give anglers to be able to actually catch them.I had been planning a midweek trip for a while, and with things quietening down at work, I grabbed the opportunity to do a couple of midweek sessions. I had only caught two fish leading up to my first session, and with the weather getting cooler, I knew my time was now or wait until next year.
The fish had been holding out in the middle of the lake, so I set three traps, each with balanced bottom baits, and 50 or so matching Krill 16mm boilies around each rod. These carp like uncarpy conditions and hate the rain, which didn’t make it look great for the next day. The pressure dropped and the rain came down, but bizarrely, the fish went crazy. I received a bite mid-morning and I knew it was a good one.After an epic boat battle, I slid the net under one of the lake’s rare gems, a fish known as Drop Scale. It symbolised why I travel so far and spend the money I do on tickets and fuel to fish the place. Every scale was perfect, her colours were immense, and it was a pleasure to hold her. She weighed 38lb and behaved impeccably well for the cameras. I slipped her back and that was it for that session, but I cared not.
I was back the following week, with a spring in my step and my confidence brimming. I got back in the same swim and the spots had been demolished. The fish were clearly still visiting the spots and it looked prime for a bite.
I got my rigs out as quickly as possible, with as little disturbance that I could get away with. Everything went down perfectly, and with a fresh bait top-up, I was hoping that whatever it was that had been smashing the bait while I was away was big.
That night I woke up to a bite and it was like nothing I had felt before. The power was immense and I knew it was a big fish. It made a dart for a weedbed to my left, and I had to take to the boat to prevent it locking me up in there. Then it was game on, and unfortunately, the fish had the upper hand, and ran me ragged for a good 20 minutes.
Eventually, I netted a large ball of weed and what appeared to be a long fish. I flicked the headtorch on and was met by a large scale on the flank of a huge body. It was Bitemark, the queen of the lake, and one that everyone, me included, was longing to catch. I unhooked her and carefully transferred her to the sling, and then waited for it to get light. I knew it was safe to do so, and wanted to get some nice pics of the fish which I had been longing to catch for so long. I knew it would be a personal best, and I was absolutely buzzing.
When it got light, we weighed her at 47lb 12oz, which was a good weight considering she had spawned out in the summer. We got some great pics, and I got the soaking that is a tradition on Linch Hill.