Mitch Hammonds takes us through his step by step guide on how to avoid nuisance species and catching carp
Theatre of Dreams at Christchurch – Text Only
Tim recalls a memorable Christchurch session targeting the elusive A-team.
I have been fishing Christchurch on and off for a couple of years now, and I like to refer to it as the theatre of dreams. The stock is immense, with many big and beautiful carp in the lake. They don’t give themselves up easily though, and despite numerous weekends during the winter, I was yet to get off the mark this year, although I had caught before, and fortunately some big ones by using big-fish tactics. I couldn’t wait for the weed to come up so the fish would start to venture in the edge; that’s when I knew I would start catching a few.
I got down to the lake on Friday morning and it was very busy. The only swim free on the bank, where I wanted to be, was Peg 2. It hadn’t been fished for over 6 days, which is so important on a busy lake like Christchurch. A few fish were coming out, but as always, it was fairly tough going. I wanted to keep as quiet as I could, so I waded out and dropped three Chods close in. I’d had my Krill boilies in soak for 4 days prior to my session, all swimming in Pure Krill Liquid. They stank, but that smell is almost like natural food to these carp. I dropped a few whole and broken baits around each rod, and they were all sitting nicely over the weed. I was fishing with Chods mounted on leadcore. The hookbaits were home-made Krill cork balls that had been in L-Zero 30-T soak for the best part of a year, and these salty little pop-ups had accounted for nearly all my fish for the past few seasons. I knew that if the fish were there, they wouldn’t be able to turn them down.
Saturday morning arrived with no joy for anyone, apart from the chap next door. I nipped round to photograph a lovely 23lb common for him, and we sat chatting about the lake. We had both racked up a few trips, and we had both struggled. The lake can be hit-and-miss, but when you get it right and get on them, they do occasionally slip up. Then, out of nowhere, the left-hander melted off. The power was immense and it stripped a fair bit of line off me, so I concentrated hard and made sure that the fish avoided the weed and snaggy treeline to my left. Thankfully it did, and it seemed to do all its fighting under the tip. I caught a glimpse of a common, and a big one too. She came up ready and I slid the net under one of the A-team. It was Toejam, a truly spectacular common carp, and one of my main targets from the lake. A crowd had gathered, and the fish was treated with the utmost of respect and care. We did the shots and weighed her in at 42lb on the nose, which was a new PB common for me.
The whole lake then did 24 hours without producing a fish. I woke up on my final morning and had a few liners. They happened all night and I thought little of it, but at daybreak, I could see the odd fish ghosting past my rod tips. I sat there watching them for a while, and they were literally 4ft from the bank. I reeled the rods in, lifted the tips out of the water, and moved the rods back up the bank a little. I repositioned them to less than an underarm, right on the pathway of the traffic that I had seen that morning. I went next door to have a brew, and I have never heard a Neville scream like it; time almost stood still, and everyone could hear it. I was using the Heli Safe system, and the fish was on the surface straight away. It then stripped 30 yards of line and weeded me solid. Under steady pressure, it came out relatively easily, and then tried to do me in the snag. I jumped in the waders, and as it came near the net, it then charged off for another 30 yards. I had never felt power like it, and just when I thought it was beaten, off it went again. I had an idea which one it was, and I was desperate to land it. When I did, I knew it was the Ironing Board, and she looked big. It was one which I never thought I would catch. After spending countless weekends blanking away during the winter, it was finally all worth it. She weighed 45lb 6oz, another PB, and what an end to an incredible Christchurch session. She went back safely, and I left, one happy carp angler.