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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


09/11/2023 - An Excellent Day On An Estate Water

my best carp of the session


Today didn’t seem different to any other day, as I made the long walk to the lake, except the weather was very warm, sadly no wind, also bright sunshine, I arrived to find the water smooth as glass, nothing moved, the only sound was, when I disturbed the occasional pigeon flying from a tree, with its loud flapping wings, otherwise it was, a wren or robin, occasionally, a jackdaw. In the distance I could see two buzzards circling as they climbed the thermals. Today I decided I was going to slowly walk anti clockwise around the margins of the big lake, looking for surface feeding carp, also perhaps bubblers and smokescreeners, the latter fish cannot be mistaken, as they create small or large area of coloured water, resembling the smokescreens put out by warships etc. This coloured water is caused by the carp, as they root in the soft silty bottom, so intense are they to find the food, the tail fins can often be seen flapping above the water surface. In fact if you can find fish rooting around, they can often be easy to catch, but beware they are easily spooked.


Moving back into the wood, I found a tree with two short broken branches where I could hang my gear including the food, in my small shoulder bag, I had a set of scales, loaf of bread, pot of lobworms, plus a small box of hooks, catapult, also forceps, pen knife, bottle of water, plus a decent size plastic bag for weighing a fish if needed, also it could be used for litter, hopefully that shouldn’t happen as it was very private estate water. I used my Sharpes salmon rod, that had been converted to make the ideal carp rod, matched with a centre pin reel, holding 12 lb bs line, to which attached a size 4 hook with a Palomar knot. Putting the hook in the keeper ring, With bag over my shoulder, camera around my neck tucked under my jacket for protection, I was ready, before moving off, I changed my normal day glasses, to my pair of Polaroids with prescription lenses, then picking up rod and landing net, I was now ready for a day in search of carp.


A hundred yards later, I come across a bed of lilies, sitting on a fallen branch, I fired out four pieces of crust, into the lilies. Within minutes there was movement, a fish was trying to push a bit of bread off a lily leaf, into the water. Eventually it succeeded, I heard the cloop as the crust disappeared, if a sight like this doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. (Ask Mr B he was shaking like a leaf in a gale, after his first experience of seeing a fish take his bait under the rod tip, then after a few minutes I got his fish in the net). It was time to cast out a match box size piece of crust attached to a size 4 hook, with a gentle under hand swing I dropped it tight to the lilies, ten fifteen minutes passed by, meanwhile the free offering were disappearing. Within minutes a carp sucked down the bait, I got a hook up, line was ripped off the reel, often when you catch a carp or sometimes a chub, on crust close in, it usually want’s to get well away from the area in a fast run. After about ten minutes I’d got my first carp, a common in the net about ten pounds, as in most hook ups when fishing float crust, the hook is in the scissors and easily removed, often it comes out as you net the fish. I fired out some more crusts, then waited quietly, soon a fish is back circling a bit of crust, getting closer and closer until its knocking it about, then it must have though it safe, as it slowly opened its mouth then sucked in the bait, striking I had another fish. Eventually it was in the net, a similar size fish to the first, again the hook fell out in the net.


Time to move on, within thirty yards I spotted three carp, in a gap between some bulrushes, I threw in some bits of bread, then waited quietly to see if there would be any interest, fifteen minutes later the carp still ignored the crust, I moved on a few yards then spotted a bubbling fish, I quickly changed the hook size from a 4 down to a 6, adding a BB shot six inches from the hook, then baited with half a lob worm, edging quietly forward I gently dropped the worm a few inches a head of the bubbles. Watching the line like a hawk, a few minutes later the line twitched then moved a couple of inches, I set the hook, a big bow wave shot out from the bank, the reel screamed as I had the ratchet on, the rod was pulled down savagely. Soon the fish was thirty forty yards away, heading towards a patch of lilies. I cramped on as much pressure as I could, slowly I was turning the fish away from the danger area, into an area of clear water, though I didn’t know what snags might be on the bottom. It was slowing up a bit, soon I was able to gain line back on the reel, also I had more control, it felt a good fish, suddenly it shot off to my left, where I let it run a bit. After several more minutes, I was winning this fight and slowly getting the fish in close, though I had to be careful in case the fish kited right or left into the rushes. Eventually I got a good look at the fish, saying to myself “That’s a good double” eventually it was in the net, looking into the net I could see it was hooked in the scissors, all I had to do was gently release the hook with my forceps, then lowering the net back in the water, I grabbed the scales and weigh bag, zeroed the scales, then slowly pushed the carp into the plastic bag. On the scales I got a reading of 17-4-0, I was more than satisfied, a quick picture, then I watched the fish swim off strongly.


Time to move on to a bay surround by reeds except for a gap about twenty feet wide some ten plus yards out from the bank. I could see what I thought was a golden carp or an Orfe, not having seen either fish before, I wasn’t sure what it was. I took off the BB shot then baited with a piece of flake then with an underhand cast, I gently cast out the flake some four feet in front of the quarry a foot or so from the bank. Five minutes later the fish slowly moved towards the flake, gently nudging it then taking a tiny piece, followed by another tiny piece, it then moved away but was soon back, I watched it clearly as it moved forward then turned upwards towards the bait, opening its mouth it moved about half an inch then sucked in the rest of the flake as it closed its mouth I set the hook, all this taking place no more that four feet away. Though the fish wasn’t any size it did put up a good fight for its freedom, but soon it was in the net. I shot a picture then released the fish. ( I have since sent the pics to other anglers, it seems it’s a golden Orfe, I have to take their word for it not having seen one before”)

Over the next seven hours. I was lucky to catch 16 carp best at 17-4-0, including 4 wildies also 6 double figure fish, using crust, flake or worm, I spent the whole day walking around the water, looking for the fish, I caught two were bubblers, one smokescreener, most were eyeball to eyeball catches, most of the carp on crust under the rod tip, nothing could be more exciting. I look forward to next summer, but for now its chub with hopefully a trip or two to the Soar after perch with Mark Sarul, that’s if I can find someone in my area who would like to fish the Soar. Sadly my friend for many years is no longer interested in fishing.



a golden Orfe

A wild carp

Estate water

One of my spots

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Martin James Fishing
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