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The Ups And Downs Of A Thames Carper - Part 2

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Last Updated: 7th January 2014

After its initial run the hard-fighting fish soon slowed down and I could tell it was not a carp but a big Thames barbel. On the scales she went just over 10lb and as nice as they are, it was not what I was after. I slipped her back and told her not to bother me again like one of her friends that I managed to catch seven times last year from this very spot. The barbel do seem to love a Solar Seafood Take-Away boilie, especially when soaked in the ‘deadly’ Marine 17  

With the boat now a bit of a mess from having to sort the barbel out a quick tidy up was needed before the rod was chucked back on the spot just in time, as it had started to rain. The rain came down for the next hour or so and as soon as there was a break in it I quickly packed up and rushed home to spend the rest of the day with my other half and our daughter. By 4pm I was getting itchy feet and was soon back in the boat and on the river having a look about for somewhere different to fish for the night. Nowhere took my fancy so I dropped back in to what we shall call the public spot, where I was the night before. This area is close to a town and that can bring a whole host of problems while fishing there. From drunks throwing rocks at the boat, to silly rowers going through my lines, all added the 20 million swans and geese that are regularly fed by the locals in that area and you can appreciate it takes a bit of patience to fish this particular spot.

It does have its advantages though and the amount of bread that gets thrown in for the birds is just unreal. People feed the ducks and other feathered critters all day here, so the carp know there is a constant supply of food and they just cannot resist it. I like to use small PVA bags of breadcrumb and boilie crumb soaked in the Liquid Gold Marine 17 in these public areas as I feel that the bread is part of the river carp’s ‘natural diet’ and they don't treat it with any suspicion. Also, soaking the bags in the liquid really does create a great food signal that slowly wafts downstream, hopefully pulling fish to my hook baits.

With the rods back on the spots, I settled under the brolly on the front of the boat as the rain set in for the night. What a wet night it was as well! When I woke to the phone alarm the next morning my shoes were floating in about 3 inches of water that had collected in the bottom of the boat. There really is nothing worse than having to put soaking wet shoes on first thing in the morning knowing that is how they're going to stay for the rest of the day. Having not had a touch through the night I was soon packing up the boat ready to make a move for the day into a small mill pool area to see if there could be a carp or two hiding in there. Unfortunately, the amount of leaves that had fallen into the water here made it very hard work to keep a rod out for more than ten minutes at a time, as the leaves kept building up on the line and dragging the 5oz leads off the spots. By 2pm I was beat and decided to call it a day and head home, but not before heading up river to another area to do a bit of baiting up in readiness for the colder months ahead.

I was back out again on the 31st of October with renewed enthusiasm after baiting the public area in the evenings after work since my last trip. It just had to be worth one last go before I went off to try elsewhere. With the boat loaded, I set off in the dark through the lock and down towards my little spot but no more than a hundred yards from the lock gates the boat engine just stopped. Flicking on my head torch to investigate I could see no problem - the fuel line from the tank to the engine was all connected and after giving the fuel tank a quick shake there was just enough fuel to get me where I wanted to be. But no matter how hard I tried, the boat would not start again. Upon closer inspection I finally found the problem to be water had got into the petrol tank and unfortunately for me boats don't run on water.

Decision time. Do I admit defeat and just go home or do I try and paddle the mile down to my spot with just one oar. The wind was blowing up river with quite a lot of aggression and by the time I had made the choice to try and paddle I had been blown back to the lock from where I had just come. It was going to be a long night, but I had to get the rods out and at least if I could get to my spot that night, in the morning I could call a rescue team from the local boat hire company to come and sort the boat for me. Standing on the front of the boat paddling for all I was worth I didn't feel like I was making any headway in the wind. For every stroke of the oar I was being blown back twice as far. So instead, I paddled over to the bank and got out of the boat and dragged it by a rope all the way down the toe path until I was eighty yards down stream of my spot, then I hopped back in and let the wind push me out to the area I tie the boat up to when fishing here.

With a rope finally holding me in place I collapsed onto my unhooking matt and just lay there for ten minutes to get my breath back after my ordeal. Once I had regained my composure I soon had the boat set up, I was fishing and the whole episode was almost forgotten about. Again another blank night and that was the sign I needed that the fish just were not feeding here and it was time to move on. Before I cold do that though, I had to get hold of a family member who happens to fix boats for a living, to come and repair my vessel.  

After an hour of waiting in the warmth of my Uncle's engine repair shop he soon had the old girl running again and I was off on the hunt once more. It was now mid-morning and the rain had started to fall yet again. I had been thinking long and hard where to head next, but just kept drawing a blank so set off to find a new spot to try for the rest of the day. I finally found an area worth a look after an hour or so of floating about. It was on a fairly featureless straight section of river with a newly fallen tree. These can be fish magnets due to the fact when they fall in the river all the bugs and creepy crawlies go in with it and create a nice natural larder for the fish to feed on. I was still using the Seafood Take-Away boilies but had also bought a kilo of Solar’s Club & Cream out with me. This really is something special and as winter sets in I can see this bait really coming into its own. With one rod fished tight up against the fallen tree and the other flicked off the marginal drop off where it went from 5ft to 8ft no more than a few feet off the bank, I sat back and waited. This was only to be a short afternoon session to get a feel for the spot as I would be back after work in the dark. Before I left, I baited one rod with the Club & Cream and the other with the Seafood Take-Away ready for my return.


Log back on tomorrow, December 6th, for part 3 where even a hole in his boat from a crash in the dark doesn’t halt Ben’s quest for a Thames giant.


Missed part 1? Don't panic, CLICK HERE to read it now