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The Ups And Downs Of A Thames Carper - Part 4

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Last Updated: 7th January 2014

So, we finished my last diary instalment with a hole in the front of the boat and another blank on the score sheet. The river was really making me work for a fish and doubt had started to creep in.  Was I fishing the right areas?  Were there many carp left in the stretch after last winter’s floods? Or were they just not having the bait and only feeding on naturals? So many questions and so few answers, but I was only going to get the answers one way – by getting back out there!

Another day at work was soon over and before long I was on route to the boat for a very quick overnighter in the winter spot. I had to be up at 5am the next morning as I was off fishing with my brother Jak in search of a few Thames pike from the boat. So once the rods were out I quickly scoffed some cold pizza the other half had cooked for me earlier in the day and was sound asleep not long after devouring it.

The phone alarm soon shattered the silence and had me dragging myself out into the cold, damp morning air. I was not up for the pike fishing, but as I had made a promise to my brother I had to just go with it and not to let him down. A speedy pack up in the dark soon saw me motoring back down river to my mooring, swapping the carp kit for the pike rods, then down through the lock to meet Jak. I won’t bore you with the morning’s events as there were none! We tried all of our favoured pike spots and not one bite materialized in the 6 hours we spent afloat. Knowing the river like we do, we soon called it a day. Having dropped my brother off and made the trip back up through the lock, I decided to head back to the winter spot for the rest of the day. This spot has a good history of producing a bite in the afternoon, so it had to be worth a few more hours.

With the rods back on the spots I sat back and watched the world go by. The kingfisher was having a red-letter day and every time I spotted him sat on his little perch he was happily munching down another fish and putting me to shame.
By 5pm I’d had enough and called it a day, so I spread the last of my Club & Cream boilies over the spots and headed home for a nice roast dinner with the family.

With my spots not producing I thought about trying a new area that I had never fished before. The only problem was, it would take over an hour to get there in the boat and I wanted to get some bait in before I fished it. On Wednesday, after work, I blagged a lift with my youngest brother to as close to the spot as I could get in a van and then trekked over a sodden field with the bait buckets and marker rod to get some bait in ready for my return on the Friday after work.
This spot is a long lock cut and after the high water we’d had over the last week or so I figured that there could be some carp holding up there out of the flow. I primed two spots, one being a lovely overhanging bush with a nice depth under it and the other alongside the lock mooring piles where the weed was starting to die back and open up a nice natural food larder. With Club & Cream and Seafood Take-Away dumbells spread around both spots I was itching to get back there on Friday after work.

Friday finally came but, as luck would have it, the bus was really late, meaning that I didn’t get out until gone 9pm. Instead of making the long journey to the pre-baited lock cut, I dropped into the winter spot for the night and was woken at some unearthly hour by Mr Bream. At least I knew that the bait I had been putting in was being eaten by some fish!

Packing up the next morning and making the hour journey to the lock cut spot was a chore as I was so tired from the last few days at work, but it was also nice to have a full weekend off work for a change instead of just Sunday and a random week day like I had been having up until this point.
Once in position, it looked spot on for a bite and I sat on the back of the boat with the rods out watching the afternoon go by. As soon as darkness set in I popped the brolly up and made the boat my home for the night. I was so confident of a bite that I struggled to get to sleep and must have dozed off well after midnight. I was woken at 6am by a dog walker telling me that I could not fish where I was anchored up, but I soon told her a few facts about where I can and can’t place my anchors and that I would not be moving until later on. I strung it out in the lock cut for a few more hours, but by 9am the rowers were driving me mental as they kept turning round right over my spots and when one went through my lines even though I had back leads on. That was enough for me to pack up and head back home for another week.
One thing I did learn from fishing the lock cut was how much natural food was still in the river. The Canadian weed I was bringing back on the retrieve was absolutely alive with snails and fresh water shrimp. The bottom of the boat was literally moving with all the shrimp that had fallen out of the weed. This did make me realise that they would still be munching the naturals like they had been all summer.

My day off the following week was a Friday and I was feeling very lost and really scratching my head as to where the carp could be hiding. I was, in fact, not going to fish this week and just have a break and get my head straight. I find this can sometimes help when I’m struggling and a break can give me a more positive outlook on the river. Up until this point I was yet to have a carp since early September, about six weeks previos, plus they were not really giving me any clues as to where they could be hiding.  All the dramas of the last few weeks had started to take its toll on me and this break was needed. Little did I know what the river gods had in store for me that Thursday night when I got home from work.

My daughter had decided to show her artistic side and draw on her bedroom wall, so in a bit of a huff I decided to go get some ‘me time’ out on the river and off I stormed.
Once out on the water with the rods sorted all life’s worries and woes suddenly disappeared and not long after getting the rods out a bream took a liking to my Club & Cream hook baits. With the old slimy one dealt with and the rod back on the spot I was soon snuggling up in my sleeping bag praying that the bream were not going to drag me out again into the icy wind that was blowing directly into my brolly.
I must have just dozed off quickly and I was woken by a proper bite - this was no bream! The reel was spinning and the rod tip bent over as whatever was on the end made a dash for freedom.
Picking up the rod, there was no mistaking that this was a carp. I kept saying to myself; ‘please don’t come off, please don’t fall off’. After a good five minutes of holding on for dear life, I finally had it in the net and let out a huge sigh of relief. It had been so long since I had seen a Thames carp. A quick glance at the time on my phone told me it was just gone midnight. I quickly set the boat up to bring the fish on board, weigh her and run a few pictures off before slipping her back to the mystical waters of the Thames, more than likely never to be seen again.
My hands were like blocks of ice as the wind was so cold and the water temp was dropping by the day, but the warm feeling I had inside me more than made up for the cold hands. At 19lb 2oz it was not the biggest fish in the river, but it was certainly one of my most hard earned.
By the time I had got the rod back out it was gone 1am and the warmth of the sleeping bag was beckoning me. Again, I had only just dropped off to sleep when the other rod ripped into life. Another good battle commenced and before long I was slipping a nice looking common into my waiting net. I could not believe my luck – two months without a bite and now two had come in a matter of hours. This can be a common occurrence on the river as fish move into areas and get on the bait they almost seem easy to catch. It’s being consistent that is the hard part.
On the scales this one span the needle round to 17lb 8oz and made me shout aloud to the river, “Who’s winning now!“
When the pictures had been taken and the fish safely returned, I set about tying up another small bag of the deadly Club & Cream dumbbells and cast the rod back on the spot all ready for the action to continue and I didn’t have to wait long…


Log back on tomorrow, January 8th, for the next installment of Ben's exclusive carp diary as he finds out that the Thames carp are rather like busses as the bites keep on coming.


Missed Ben's previous diary entries? Don't panic, you can view parts 1, 2 and 3 by CLICKING HERE


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