Ben Steger

Day Ticket Carping - 9th of March 2016

I hadn't seen a friend from my Sparsholt college days for a couple of years, so we decided a social was called for. Luke lives in Worthing and I'm in Gloucestershire so we wanted something that was similar travelling distance for us both and would be a good chance of a bite in the middle of March. Thorpe lea fitted the bill perfectly. I had never fished it but heard of its reputation of producing big hits in the right conditions. Therefore should have a decent chance of a bite, and of course have a good catch up. My friend Joe decided to also join us for the trip, we travelled down together at the crack of dawn, Wednesday the 9th of March.
         We arrived at the 18 acre venue at around 10am after battling the traffic for 2 hours. The weather wasn't very pleasant, with a cold northerly blowing and heavy rain. After a lap of the lake and chatting with the bailiff we decided on swims 43, 44 and 45. A great central area which covered a fair amount of water and was also perfect for a good social. Once at the swims I opted for 44, it covered a large area of water and looked ideal.  After rock, paper and scissors Luke went to my right in 45 which featured an island to his right and Joe went in 43 with an island in front of him. I began to flick a lead about and soon found firm lake bed at 80-85 yards with light silk weed surrounding it. This was the well-known bar in the lake which slopes up from 20ft to about 5-6ft. I decided to place two rods here, one a solid bag set up and the other was my ever faithful multi rig with a pop up. As the lake was quiet the bailiff allowed us to use 3 rods which was a nice touch. For this rod I found a nice spot off to the left into deeper water of around 10ft at about 60 yards. A solid bag was the chosen method for this rod too. My thinking was to avoid the light silk weed that could hinder my presentation so a solid bag would be ideal. The majority of the bag mix being maggots, amongst a mix of custom bait services 12mm crushed Red Baron boilies and matching pellets and stick mix. The bag rigs were fairly simple, 2oz inline lead on a Hybrid Tackle Juggernaut Leader, 4 inches of supple Fable braid and a size 6 Hybrid Tackle Armohawk Wide Gape. Finished with a small dumbbell wafter or Red Baron boilie stick tipped with maggots. Perfect, reliable and confidence in a bag! Over the two rods on the bar I spombed out a small amount of Deep Blue Particles awesome chilli hemp and popcorn maize, with maggots, crushed and chopped boilie and pellets. The left hander was fished as just the bag on its own.
            As the day progressed the rain continued to fall. At around 5pm the clouds cleared and the rain stopped. An hour later the sun began to fall and my friend Joe was in. A spirited fight followed and he was off the mark with a 23lb mirror. Good start. All went quiet until 11pm when Joe netted another 23lber. Roughly an hour later it was my turn. The left hand rod pulled up tight, I slipped out of bed and when I got to the rod it pulled out of the clip and began to take line. As soon as I bent into the fish it continued to take line for a further 20-30 yards. I soon made the distance back and it continued to make a good account for itself all the way in. Ten minutes later and it went into the net first time, I was off the mark and looked pretty decent too. Mat, sling, scales and camera ready I transferred it from the water onto the bank. The wide gape had stayed strong and nailed the mirror in the bottom lip. Unhooked and Lifted in anticipation, as the scales settled on 26lb 4ozs. Happy days! A few photos taken, fish returned and the rod was back out to the area.  Unfortunately that was it for me that night.
       The following day was quiet too. Joe had managed another carp at dawn, but by midday nothing else had still been caught, with this I decided to introduce slightly more bait, initially only 6 spombs full, and then another 3 every hour or so to hopefully trigger some action.  Just before dark I recast both bag rods with fresh bags ready for the night.  Nothing had occurred during the day but I was hoping they would find the carpet of bait during the night.  I wasn’t wrong as at around 7pm just as I had finished my chicken and chorizo paella the right hand rod was away.  It was a bizarre battle to begin with as the fish swam straight towards me, frantically reeling to gain lost line I soon become back in contact with the fish.  20-30 yards out the lake dropped down to about 20 feet so the fish fight really well, using the depth to their advantage.  10 minutes later the carp was spitting water on the surface and ready to be captured, in it went and number two was mine, result!  Same routine as before and I soon had her up on the scales, slightly smaller than the first at 23lb but I certainly was not complaining.  Slipped back and I soon retied a bag and recast the rod back on the spot, only to be disturbed once again an hour later.  This one also fought really well as did all the fish, they certainly wake up on this venue once hooked! Great fun until they create a bit of carnage as this one did when it decided to perform pirouettes around my middle rod, completely wiping it out.  After some juggling I soon netted this one too, smaller again but a lovely scaly 18lb mirror.  Right hand rod and middle rod were soon sorted and back fishing and after all the hard work and low temperatures setting in I decided to hit the hay.  Not for long though.  Around 10pm the left hander signalled a few beeps and stopped.  I was just slipping my shoes on to go investigate when it pulled up tight and stayed there, the amount of time it took me to get to the rod was the same time I felt it on the end of my line.  On retrieval the rig seemed fine and the hook was still needle sharp so what caused the loss was a tad unclear.  Not deterred I re positioned the rod and zipped myself back into the sleeping bag under my brolly to hide away from what was now a really cold night.
             Mist rolled across the water as I awoke at dawn.  White, bright frost covering most items out in the elements.  The kettle soon went on and a good old cup of tea helped keep the cold at bay.  Joe had been busy in the night too having a few more fish but unfortunately the carp had still evaded Luke.  With these thoughts running through my head I soon heard a call from him as he walked up to my brolly.  “Ben, I’ve got one!” I was really relieved and happy to hear this, replying with “Yes, get in mate”.  It’s a big part of what fishing is about for me, enjoying great company with friends, working together, hopefully catching fish and enjoying yourself.  It’s not all about catching of course, but when on a session like this and two of you are having a few, it’s never nice to be sat there blanking.
 I was up in a flash to accompany Luke with his capture and take some shots for him.  A nice 20lb mirror was the result and our social session had been a success.  It wasn’t long after that we all began to slowly pack away and haul our gear back to the cars.  Overall I had a great time, it was my first time here and I don’t think it will be my last.  The staff at Thorpe lea were very helpful and welcoming, backed up by great facilities.

 Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Have fun out there, and enjoy it.  Ben Steger


Linear session - 14th-15th May 2016

After helping out at the Linear Fisheries Open day on a stand with Hybrid Tackle and Deep Blue Particles, I thought it would be rude to not get the rods out afterwards.  The show was being held on the banks of Brasenose 2 and a fair few swims were closed for the day. I gathered I may be able to jump in a swim as soon as the show had finished and they were back open again. I have fished brasenose 2 before but it was a good 6-7 years previous and it had changed quite dramatically since then and matured nicely, now fringed with plenty of trees and cover. I had seen a couple of swims as you first come in that tickled my fancy as the wind was pushing in to this area. Sure enough as soon as everything was packed down I chucked my kit into peg 3. It didn't stay there for long though, as someone was in peg 2 so I gathered it wouldn't give me many options, luckily someone two swims down was packing away as he had been fishing the day for the show. With this I shuffled my kit down and began to have a quick lead about. Straight out in front at just under 100 yards I found a nice firm, clean area. Around 20 yards to the left lay a softer patch at the same distance. With this I decided to fish two rods on the firm area over bait and one rod to the left in the soft with a solid bag. Two multi rigs were shortly fired out with yellow and pink pop ups, popping up only a half inch from the bottom.  The left hander off the spot was a PVA solid bag presentation with a yellow wafter. Once the rods were in position I placed a dozen spombs of bait over the top of the multi rigs. This mix looked spot on and just had to produce a fish! It consisted of a mix from Deep Blue Particles, 12mm boilies from Custom Bait Services and a tin of sweetcorn for good luck. The mixes from DBP were something a little different and looked awesome. They were The Crunch (hemp, Tigers and chopped peanut) and The Natural Range (hemp, mussels and bloodworm) these combined offered a great visual attraction but also packed with goodness and plenty for the carp to crunch down on. Perfect!
By the time I had set up and finished baiting it was around 6:30pm. I sat down and watched the water and watched as the carp gave a brilliant display inline with my spot but out in the middle and also to the right. At around 8pm I received an absolute screamer as the reel flung into the alarm! As I lifted into it, it proceeded to take line for a further 30-40 yards until it tired and turned. After this it came in easily, having another little fight in close before going into the net. Up on the scales she went 21lb, happy days! I love to get off the mark early doors. It enables me to relax a little easier. Dave who had also helped on the stand during the day was in the swim next door so came over to do the honours with the camera. With the rod repositioned and another half a dozen spombs over the top it went quiet until the sun settled and darkness fell. A lovely pizza from the local takeaway was consumed and just as I was getting ready to settle down just before midnight the middle rod went into meltdown again. Another spirited fight and it went straight into the net with no dramas. This one being smaller at 15lb. Dave was on hand again and took a few snaps for me. Rod back out and rebaited I finally retired, this was very much needed as I had been up since 5:30am. My slumber didn't last too long though as at 2am the bag rod to the left was away, disturbing me once again with a screamer! Another 15lber soon came in and as it was now pretty cold I decided to leave Dave alone and settled with a mat shot and quickly slipped her back. Bag retied and flung out I attempted to settle down again. Around 4am the sun was beginning to show itself in the Amber behind the trees and midnight blue tones in the sky. It was around this time the baited spot rod sprang into life. Following suit another belter of a take! A few minutes later an 18lber was on the mat, quick mat shot again and I slipped her back. Clipped the rod, recast and followed it with another half a dozen spombs. I had just sat down to put the kettle on when the right hand rod pulled up tight and line began to strip from the reel! I was soon on the rod, the fish had a 20 yard run and just as I turned it, it unfortunately fell off! Gutted. I soon recast and finally went back to bed as it was now 5am and I was well and truly shattered.
     I awoke a few hours later quite surprised that nothing more had come. With this I recast all rods with fresh baits and applied another dozen spombs. The morning didn't produce anything and just as I was thinking the fish had moved off they began to show again out in front. Around 2:30pm one made the mistake of eating my pop up and the Middle rod burst into life. Again another screamer! You certainly know when you've got a fish on here! Just like all the fish it tore off on an initial run for a good 40-50 yards before turning. It then kited left and right until I made line on it.  Soon enough it was close in and I could feel it was a better fish, shortly after it popped up gulping air and it slid in the net first time. I secured her in the net while I tried to set up the tripod for a self take as Dave had left early doors so I was now on my own. Just as I was, a lad came walking over asking "how you getting on?" "how are you with a camera?" I replied, he laughed and agreed to help me out, much easier than a self take. Lifted up on the scales and it was the biggest of the session, coming in at 24lb 2oz. Rig tied with a fresh pop up and a new hook it was soon back out on the spot, again followed by a dozen spombs. An hour later it was left hand rods turn again, the solid bag fished to the left. Exactly the same scenario as before, one toner, a long initial run and then come in quite easily. After a spirited fight this one was also mine. This one went slightly more increasing the biggest fish of the session at 25lb. Not only that it was certainly the best looker too, with lovely starburst scales on the wrist of its tail. Only 20 minutes passed and the delkim was singing again, this time the middle rod on the baited spot. Another decent fight and a small double was soon caught and quickly released. It was now close for me to be leaving, although I could of happily stayed another night, so I began to pack away leaving just the rods out. Everything in a pile ready to be loaded into the car. The mat had just about finished drying when the carp decided to end that and the Middle rod was away once again! As I've mentioned all the fish went mental to begin with but this one was on another level! The initial run took more line than any of the others.  I eventually turned it but for every 30 or so yards I gained it took another 20 back from me. This pursued all the way until I finally had it within 40 yards out. Here it proceeded to fight just as hard kiting left to right until finally giving up. Result. It did cross my mind at the time that it could of been an angry male, and once on the mat these thoughts were confirmed when it began to release some milt. A quick weigh and it upped the best of the session again for me coming in at 26lb! A guy next door who was jumping in my swim when I left took a couple of snaps for me and I quickly returned him, probably to have some fun soon enough. I didn't recast this rod and slowly packed it away. Five minutes later the bag rod pulled up tight and just as it cracked out of the clip I was on it. A much shorter fight and soon enough a small uncommon common was in the net. A nice way to end, I had one rod left which I left out for another 15 minutes or so but I couldn't complete the hat trick. Although I certainly was not complaining! Overall I had a brilliant time and I can't recommend linear enough. It does become very busy, but with many lakes and swims to choose from you can usually find a spot. Great facilities with friendly staff and clean banks, it really is ideal. I will be back at some point that's for sure.
   Enjoy it out there, Ben Steger