Well the night before the big day was finally here. I'd checked all my gear one last time then it was off to bed with the alarm set for 4.30am! As usual I hardly slept and was up and the car loaded by 4am so I started my journey down. I hadn't put much thought into how I would fish it because we were drawing for peg's at 9am and I never complicate my fishing, always keeping it within my capability when I'm fishing such a water as the Church Lake.
Over the years I've tried all sorts of different styles of carp fishing rigs and methods but always come back to what I know best and just keep it simple. Anyway I arrived at Nash HQ at 8am and because it was bank holiday Monday no one was there so I just chilled till all the others turned up.
After a quick meet and greet over a cuppa we did the draw and yes I was last out! Because of the size of the church ( about 2.5 acre ) we agreed to split the lake into quarters so we all had our own water and wasn't too close to each other. So off we went for a walk around the lake and when we got up there, there was a chap fishing the Copse Lake who quickly told us where he'd seen all the fish and he hadn't seen any fish up the top end of the lake known as No Fish Bay. Guess which peg I got!!!!
After all the pegs were chosen I stood in my peg, The Aerator Swim because that was to my left ( luckily it never came on all week ) looking out over NO FISH BAY! So I started thinking, how do I go about fishing this. I didn't believe no fish went in there also I was told that Alan and Kevin had fed fish there for a day then caught one but they never saw a fish in the area for 3 weeks after but at least they caught one, that's what I kept saying to myself anyway. When you get the rough end of the stick in life its all about how you deal with it, your glass is either half empty or half full and I kept mine half full, determined I would catch.
As I said, there was a blue aerator to my left, with a long reed bed running down the end of the lake. In front was open water and to my right was the end of an island, then a channel back to the bank to the left of me with reeds running down it. The bottom of the lake is mainly covered in weed, very thick in place but because it was a bright sunny day I could see 2 clear spots, both were about 2 metres long by 1 metre wide which were in about 4 feet of water. When I looked at the corner of the island there was a dead willow branch extending about 2 metres out along the surface of the water which was crying out for a bait to be put on it.
So I made a plan and this is what I thought. It was a hot sunny day and I'm fishing in the shallow end of the lake, so carp will definitely come there because they love shallow water especially when the sun is shining on it but I couldn't see anything. So my plan was to slowly set up my gear sit back and wait for the magic to happen and it did!
The other three lads were all setting up, two were in the middle of the lake opposite each other between the two islands and the other one was at the end of the lake with the wind hacking into his face. So the commotion started with marker leads and floats thrashing the water to a foam, spombs and spods crashing in, bait being thrown everywhere and I just sat with a beer and waited.
After about an hour or so the chap that told me there was no fish up my end came for a chat and as we spoke a dirty great carp showed half its body over one of the clear spots. He looked a me and said, that was a big fish, I've seen nothing up here all over the weekend, have you got a rod over there? My answer was, NO I've not cast out yet, I'm sitting on my hands waiting for the carp to come up away from all the commotion down the other end. That's some clever fishing he said and as he did we watched 3 fish cruise into the bay just under the surface, then minutes later they were followed by about 15 other fish. I left it about another hour then baited my rod up that I was going to put out by the island. As I said in part 1, the bait I was using was, Nash Bait Scopex Squid that had been soaked in Nash Bait Sweet Corn liquid, topped off with a 12mm washed out pink scopex squid pop up.
Time for the cast and I knew I had to make the least amount of commotion possible. It was only about 35 - 40 yards but when your casting at an island to an overhanging snag and your not clipped up, my heart was in my mouth. I knelt down, lined the rod up and flicked it out with an overhead cast stopping it about 2 metres from the island and about 1 foot from the overhanging snag and felt it down with a crack when it hit the bottom. Thank God for that!
I would love to say I can cast like that all the time but normally, I would have found the range by casting until I got the distance then I'd clip up and measure the distance with my distance sticks so I could hit the same spot every time. I've fished like this for years and I actually gave the distance stick idea to Thinking Anglers in 2010 and they did nothing with it and when I sat with Trakker a couple of years later they showed me the Cygnet Distance Sticks they were about to bring out, strange hey!
Anyway, I put the rod down on my Nash Siren R3 Alarm, set the bobbin and got my other two rods out. The one where I saw the fish show I put out a Black and Yellow zig at 3ft which had been soaked in Nash Bait Pure Crustacean Extract with a dusting of Nash Bait PH Trigger. My right hand rod I placed in the middle of the channel to my right between the island and the the bank and that was it, I was fishing the Church.
The chap who was fishing the Copse came back up but this time I heard him coming so I made sure we weren't standing on the peg and stood back behind my bivvy. I'm not a fan of people talking to me close to where I'm fishing, don't get me wrong, I don't mind a chat but I try and make sure we aren't standing and talking where the fish can sense us.
Anyway the rods had been in for about half an hour when the middle bobbin quickly lifted up then slowly dropped back down, now the church had my full attention. I don't know why but I suppose deep down I was questioning myself if I was good enough as an angler to catch fish from the Church but that's just me but I bet I'm not alone with this thought. I just crouched by the rod for a minute or so just watching the tip of the rod and where the line entered the water for any twitches, just willing the bobbin to pull tight but it didn't. So I put the kettle on and lay on my new Nash Indulgence SS3 5 Season Wide Boy ( what a bed ) waiting for the kettle to boil and out of nowhere there were three sharp bleeps come from my R3 sounder box alerting me to the middle rod again. As I approached the rod the bobbin was held up on a tight line and another bleep came from it so I lifted the rod and felt a thump of a head shake coming from the the other end. FISH ON!
I honestly don't know why I thought this but when I lifted into the fish, I instantly saw it's flank and thought it was a bream. How wrong I was. I always use a tight-ish clutch when the rods are sitting on the alarms waiting for a run. My thought on this is, if the line is tight it will help to set the hook when the fish moves off. This fish did start to move off, slowly and powerful heading towards my zig, so with some steady pressure I eased it back in front of me, where for the next 5 minutes I just controlled its lunges.
Then out of nowhere I remembered my kettle which by this time was steaming like a cooling tower! I manage to get myself over to it a turn it off whist playing the fish, then my next hazard was landing the fish. The water in front of me was about six inches deep, that extended out past the reach of my landing net. The bottom was a mix of very soft Clay, Gravel and weed but there was no time to think because the fish was ready and I knew it was a proper one. So with crocs on, I was straight in with the lake bed sucking my feet down but most importantly, I'd got my big girl safe in the net, COME ON!!!
As I stood there sinking slowly into the weedy clay bottom, landing net in one hand and rod in the other, I started to think, how the bloody hell am I going to get out. The rod and that didn't bother me but I'd got one of Kevin Nash's stunning carp in my net and I got to try and get it out safely over this horrible bottom and up a steep wet bank without slipping and harming the fish. Luckily Paul from Shelton's had seen that I had caught and was making his way around to give me a hand. Once he got to me, I'd already bit my line through so I passed him the rod, then broke the landing net down, got rid of the handle and he threw me a retainer sling which I popped the fish into till I was ready. Once I'd managed to get out, crocs and all the rest of the lads were around congratulating me on my first Church Lake fish and also from a very difficult end of the lake. I'm not saying the other lads were fishing the easy part of the lake at all, because I don't think there is an easy part on the Church but when your fishing in a part called, No Fish Bay and you've been told all the fish are down the other end of the lake and no fish have been seen up this end for ages, I think I'd done very well!
The lads helped me get everything ready, so then I was back into the water to get the fish. Again the lads helped out with this so the fish was always put first, then me second as they pulled me out of the clay. Just a quick note on fish care, no matter where you catch a fish and from whichever water, always put the fish's safety first but also don't ever enter into the water unless you know someone is close by in case you get into difficulty.
My English PB was 31.08 and when I watched the scales glide around and settle on 37.10lb, I think my face said it all. Paul did the photo's and the lads congratulated me again. It was just such a special moment and to share it with like minded people was such a buzz because we all wanted eachother to succeed. I got the fish back into the water and held her for a minute or so then let her go on her way, thanking her for gracing the bank.
Once the lads had drifted off, I got the rod back out on the spot with some bait around it and sat back and took it all in. I was fishing on a lake that some of the most well known carp anglers in Britain had fished on and blanked on but none of that bothered me. Yes I was fishing on a very special lake BUT if I'd caught that fish on my own, on that lake, would it been as special as it was sharing it with a great bunch of lads, that help made that capture so special?
That's why up until that day my PB stood at 31.08lb because to me, its not always about the size of the fish you are fishing for its the other anglers on the lake that make you want to fish it as well. I don't get out much now fishing because of work but when I do, I don't want to be sharing the bank with people that have no etiquette. You know the one's, that think nothing of casting over you or turning up late, dropping all their gear in the swim next to you, spoding for an hour, then moving because they've seen a roach splash over the other side and they think they've spotted a carp, so they go and annoy someone else who's settled. I'm all for watching the water and moving onto showing fish but not if it will hamper someone else's fishing.
As I sat there the time was getting on and the weather was starting to change as a cold wind started picking up and you could smell the rain on its way. It was about 8.30pm so after I'd done my tea and cleaned away I got on my bed and must have dropped off because I was awoken by my middle rod going into overdrive. It was one of those runs that seemed to be going for ages because it was so severe. I lifted into a very strong fighting fish but this fight was a lot different to the other and it was going around the back of the island. I quickly moved to my left to get a better angle on it because I could feel the line rubbing against something. Once I was in direct contact with the fish I had to put the breaks on so it didn't go over Paul.
After a couple of minutes of hanging on, I managed to turn the fish and get it into open water in front of me. The fish surfaced and it was just behind my left hand rod with the zig on. Luckily because I was using the newly designed Nash Lead Clips, the lead had come of so I managed to keep the fish up and guide it it. Once I got it close, I stayed out of my peg because of the problem I had landing the other fish. I got down in the reeds and slipped the net under another Church Lake stunner. This one went 32.11lb and I was buzzing, two fish on my first day on the Church and either of them would have beaten my original PB.
Once I'd slipped it back and got the rod back out on the spot, I lay on my bed and could hear the faint patter of rain on my bivvy, which slowly got heavier. It was now about midnight and I started getting liners, the liners lasted for about 3 hours and I knew, that was the carp leaving the bay because the weather was changing dramatically. It had gone very cold, with strong winds making the rain sometimes seem like you were under a waterfall.
The weather was like this for most of the week and if the sun did break through it was still a cold bitter wind swirling around the lake. I tried everything I could think of throughout the rest of the week but I knew deep down the fish weren't in front of me. I'd had my chances but most importantly, I'd taken them, two runs and two fish on a hard water in the part of the lake called called No Fish Bay, I was very happy with that.
On the last day, I slowly packed up, said my goodbye's and headed back up the M1 content with the way I fished and still buzzing with my new PB knowing, I won't leave it so long to get back down there and give it another go.