Barry Delderfield - The Campaign

Suffolk-based angler, Barry Delderfield, has had an unquestionably brilliant run of form over the last few seasons, focusing his time on the NS Fishery lakes. He began on West Stow Country Park where, in just one season, Barry landed an implausible 65 carp - quite incredible figures as a good year on West Stow would be considered ten fish plus. Barry next moved onto the renowned Nunnery complex, where he concentrated his efforts on the famous ‘D’ lake - an 8-acre, weed-infested pit containing some of the oldest and finest carp in East Anglia.

On just his first season, Barry finished top rod, landing 32 carp from 33 bites; credit to not only his angling ability, but to his determination and efforts throughout the year.

Barry is considered a quiet man and his approach can only be admired; tackling lesser fancied areas of the pit and neglected swims, away from the crowds and the race. Keeping a low profile, Barry certainly isn’t looking for fame, publicity or credit and it’s this humble and modest persona that makes him so popular with others.

Barry fishes for himself and for the pure love and buzz from catching carp. He’s new to social media and it’s never been his intention to showcase his captures. In fact, Barry finds it all a bit uncomfortable and the thought of posting images on social media is alien to him.

We were lucky enough to be granted permission to visit Barry towards the end of his first season at The Nunnery, where he was nestled in a corner swim on the end of a new wind and had just returned a scaly 37lb mirror shortly before we arrived.

His 3 rods were positioned on stainless buzz bars to the right of the swim, with his rod tips facing down towards the water and his 15lb Kontor hanging so incredibly slack. Steam plumed out of his bivvy as the kettle boiled and Barry offered me a guest chair, where I sat for the next eight hours, picking Barry’s brains about the secret of his success over the course of the last season.

Nunnery D Lake is by no means an easy water, despite the relatively high stock for its size: the carp are old and wise and there’s little they haven’t seen. The crystal-clear water, abundance of wildlife and forest-like weed make the water that more challenging, and it’s these challenges that Barry thrives upon.

As Barry recalls, ‘The Nunnery was the obvious choice for my next campaign. I’d seen so many images of the ancient looking mirrors that inhabit the rich pit and I was fortunate enough to be granted a ticket in the summer of 2019. The Nunnery abides to the old close season, beginning on June 15th. The weeks leading up to this were a proper buzz, as I excitedly sorted all my kit for the coming season, texting my mates, all of us buzzing at the prospect of a new season.

When June 15th arrived, I came out low in the draw and, unfortunately, didn’t get a swim for that opening night. As is always the case, bites came quickly that first evening and then, in typical fashion, the carp spooked and seemed to shut down for the rest of the opening week.

I used these first few weeks to gauge as much knowledge as I could, hitting the work overnighters hard from the off, not wanting to miss an opportunity. The quicker I could learn about the lake and its residents, the better. I wanted to know the lake’s typography, where the hard areas were, where the biggest weedbeds were and eventually establish how the carp behaved and where they felt safe.

I was fortunate to begin catching from the off - not loads, but consistent bites, which was a great confidence boost so early into my campaign. Despite this however, I felt I should be catching more, as there were times I would wake up to huge sheets of bubbles on my spots but would remain takeless. I spent many a day moving and casting to fizzers, but would again, remain takeless. These frustrating episodes left me scratching my head, doubting what could be wrong. The fish clearly liked my bait, and I had optimum confidence in my rigs, but something wasn’t right. I soon realised that whenever I had fish fizzing on me, but remained takeless, I was fishing on a soft bottom. I could only put it down to the fact that the fish were burying themselves so deep into the soft bottom, they simply weren’t coming across my hookbait - not because they didn’t want it but simply because it wasn’t where they were feeding. At that moment, I devised a plan and it changed my season.

Moving forward, when I did find fizzing fish, rather than cast directly into the bubbles, as I had been doing, I tried to find a hard spot, just away from the bubbling. Even if the spot was 15 or 20 yards away from the fizzing, I felt if I could get a trap set before the fish moved in, then I stood a very good chance of a take, so long as that lead went down with a thump. The tweak in tactic worked almost instantly and the more I did it, the more familiar I got with the hard spots around the lake, so it was often a case of dropping into a swim of fizzers, casting to a near hard spot and waiting.

Plumbing and lead work was therefore a valuable resource to my approach. Because of the abundance of weed, I used a 2oz Probe lead, which helped grip the bottom and allowed me to identify what I was fishing over. Due to the cagey nature of the carp, I used the lightest lead I could get away with, paranoid that anything heavier would risk spooking them. Once I’d cast my lead into the pond, rather than put my rod to the side and pull it back, I actually tightened down to the lead and pointed my rod directly to the spot. Then, using my hand, I would pull the braided mainline by hand from the butt ring, towards me. This offered maximum sensitivity and I was able to feel by hand exactly what the bottom was like, enabling me to feel where the smooth areas were. This was a tip shown to me a few years ago by James Salmons and it’s something I’ve not seen anyone else use. It’s highly effective in finding those really polished spots, ideal for weedy waters. Once I’d found these clean, almost glasslike pull backs, I’d simply get it clipped and wrapped up and get a rig out there.

My rigs are quite unique, but I’ve used this approach on weedy waters for years and have built up so much confidence in this approach. On my first season at Nunnery, I caught 32 fish from 33 bites, and the one I ‘lost’, I had actually landed, but it was foul hooked! With the abundance of weed and big fish, this bite-to -land ratio is testament to the tackle I was using and when one’s hooked, I have no doubt that it’s coming in.

I use long multi rigs, usually around 16 inches in length, formed of 30lb N Trap Semi Stiff in Silt. A loop at both ends allows me to attach it to the Kwik Link and to quickly change my hook, meaning an N-Trap Boom can literally last for months! My hook of choice is a size 4 Kamakura Choddy - I don’t believe there is a better hook on the market. They are so immensely sharp yet still offer so much strength. I’ve caught huge sturgeon and carp to over 80lb abroad on them, so I never doubt their strength!

Using the Choddy hooks, the out turned eye offers a better angle on the multi rig and the beaked point helps keep the hook embedded, so fish losses are very rare. I fish this rig with a 16mm pop up, attached via a micro rig ring and bait floss. A nugget of PVA foam is always used to prevent tangles and to protect the hook point as it falls through the water column. If I get the cast wrong, I can quickly reel in and the point will be protected with the foam.

Finally, I overweight the N Trap Boom with blobs of putty, ensuring it gets down to the lakebed and to help pull the hook down into the bottom lip when it gets sucked in.

15lb Kontor is my mainline of choice; it’s incredibly strong, sinks and keeps out of sight and, for a fluorocarbon, it casts extremely well. I fish this naked with three large sinkers up the mainline before the lead, and large lumps of Dark Matter Putty moulded around the sinkers ensure the last few yards before the rig are pinned tight to the lake bed.

I then use a 2oz flat pear inline lead which is my go-to lead in weedy water for a number of reasons. Firstly, as I’ve mentioned, I always use the lightest lead I can get away with as firstly, they create less stretch when casting which means I can be more accurate. Secondly, the 2oz leads keep disturbance to a minimum. I also think with a heavy lead, the ‘drop’ can be exaggerated, meaning with a 4oz lead, you could get a crack-down, even if you’re fishing on a relatively soft bottom. Using the light leads helps avoid this and when I get a good drop, I can be sure I’m on firm ground. Secondly, the flat pears are thin leads, so they lay low to the bottom, sitting much more discrete, and I always use the darker versions of the leads as I feel these just blend into the lake bed that little bit better. With the square pears, they cannot roll on the bottom, so stay fixed on the spot.

In the weedy conditions, I fish my leads drop-off style, with a tail rubber at one end and a Kwik Link at the other, neatly inserted into the lead. I feel these work better than the swivels and allow the lead to be ejected easier and I like the ease of simply looping my rigs onto them, with a section of silicone pushed over the Kwik Link, helping to keep the rig in place and prevent tangles.

I like to fish 3 rods in an area if I can, with boilies scattered loosely in the zone, which I feel is a less obvious trap than a small patch of bait; something these pressured carp definitely associate with danger. Moreover, the scattered boilie approach encourages the fish to move and look for bait and, when they feed like this, they certainly become easier to catch.

Having said all of this, my eyes are still no doubt my biggest weapon and I try to get down the lake as much as I can, staying up late into the night looking for signs. If I see an opportunity, I try to react and make the most of it. If an opportunity arises, the last thing I want to do is panic and potentially ruin the chance. So, when I’m in this situation, I always ask myself, ‘How can I ruin this?’ as opposed to, ‘How can I get a bite?’. With years gone by, I’ve wasted many an opportunity but, with experience, you can learn from these past mistakes. One thing that can ruin a quick chance of a bite is the number of rods you choose to use. Just because it’s a three-rod limit, would one or two rods be more effective? Also, bait application can ruin a chance of a bite. If there are fish present, then a stealthy approach is almost certainly going to be more effective than getting the spod rod out. Last of all, you need patience! Wait for that moment to get the rods out, make sure you’ve really thought about the situation before you act and I guarantee this will lead to more bites.

If you can accumulate little edges throughout the course of the season, that may get you that one extra bite, if you can do ten things to get you an extra bite that’s ten more bites a year!

I keep my fishing very simple, never doubting my rigs or my bait, giving my focus to working out the environment, working out the carp’s behaviour finding a pattern. As soon as you’ve worked this out, you can be confident of a successful campaign. Reward is a product of effort, and the more you put into your campaign, the more you can get out of it.’