Big Pit Result - Lewis Chippendale

Lewis Chippendale reports on a string of cold-water results from the banks of a formidable big pit.

"I awoke Saturday morning at home, thoroughly excited about my long-overdue return to the big pit. I hadn't been able to get down there since a bitterly cold, yet successful, session I had there in late March. I planned to fish from Saturday evening until Monday morning. I had treated myself and taken the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off of work, as the Tuesday was my 21st birthday.
Later that day, I pulled up at the bottom of the track. The minimal gear was swiftly thrown on the barrow, and the trek to the pit’s banks commenced. After the long haul through the bankside jungle, I arrived at the area I wanted to target an hour before dusk. I very rarely approach a session with a pre-conceived plan, even if I have been pre-baiting an area, but this pit presents a different set of circumstances at this time of year. There are many stresses involved in angling the big pit; you are unable to walk around the waters perimeter due to savagely thick vegetation, barbed wire fences stretching out into the lake, private bank-side properties and gardens (one with armed security!) and the scores of fallen trees that stretch out from the bank into the deep margins. This eradicates much opportunity for any paths/swims to be made and for wading. This, in conjunction with the sheer size, unfavourable viewing conditions and fading light, led me to act upon previously gained knowledge. Through much observation over the two years previous, I had identified an area that the carp use, mainly in the mornings, and occasionally in the evenings when the conditions are right for it, throughout the winter months. The carp of the sparsely stocked pit are extremely nomadic throughout the year and there is therefore potential for a result in the depths of winter.

Two hinged stiff-links and a reverse-combi bottom bait rig were dispatched tightly together to the long-range area, which consists of patchy silt and gravel, amongst low-lying Canadian. Three kilos of glugged, broken and whole boilies of varied sizes, and a handful of tiger nuts were deposited following this, and the traps were set.

I awoke after a blank night, and soon after had to bring the rods in. I was still confident of action for the following morning however, now that they had seen the hit of bait. I was certain that some of the nomadic inhabitants would visit the area, and the lure of the meal I had laid out for them would hopefully prove too much. I visited Turner and Zac in the day, who were fishing the canal. I spent a portion of the day catching up with them, and catching bleak for their big-perch mission at dusk. I left them at just gone 3pm, shot back to the pit, and arrived back to my gear at dusk. The rods went through the same process that evening; everything went perfectly, and the game was back on. I had something to eat and was soon asleep under my little brolly.

The following morning, I watched as dawn developed and starting packing the gear away. Just before 7.00am, the left-hand rod ripped off, and a battle ensued. During the fight, I thankfully managed to stumble into my chest waders, as it is necessary to wade-out to carry out the netting process when angling from this 'swim'. Whatever was attached to the end was powerful and very fast, which lead me to believe that it was not my target. After coaxing her in from afar, I bundled a beautifully coloured, long common into the folds of my net. I bit the line above the leader and secured the net above a deep, weedless margin, allowing the torpedo of a common to recover. It was approaching 8am and I sat there thinking about how any other Monday I would have just endured the horrible tube journey from East London to Liverpool Street, and just be strolling into the office now for nine hours of maths in front of a computer. Instead, I was plotted next to a big expanse of water with one its rare carp in my net - sweet! I soon snapped back to reality, as my Delkim receiver signalled another take, this time the middle rod. The Delkim’s scream was a particularly urgent one, and the way in which the rod was shaking on the buzz bars I was almost too scared to hit it! I lifted into a weight, which pulled back with force, and at the range in which I was fishing I knew this was a decent carp. After a heavy battle, which seemed to last for an eternity, a large, scaly back emerged from beneath the depths and I knew it was one of two carp. Soon after, my net mesh engulfed the large frame of a defeated mirror carp; I knew I had landed the second-in-command, the Italian.

After securing the net once more I rang Zac, and it didn't take much persuasion to convince him that coming down to take some photos was more important than his first hour of college. A while later he arrived and we went about weighing and taking a few shots of my prizes. For the record, the common went 28lb 8oz and the mirror 37lb 4oz, although to me the weight is immaterial; any capture from that pit is extremely special. Most of the sparse stock are previously uncaught, the venue is large and wild and the multiple stresses involved with angling there make it very difficult to get on with. Rewards are very hard to come by, but when a rare carp does get drawn over the net cord, the rush is inimitable.

I returned to the pit on the Friday evening, and went about getting the same rig combination used on the previous session back on the baited spots. It was slightly more difficult due to a brisk northerly crosswind, but I managed to get drops that I was happy with, and by midnight everything was sorted. It was 0° at this point, the brolly looked inviting and my alarm was due to wake me in six hours time, so I settled in and got some kip.

I was awake before it was light, and began to drain my water supply in the form of tea. Come 7.15am, an identical series of events to the previous session unfolded, resulting in two carp in the net. One, a dark, scaly upper double, which I had caught twice previously was slipped back immediately, and the second was an old linear of around 20lb. This was one of the carp that I had not yet caught from the pit, so Zac made his way down to take a few photos, as he was on his way out to fish a venue nearby. After the photos were taken, I cradled her in the freezing water, and she soon powered off back into the depths of her watery home.

As is often the way for me, I have been unable to return to the pit to capitalise on the opportunity further due to work and family commitments, however, there is much of the winter left for angling, and it is a time of year that I love to be on the bank. I am hoping to get out on the bank with some regularity this winter, due to the little time I’ve managed to angle this year. This pattern is a familiar one to me; fingers crossed this winter turns out to be as good as the previous two have been!

The hinged stiff-links were formed from 25lb Mouth Trap and size-six Choddy hooks, with Shrimp corkball pop-ups finishing them off. The reverse-combi rigs were made from the same components (although the Mouth trap is used in 20lb for this rig), along with 30lb N-Trap hook lengths, and trimmed, hardened Shrimp bottom baits as hook baits. Small PVA-mesh bags of the fresh fish stick mix were also attached to the bottom-bait rigs. Both rigs were fished on a rotary system, comprising 5ft of Kable Leadcore, with a drop-off 5oz Flat Pear. The bait used was a mix formulated by my good mate Spence, whose knowledge of carp food is incredible. It is an expensive bait to make, but the ingredients used and attractor package is very impressive, and its use has seen many phenomenal results this year. It has recently been made available to all under the name of Aquabait Company."

Lewis Chippendale