Darrell's Diary Part 1 - Darrell Peck

Last time I wrote a piece for the website I spoke about my autumn results at Sutton. Since then I am glad to say I have well and truly had my fishing head back on, and most weeks I have been getting out on the bank.
In January I was made redundant. You may think that this would give me the opportunity to get out on the bank more than ever. However, I had never been in this position before, and I was more worried about paying the bills than fishing. Due to the economic climate and the fact that I am an unqualified scrote, getting a job like my old one was highly unlikely. Money wasn’t really a problem as I had been paid off well and had good savings. But I just couldn’t bring myself to spend it.
Thankfully after a chat with the guys at Big Fish Tackle I managed to get two days a week in the shop. This, along with my sponsorship would just about keep my head above water. So thanks lads for your support, without it I wouldn’t be able to continue doing what I love.
It’s now August as I write this so I will briefly touch on what I have been up to over the last 6 months. Sutton fished very well during the winter with most of the bigguns being caught. I didn’t really get into my stride until February. As it was a cold winter, I was keen to get in the Pads area as it was apparent due to a few captures that they were using this area. Fish had been out elsewhere too and as a result getting into the Pads swim didn’t seem difficult. On my first trip in February I got in the Pads. Conditions were not favourable but on the long forecast the weather for my next trip was North West winds, perfect for the Pads. With this in mind, I bailed heavily, about 3kg of cell boilies where applied to an obvious gravel hump situated at the near edge of the Pads this is where I had caught my other Sutton carp from. This may sound like a lot of bait, and I must admit this is not something I do often in winter, but Sutton has an enormous amount of bream present and the bird life were straight on it as well. I did the Sunday and Monday but nothing happened. Once home, I checked the weather and next week the weather was perfect for the Pads.
I started to think that to ensure there was bait in the area when I returned Sunday, I would need to put some more out. So on Thursday I went down just for the day and wacked another 3kg on the same spot (primed!!). The weather arrived Saturday and I couldn’t wait. Saturday evening I got a call from a Sutton regular to say a 31lb common had come from the Pads. I arrived early Sunday, had a chat with Dan who was in the Pads. I congratulated him and asked when he was leaving. He said in a couple of hours. He then asked if I had been baiting it as when he arrived he has seen a lot of bubbling around the hump. I just smiled and said yes!
I was very confident that first night. I received a lot of line bites and saw a lot of bubbling too. I was certain the carp were there. I recast early as I thought I should have caught by now. Later that evening, the inevitable happened. I had a take off the hump. The fish snagged up in the roots of the pads and was solid. I pulled from various angles but it refused to move. After all that effort I was not about to lose it. I slackened off and before long it was moving. I was then in contact with it and before long was netting what looked like a large fish in the darkness. The torch revealed a big common of 37lb known as the Up Front.
After a result like that I thought I was going to have it right off from the Pads. However, it then became the most popular swim on the lake. Every night for 3 weeks it was taken. I continued to bait it and people caught from it, but not me. During this time I also baited the Dead Tree swim as an alternative to the Pads. I caught a double and a 20 from there but was convinced that due to the pressure the fish were not using this area as much. It was now March and after a few sunny days, fish could be spotted at the other end of the lake. In the north east corner of the lake there are two swims, the Pea and the Pipe. 9 times out of 10, people opt for the Pea. As it is a much more comfortable swim and it gives you more options. However, throughout the whole of winter the Pea had done less than 5 fish and it had been fished extensively. I had a conversation with Kodak in February about this and said that I believed the fish were avoiding the Pea water and using the Pipe as some of its water can’t be hit from the Pea. He went on to catch a couple from there in two trips before losing interest in the area. The big common had been caught from this area at the end of the season in the previous two years. Most of the fish had been out through the winter apart from this fish. Within 4 hours of my first session in the Pipe I extracted a 27lb common. I was only doing an overnighter as I wanted to apply some bait before my last 2 night trip of the season. What happened next was unbelievable. I caught 4 fish that night, two 27lbers and two 28lbers, all commons. I took no photographs, as I didn’t want to attract too much attention to myself. At 7am I put 4kg of cell down so that everyone saw me. I was thinking that nobody would fancy fishing over that much bait. It was Friday morning and I to go to work. The season was to end Tuesday evening and the ground work had been laid for my last session. When I arrived back Sunday morning at 5am the swim was taken! Not ideal but not a problem. He was off at 12. The weather was perfect, mild with a light south westerly wind into my corner. The spot I had baited was about 10 yards down my left margin towards snags in about 7 foot of water. There was a small spot here where you could get an almighty crack down. Unlike the spot in the Pads it was not clean. There was a lot of twigs and debris present. With this in mind I decided to fish a critically balanced chod rig fished on a 20lb IQ2 flourocarbon carbon leader. I also favoured a size 8 choddy hook as I believed the extra wire gauge would help me extract the carp from this snaggy hit and hold situation. I used a 1½ oz square pear as I hoped it would not send them as mental once hooked like a big lead would. Well that was my hope anyway. 3 hours after casting I was into a hard fighting fish. With heavy pressure I kept it away from the snags. Before long I could see it, it was Toast Rack. A Sutton stockie of 28lb who lives in this corner. It very rarely gets caught from anywhere else. After such early action I was confident I would catch more. The night passed quietly and I was concerned they had vacated the area after the disturbance. At 7am I recast to make sure everything was ok. It went down perfectly and the trap was set. Moving was not an option, the lake was packed. I had to see the season out here. I was in the big common’s living room according to my mate John. About 9am I was standing behind a bush in my swim trying to blend in when a large fish came into view. It was a couple of foot down. I couldn’t tell if it was a mirror or a common but it looked 3’ long and wide. It sat off the edge of an overhanging tree slowly moving its tail but not moving.
I watched for 10 minutes as it sat in the sun. I was thinking that it doesn’t look like it’s going to feed. Then it slowly swam towards the snags going deeper before I lost sight of it. I sat on my bed chain smoking, trying to ease the tension. I was on my third fag when all hell broke loose. The rod went from straight to full test curve in the rest in the blink of an eye. I was on it in a flash and pulled to the right. Such was the force the rod slipped from my forearm and was pointing straight at the fish. At this point I thought the line was about to snap. It didn’t and it turned, boiling inches from the snags. After that, despite the tightness of the swim it was all over quite simply. Before long I could see it was the big fish I had earlier seen. I called to Leroy for assistance and we soon had her, the Big Common was in my net. What a result! I have waited a long time for a 40lb common and have come very close a couple of times. So when she went 40lb 4oz I was over the moon. A lovely fish and a great way to end on Sutton. I did manage another 31 common before I left, so all was good. Next stop Manor Farm and the Amphibian!
I have wanted to try and catch the Amphibian for a few years now. I had now been offered a ticket after reaching the top of the list. I was mad keen during March as the countdown to April 1st kick-off approached. I made a few calls and asked loads of questions. I was told I needed to get on the zigs early on as they are very effective. After this most of the fish were caught at the bottom of the shelf (apparently). The problems were (a) the Annie had never been caught on a zig; and (b) I didn’t fancy fishing in 18” of water until the weather turned for the autumn.
The lake is about 8 acres with most of it 20’ deep. The margins ware lined heavily with reeds and just screamed carp! It was going to be totally different from the low stock venues I had fished in recent years. I was well aware that it was possible to catch lots of big carp during a season.
One thing I had planned to do on the Manor was to move around a lot. I got the impression people liked to plot up. I don’t like fishing like that. With 100+ fish in the lake, my thinking was that if I have not seen fish in my swim for a few hours then there must be loads somewhere else, pretty simple really!
On my first morning I foul hooked Stella. What a start, a mid 40lber in my net that doesn’t count! I was gutted. I had played it on an adjustable zig using light tackle for 50 minutes. To see the little size 12 choddy in its flank nearly killed me. Once I got my head clear and retackled I went on to catch four fish in three nights, all on adjustable zigs, a first for me (34lb, 33lb, 29lb and 26lb).
After that early success I decided I would avoid fishing zigs. As I said before, the Annie never came out on zigs. My next trip down, I had loads of frozen corn with me.The water was clear and From past experience, corn works well in clear water. I had also asked a few people who had fished it in the past and was told quite clearly they loved it. They definitely did as in three nights I had five fish, the biggest being 38lb 14oz, a lovely fish known as the Anchor. These were all caught in the margins near the reeds. As the weather warmed up over the next couple of weeks, the weed on the marginal shelf got a bit thicker and as that happened the roach and rudd started to become a problem with the corn. A change of end tackle to the same critically balanced chod rig as I used at Sutton became my main armoury.
I was always looking to fish in under 10’ of water and to move on to fish whenever I could. I often fished five or six swims in one day. This proved to be a killer method and I only blanked once at the Manor. At first I was really enjoying myself, catching lots of good fish, moving from swim to swim. However, good things don’t last, and before long wherever I was fishing you would find a couple of sheep in the next pegs. This soon became frustrating to say the least!
I had caught well but never felt close to catching the Annie. Well saying that, one day I found a group of large fish hugging the reed lined margins in the Car Park swim. I quickly positioned a double corn hook bait close in on a tiny clear spot 12’ from the bank in about 4” of water. I watched for an hour or so as they passed over my bait totally oblivious to it being there. I went to the car and grabbed a tin of hemp and when the coast was clear I put a couple of handfuls on top of my corn hook bait. Still they ignored it. The morning was disappointing and as it got warmer I could see fish further out on the surface. I decided to put some mixers out and soon had them taking confidentially. I was like a mad man taking my floater rod, and when you rush you know things go wrong, like remembering to thread the controller on!!! DOH! Once sorted I fired some more mixers out. Again they were straight on them. I got up a tree and could see a huge fish taking and soon after realised it was her. I hadn’t done much floater fishing for a while and it was to show. First cast was perfect and after drawing it back into the path of the biggie she came straight up for it. I struck too soon, what a plonker! I was now shaking like a leaf. But, luck was with me as she was still taking. I cast back out again perfectly. As she approached I was saying to myself patience, patience. She came up and engulfed my mixer. I waited for the line to move, it did but I struck too late! As I did she had spat it out. God im crap! With that off she swam. Things got worse as I missed two others with my next two casts. I was standing biting my lip cursing myself when I heard the sound of a clutch. I looked down and to my utter amazement my corn hook bait had been picked up at my feet. It was a good battle and after a few minutes I could see I was connected to a big mirror, not Annie but Popeye at 41lb. It made me feel a bit better but still I was hurting at what might have been.
The following week I was back Sunday evening. I saw a few fish in front of a swim known as Middle Pads. I dropped in there as most of the other swims further down were taken. That night fish were jumping in front of me, but out in the middle. I sat up with a couple of lads drinking far too much tea. About 1.30am they went to bed leaving me wide eyed on my bed chair. I could hear fish far to my right but couldn’t see them. I guessed they must be in front of Mums as it was the furthest swim away. I then had the thought that Annie loves Mums. With that I packed up and took my tackle round there. I rolled a fag,as smoked it i saw at least 15 carp bosh a rod or two out. I didn’t use a torch, I did everything by feel and moonlight. Both rods were swung out under arm and there I sat in the dark between the rods thinking “im having one any minute!”. Time passed slowly. I couldn’t believe it hadn’t happened already. As minutes became hours, and the sun rose, I could not sit on my hands anymore. I wound in the rods where most of the shows had been. I say wound in, I mean lifted my bait out of the water. As I did I knew I was too close in. The bait was in 2’ of water. I needed to be in 4’. I tied a new bait on and was just about to swing it out when a patch of bubbles hit the surface. This is where I wanted my bait. I put the rod down and waited about 5 minutes then put 5 boilies out one at a time to scare them off before putting my rig in. I then did the other rod in a similar fashion. I had been up all night, I was shattered I needed sleep so off I went. Next thing I know there is a howling delkim receiver doing its best to deafen me. I had no back bank sticks in and the reel was against the buzzer in melt down. Once into the fish, I was sure it was a small male as it sped round the swim at outrageous speed. When it showed itself my eyes nearly popped out my head. It was the Northern .I soon had her in the net.On the scales she went 45lb. I was pleased with this capture as I wanted this fish a lot. I then moved to the other end of the lake and caught Popeye again. I phoned home and checked with my weather girlfriend. Next week we were in for warm weather with some southerly winds. Perfect for Mums. On packing up, I went round to Mums. Luckily no one was fishing here and I put 15kg of cell on the spot where I had caught the Northern. It was Thursday evening and I would be back Sunday night.
The lake was packed when I arrived but Mums was free – result! Also, I spoke with the Doc and he has fished Mums while I was away and he had seen Annie.
Conditions for Mums were not ideal, the wind was pushing the other way but was due to change in the morning. I woke at 3.30am and made a cuppa. I then sat by the rods watching. It looked carpy, flat calm with mist rising from the surface. The din of the M25 had yet to begin and all was still and quiet. I hadn’t even sipped my tea and the rod on the spot was away, a nice slow steady take. I picked up and was met with a firm resistance of a large carp. In the net I didn’t recognise it, but knew it was around 40lb. On the scales 39lb 10oz, what a lovely start! The day was frantic. I had six takes landing four fish. They looked like they might be getting ready to spawn. I was so close in, it was great. Watching fish coming past then nailing my choddy was great fun. In the evening I baited heavily with only one fish in mind, the Annie. At first light I was awoken to a proper big fish bite. A few bleeps followed by a slow take that gathered in pace. I have to admit as I picked up the rod and felt the weight I thought this is the Annie. The unseen beast chugged up and down the margins. I played it like my life depended on it. As it came to view I could see it wasn’t the Annie, it was Stella. That was good enough for me. I smiled as she went over the net as I was pleased to have finally actually caught her. 46lb she went, game on!
The next couple of weeks were slow and I only caught a couple of twenties. I was pushing hard doing 4 nights a week. I wanted to be the one holding the Annie next. It was just not to be. On a Saturday while I was at work I received the sad news that the Annie had died. Rest in peace old girl. With the Annie gone, my desire and drive to fish the Manor has dwindled. I am now looking for a new direction and I am sure it wont be long before I find my next target. Looking back over the time I spent on the Manor it was an amazing three months fishing. I managed 36 fish, more than twenty of them over 30lb with four 40lbers to boot.