George Loughlin changes tactics to outwit his quarry.

“I was excited to be told that I was being offered a ticket on the Swan Valley for 2015 and it was a venue I was fortunate to fish on a spring ticket back in 2008. I vowed one day that I would like go back and do a full season or two on there because the stock of fish in there are not your normal Fisher pond, Simmo type mirrors. These are big dark mirrors, chestnut scaly ones, big dark commons, little ancient torpedo commons and some beautiful old plated mirrors so what was not to like.
“As with any water in the spring, a good starting point when you are unfamiliar with their behaviour and having a bit of local knowledge (not always reliable) would be do start out with some visual single choddys with perhaps a moderate scattering of freebies. I like to use a relatively big hook when fishing chod rigs and having had great faith in the Krank bottom bait hooks, I immediately opted to use that pattern for my chod approach on here, coupled with the new Helisafe system to ensure that the lead dropped after it had set the hook.

George switched to a bottom-bait rig with a Longshank X to keep the bites coming.

The Back Bay provided a memorable catch - his first UK 40b common!

“After finding some relative clear areas between some sprouting weed beds the traps were placed with confidence and each one of the spots had 25-30 18mm Kodapop peanut and banana baits scattered around them. Hook bait wise I had covered all bases because I had opted to use a matching Kodapop corkball to match the bottom baits but on the other two, having had success with them over the winter, I armed my chod rigs with 15mm pink and white candyfloss corkballs for a more visual attraction. Day one passed uneventfully and at 09:30am and the left rod just tore off without any sign of a carp and I pulled into a heavy fish. It quickly found weed, but eventually surrendered and the first Swan Valley carp was safely ensconced in the net. It turned out to be 34lb 8oz of lovely mirror looking resplendent in its winter livery. A great start indeed and the first of five fish that first session with another of 35lb 8oz to round it off after three smaller old, torpedo commons.
“The chod rig approach worked well over the following weeks and my attentions turned to the main lake where the weed was less of an issue. The first time I ventured in to main lake I opted to fish swim three where there are several gravel bars and silty areas in front. The fish were showing at various ranges between 30 and 60 yards and the chod approach was effective again as the Krank choddy picked off a Jurassic looking old 33lb common. The following first morning of my next session produced one of the known big commons, called the Slate Grey at 36lb 7oz. The following morning another blistering take resulted in the same 33lb Jurassic lumpy common from the previous week!
“My next session back was the end of May bank holiday weekend and the as soon as I walked from the car park, a dark mirror came out by the bridge in the Back Bay. A common then cleared the water 30 yards along the far margin so that was good enough for me. I knew that margin was a carp highway, as they moved between the two areas of the lake, so it was a case of intercepting them and trying to keep them in the area.
“Everyone was still mainly using chods or hinged stiff rigs and I had already started to introduce some particles into the mix in the form of hemp, sweetcorn, 4mm pellets which were laced with chilli flakes, crushed Himalayan rock salt and KO Baits Haulin’ Oil to alter the profile. The first night was a disappointing blank but the far margin was still showing signs of carp as the branches were twitching where I had seen the common but things were not right. Upon investigation in my chesties, a low 20 common was tethered by lead core and rig in the branches that were in the water and that was the reason its siblings were staying clear; it was a tethered warning to others. I set about freeing the fish and it swam away strongly and a sense of good inner karma was felt. The late afternoon was spent scattering particle along 40 yards of margins in little patches and the amount of carp that were seen in that area was frustrating but I knew I had to get the baits in as soon as possible because they weren’t going to get caught otherwise.
“The far margin was clear of debris in 3-4 ft of water and I opted to boat the rigs over to avoid potential multiple casts whilst trying to avoid the overhanging branches. The boilies and particle mixture was topped up in the boat with the oiled-up pellets and the size-6 Longshank X blowback rig was baited with a 15mm boilies tipped with plastic corn. This was then attached to a either a small PVA mesh bag of oily pellets or boilies crumb and the long baited hair was taped around the bag to avoid tangles as it was released from the boat. After all three rods were boated over, I was happy and very confident. Without warning the left-hand Delkim went into battle cry as a huge carp hit the surface when the 4oz lead came off the Helisafe clip.
“I was on the rod in an instant as the fish made a break for freedom under the bridge to my left but I held fast knowing the rig was rock solid. The fish went into the weed that was rapidly reaching for the surface and after a short but spirited fight I slipped the common over the net. I knew she was a big girl and was blown away when the scales were read out at 42lb 12oz, the Penny Common was at her biggest weight and was my personal quest to bag a UK forty-pound common completed. The carp gods smiled on me, perhaps it was good karma for helping the little one? The following morning at 11:45am, the same rod tore off again and a 35lb 8oz common again fell to the boilie and corn combo. A further three fish came that session and the lake was closed because they were starting to spawn so that was it for two weeks.
“The Back Bay was stitched on my return, so I went back into the swim where I caught the Slate Grey. I primed the spot up with 4kg of hemp, corn, boilies and pellets and put the rigs out by the boat because the tight gap that you had to cast through was dependant on getting the breeze right to open up the branches. The area was the edge of a large gravel area and at the point where the silt appeared to start and the water was around 7ft deep. The baits were no more than 4ft apart and the last rod was a chod single out in the silt over some light detritus and an area where I had had fish before.
“The night passed uneventfully but I heard some huge crashed over the spot during the hours of darkness so I knew they must be close. At 07:30am the left-hand rod was away and an epic battle ensued with a very angry carp. After 10 minutes, one angry 23lb 6oz mirror graced the net and another swan valley carp had fallen foul of the new baiting strategy. After baiting up again that evening, a total of 8-9kg of bait was out on the spot and the liners I was getting meant that carp were in the area. They now need good quality food bait with a few treats like the hemp and corn they love but the food baits are the key and I wanted to wean them onto the boilies as the season progressed.
“Sunday morning at 05:30am and the left-hand rod tore off and in my subconscious I heard an alarm but it didn’t register immediately. I peered out from under the bedchair cover and the rod was being pulled violently left as the fish was kiting into the bank. I was concerned because of the snags to my left but luckily it was keeping just far enough away from them to keep my heart at a pre-cardiac-arrest stage! My pal Dan came up and was manning the net and he first saw her and said it was a chunky one. I walked back trying to keep a good angle on the fish as he lowered the net and she was dragged in to kiss the block. We thought it was an upper thirty initially and when the scales read out 41lb 9oz, I was totally blown away. The last three trips produced nine fish made up of two forties, a 35lb common and six twenties, god I am loving the season so far on Swan Valley!”

George used the Kutter to great effect, making his boils suitable for the mix that he was using.