Graduate gives a glowing report on Carp Academy

The email landed in my inbox in May, the words ‘you have been selected’ and ‘congratulations’ stared back at me. I couldn’t believe it, I’d been selected to go to the Korda Carp Academy 2015! I was excited and nervous all at the same time, I had so many questions I wanted answered; were other girls going to be there? What bait do I need? Who will be my coach? What lake would I be on? Who would I be paired with?

I arrived at Manor Farm Fisheries on the Tuesday morning nice and early and already recognised a few other people from Facebook and various carp shows. We all entered the marquee and waited for the moment of truth, finding out our partners and tutors. It felt like hundreds of people were called out before I found out I had been paired with Max Andrew and that we had Rich Stewart as our tutor. We headed to Damsel lake in order to set up base camp. I had the third swim on our bank, a lot of open water in front, with, as I would later find out, loads of underwater features.

We didn’t get our rods out straight away; Rich suggested we get the marker rod out to see what we are dealing with. It went from 5-9ft and was a mixture of gravel patches and silt, but this wasn’t your typical gravel, this was underwater boulders. It was like dragging a marker float across a railway crossing! With these conditions in mind I opted for a simple bottom bait rig, a boilie topped off with some yellow foam to make it critically balanced also using a two-bait stringer. We noticed some bubbling on a distant spot and decided to cast to it, eight and three quarter wraps on the distance sticks.

I spodded out a mixture of particle, pellet and chopped boilie over my spots, and it started making a slick on the water. I also catapulted out 10 whole boilies every half an hour to an hour just to get the dinner bell ringing. Later that evening I hooked into a large fish from my spot. Behind me was a large audience and the pressure was on. After a few minutes my knot above the leader gave way and the fish disappeared back into its underwater world. Gutted couldn’t describe that moment, I felt so angry with myself. Everyone on my bank had caught and I just lost a fish. I didn’t waste any time feeling sorry for myself and cracked on making up a new rig and leader, then got it back on the spot. Tuesday evening soon passed and before I knew it the time was 3am and I had a bream on the mat! I got my rod straight back in the clip using the distance sticks and cast back on my spot, telling myself ‘where there’s bream surely there’s carp’.

Wednesday was a long day, I hadn’t really gone back to bed after the bream at 3am and was determined to get off the mark and get a carp under my belt. By late afternoon, and still without a carp to my name, I decided that I needed to take drastic action. It was time to go stalking!

I had talked to a few others and the word was that a few fish were sitting in the far corner of the lake away from the pressure, so Rich and I decided to grab some bits and take a walk down there. Andrew Endean, one of the other tutors, had kindly baited an area for us, which was really appreciated. The swim where the fish were had a reed line either side of a platform so I decided to lay my rig down the left hand reed line. As I approached the platform, four tail swirls emerged about a foot from the bank. I placed my rig down the edge, hoping I hadn’t blow it! After about half an hour I spotted a couple more tails in front of the platform so I opted to bring my rig in and place it in front of the swim, and trickle out some pellet and hemp over the spot.

A quarter of an hour passed and Rich and I were getting worried that we’d spooked the fish, but almost on que my rod bent round and I hit into an angry fish. Once again the pressure was on and I was shaking from head to toe but I couldn’t lose this fish. After a short fight, he slid into the net. I got him on the mat and weighed, 17lb on the dot. Rich did a great job with the photos and I released him back getting my rod back on the spot with some more bait to see if I could tempt another.

I didn’t have anything else from that spot, so headed back to my swim to change tactics. I’d been putting a lot of bait out on my spot and it hadn’t been working so I went for the opposite approach. What I opted to do was place a bait on the very edge of the gravel, away from the area I had baited and just put a few boilies out in a hope that any fish that were spooking off big beds of bait may feel a bit more comfortable with a loose scattering of boilie. I also changed my rig to a D rig with half a boilie and half a white pop up. I was pinning all my hopes on this approach and I went into my last night at Carp Academy determined, confident and very tired! I didn’t get a lot of sleep as at 4am, my bite alarm sang out and I lifted into a carp. It was soon on the mat and I uncovered the net to reveal another long gold common weighing 15lb. After some photos, courtesy of Rich again, I slid him back and got my rod back on the spot.

I didn’t catch any more fish and finished on Thursday with a total of two carp and a bream, but I didn’t mind. I had learnt so much being in the company of Rich, Max and the instructors, knowing I had worked hard and given 100% for the fish I managed.

I want to thank everyone at Korda for the opportunity and Rich for being a brilliant coach. I also want to thank Andrew for baiting my stalking spot. It is definitely an experience I won’t forget and recommend every young angler to enter as you learn so much and meet so many people.