24.08.21

Lee Wheeler - The Carthagena Campaign

Carthagena is a beautifully picturesque lake set in the heart of the Lea valley, it’s also home to some of the best carp around.

I acquired my ticket in 2020 after speaking to a friend who was already a member. The way he had described it to me made It sound like a little slice of heaven, and a proper old school syndicate. After a chat with Jerry, he offered me a ticket and the rest as they say is history.

I’d always known about Cartha and a few of its inhabitants but seeing a few of Luke’s shots from his successful autumn a few years back, it really got the fire burning.

My campaign began in the May of 2020. Fortunately, I got off to a really positive start and caught one on my second trip. A week later, the carp began to spawn and Jerry closed it for 6 weeks as he does every year. Once re opened, I got straight back into it up there with a huge sense of excitement to how rest of the season was going to unfold. I ended up landing 12 carp for my efforts including the lakes biggest common, ‘Tango’ just shy of 49lb.

Going into the next season, I felt confident and the sense of excitement was unreal. After the lockdown, restrictions started to ease and we were eventually allowed to get out angling again. Come April, I was prepared, and had a plan of attack for the coming spring. Spring is my favourite time of year to be out; the carp are in prime condition, they are also at their biggest weight and in my opinion even the rarest of carp seem to be a lot more susceptible to letting their guard down in the spring.

'Holly'

'Schnapps'

Fishing lakes like Cartha demands your full attention and all of the percentages in terms of effort and determination boil down to how successful you’ll be.

This spring has been intense to say the least, with many late nights and early mornings, this can be a struggle but even the slightest of signs can lead to a capture and has certainly been something that has led to a number of my captures this spring.

Using watercraft to find the carp’s location is paramount and always plays huge factor within my angling. Whether that be sitting on the back of a freezing cold northerly in which we had a lot of this spring, or on the end of a warm southerly breeze. Keeping a close eye on the carp’s behaviour and how they react around certain conditions can tell you what you need to know for when similar weather comes in again. The carp will give the game away 9 times out of 10, whether that’s some bubbling, knocking of the reeds or physically showing, there are plenty of things to look out for when trying to pin down carp. Going back to what I mentioned earlier about the late nights and early mornings, I will stay up as late I can until getting my head down for some sleep, but always have an alarm set for 2 o clock in the morning. I’ll normally have a brew and listen for an hour, if they are showing in an area and all is quiet where I am, I will not hesitate to chuck the gear on the barrow and make a move providing the area is free. Paying close attention and not being too invested in swims has definitely brought me extra bites this spring.

My rigs and baiting are both kept very simple. Any pop-up fishing has been done using naked chod rigs. Consisting of 25lb Mouth Trap and a size 4 Choddy hook. The make-up of the bottom in Cartha is fairly dirty, holding a light film of black, claggy silk weed. Most of the spots were like this in the spring and I put this down simply to the carp not having cleaned them off yet, with them still being in a slight winter slumber and not quite ready to aggressively harvest spots. That’s when the chod fishing is perfect, more often than not fished as a single, it gave me 100% confidence in my presentation. It’s so versatile and being able to act quickly on chances that present themselves in front of you, without fear of presenting, can be the difference between catching and not.

Baiting wise, small beds of hempseed, crushed Manila a few nuts has really been all I’ve done, just fishing for a bite at a time really. A single balanced nut hookbait has been ever faithful throughout the course of the spring too.

When the bottom is clean and I’m picking no weed up in my prong lead, I’ll opt for a simple bottom bait rig, consisting of 12 inches of 20lb N Trap Soft, down to a size 4 hand sharpened Wide Gape X, set up similar to Elliott Gray’s rig.

With 21 bites and landing 20 carp since April, I never quite expected the year to be going the way it is, I think going that extra mile is what makes the difference for me, it’s hard work but the rewards are there to be had for doing so. I hope you can take something out of this and put it into your own angling. Be lucky!

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