PB Common For Pooley

On June 16th I was fortunate enough to acquire a ticket for a Cotswold gravel pit I had been thinking about revisiting for a long time. It had been around 15 years since I last wet a line at the venue and in that time the fishing and its residents had changed a lot. Back then a twenty-pounder was a rare occurrence and a day session on the floaters could be fast and furious. These days however, the stock has thinned out a little and no doubt helped in part by a regular introduction of lots of good quality bait, the carp have flourished. In fact, the venue has done so well to now be considered as one of the premier big commons waters in the country.

Knowing the venue’s stock were still partial to a surface bait or two, my initial plans were to target the carp with exactly this tactic, fishing short day sessions off the barrow and staying mobile if needed. I had one day a week at my disposal, so needed to make my time count and through the summer I couldn’t think of a better approach to do exactly that.
My first day was a not unexpected blank, but I learned a good amount about the venue that would hold me in good stead for the next few weeks including the fact of just how weedy the place was. The plan I had formulated was to start the day covering any early movement with the bottom rods but then if the opportunity arose switch as soon as I could to the surface, with my first proper opportunity falling on the second afternoon.

A wander around with the barrow had found a good few carp lounging about near one of the many weed beds and it didn’t take long for them to show some interest in a steady stream of mixer and floating trout pellets. Despite them feeding quite readily, catching one proved a different matter with the heavier than usual gear I had gone for and they proved frustrating until one finally made a mistake late in the day. A fraught tussle in-and-out of the milfoil followed until I finally scooped up a typical common for the water. At 26lb it was a great start and the action continued over the next six weeks with the carp creeping up in size too. Fish of 29lb 2oz, 29lb 4oz, 30lb 4oz and 31lb 12oz all fell to surface tactics and I even got off the mark on the bottom with a 30lb 12oz to a solid bag on a day when the floater fishing didn’t really kick off.

I then couldn’t get back down for a while and it was a month or so later when I returned for my eighth day, and in that time the lake had changed a lot. Gone were the large rafts of floating weed and with the expected autumnal feed up, plenty of anglers seemed to have returned, making the venue a lot busier than I had experienced through the summer. I arrived with a cold easterly airflow locked in over the country too and already knew action had been hard to come by through the previous week. The nippy morning was a shock to the system to be honest, and prompted me to concentrate my early morning fish spotting efforts to a stretch of bank partly sheltered from the cold wind. To start with it looked pretty grim but after 30 minutes a small common finally shuffled out half its body in the flat water, just 20 metres out. I soon spotted another at around 80 metres and with the car parked up only feet away I quickly grabbed the gear and was soon tying up a couple of solid bags. A couple of casts revealed that the spots where the carp had given themselves away felt perfect too, not clear but with a sparse covering of light silk weed that was ideal to present baits over with a solid bag.

A quiet couple of hours passed with any fish sightings concentrated about thirty metres or so past my long rod, so they weren’t too far away. A few liners then followed shortly after by a good-sized fish turning over just yards to the right of the same rod. Suddenly, things were looking up and only minutes later got even better when the Stow Bobbin on the said rod smacked into the carbon before pinging off the line. The solid feeling fish just plodded into the bank before waking up close in and taking back twenty or so yards of line on a slow but heavy run. Another few digs and I had the common wallowing on the surface towards the net with fellow member, Liam, kindly doing the honours. I thought the chunky looking common was around the mid-thirty mark but when Liam said it was closer to 45lb than 35lb I genuinely thought he was joking. However, as he lifted it out the water I soon realised he was being very serious as it was an absolute donkey. I knew it would be my first UK 40lb common and at 43lb did it with ease, a deep, thickset fish that looked as though it was only going to get bigger as time went on.

The successful gear on the day included 15lb SUBline on the reel, a 2.5oz Flat Pear In-line lead fished drop-off style to a short 4-inch 15lb Dark Matter Braid hook link with the hook a size-6 Barbless Krank. The hook bait was a small wafter with the bag filled using a mix of oily groundbait, our own Mini Mass pellets and a couple of broken up boilies.

My surface gear included the 12lb Kruiser Kontrol on the reel and a Size 8 Barbless Mixa Hook, which as usual proved ultra-reliable. For a hook bait I was using a 16mm nut mix pop-up which was cut down to resemble the size and buoyancy of the free offerings. This was simply glued to the back of the shank of the Mixa hook.

Ian rates drop-off inlines for his bag work.