Picky Hauls at Sandhurst - Martin Pick

“Every now and again I try to make time for a social session with my mates down at CEMEX Sandhurst Lake. It really does you good to let your hair down every now and then.
Upon arriving at the lake the carp were clearly active. They were showing like mad in the Secret Swim, The Pipe and Second Pipe. With the fish showing much closer to the bank than usual it was clear to see that the fish were holding up in the weed.
I opted for the Pipe Swim as there was someone in the Secret. He was only on for the day though; this meant my two friends could both get on with a good chance of a bite whist still being able to have a good laugh at the same time.
I flicked a couple of choddies out in areas that I saw the fish, but received no action. That evening I decided to have a flick around with the marker. I was looking to find a spot were I could fish my usual Sandhurst rigs, which would be a 10mm pop-up on a size-eight Wide Gape. I found a 5ft clear area around the 60 yard mark that I thought was worth putting a rod on. I baited the area with three kilos of 10mm N-Blend in the hope of stopping any fish in their tracks.
The following morning I woke up to a run on the baited area, but unfortunately the hook pulled after being weeded solid. The weed was even more severe than I’d thought. With this in mind, I changed over to the rigs that I have been using over at Wellington Country Park. This meant upping the bait to 15mm and using a reverse combi rig with a size-six Choddy, 25lb Mouth-Trap and 20lb N-Trap. This rig works very much like a hinged stiff rig, however it works slightly better over weed due to the suppleness of the N-Trap. This was clipped up and back out on the spot again by counting out the rod lengths using the two pole method.
Later that morning, a low-twenty mirror came off the baited area, but the rods with chods produced nothing. The fish were clearly still in the swim for both afternoons and I really felt like I should have had a bite from this area. I left it as late as I could to try and avoid spooking them before having a flick around with a light 1.5oz lead, hoping to feel a drop. On the fifth cast, slightly further than I had been fishing, I felt the lead through the water and got a definite thud. I clipped up and re-casted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke and sure enough the thud was still there. I walked out my line to the clip then matched the other line against it but left it slightly shorter, allowing for stretch in the mono. There were small amounts of onion weed on the lead so I stuck on a combi link. I was sure I would get a presentation as long as I used a foam nugget over the hook on the cast. When the foam nugget came up I could easily catapult some 10mm N-Blend to the spot.
As soon as it got light the following day it roared off and a nice mid-twenty common was in the net. My mate Jamie Smith, who was in the Second Pipe, came down to give me a hand. I had realised that the carp were still fizzing up like crazy on the spot. Sometimes these windows of opportunity need taking advantage of. I quickly wound one of my other rods in cast it out, but before I recast it to the spot, I fired out a few pouch full of 10mm baits to semi spook the fish. When the lead landed it seemed even harder than the day before. I said to Jamie, “Oh man, that’s another bite for sure.” Everything just seemed so right and no sooner had I returned the common than I was into another. With the weed being so bad it was important to ditch the lead and stay in direct contact with the fish as there isn’t a boat to help land fish.
Thankfully, everything stayed strong and after two weed beds and a good tear-up there was another low-twenty in the net. This carried on throughout the day; I landed six more fish to 27lb until I hooked a fish that just flat-rodded me. It ripped off 60 yards of line before going solid into weed. The sheer power of the fish left me shaking… it must be a good ’un. With the rod bent double for five minutes or so, I decided that my only option was to put the rod back on the rest on a slackish line in hope that the fish would come out. This is something I really hate doing as I know carp can unhook themselves like they have hands on a slack line, but I really had no choice.
Luckily though, the fish started moving again and was tearing about the place. It was a little like playing a catfish with big powerful lunges that you simply can’t do anything with; all I could do was just hold on for dear life. Mark had turned up at this point but the fish went solid again. Just for the record I really was playing this fish pretty much as hard as my tackle would let me. I was now starting to panic slightly at Mark saying, “Look mate, this is a good ’un, I’ve just got to get it in”. After putting the rod on the rest a further two times it finally gave up and was in the net.

When I looked in the net I could see that it was one of the Sandhurst A-team. It wasn’t until after I’d done the pictures that I compared them and I realised it was a fish called C Scale that I had caught on my last Sandhurst trip. It was still down in weight at 34lb 12oz but I was well happy nonetheless as this one rarely sees the bank. After the fight it gave me this time, I can understand why.
With the weather set to stay the same the following day, I thought I’d string it out as long as I could before packing up as it was unlikely I’d be fishing there again for a while, and there was a good chance of a few more. The wind had picked up slightly, which made it more difficult to catapult my 10mm baits out. This meant that the ones falling short were being mopped up by the mallards. The swans soon cottoned on to this too and I now had a bird frenzy going on. While the ducks were diving I could still see the carp fizzing on the spot just behind them and all of a sudden the line shot up tight again and the birds scattered in all directions, which was quite amusing to watch. I was fishing a fairly tight line and losing the lead, so the fish was straight up on the surface exploding water… almost tail walking. I kept hold of him and after a hectic few minutes a 29lb 12oz mirror rolled into the net. With Jamie and Mark both gone home I did a quick self-take and slipped him back. I catapulted the remainder of my bait on the spot, recast, then started a slow pack up. Just as I was loading some of my gear onto the Carp Porter, I caught another 25lb mirror, taking me to a grand total of twelve carp. I was now officially out of bait and was getting sick of listening to that fat lady singing, so I gave in and packed up.
On the way home my alternator went on my van and I had to be towed home by the AA, but even that didn’t put a downer on me. I really enjoyed myself that trip and it was made even better by spending it with my good mates.”