The carp gods were with us - Tom Wager

Towards the end of April and the beginning of May, the longer evenings and changes in weather have driven me to get out on the bank and do some mid week overnighters. Recently I was able to get a couple booked up with my friend John Wilkes on my favourite day ticket fishery – Churchwood Fisheries.

The first of the two 12-hour sessions was a lovely evening in contrast to the second. On arrival and after a quick walk around, I decided to use the first hour to try and get a quick bite. I cast a 2ft zig to some carp I spotted cruising towards the corner of the 2.5-acre lake and rested the rod on the floor with a tight line and loose-ish clutch. I was eager to get a fish on the bank before John arrived but annoyingly this didn't happen.

There are various lily pad areas spread out across the lake and the carp spend a lot of time sheltered behind them. The pads are a popular feature to fish to and each lake is provided with a rowing boat to help you retrieve the fish, should they get snagged in them. Once John arrived we agreed swims, he loves the boat and we both decided to row our rigs out – lazy I know but it was a bit of fun.

We had the lake to ourselves and had five rods out between us on perfect spots. We were super confident for a bite! Morning came, but the fish were not interested. We headed to work feeling defeated, but we had a plan for the next overnighter and felt like we’d learnt a few lessons…

Two weeks passed and the day John and myself had been waiting for arrived, it was time for our second overnighter. Now more determined than ever to put a fish on the bank, we battled the heavy showers and got ready to put the rods out for the night. Our plan this time was to A: stop being lazy and cast our rods out and ditch the boat and B: use only a mouthful of bait.

On our first trip we felt like we disturbed the lake too much with the rowing boat and we also thought we’d put too much bait out! The night’s tactics were to clip up nice and tight to the pads and simply fish with a PVA stick on each rod. I also chose to use two rods instead of three this time round.

The minor changes we adopted to our angling made a huge difference and this was very satisfying to watch. The rain didn’t stop until about midnight and we encountered a fair bit of action throughout the night!

My first bite was almost instant - I got both rods on my alarms, and was fixing my Stow bobbin on my second rod when the first rod was away. The fish took me straight into the lilies and unfortunately the hook pulled. I re-cast both rods after this and the next bite was around 11.30pm. This was on the opposite rod, this time being extra extra cautious of the lilies, I walked straight back as I struck and held the spool. This was a 23lb mirror and with that I went to bed a happy man.

John lost one not too long after this and a few hours later woke me asking to borrow my scales at 4am. He’d landed a lovely 16lb mirror from the rod that he re-cast in the dark with a PVA stick on.

The final bite was at around 5.45am and was epic. It involved a good bit of teamwork. The fish had got me snagged in the lilies again, this time I decided to slowly loosen the clutch, let the fish have some line and work its own way out. John went out to the fish in the boat and managed to assist me in getting the fish free.

After a bit of frustration and thoughts that the fish had come off, we realized that the fish was still on as it pulled free from the lilies. Seconds later I had the fish in the net! It was incredible old warrior of a carp. It was a fish known as ‘The Linear’ and weighed 23lb 14oz. It was an absolutely stunning fish! Great skills out in the boat by John, too.

Myself and John are not experienced in doing overnighters in between work, it does sound like hard work to start but it’s worth the effort when you give it a go! The changes that we made to our angling, I believe, helped us massively to get the five bites between us and bank the two 20-pounders + the double within 12 hours.

Thanks to Steve Sands at Churchwood and the carp gods for letting us get these cracking fish on the bank in such a short session! Go to www.churchwoodfisheries.co.uk for more details on the fishery.