The Rockford Campaign

The Ringwood big pit on the south coast should need know introduction to big carp. At 60 acres, it’s believed to contain around 100 carp, several of which are over 50lb, topped by the mighty ‘Single Scale’ which has reached weights of over 60lb in the past.

With a ticket secured and just fifteen minutes from home, Oscar decided to give Rockford his all following the lockdown of 2021. From late spring, Oscar put all his other tickets on hold and began making sacrifices to give himself the best possible chance of success. Annual leave was accordingly booked, giving him three nights in favourable conditions, and his social life was also put on hold as Rockford became his obsession.

With the lake fishing extremely difficult in the spring of 2021 and into the summer, Oscar knew post spawn he would need to devise a plan.

With such a huge expanse of open water, and zones that the carp were just not pressured, Oscar felt but fishing ranges in excess of 180 yards, he would be able get on fish regularly.

There was a zone he would regularly see them in, in the south western corner of the lake, at long range close to a no fishing bank. Walking around to this bank and baiting heavily with boilie, Oscar would then be able to cast from his swim, 180 yards across and be right amongst the fish. With other anglers unable to hit this range, Oscar knew this would be a huge edge.

Once spawning was over, Oscar began baiting heavily from the off, getting through 20kg of Cell a week. ‘It was all or nothing, it wasn’t cheap and my life’s focus was Rockford, but if you want something that bad, then you have to work for it’.

Baiting with 10kg early in the week, then another 10kg at the beginning of his session, usually a Friday afternoon, Oscar had immense confidence and with so many big carp in the pit, he knew they wouldn’t be able to resist.

Three rods were staggered over the area, all fished at the same range of 45 wraps, spaced about a rod length apart. The bait was scattered with the stick in an area the size of a tennis court, ensuring the carp would be moving around, actively looking for his Cell.

Due to the extreme range, it could often take several casts to get the rods bang on, and often unable to feel the lead down at such range, it was imperative Oscar’s rigs would remain tangle free and would always present.

He therefore set up with stiff hinge rigs, incorporating Kable Leadcore leaders and Hybrid Lead Clips. ‘When fishing at such range, you can only use a Hybrid Lead Clip. Heli Safes or other lead clip systems will simply buckle under the pressure. With the 5oz lead, you’re putting so much force on your tackle, you need to be kitted out correctly’.

Oscar used 10-inch sections of Dark Matter Braid as his boom, stiff enough to kick the rig away in flight and also stiff enough to always ensure the bait and lead would separate, so he would always be left with granted presentation. The dark colour to the braid would help blend in with the lakebed and Oscar would strip a few mm at the end of the rig, before tying on a size 11 Ring Swivel, adding more movement at the hook end to aid hooking

Oscar then used a 2-inch section of MouthTrap for his hook section, tied on to the Ring Swivel using a 2-turn blood knot. He then used a large blob of Dark Matter Putty around the swivel, anchoring his bait in place. When asked why he used such a large section of putty, Oscar replied; ‘When fishing for these huge carp, they move a lot of water when they are feeding. One flick of the pec can really stir the bottom up, so I don’t want my bait fluttering around. I want it anchored in position, ready to be taken. A massive bit of putty will help keep the bait in place’

The Mouthtrap is then tied to a size 8 Choddy hook, with a small ‘D’ at the rear of the hook, with a micro ring swivel attaching his 15mm Milky Toffee pop up. ‘I’ve done really well on white hookbait through the years and using the cell, after a few hours, it goes quite pale, so a white hookbait is virtually match the hatch, but just has that stand out factor which I think catches their eye.

Interestingly, despite fishing for such huge carp, Oscar has been using size 8 hooks, and he explains why; ‘when fishing at such long range, the fights can be quite long, and you can be reeling them in from 200 yards. From my experience, a small hook doesn’t seem to move in their mouth. It goes in and stays in and seems to hold firm. Also, as it can be such hard work getting the rods out, I may leave them for 48 hours at a time, so with a smaller hook, I can be confident over the time, the bait is still going to be buoyant enough to hold the hook up. A size 4 for example is more weight and over time, could weigh the hookbait down’.

Technically quite simple stuff, but every component has logic behind it and there’s a clear thought process behind everything Oscar does – a key attribute to any success angler. He is not doing anything for the sake of it, there’s a logic behind his approach.

Throughout his late summer campaign and into autumn, Oscar remained consistent in his approach, baiting heavily in the same zone each week, getting into the same swim each week, usually on a Friday after work, but often, taking a day’s annual leave to get to the lake on the Thursday afternoon to secure the area. He was down the lake as much as possible, keeping in tune with the place and really giving it his everything.

‘I made big sacrifices over this period. I missed social events with the lads, had to lose money to take time from work and sometimes, I was sleeping in the lake car park so I could be there for first light to watch and ensure I got in the areas I wanted. It’s not easy but going the extra mile and putting in the graft behind the scenes goes a long way and like anything in life, the more you are prepared to put in, the more you’ll get out and angling is no different’

In a series of weeks, Oscar achieved something quite remarkable on the notoriously challenging Rockford. In a 12 week period, Oscar caught 15 carp, topped by the might ‘Bobble’ at a massive 55lb. A seriously impressive spell of angling.