What It's All About - Elliott Gray

“At the beginning of March I got the opportunity to dabble on a venue that quite frankly, I’ve been gagging to fish for years. The venue is past its prime as far as the stock goes but only when you’re talking in terms of fish weights. The lake is, to anyone that lives in Essex, one of the most prestigious venues in the area. The lake was one of the premier, local, big fish waters back it’s day and although it lacks any carp over 40lb these days, some of the stock are quite simply mind blowing. With around 10 of the big original mirrors still left to go at, it was these carp that I dearly wanted to hold. These fish were, and still are some of the best carp Essex has ever produced in my eyes. Living locally, it would be a crime for me never to target them and with a couple of months at my disposal, whilst my other water was shut, my campaign begun, before the venue goes day ticket in May.

We’ve had some rather amazing weather this spring, and winter in fact, so by the time I started in March, I was confident of action. Fishing predominantly overnighters throughout the month, I managed to catch a few, including the first fish from open water since late the previous autumn, which was nice, taken on a zig. The carp were slow to show themselves but as the weeks passed by, I started to see more and more signs of fish, until eventually, in late March I got the feeling they were ready to start getting caught with some regularity. By this point the venue had only produced one of the big mirrors I was targeting, so all was still to play for as I approached this particular session.

Fishing another overnighter between work, I set up in a swim along the road bank, as we call it. It’s basically just a part of the lake that you are able to drive around, and in turn it’s ideal for quick sessions. I had been to the venue two or three days previous and the weather was great for fish spotting, although I saw nothing. I had looked extensively at either end of the lake, where the good climbing trees are, but saw nothing. This left me in no doubt that the fish were held up around the islands, which are situated in the middle of the lake. They are a magnet for the carp, especially the originals, and with shallow’ish water around them, it would be a comfortable place for them to be. I left the lake with that area in mind for my next trip and had my suspicions confirmed the next day when a friend told me he had seen them showing in the zone. He also mentioned the size of fish he was seeing, again confirming y thoughts that the originals were in that area.

Anyway, I set my gear up on the road bank, with the intention of fish between 116-120 yards towards the gap between the islands. Not long after setting up I saw one show 30 yards beyond where I was going to fish, and immediately felt like I should move. I didn’t move though, I had no barrow and it was a hell of long walk through thick mud to get there. I thought I’d catch fishing from the road bank to be honest. To cut a long story short, I didn’t catch anything that night but I had heard and seen several big show between the islands, again, 30-40 yards beyond my rigs.

It was about 7:30am and I was just about to reel in for work, when I starting really kicking myself. I sat there moaning about how if I didn’t have to go to work I would catch them and what not, then it hit me; book the day off. So that’s what I did, knowing there was an opportunity to be taken. With the day booked and my gear packed down in quick time, I was round the other side by 8am.

I chose the position of my rigs very carefully, opting to fish the swim in a different fashion to anyone else I had heard of before, and then spread 18mm cell between the rigs. I was fishing with tall chod rigs and a combination of Baitworks Scent From Hell and Squid Goo hook baits, so they wouldn’t have any trouble finding them.

From then on, the next 24 hours was absolutely mental and I managed a total of 10 carp and a loss. All of the fish fell to the same tactics, and at times I just could not get a rod in the water. On three separate occasions I had three carp in the net together at once - it really was crazy. Approaching the trip I had never even had three carp in a net at once, so for it to happen three times that day was unreal. The fish were 33lb 4oz, 32lb 12oz, 31lb 12oz, 31lb 10oz, 26lb+, 25lb+, 24lb+, 23lb+, 20lb+ and 18lb odd. Above all else though, and the icing on the cake for me, I managed three of my target fish, all of which are mirrors of over 40 years old, including the first carp the lake ever produced.

I was and still am absolutely made up. It was nice to be fishing for carp where weight was totally irrelevant, not many people do it these days. I only ever dreamt of catching one of those incredible beasts and to have caught three of them was epic. Exactly what carp fishing is all about, the carp!”