The following year I moved onto Linch Hill. Linch provided me with some of the most frustrating times of my carp fishing career. There was an amazing head of big carp in the three lakes on the complex especially Christchurch. Unfortunately even though you could get a season ticket, day tickets were still allowed at that time on Christchurch and Stoneacres and Christchurch suffered as a result. I knew after just a couple of sessions that this place wasn’t going to be for me, but as it was only five minutes from my front door I stuck at it. In the spring, many times I would push my barrow down to Christchurch only to have to turn back again as it was completely full up! What a nightmare and what a difference after Yateley and Elstow 2. The fishing on Linch was not what I would call rock hard but it was amazingly tricky. The fish liked their small baits and fake corn was definitely the way to catch them on there. Also this was where I saw the zig rig for the first time. Anglers were catching on tiny pieces of rig foam between 10 and 13 feet off the bottom! Also they were catching them in the middle of the night like this! I couldn’t get my head around this and still can’t today but I did catch like this myself! I did meet some incredibly gifted young anglers on here, one in particular, Danny Aplin. These guys were light years ahead of me with regards this type of fishing and with the big head of fish in there really put it to good use with big hits of big carp. I caught a few and had a dabble on Stoneacres and had a few nice ones out of there but really Linch just wasn’t for me.
26lb 12oz Stoneacres
21LB 10OZ Linch Hill
If you remember earlier I mentioned that I had got permission to fish a day’s only water on a trout fishing complex. Because Linch was so busy I found myself giving this water some attention now and even started a baiting campaign that lasted several months. Trouble was when I started fishing it I started to catch Tench over my baited spots and not just one or two! The great thing about this water was that hardly anyone else fished it and I NEVER saw another carp angler fish it. During that summer of 2003 I did a lot of walking around looking for carp especially on the red hot days and I came to the conclusion that there were between six to ten carp in there and probably the lower figure. I did set eyes on a very large fish which was a sandy colour and one afternoon I found her right in the edge having a grub about. It’s hard to put a weight on fish like this but she looked every inch as big as “Cuttail” which I used to watch in the water back on Manor. I got a rod and tried to have a stalk but she was so close I had to wait for her to move away and she didn’t come back. It was during a session like this that I did finally catch one from here. Again I found some fish close in on a warm day with a gentle breeze pushing in (this was the best conditions I came to believe on here to find the fish). There were two or three of them mooching around in the margins and when they moved out I took a chance and lowered a bait in close to where they had been. I stood behind a bush and watched. All of a sudden there was an almighty boil just where my bait was and the rod layed on the floor jerked forward and then stopped. I thought I had pricked the fish and it had gone but the rod suddenly started moving again towards the lake! I just managed to grab it and realised what had happened. The fish had gone off so quickly it had pulled line off the reel at such a rate of knots that it had spilled out quicker than the loose clutch would allow. Now it had tangled behind the spool but in one of those miraculous I just sort of flicked at it and it came loose. After a frantic battle which saw the fish try and leap out (probably never been hooked before) I netted a perfect old warrior which weighed 28lb 4oz.
28LB 4OZ trout fishing complex
A pukka heritage carp! That takes us into 2004. There was no way I was going to rejoin Linch Hill but I spoke to one of the bailiffs about this while I was fishing on Stoneacres late in 2003 and he said that they were hoping to form a syndicate on there and day tickets would be stopped except on Stoneacres. I then decided it might be worth rejoining Linch as hopefully this would improve the crazy angling pressure situation. The price went up considerably but it could be worth it. As things happened once again I wished I hadn’t bought a Linch ticket as I had been on the waiting list for a no publicity lake for some years and in the close season after I had paid for Linch I got the news that I had a place on this exclusive syndicate. Now I had the Linch lakes, the no publicity lake and the lake on the trout fishing complex! With one day and night a week there was no way I could do all the lakes justice. I flitted between Linch in the spring and a few sessions on the pit on the trout complex. I had a few out of Linch but struggled again. I did have another out of the trout complex lake but believe it or not it was the same one I had caught the year before! That brings us onto the no publicity lake. Now obviously I can’t give you any names of the fish because of the no publicity rule but it’s a proper old lake. The stock isn’t massive but there were two forties and quite a few back up thirties, many of them big thirties as well. It was my old mate Greg Richardson who had originally got me onto the waiting list many years before and unfortunately by the time I had my ticket, even though Greg was still a member, he had caught virtually all of the lakes stock so we didn’t really have a chance to fish it together. The first session I had on there though was a rare Saturday night session for me. This was because it was the first weekend of the season and Greg was down for a social so he was able to show me around. We didn’t have anything that session although I did have tench. I returned soon after for a mid week session which apart from tench again produced no carp. It was my third session that I broke my duck. Again I had caught tench but I was pleased that I was getting action as the lake has a massive head of crayfish and it was obvious I was keeping baits on long enough to get a bite. In fact the tench may have helped as when the buzzer went again I struck into something which obviously wasn’t a tench. The fight was nothing special and just felt heavy. I had a feeling it could be one of the lakes biggies and it was confirmed when I tried to lift the net out of the water after I had landed it. I weighed it in the darkness at 37lb 4 oz but I had no idea which fish it was as I didn’t know what they looked like! When we did the pictures it was recognised as the smaller of the two forties down slightly due to successful spawning that summer. Amazingly three weeks later I had my second one out of the lake in very similar circumstances. It was the middle of the night again and I had just been “tenched” so when I had a jerky kind of take again that just pulled up to the buzzer I just picked up the rod and clipped the line behind the line clip on the reel so I could get a bait out onto the spot again pretty quickly. I was pretty knackered at this point after being at work all day and then being up in the night for the fish so it took a few seconds to realise that I had a carp on and that I wouldn’t be able to give any line if it went on a long run! Luckily as is the case with many big carp she was just slow and heavy in the fight and once again I found my self struggling with the net with a big lump in it. This one was even bigger at 39lb 1oz and I had my suspicions which one it was after the spawning and it was confirmed during the photos that it was the lakes other forty! Apologies I can’t name the lake in this article but obviously I’m not referring to the water as the no publicity lake for nothing! That was an incredible session for me as I had a double figure common at dawn and then with the common in the net hooked into another fish which, probably because I had one in the net I lost due to trying to get it in too quick. I lost it right at the net and unfortunately it was another good thirty! After all those fun and games the lake reverted to it’s usual difficult self after those two mad sessions. That was pretty much it for 2004. Onto 2005. I had spoken to Fletch who ran the fishing on Linch at that time and informed him that I wouldn’t be rejoining but happened to mention how much I thought of Stoneacres. He said to me that I was now eligible for the 20 man syndicate on there so once again I had a Linch ticket although this time just for Stoneacres. Another chap I met on Linch, Nick, was in the process of forming a syndicate on a local large pit which we will call The Ski Lake. Again it was a small syndicate and Nick offered me a place. I thought again this was too good an opportunity to turn down. Problem was once again I had more lakes than I could do justice on. I had also changed my job late in 2004 which meant I had more weekends off so good for my family life but less time for fishing as I don’t fish on a weekend. On my midweek sessions I also couldn’t get to the lakes as early as I couldn’t get home from work until around 6.15p.m. Even when I travelled distances to Yateley and Elstow 2 I was at the lakes and fishing sometimes by that time. It was a better job though and that was more important I was also due to become a father that summer so I knew that it was to be a short fishing season for me in 2005.
The Ski Lake opened on April 1st which fell on one of my midweek nights so the early spring was spent doing a few nights and days on there. The Ski Lake didn’t have any massive carp in it apart from one notable exception, but it still had some an original leneys’ in. Just a couple of hours into the new season I had one which I think was a leney. It was only a mid double but it was a common with no pelvics, just like the one in Redmire! I had a couple of others that spring, the biggest just under 24lb.
15lb 12oz the ski lake
The ski lake 23lb 14oz
The ski lake 19lb 6oz
When the season opened on the no publicity lake I a few sessions over there until my baby came along. I managed to winkle one out, a 31 pounder. I did a few sessions on Stoneacres but didn’t catch anything and hardly fished the lake on the trout complex at all. My little girl, Amy was born on July 26th so I pretty much didn’t fish again in 2005 as being a father is a great job and fishing was put on the back burner for a while. Being a cricket fan that summer was pretty amazing with the ashes as well so what a year for me! By 2006 my family life had got into a routine and my wife was back at work after maternity. My fishing was (is) now limited to an overnighter once a fortnight. When I get my weekend off every other week that is obviously spent with the family and my day off in the week is now spent looking after my daughter. I do fish the night before this day off though. As you can imagine trying to fish the kind of lakes that I like to target and being successful with the time I had was always going to be very difficult. I couldn’t make up my mind whether to drop the Stoneacres ticket for 2006 as I just didn’t think I would be able to do it justice. The ever growing stock of biggies in there was making it a very difficult decision though. The biggest fish in there was approaching 50lb and there were at least two others around mid forties and a few others over 40lb as well! It is five minutes from my front door and the temptation was just too much so I rejoined. I still had my syndicate ticket for the no publicity lake as well. The lake on the trout fishing complex had suffered from some serious flooding and talking to the owner I discovered a couple of carp had been found dead since I had last fished it. It was a shame as I would have loved to have caught that big sandy coloured carp but who knows, she may still be in there. Trouble was the owner told me that a large carp had been seen in one of the trout lakes and these lakes were all one after the flooding (and this was before the even worse floods in the summer of 2007). The other problem with this lake now was that crayfish had got in during the first floods so there were less carp (possibly only one or two now!) loads of crayfish and I could only fish nights and this was a day only lake! I think you can see that this water is now on the back burner for me but not forgotten about. With my time restrictions and the two difficult waters I was fishing my worse fears were confirmed as for the first time in my carp fishing career I had a season blank on my main target waters. It was obvious I was going to have to have a re-think on my venues in the future. I needed a fairly local venue to give me half a chance of getting to after work in time to have a look around before commencing fishing. It also had to have what I class as proper stock. Now we are all different and if someone is happy to fish for pellet fed fast growing stockies then that’s great but it’s not for me. I’m not saying my way is best but it’s what I like. I do get angry as I touched on earlier though when heritage waters are stuffed full with these fish though. The Linear site late in 2006 still had a few waters that interested me with the type of carp I was after but unfortunately it also had a couple of waters that just weren’t for me. Oxlease (which was closed at that time) and Brasenose 1 were definitely not for me but if you like a bend in the rod these were definitely the lakes to get on. Manor where I used to love to fish had lost quite a few of its history fish and I’m afraid this has been “Stockied” as I call it. St Johns has the right stock but I’m afraid is just too busy for me to consider it. This left Hardwick/Smiths which has some absolute stunners and has the right mix of not too many fish in there making it quite a tricky water keeping the numbers of anglers down as well. Like all the linear waters I believe it is pretty heavily fished at weekends but not over the top in the week when I would be doing my night. I had a word with Roy and he conformed that although it could get busy he didn’t think I would have too many problems mid week. My plans for 2007 were beginning to take shape. Spring and autumn on Hardwick/Smiths and the summer on the no publicity lake. This would mean finally giving up my Stoneacres ticket but in the interests of my fishing I thought this would be for the best. Before that though I had the winter of 2006/2007. Linear being quite a forward thinking company also had another water on site that they had purposely stocked with pretty carp and not just fast growing pellet munchers. This water was Brasenose 2 and had far more to offer me than its sister lake next door. I had a few half day sessions on a Saturday or Sunday morning during that winter and caught a few nice ones. Hardwick/Smiths doesn’t have the numbers of big carp like St Johns has which is probably another reason it doesn’t suffer the angling pressure problems that St Johns suffers from. Spring 2007 I had a few nights on Hardwick/Smiths and caught some nice ones up to upper twenties which was a beautiful dark near linear that looked like a woodcarving.
27lb 4oz Hardwick/smiths
20lb 7oz Hardwick/smiths