ABS…So Jay, how did it all come about, moving down South and working for ABS?
Well mate moving south that’s going back some now, I’ll try and keep it short. It was back in 2004 when I decided to move south. My partner (Laura) and I were in a long distance relationship, it was difficult being so far apart, she’s a Kent girl and we obviously didn’t see each other as often as we would like so the option was for one of us to move and let’s be honest mate the south certainly offers better fishing! After the move I found myself a decent job and we bought our first home, fishing took a back seat for a couple of years whilst getting settled in. One day I was walking my dog along a stretch of the Royal Military Canal in Hythe when I spotted a large shoal of bream and knowing my gear was in the loft gathering dust the bug suddenly returned so I was back at dawn with my waggler set up. At the time I had fished for most species that live in our fresh waters and bream were an old friend, the day went fantastically. I bagged over 100lb of bream in a little over 6 hours, my best ever bag of bream with the odd bonus of a pb tench and some nice silver fish thrown in. In 2013 I was by this time addicted to carp fishing, a new target species for me and it was going well until the company I worked for went in to liquidation with the entire work force being made redundant. Fishing again had to take a bit of a back seat while I set about gaining some qualifications I needed to start my own company. Close to completing this task I popped in to see Geoff and the team at ABS basically to apologise that I hadn’t been in for a while or bought any bait. I explained what had gone on so hadn’t fished much however I was planning to get back to angling asap. While talking to Geoff he said that if he had known he may have been able to offer me some work, I was very interested in this but I was kinda committed to my own company venture, I wished I had just popped in before I’d started the process. My business went very well, but after about a year I still couldn’t shift the idea of working within the industry so next time I spoke to Geoff I asked him if anything ever did come up to let me know. A few months later a position did become available, so here I am part of the team at ABS.
ABS…You fished a nice syndicate water a few years back. Was that your first taste of syndicate life and how did it compare to the fishing elsewhere?
I did mate, yes this was the first syndicate water I had fished and I have some fantastic memories from that season. To be honest it wasn’t that different to angling I had already experienced. My dad started me on the road to angling back when I was really only big enough to manage a small rod and dangle a maggot in the edge of local park ponds for a perch or two. He was a serious angler, fishing as much as possible and now also has the carp bug. He doesn’t get out much but still knows how to catch them, so when I took up carping he was again a valuable source of information and ideas to get me started on the right foot. Some of the earliest things he taught me when I was just a boy were about water craft and angling etiquette, which proved useful when joining a well run syndicate. The rules were simple; I had to speak to the anglers I would be fishing next to, to check I wouldn’t be adversely affecting their fishing before getting things set up. As he worded it, I had to fish properly, no messing about; other guys are also trying to enjoy the sport. These were pressured small ponds without a terrific stock of fish so the fishing was difficult. Fishing for silvers is usually thought of as ‘bagging up’ but these weren’t those type of waters so etiquette was very high on the list of priorities. When I joined the syndicate, angling with that group of guys really reminded me of those days when I was a boy.
ABS…With work commitments and a relationship, how do you fit your angling in?
Yeah I don’t need to tell you it’s difficult. Obviously I work during the week so my angling is pretty much restricted to weekends when the lakes are most difficult due to being busier. I am also very lucky my better half knows I love my fishing and is very supportive of it but at the same time I do try not to get carried away and forget about the home life as well. We spent our first few years with too many miles between us so let’s be honest, it’s the right thing to do. Saying that I know once or twice I have got a bit intense with it all when I have found opportunities so I do occasionally have a little break from fishing when the angling doesn’t need to come first and get my priorities back in order lol.
ABS…How do you go about putting things in your favour then on chosen waters? There must be more to it than turning up and hoping for the best!
Well it all starts with what I find when arriving at the water, do I know the fish and their habits and is the lake busy? Providing the lake is quiet enough, it mainly starts with walking and looking for signs of fish and where allowed, climbing trees to see if I can spot a few or possibly even identify a fish I want. Obviously we can rarely or if ever influence which fish will pick up the rig but knowing one of the right ones is in the area really lifts the confidence. Providing I find a few, are they just relaxing? Feeding? Or are they on patrol routes? The later is something that particularly interests me. Having an idea of where they like to be at different times in different conditions and the routes they use can really help when trying to track them down on limited time. Depending on what I find, will dictate the next decision. On some venues finding them in an area relaxing has turned out to mean they won’t actually feed there. When they were ready to feed, they would usually move on via regular routes and visit areas along the way. I could set some traps not too far from them and wait it out with crossed fingers. At other lakes, finding relaxing fish I learned it was better to just get on them, go in quietly and try to nick a bite, then play it from there. Should I get one and they hang around I’ll fish for another. If they move on I’ll follow, again depending on what I see of their movements. Finding them and fishing for one bite at a time is actually my favourite way of going about it, especially if they are close in. I do like to catch one close.
ABS…So coming up to date,what made you choose to fish the current water where you have achieved much success?
Well as I said earlier Laura is from Kent, Chartham more specifically so when I first came south to visit we obviously popped out in the car so I could see some of the area. Within minutes of leaving the house I spotted a big wintery pit in front of me and a couple of others around it but one stood out in particular, maybe not a big water for this area but we had nothing like this where I was from. This turned out to be the Pan on the Milton complex run by mid Kent fisheries, I didn’t know this at the time but I didn’t care what lived in the water or who run it, I was going to fish it one day. The pan was the very first mid Kent water I fished. I had concentrated most of my fishing on the royal military canal at first then as I started getting more interested in catching carp, moved onto a few day ticket waters to figure out in what direction I was to head with it. I knew by this time the lake I had spotted from the car that day was called the pan, it was mainly a carp venue but not an easy option. These were difficult fish to catch, but special ones and I wanted a go. My first visit was in December the day after getting my ticket. When I arrived at the lake I could see only one other angler so I started my first lap, when I got around to him it turned out that he was pike fishing. I said I was going to do a couple of nights carp fishing and he laughed at me saying you’re wasting your time lad, this place does not do carp in winter! not put off by this I carried on my lap. I wandered around watching the water for two, maybe three hours when I seen one show. This was enough for me; I had the gear there in no time, rods out with a brew in hand. It was starting to get dark when the guy fishing for pike left and he stopped in for just long enough to tell me I must be mad. I laughed and replied ‘aren’t we all’. I remember seeing him close the gate and start driving up the lane when one of my alarms exploded in to life, this one knew it was hooked and it wasn’t hanging around. I lifted in to what felt like fury on the other end. It was an angry fish that I could do nothing with for at least ten minutes; I just had to hang on. Eventually it started to slow down but I was shaking like a leaf, I gained more and more line on it until I seen a big mirror turn under the surface before one last bid for freedom. I got it turned again and was guiding it to the waiting net when the unthinkable happened. The hook just came out. I couldn’t believe it. At the time, that fish was far bigger than anything I had ever caught but it was gone. That one hurt, I’m not going to try and lie about it. I was wounded. I completed the 48 hours without another beep but kept thinking, I’d had one bite, so I’d get another one.
I had done eight nights by the time February come around when the lake froze. I still hadn’t had another beep nor had I seen a fish since that one show on my first visit. I don’t mind admitting by this point my confidence had taken a hit and I had started to feel like it was a fluke to get that bite. I suppose you could say the lake saw me off; this is when I joined the little syndicate you mentioned earlier, however as good as that season was and as much as I enjoyed it, the pan was always in my mind. It wasn’t over, I had to go back. The next season I bought my mid Kent ticket and was back come spring to get even. The first weekend I arrived to a busy lake, I wasn’t able to get on the fish and 48 hours passed without event. The next weekend came around and again, after work I returned, this time a few more swims were free and I seen a few subtle signs in front of one so this is where I setup. Spots found, bait out and rigs in place, night time arrived. I was getting indication on the alarms, something was going on out there. I wasn’t fishing far out but it was a dark night and although I could make out disturbances on the surface of the water I couldn’t make out what was causing them. A sleepless, excited night passed slowly till dawn arrived. I could now see what was going on, it was carp on the spots. One in particular kept poking its head out time and time again between feeding activity, however a couple of hours had passed and the feeding signs had slowed but the shows continued. I started to worry that I had been cleaned out and needed to apply some more bait. Baiting on top of feeding fish is something I have done a lot when carp fishing. I do so carefully, but I think it’s a habit that comes with me from my old all round angling days. From memory I think I only put four 12mm baits out with the stick to test their reaction. I chose to skim them across the surface letting them pimple out to the spot and then drop through the layers, feeling this could either move them on or induce a take. Thankfully it worked out in my favour and the take came minutes after. Those four tiny baits had done the trick. I lifted in to my second take and a familiar feeling of not having any control over this fish, “are all these fish mental or could it be the same one” I thought. This time after a crazy battle the result was a fish in the net, I couldn’t quite get a look at it as it had been netted for me buy a guy in the water. I was sure I had seen a mirror on the end, a good one as well. After rolling it over in the net he turns and tells me it’s the Milton Mirror; still my favourite of the mirrors in there. The rest was a bit of a blur really! I was blown away, yet with the help of the lads everything went sweet. The old Milton was well looked after and pictures went smoothly, I won’t start naming the lads but thanks again you know who you all are. So that was how it all begun. I had caught one and I’m pretty sure to this day it was the one I lost that first evening over a year before but who knows. Up until the season when Chris decided to change things at mid Kent, and made some lakes syndicate, my spells on the pan where patchy. I was on and off for various reasons, some out of my control but I managed to pick up a few more fish along the way. The minute I heard the news that the pan was going syndicate I was on the case, I felt this was the right time to just have one ticket and focus on one water again.
ABS…Tell us a little about the incredible autumn/winter you had in 2016 and how that came about…
To be honest it was a difficult first season for me. We didn’t have many members but everyone was on their toes getting on the fish and following them around, in reality I think they were giving us the run around. I hadn’t done too bad looking back now but at the time it didn’t feel like I had made the most of some of the opportunities I’d had and before long winter was getting closer. Most members had started to drop off on to their winter waters at this point as bites had pretty much stopped but I had decided I was going to give it everything this winter. My goal was simply to get one, and if it could be one of the A team as some people refer to them, I’d be made up. I knew the lake much better at this point and had identified some patrol routes that had been firm favourites that season, a few that lead to some preferred feeding areas for the fish so this was where I would start. I took the decision to start baiting areas regularly, this isn’t a tactic I use that much and I know it can be incredibly effective but it doesn’t really fit that well with the ‘getting around the pond, find them and fish for them’ approach. That’s how I enjoy my summer angling most. The bait and wait tactics just don’t excite me in the same way, however in winter I do use baiting more. There were less than a handful of us still fishing it at this point and we had all decided to bait, we knew what each other were doing and in different areas, so it was all good. I kept up the baiting for weeks, getting around the lake fishing the areas I’d been dropping bait in but nothing was coming of it till one trip that I have to say, started it all. It was the 27th of November when I spotted the first sign of fish on one of the spots. It was a very subtle show but it was definitely a carp. There was a big south westerly wind blowing. I had it off my back and the fish had shown right on the wind line almost bang over where I had put bait two days before, so I was in there. I chose to put out only a rig with a bag of crumb hooked on, feeling I was still fishing for just that one bite and it came maybe 2 hours later. It wasn’t much of a take to be honest, the hanger only jumped about an inch at first then seconds later pulled up tight, so I lifted in to a solid weight on the end. The fight wasn’t much to write home about either with the fish just plodding around only taking the odd few yards of line and was soon netted by a mate. A stunning long golden common that at first we didn’t recognise as it’s usually such a dark fish, but we eventually figured out it was White Tips, one of the lakes finest.
After the pictures had been done and with the rod back out, I was sitting back with a brew and a feeling of job done. Let’s be honest though we always want more, and I was sure there were more fish in this zone. The 48 hours passed without anymore takes but I had seen a few things backed up by some liners. My plan now was to abandon the other areas and concentrate on this one. I kept the bait going in everyday on 4 spots in fairly small amounts; about half a kilo per spot per day, thinking regular was the way forward. I returned for a quick nights fishing after work on Thursday evening December 3rd as I’d being given the Friday off by Geoff, top bloke. I could only manage a night but I couldn’t wait to get back so this was all the excuse I needed. Knowing the bait had been going in at the same time every evening, the rods were out ready and waiting for the next top up of bait to keep up the routine. When putting the rods out, two of the spots in particular gave a much harder feedback when feeling the lead down, so I knew they had been having it on these spots over the last few days. The third rod went on the spot I had caught white tips from but not long after putting that one out, I seen a good fish show in an area I had been baiting the week before. The area was a long way from the swim I was fishing, so what do I do now? I couldn’t ignore a show this time of year especially when it looked a good one. I made the decision to try and get a rig there, it was a long way but I had to try. I’m not the best long range caster so I chose a 4oz distance lead and a tangle free rig with a small single pop up and went for it. It’s possibly the furthest I have ever put a baited rig but the big wind was still blowing and in my favour. The lake was also empty so it wasn’t affecting anyone else. Just after dark I had applied bait to all of the spots, same time as usual but was now thinking should that rig really be out there? Suddenly the hanger started to lift. Knowing I had so much line between the rod and rig I gave it time but the line was getting tighter. I lifted in to what felt another good fish it was kiting left and right but I wasn’t gaining much line at first, it was being stubborn until it just turned and headed right for me. In no time it was close in, but had managed to pick up one of my other lines before it dropped in the net. I quickly weighed and identified the fish as Measles, when my phone started to ring. I put the fish in the water safely retained so I could call a mate and also return the call I had missed. I now had a camera man on route so the rods needed to go back out. I had just repositioned the rigs when he arrived. Once pictures were taken and the fish returned, he asks if I minded him topping up his spots while he was around. I don’t actually know if he had made it more than a hundred yards down the bank for a bait up before I called him back. The rod I’d had to re chuck after being picked up in the fight just before, was now away as well. It felt another good one but didn’t do much so was soon in the net and quickly recognised as one that gets called the Gutty Common.
My best ever brace of fish had happened in just a few hours of a quick one night trip. I said to my mate ‘you might as well do the pictures of this one while you’re here then!’ Thanks again mate, that one didn’t want to be photographed you done well to get some shots.
The rest of the over nighter passed and I had to get away, I didn’t want to leave but couldn’t be happier with what I had caught. I kept the bait going in at the same time that day and the next till I got back Saturday evening and set up in darkness for another two nights. These two nights passed without a sign, but I wasn’t ready to stop yet. News was starting to get out now that I’d been catching and I felt the lake would soon be busy again. I had time for one last go, and with a few days off work I could do 4 nights in a row, so this was the plan. Again I kept the bait going in at the same time every day until Thursday evening, it was now the tenth of December and the mild weather was holding good for it, I was back and setting up in darkness but it was just part of routine by this point. I was soon getting indication at the alarms so my confidence was through the roof; the bite didn’t come until morning right on dawn. This one wasn’t feeling as big as the others, but as the 17lb mirror dropped in the net I had a liner on the rod positioned next to the rig that had just been picked up. I got the rod ready to go back out but then decided to give the other one a chance before dropping a big lead right on feeding fish. It worked. The rod I’d chosen not to disturb went not long after, catching another one of the stock fish which had gone in the lake a few years prior. It was doing well; up to over 24lb, more than doubling its weight since Chris had stocked it. I decided to keep the rods in for the day and just introduce more bait for them. With rigs back in position ready for the second night, I was getting liners again. It didn’t take long, one of the rods was away. Upon picking up the rod I thought, ‘I know this feeling it’s that mentalist Milton again’ and it was! Once again, he gave me the right run around and managed to pick up the other two lines in the process, taking line from all three reels at times. Luckily I slipped the net under him and flicked the head torch on to confirm my suspicions. Once I seen him nestled in the mesh with lines all over the place I chuckled, placed my hand on his shoulder and said ‘carnage, cheers mate’. That was it for the action until coming up midnight, of the third night, another rod on the main baited area was away. It was another common and another 30+ fish to make it five 30’s in seven bites for eight nights. I couldn’t believe what was happening now they just kept coming. I managed to get another bite the next and final evening, but somehow I got cut off right in front of the swim. It didn’t feel like one of the bigger ones but I still wasn’t happy. As suspected the lake had been busy that weekend and I had a feeling I wouldn’t be getting near that area again anytime soon. I stopped baiting there and started a fresh in a new area that usually gets visited along that same patrol route. I couldn’t get back until Friday evening and as I’d thought, the area was well tied up and I wasn’t getting anywhere near those spots. I dropped in to the new area away from the angling pressure for two nights; I actually managed another seven bites that weekend but no carp among them; one Pike, five Tench and The Bream. It’s the only Bream in there and it’s a big one, weighing in at 17lb01oz, that’ll do I thought. I didn’t do much more fishing that winter as it had dawned on me this is one of those occasions when I had got carried away with it and was spending more time by the lake than at home. More than happy with how things had went, I just done the odd night now and again and a few mornings fishing for winter roach.
ABS…What now? Whats left for you here at Milton and what are your plans moving forward?
There is still one more I really want, the one I have wanted all along; the Big Fully, but it keeps avoiding me. I wouldn’t call myself a target angler sticking with it until I get that right one, I will usually just keep going until I feel I have given it long enough. There are two others I’ve not caught and wouldn’t mind if they come along, but who knows how much longer I will give it. We have so many great waters around here with special fish in, it’s impossible for me not to be tempted, I love new waters and starting a fresh. I have been adjusting the way I fish trying to give myself a better chance. The Fully gets caught more often at ranges further than I prefer to fish, so I feel I need to adjust if I’m going to get it.
ABS…What are your thoughts on baiting strategy and how do you apply this to your angling?
It’s 99% boilies mate. I have played around with particles but it’s not the one for me, boilies offer so much more. I also think a lot more can be done with a boilie than just chucking it in the pond. The majority of my angling I use whole baits and spread them around but when I’m baiting in winter I use more crumb, chops and whole baits; lately I soak it in liquids. If I’m going to use boilies in my angling they must be both attractive and nutritious. I hear it all the time; high attract baits, food baits, this mix that mix. I’m sure everyone hears it, even that some waters are one bait waters whatever that bait may be, but I’m not buying in to that. Since I started getting bait from ABS, a long time ago now, I have consistently caught more fish than I used to. Every bait I have used has worked from day one right through till the end on every water I have taken them too. For me this can only be because they offer both attraction and nutrition. Now, being lucky enough to listen to Geoff so often and his views on baits; I’m starting to think there’s more to it and that is the levels and balance in a bait. I think this is where Geoff really has the edge; he just knows how to build a bait that offers it all, with the ingredients and values all working together. Surely there is a reason why baits he put together in the 80’s, still catch on waters they have gone in since day one, the fish know what they want. I must actually give Geoff some credit for that run I had at the back end of 2015. I had told him I was going go for it that winter when he told me that if I was going to have any success, liquids and leakage would be the difference and again he was right. I will never fish another winter without using that tip.