At the start of this year I was lucky enough to finally land myself a ticket for the Yateley Car Park Lake. Landing myself a great carp on my first night, my confidence was sky high, however the following weeks passed uneventfully, the weed bloomed and as the lake became busy I was faced with a new challenge. I had to adapt my approach as I was used to setting up small traps after finding the carp on much quieter venues. The carp here seemed to be nomadic and certainly had there favourite spots to feed from although they never followed a particular pattern. As the spring came to an end I set about locating a few spots around the lake. I felt more in tune with the water  and started to get bait into the areas the carp appeared to favour, like their favourite restaurants so to speak. After booking a day off work I decided to head down for 24 hours. I checked the weather and set up in a swim I have been baiting that the carp also favoured on the warmer, sunnier days. With it being one of the most prolific swims this season it seemed mad not too. After checking the small areas with a 3oz sea fishing style lead I clipped up on the cleanest part of the spots. I got the rigs out bang on within a few casts being sure to get a perfect drop. One on the end of a shallow bar in the hope of sun the following day, the other in slightly deeper water next to a weed bed. I wanted to keep the fish grazing on the spots for as long as possible without giving them too much solid food, nothing to get hold of as such. I felt this would create a more competitive feeding scenario with just a couple of handfuls of whole boilies over each rod. At the end of spring I started to use a custom fish meal that a friend of mine, Ian Lewis developed with the guys at Active Bait Solutions. I decided to crumb and chop a kilo of this and let it steep overnight with a small amount of particle in the hot water. I would then add a few handfuls of high quality pellet to the mix upon arrival at the lake and dispatch it over the two spots. Everything was set as perfectly as could be and I  went to bed that night feeling confident, and even messaged Ian to say it was looking good. I awoke around 5am to motionless bobbins and spent the morning chain drinking tea. At around 10 I contemplated a move and started to pack a few bits away when I clocked a small stockie clear the water over one of the spots and the area began to erupt. They were well and truly on the bait and I sat for two more hours not taking my eyes from the water. I knew something was going to happen, it had too, everything was set up perfectly for a bite. The bobbin on the left hand rod slammed into the alarm and the receiver went into meltdown. I had previously hooked a few tench from the spot in sessions gone by and I was relieved to feel the weight of a good carp taking line from the spool. It felt like a good fish and it inevitably kited toward the weed bed to the right of the swim burying itself deep. Everything locked up for a few seconds and as I walked back to gain a few yards the fish became free from the dense Canadian. The fight ended shortly after and I scooped the net under a huge common and gave it the shout! I immediately checked the dorsal to confirm it was the one I wanted, and it was, the Bullet Hole common! This fish is from the original Redmire stock of commons that went into the lake in the Cemex days, a real piece of history. Dan from Yateley Angling Centre was fishing on the north and I was lucky to have him come over and do a few shots with a few others who assisted with weighing the big common. She went 37lb 2oz and I couldn’t be happier. I packed up with a smile on my face and decided to get home a little earlier and gain some brownie points with the Misses!
image3Danny hillier common
My confidence had reached peak level and the next session couldn’t come quick enough. The rigs and bait were clearly working, the spots were becoming cleaner and the big girls were showing.
The weather was due to change in time for my next session, perfect conditions for the other spot I had been baiting in the middle of the ponds.
After what felt like an age Monday arrived and I returned to the lake with another 24hours ahead of me. I closed the gate and armed myself with a bucket, marker rod and Cygnett sticks then headed down to “Trumptons”. I hadn’t seen a lot of action over the spot since the last bait up but I knew the conditions were right. It looked moody. It was warm and the wind made an appearance in waves across the small pit. Stepping through to “Trumptons Island” it was clear the carp were about. A couple of the big ‘uns circled the spot like vultures and a few others were milling around in the area. To suit the way I had been fishing I needed to know the spot was immaculate, no weed or debris to affect the rig mechanics. I would prefer the carp to grow confident feeding on the area regularly, polishing it in the process and allowing me to step in when the conditions were right. The carp eventually moved off to complete another circuit of the lake like they so often did here. Probably searching for signs of natural food. I wrapped up with the marker and cast my pronged lead onto the spot, usually I would pull back 6 inches or so then fizz the lead back in so to avoid clipping the top of the weed bed that sat in front of the spot. The lead would regularly return with 2-3 inches of short Canadian and the odd strand of silkweed. I smiled as the lead lifted cleanly and returned holding no debris whatsoever. The next half hour disappeared in a flash. The rod on “the spot” went down so perfectly I decided to keep my other rod well away and fish a chod rig to an area I had seen fish patrolling. The darkness arrived as fish started to roll. It was too hot to sleep and I sat drinking tea throughout most of the night. The odd carp would break the service in front sending moonlit ripples across the lake and every so often the receiver would let me know they were on the dance floor. The sun rose as I sat on the boards staring across the pond to the weedy area were my left hand rod was positioned. I noticed two bow waves pushing toward the vicinity and looked down to see the line pulling up tight. A huge swirl seemed to create a vortex over the area and the receiver let out a succession of bleeps. I pulled into the take as the rod hooped over but within a few seconds the line fell slack and I pulled the rig back feeling sick. Could it have been a trailer? Or had I just lost one of my other targets? The demons started and I sat their pondering on what had happened. They didn’t stay long though, as 10 minutes later the right hand rod was away with a savage take. I was met with what felt like a dead weight and the line pealed up from the bottom draped in weed. The lead had been dumped on the take and the fish rose to the service like a submarine. That’s when I caught glimpse of the carps head, dark as you like and she was huge! The carp well and truly beat me up and I let out a shout when I slipped her over the cord, “Get in!” It had to be. I peered into the net for re-assurance, it was “Two Scale” my second target in a week and the biggest fish in the lake. I made the call to Scott who was fishing the “Dugout” swim and he done the honours of coming round to help weigh and photograph the unit of a carp. Yateley Car Parks biggest resident, sulking in the confines on my net awaiting photographs. I was in shock to be honest and Scott advised that we sit for 5 minutes before doing the snaps, which was a good idea! Unfortunately my old camera was on its way out, I debated going to purchase an upgrade the day before but decided to wait. This turned out to be a massive schoolboy as I was less than satisfied with the snaps. Scott made the best out of a bad situation with the failing camera and we snapped a few shots with the old girl herself “Heather” in the background. A wicked moment, re living dreams of past legends. A lake with so much history, great camaraderie and so much still to give. Only halfway through my first season on the lake, I look forward to enjoying the rest of my year with a more relaxed attitude, great socials and hopefully a few more chunks along the way.