A Year on Milton Pan

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I walked the Milton pan lake 3 years before even casting a bait into its water knowing it held a very special common. On first sight it was completely different to any other angling I had done, with its gin clear water, vast amounts of weed and big visible gravel bars and plateaus, it had me planning a return in the future.

It was 2015 when i heard Mid Kent fisheries were making Milton pan lake a syndicate, this excited me, a lake that had a huge turnover of anglers was going to become a quiet syndicate with a limited number of anglers.

April arrived and I was eager to get to know this lake, on my first trip I fished a swim called the conveyor, from this swim you could see the whole lake and with the shallow bars in front, it was probably a good area to maybe see a few fish ghost over them in the warm early spring sun. The day and night past with only the odd show in the middle. I returned a week later for a 48hr trip for a social with my mate Jim but I abandoned the social before Jim had even set up as I had seen a few fish show in an area I really liked the look of, a swim called the high bank. a freezing south easterly was hacking into this shallow corner of the lake, I made the move and sat tight for 40 odd hours with not even a beep, but the fish were there as they put on quite a display all around me, but mainly in the deep gulley’s between the shallow gravel areas, I made the decision to reel in and wait for a show and put a rig right on its head to see how they react, The show happened and after putting a rig on it with 20 odd mc nut around it I had my first bite, from the start the fight felt strange, a lot of grating and line pinging, after 5mins or so of the strange fight was nearly over and I see a good common slowly coming towards me and it looked like id foul hooked it, that moment my heart sunk knowing it wasn’t a perfect capture, after that thought the fish came off only to reveal I had hooked a trailer. A bit gutted but also happy that the fish wasn’t towing around a rig. I came to the conclusion that maybe the fish were using the back of the bar to clean themselves or maybe that fish trying to rid the rig. With time nearly up on my trip a good mirror showed on the same spot, with the rod in I flicked it straight back onto the spot followed by 20 boilies again.

What happened next I was not prepared for as the same rod was away again this time hooked to a complete animal that wanted to pull me into the lake, after countless fast paced runs over shallow gravel bars and humps with my legs like jelly shaking non-stop, just as the fight started to calm down my good friend Iain turns up behind me saying ‘don’t lose your first one’ just the thing I needed to hear, The fish went on another fast paced run (probably because it heard Iain’s voice) and with that Iain says ‘I think you’ve got the Milton mate’ after a slight altercation with Iain about who was going to net the fish Iain netted the Milton mirror, with a huge sigh of relief and a shout of ‘get up there’ we took a minute to let it all set in. 3rd night in and I had an A-team member in the net awaiting a cuddle and few pictures.

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What an amazing fish, one of Kent’s finest for sure

 

The next few weeks passed without a carp, with them still showing regularly around the lake I was trying to catch them the same way the Milton slipped up. But as the weed was starting to make an appearance it was time to get the bait going in on a few spots.

My bait choice was ABS Maple Cream and sweetcorn, I would Spomb whole, chopped and crushed maple cream mixed with sweetcorn. I was using 3 tins of corn to a kilo of maple cream. Just these two baits gave me a good mix of presentations to use.

I spent my next trip in a swim called the outlet which had a nice firm silt area about 40 yards out, baited with just boilies I received a take at 2am, this fish kited right at pace and snagged me in willow, I stripped off jumped in trying to free the fish but it was already gone and my rig was left in the only branch that was under water, with the rod chucked up the side of the brolly, I got my head down.  My next bite came from a tip off from a fellow angler who was just having a walk round, he had seen a few shows up in the point area, an area that I had liked the look of, with the gear launched on the barrow I was off up there for the night, I slowly set up camp, whilst keeping an eye on the water. Just before dark that show happened out went a rig with 20 baits around it and the other two rods were flicked the same distance. The next morning the rod that got put on the show went, a lovely low 20 common. I baited that spot heavily before I left hoping to get in there again for my next one-night trip, that next trip produced another 20 plus common.

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A Typical Pan Common

 

After the water had warmed up and the weed was more present the fishing slowed up. I spent most of my time up trees, in bushes trying to figure out where they go and how they get there, as I had a feeling I had to be one or two steps ahead of these fish now to catch them as the finding them and fishing for them like in spring wasn’t the one. Even though I wasn’t catching anything the weeks between June and July I had learnt so much after watching fish taking routes in and out of areas from the tree tops including a few of the lakes real special ones. With a good Idea of where I was going to spend my time in august I baited quite heavily in 3 different swims that were quite close to together, this gave me the option of fishing a rod into another area of the lake without moving if the swim was free. July was a life changing month for me as my partner Claire turned up at the lake around 11pm one night to share the news we were pregnant, as you can imagine fishing wasn’t on my mind for the rest of my trip.

I spent a lot of time in an area known as the high bank and soggys, I used this area for my one-night trips as they seemed to visit this area most mornings when the sun came up. I soon realised that it was only a quick visit to get the early morning heat off the rising sun. One particular morning in this area they never turned up leaving me scratching my head again, I loaded the barrow for the dreaded walk to the van to go to work, but then out the corner of my eye I see a show near the middle of the lake, I slowly loaded the van keeping an eye on that area, I see about 10 shows in the same area whilst loading the van, a decision was made there and then with quick message to Claire to tell her  I wasn’t coming home after work as I was coming back down the lake.

I returned at the lake around 6pm to and empty car park ‘what a touch,’ the barrow was loaded and I was off round to a swim called the thirties which controlled basically the middle of the lake. Coming straight from work left me not very prepared, only armed with 2kg of sweetcorn, I decided all the sweetcorn was getting spombed on one area in the silt between two gravels areas at about 90 odd yards, and I would fish 2 rods on that spot, one with a 12mm yellow pop up to match and the other on a 20mm maple topped with a yellow. All the bait went out perfect and both rigs followed perfect, the third rod was placed round to my left in a gulley out in front of the next swim down called the out let, this rod was fished as a single as a hunch the fish might end up down there due to the direction the wind was blowing. The night passed without any action except from the odd crash out in the middle of the pond. After the first few smokes and a few cuppa’s the right hand rod that was fishing on the 12mm yellow signalled a beep followed by a slow take. Whenever you fish sweetcorn you always have that doubt that the culprit could be a tench but this was another of the pans carp that had tripped up, after a short fight the carp rolled and I caught a glimpse of what fish it was, it was a fully scaled, one that I really wanted to catch. After seeing a picture of it in spring. What a result !! an unprepared spare of the moment night trip payed off massively.

The fully was in perfect condition, abit down in weight but I’m not one to bang on about weights as it’s all about the fish for me, after a few self takes I thought I’d try and film myself releasing the fish in the water, this didn’t go to plan one bit, as soon as I lifted the fish from the sling it sensed freedom and took its chance leaving me looking like a mug, the video is posted on Instagram if anyone wants a laugh.

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Absolutely stunning fully scaled

 

After drying myself off and watching back my comedy footage, the left hander was violently stripping line, this had to be another carp, after a tense marginally battle trying to keep it away from the overhanging willows that had cost me a fish earlier in year, after a few tense moments I won this battle and slipped the net under a dark thick set common, with the carp resting in the net, I waited for pictures as I noticed someone walking round, with the fish on the mat, Adam revealed it was the box common  and one that doesn’t get caught that much. Buzzing! I was one happy angler, a quick night producing two quality carp, Sometimes the best placed plans never work and a spare of the moment quick night between work can be so rewarding. As you can imagine I went to work buzzing!

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The Box Common

 

After a week or two on nothing to show for my efforts a big low-pressure system was going to hit in the next few days, and being off work I had to take this opportunity, I had a few walks before my trip and bumped into my good friend northern jay who had found a few fish close in, in coot’s corner, after a little quiet chat, I asked him if I could jump up the tree to see what fish he had in front of him. To my amazement there wasn’t just a few carp but half the lakes stock. What I witnessed next was unreal and something I’ve never seen before, groups of carp taking turns grubbing up on the side of the plateau on spot the size of an unhooking mat. I quietly got down and revealed to jay what I had witnessed, we hatched a plan that I would jump back up the tree and give him a signal when the spot was clear of carp so he could lower a rig on the spot, after ten or so minutes there was a enough time for him to place a rig, we got the rig placed then slowly the carp moved back onto the spot, I watched from the tree as the carp just kept chewing the side of the plateau completely ignoring jays hook bait, I scrambled quietly down and we sat talking all things carpy over a few teas, in anticipation of something happening, I loved talking carp with jay, he was super passionate about carp fishing, lovely times. we both shared a fair bit of knowledge with each other over the year, I was so hoping that his rod was going to go because it would have been a great end to a bit of teamwork, but it was not to be.

After witnessing that I said my goodbyes and walked round to the point swim and hatched a plan to come back the next day and try and intercept all the fish moving out of coot’s corner. With a nice weather change coming in, I got down nice and early the next day and made my way round to the point swim which was luckily free, I knew the areas I was going to fish after catching a few fish from this area before, I made the decision of baiting extremely heavy 5-6 kilo of boilies with the added corn on each spot, with one spot having two rigs amongst it. The low pressure and change of wind was due the following day so I got ready for that, planning to have the traps set for the whole night and day, that night I had a funny take on the right-hand rod which resulted in no fish, I’d been done, so I made the decision of changing my rigs, off came the stiff hinge that was fishing a 12mm yellow and replaced it with a double 18mm bottom baits, I made this change to 2 rods. The weather front turned up bringing heavy rain and a fresh wind blowing straight into my face, full of confidence that everything was spot on, with numbers of fish in a small area, low pressure, new wind, it had to happen. this trip turned out to be a memorable one, probably my favourite ever session. 4 sets of clothes absolutely drenched and 6 carp under my belt along with the only bream in the lake weighing a hefty 16lb+. a real red-letter day of luck or maybe I’d got everything 100% right. Two mid-30s, another two of the lakes real special character fish, measles and the gutsy common, the common being a new pb for me as well.

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What a brace!

Measles a true old warrior and the gutsy common one that I never knew swam in the lake

 

I also caught the lakes only leather carp, a true leather to boot as well, these 3 three special fish were backed up with commons ranging from 20lb to 24lb, it truly was an unforgettable trip having multiple takes in quick succession shared with the fiancé and a few friends, unforgettable moments.

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Trevor the Leather                             

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With one just slipped back another rod was away

At this point I knew, to get good results being ahead of the fish was the way forward. But to find them like they were in coot’s corner was never going to happen again. The next few weeks the struggle started with very little sightings, I started to find fish in the snags but the lake had dried up for most people and bites were hard to come by. The clocks changed making it grim as it does every year, the struggle to get to the lake before dark. I was quite lucky as my work days finished at 3pm on the odd occasion giving me enough time to get down the lake before dark.

 

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Giant bit of slime but a true specimen

On my weekly walks I noticed a few fish retreating under the willow between the snaggy point and the one up swim, again an opportunity could be had here, so the next day only armed with the rods and the essentials I made my way round to the willow, I decided to fish from the track and fish a rig towards the opening they kept using to sneak into the willow. The afternoon passed without a sighting and darkness fell quick, my mate Dan joined me for the evening, we sat there freezing, I kept telling him my chance had gone and they wasn’t going to turn up in the willow tonight, an hour passed and as Dan went off for a walk to try and get some feeling back in his toes, no sooner as he left the rod fished to the willow wrapped round and I was in, the fish luckily turned away from the willow and swam straight into open water, after a short run and few head shakes in the margin a pretty double lay in the net. After a few quick pictures on the phone it was time to go home and warm up.

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Phone shot of a beautiful young mirror

 

Winter was upon us, with regular frosts through early November, but with a mild spell in late November I had to get out and have a go, I had been still doing the usual one nights but with not much luck, but this mild spell had me gagging to get out, so I planned a 3 night trip, I ended up in my favoured swim the point as I had most of my bites from this area. With the lake only doing the odd bite I opted to fish singles in the areas I had caught from before, that night produced two tench, and the morning produced a stunning little stocky common around mid-double, with them bites I decided to introduce a bit of bait which completely killed my swim, with no further action. I packed up quite happy having caught a few tench and a little common. as I neared the high bank and soggys area a carp showed twice on the shallow plateau, with a baited rod on the barrow I flicked a rod towards the show but made it fall short onto the edge of the plateau. By total surprise that rod pulled up tight and I was into another carp on my way home, a nice long lean low 20 common was the culprit, I thought to myself all that time I spent doing my one nighters in here for nothing and then in 20 minutes I catch one in November, with a gut feeling I could get another one I decided to stay another night, and flicked singles out, that gut feeling paid off and around 11pm that night I had caught another common of around 17lb. after a few crap self takes I slipped the fish back and got in bed planning to leave at first light.

One of three winter commons

 

 

December and January passed with not a lot of fishing, just the odd few hours here and there pike fishing with Iain. February arrived and with 2 weeks off work, getting back on Milton pan was slowly taking over my thoughts before my little boy arrived. With only 2 months left of the ticket and a little human about to enter this world, catching swirly had to happen.

I done a few trips in February with nothing to show for my efforts, it was probably still a bit early. My brain was then switched into, oh shit I’m going be a dad in the next couple days mode. My little boy arrived early march, and wow words really can’t describe the feeling. Claire your amazing.

After spending a few weeks at home with my little family, I planned to fish either side of the bank holiday weekend as I knew it was going to be a busy lake as everybody was going to be getting down. I prepped a few areas in and around the high bank area a week before I fished, as in previous years swirly has been caught around here early spring. It was Thursday and I got down to the lake to find only one other angler on the lake in bush swim. I made my way round to the high bank and topped the spots up with few spombs of boilies, crumb and corn, with it being quiet I spread my three rods over the three baited areas. That night around 11pm the left-hand rod signalled a take, after a sort sluggish fight I had my first carp of the year, a lovely bronze common at just under 30lb was mine.

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A Near 30 common after heavy baiting in March 

 

The weekend news revealed a massive storm was heading for England by the name of storm Katie, super low pressure with big heavy winds up to 80 odd mph was due to hit on the Monday night when I was next due to go fishing, I’m a big fan of fishing in the forces of nature and have always done well fishing in crazy conditions, our senses are heighted and its pretty damn scary at times. I don’t tend to bait up heavy whilst other anglers are fishing, but I took a chance on Sunday afternoon and baited my 3 areas which were the only swims free all weekend, everyone seemed to disappear early Monday with storm Katie brewing. When I arrived, I walk round to see matt in the outlet and matt in the 30s, both down to ride out the storm right in the teeth of it, brave men. After a chat and a little joke about them taking off into the lake behind, I set up in the high bank after getting stuck with the barrow in soggys whilst the heavens opened and soaked me, after getting through soggys I got to the high bank I was welcomed by a bright rainbow spanning over the lake.

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Could there be gold?

 

With everything ready and set, storm Katie was just around the corner as the wind and rain picked up its pace, it was around 11pm again and the left hander pulled up super tight and took line slowly, and a strange fight occurred due to being battered by the storm, I slipped the net under another nice common with a very distinctive scale pattern down one side. That spot has done two bites in a matter of days with no one else catching all weekend. Without a thought I wound in the middle rod and put it on the same spot as the left rod, with a few boilies sprayed in that direction.

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A beautiful common just as storm Katie gained her strength

 

Storm Katie really did appear and I spent most of the night awake holding onto the groundhog until around 5am, then I must of just fell asleep as the next minute I was a woken by my middle rod one toning at 10.30am, in a state of confusion due to the complete change in weather conditions, I was blinded by a bright warm sun and a gentle breeze. A heavy fish took line and kited right down the length of the gulley and then suddenly turned towards me and plodded about slowly. Once it was 20 yards out it rolled and I see it was a big common, it had to be her.  As she was going into the net I was sure it was swirly. Once in the net a massive shout of swirly went up for me to then realise I was the only one there, both matts either got blown away or they left very early. I was buzzing and then to see Bruce stick his head around the tree in the bush swim, I gave another shout that id got swirly. After 5mins of pacing around lost in the moment I realised I needed to get some help with weighting and photos. I texted Claire the good news, straight away and then rang around a few mates to come help. after a brew and letting it all sink in on my own, help arrived in numbers. we weighted her and sorted a few pictures and got some video footage. I was completely speechless, well and truly lost in the moment, id caught a 40lb+ common a dream fulfilled.

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Swirly in pristine condition and her first capture in over 18 months

I done the odd night after the swirly capture just to say bye to the lake really, and drink my bottle of champagne that my good pal Robbie turned up with. Nice one bud.

Thanks to everyone that came down and helped, you all made that capture that bit more special.

swirly was why I was there, she was my main target, a 40lb common. there were still a few more special ones to go at like victor, baby Milton and white tips. But nothing would top the swirly buzz. Time to hop the track and chase a few other old special Kent carp.

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The buzz was out of this world. But sharing it with likeminded people intensified it.

 

LJF