We had another harsh winter again this year. The ice on the lake's seemed like a permanent condition, and the warmth of the summer was but a figment of my imagination. Man, it was cold. I wanted to opt for the same setup as last year, as far as baits and rigs went. I thought this would be the right choice, I mean why fix something when it's not broken. So the trusty RedHooker readymade's by John Bosch were to be our Baits. Combined with particles like Maize, Tiger's, and Hemp. The only change to the rigs would be a switch from the M.C.F inliner's to the most excellent KORDA'S. In my opinion if you use their inline leads in conjunction with the korda rubbers above the lead, you have a 99% tangle free terminal tackle. I also wanted to make good use of P.V.A bag's this season. The biggest change was in tackle this year and came in the form of three Kevin Nash Pursuit rods. The FOX DXR's were also replaced for the DELKIM TXi's. To me the Delkim's sensitivity is outstanding, although the FOX'ys performed brilliantly and were very reliable my opinion is that Delkim is the better buzzer. My fishing this year consisted more of single day's out rather than the longer full on bivvied up sessions, due to other commitment's. But I did manage to pull a few 48 hour stint's, that proved to be very productive. Towards the end of february the weather started getting better. So it was time to start baiting up the area's that were last seasons hotspots. This would be done on a little but often basis, while taking the dog for it's daily walk around the lake. This way I could also observe any moving or feeding carp. Having some free time at the beginning of March was a good opportunity for me to get some fishing in. The first time out would be a full day with Leon. The night before the wind started to pick up, and the forecast for the tomorrow looked to be a wet one. As I got my gear sorted, a task I hate doing especially at four in the morning, the sky was looking overcast and gray. It had been raining all night and I knew I was going to get a soaking even before I had cast my Rods out. We were fishing the Forgotten Point swim, a very productive area according to last year's catches. But as we sat under the brolly with a brew in our hands, not an easy thing to do when there's a gale trying to uproot the only cover you have, the indicators stayed silent. I had forgotten my thermal suit and the cold was now becoming anything but comfortable. So a decision by Leon to pack up early was welcomed. We made plans to fish the following Thursday through to the Saturday. It was a beautiful day as I left for the lake that Thursday, fully laden with tackle. For the beginning of march it was now getting very warm, and the thought of summer was now a reality. I arrived at the swim before Leon and started to set up home for the next two days. A few fish rolled over the baited areas, but I calculated the next feeding spell would be around 4.30pm Which is the norm at this lake. My rods were cast and I laid back on the bedchair with a cup of tea, just as Leon entered the swim. " Had anything?". He asked. "Just IN" I replied. I helped him get his gear sorted and his bivvy erected. His rods were cast and they hit their mark at first attempt. We could now sit back and enjoy. The sky had turned to a purple haze, and the top's of the trees overlooking the far bank had an eerie golden effect caused by the setting sun. We were talking dinner, deciding what to eat. When Leon get's a screamer on his right hand rod, the rod was cast in to open water with a single boillie over a bed of partyblend 20yds out. The fish made a surge for the safety of the snag's just to Leon's right, but he had it covered and his setup was rock solid. After a brisk struggle under the rod tip, I netted the fish. On the mat a beautiful common of around 18 lb's showed itself. There was not a scale out of place. The carp was carefully sacked in the margins, as a friend of ours was due to arrive and we knew he would like to see this fish. Although I fish a lot of night's on this lake, night fishing and the use of three rod's is actually prohibited. But a small band of us outlaws still take the risk as there are no bailiff's. The authority that oversee the lake are Park-wardens, but we never see them. Until today that is!. We were in the process of preparing dinner when a green four wheeldrive pulled up on the opposite side of the lake. Within fifteen minutes it was parked outside our swim, meanwhile we had retrieved our third rod and stashed them in the bushes. A Park-warden got out accompanied by the police. They instantly knew we were fishing three rod's and gave us a choice, packup immediately or be fined 200 pound. I was gutted, the fish were jumping all over the baited area's and another feeding spell was due. There was no reasoning with them, so we released the sacked fish and started packing up. From now on it would be a case of sleeping under the inconspicuous brolly instead of the comfort of the bivvy dome. The lake was not producing anything over upper doubles. It was not until the end of May that my first twenty graced the net. Although only a day session, the fish were mad for my bait. I arrived at the lake around four in the morning, it was still dark so I was in no rush setting up. The bait's had to be spot on over the feeding area's and to make that cast in the dark was suicide. At first light the rod's were cast, freebies spodded and the tea was on. Within fifteen minutes the Delkim was screaming like a duck on heat. The rod cast to the overhanging tree's was away. Luckily the fish headed out to open water, on this particular lake a sign of a bigger carp. She stayed deep, until a mix of heave ho and light persuasion coaxed her to the surface. Not tamed though, she made one last bid for freedom. After this heart stopping moment, I could see it was a big fish, she came passively to the net. It was a common and she pulled the Waymaster round to 21 lb, nice one!!. The pic's were taken and she was returned with a thanks. While recasting the freshly baited rod, the middle Delkim gave a series of bleeps. As I set the cast rod back in it's rests the bleeps developed into a continuous tone. I struck, initially the fish did not appear that big. Until she was under the rod tip were she proceeded to go mental. Finally I slipped her over the net. A thought went through my mind on carrying her to the mat, could this be another twenty. Although another common the scale's only read 19.05 lb, I was a bit disappointed but she was still a most impressive carp. The rest of the day produced a further total of four carp between the 12 and 16 lb barrier. After this encouraging result plans were made for a three day stint at the end of the week. This session would see us out in full force, boat, fishfinder, and enough bait to start a tackle shop. Our confidence was soaring. On arrival at the lake we had a chat and a coffee with the resident carper's in the opposite swim. They had failed to catch in twenty-four hours of fishing there. With the coffee break over, we headed out in the boat to scatter a bed of partyblend down over the prebaited area's. As mentioned in my previous writing I always opt for one rod fished short, the hookbait lays just outside the compactly baited sector. The theory to this being; The more avidly feeding carp tend to be on the smaller scale, they feed eagerly without being spooked by the amount of feed that is present or the presence of a hookbait. Whereas the larger, more cautious carp tend to be shun by this character of feeding. They lay well outside the area of activity, an event I have observed on more than one occasion. Therefore a lone hookbait just short of all this action may prove to be a safe food source to the patrolling larger carp. The middle rod was cast to an overhanging tree some 90yds out, this cast can be critical. To short, or to far to the left means you are off the small bar were the fish feed. To far right results in a retackle. Although we had the use of a boat, and I do Row my baits out occasionally. If possible I still enjoy the challenge of a cast, the stupefaction of catching a large carp after a successful cast is more rewarding to me than catching on a bait that has been rowed. A PVA bag of chopped Boillies was attached to the terminal tackle of the right hand rod, this was then cast to a mussel bed 15yds from the bank. With all the hookbaits's in position it was now time to relax and reflect on the evening ahead. Leon put the tea on and I started the burgers going on the Coleman. We sat chatting and enjoying the ever so tasty freshly prepacked burgers when Eric had a take. Out of nothing his baitrunner started going ape. This was an incredible run, I'm sure I could detect the smell of burning XT40!. But although a powerful run, more than often this results in hooking one of the smaller inhabitants of the lake. Our thoughts were to be correct, as I netted a common of about 9lb. There was no more action that afternoon. Around six I strolled over to Leon's brolly, he was catching up on some well earned sleep. He works night's as well as attend college by day. We sat watching the water, which by now was becoming more lively. Carp were head and shouldering along the far margin right above our bait's, things were looking up for the coming night. Our dinner that evening consisted of tinned rice and mixed veg. As always when I'm carping I can go without a run all day, just to be interrupted by a full-on screamer as I'm about to dig into a hot cooked evening meal. And things were not going to differ. I had just sat down when the Delkim of the middle rod exploded into tone. As this was the rod to the overhanging tree's, a hard strike and a sprint up the bank was necessary to prevent the ill tempered carp snagging itself up in the labyrinth of submerged branches. Keeping the pressure on, hoping my 25lb shockleader would withstand the strain, she finally turned and headed for open water. Applying the same technique with my aged 2.5lb test Shimano's would have resulted in a hook pull, as these have a much stiffer top section. Yet with the Nash'ys, even at a test curve of 2.75lb, I could apply enough pressure while still maintaining the benefit of a soft tip. The carp soon showed itself and Eric did the honors with the net. I was surprised to see the carp was of a decent weight, because after the initial surge for cover, she came in relatively easy. After the taking of the pic's, a 19lb common was returned. We celebrated the catch with a bottle of Sauvignon `94, a real vintage!.. With the lake being situated in a wood, wildlife is in abundance. Especially on a hot summers evening. As the sun sets behind the tree's, the hole place seems to come alive. I often sit behind my rod's till deep in the night. Watching bats navigating some incredible manoeuvers through the tree's as they chase their insect pray. But the one that steels the show is the resident owl, who catches mice and other rodents from our swim, and is always perched above my bivvy. Alas the only sound that kept us awake that night was the screeching coming from the owl. Popping my head out of the sleeping bag the next morning saw me nearly blinded by the upcoming sun, it's rays warming my face in the process. My intention to wake before first light, to perceive any feeding carp had failed. Throwing my sleeping bag off me, I went to see if Leon and Eric were up for any breakfast. During the day the fish came thick and fast, a good thing you might say. But as the carp were on the small size, all ranging between the 5 and 10lb, it was time for a change in tactics. Baiting with the partyblend ceased, as this was attracting to much attention from the wildies. From now on our hookbiats consisted of 24mm Redhooker's, as to the previous 16mm, used in conjunction with a stringer of five 16mm hooker's. The stringer was the only freebie offered. We hoped by just using boilies; That this would pull in an amount of sizeable fish. First to reap the reward of our change of approach was Eric, landing an impressive common of 21lb. Shortly after Loen followed, with a 19.05lb catch, again another common. Although the catches were not as frequent, it was obvious the larger carp were on the baits. Our plan was working. I hit the sack early that night, watching the rods from under the cover of the brolly. With the wind starting to pick up, I hoped the forecast rain would pass us by. Around three in the morning I was woken by a few bleeps from the right hand rod. While sat up on the bedchair waiting for the run to develop I could here an almighty crash as a carp leapt from the bay situated to my right. Just then the buzzer sounded a few more bleeps, as the swinger crept up to the rod. Struggling to get off the bedchair I struck hard into a decent fish, which continued to take line as she slowly and ponderously headed for open water. After a run of about 80 metres I started gaining line, whereupon she decided to head strait for the guard of the reed lined margins. A few anxious moments followed as she bogged herself down amongst the reedbed. Wading out and giving her some slack line managed to free her, but my line was still snagged up, grating against the cutting reeds. Again my Quicksilver leader proved it's worth, and I was able to net the fish together with a clump of marginal reed. Putting the fish on the mat she felt like a good twenty, carefully removing the debris of reed from the net I could see it was a twenty. 23lb of common to be exact. I sacked the fish for pic's in the morning, as this was the last night fishing I was pleased with the result. A retackle was necessary as my line and leader were grated to bits, after which the terminal tackle and hookbait were placed inside a PVA bag filled with pellets. Now I could simply cast my bait back to the mussel bed and get back to the comfort of my sleepingbag. There were no more fish out until the morning, when Eric caught a 17lb mirror. To me this carp was an old friend known by the name of Stumpy, I had last caught her two years previous at 12lb. We retrieved the sacked common from the margins and took pic's of both the mirror and the common, afterwards they were both returned. I have one criticism over some dutch anglers, and that is they neglect the use of an unhooking mat. I can not comprehend the fact that most angelers here spend thousands on tackle like rods/reels, yet fail to own one of the most important items as far as fish concern goes. After breakfast I started packing my gear, Loen had to be back at work that afternoon and I had a lot of studying too catch up on. Eric decided to sit it out one more night. As always when packing my gear, my rods and landing net are left Until the very last. This has produced a late fish for me in the past, and by chance I was away on the left hand rod. The carp was at the net within minutes, but it was still a most stunning looking common going 19lb+ on the scales. After applying some Klin-ik, also a must in every tackle box!, to a raw patch beside the gill-plate, she was released. My packing up could commence further and soon I was saying my farewell's to Eric, after having topped up the fished areas with a bit of bait for the next coming session. On my way back home I could not resist making plans to get back to the swim as soon as possible, even if it only consisted of a day session. Getting back that afternoon I had a long soak in the bath and caught up on my course work. I was going around my girlfriend's house that evening and on my way there I nipped over to the lake to see if Eric was having anymore action. Arriving at the swim, Eric was just about to slip the net under a fish. We instantly knew the carp was an upper twenty, and as she revealed herself in the net we also recognized her as a dear friend. It was " Dumbass ", and last time she laid on our mat the scales read 24lb+. As the drawstrings of the weigh sling pulled together and the waymaster took the strain the needle pulled round and settled on 26.05lb. Eric was elated as this was a new personal best . We took the pic's and released our friend in the hope we would next meet again when she topped the magical 30lb's. After celebrating with a cuppa I headed on my way. Although I was pleased for Eric, I must admit to having secretly hoped to catch " Dumbass " myself this season. Especially with the fish topping the 26lb. Further encouragement that we were having success on the bait, and our approach was not needed. Like I said I could not wait to get back to the lake. Yet as with all best laid plans, something can always come up. In this case it was an invite to fish a private water, a water that could produce a thirty, or even the possibility of a forty. There was no resisting temptation, so for a while I put fishing the lake on the backburner. However I did keep the bait going in, again on a little but often basis just to keep the carp interested. I fished the private water frequently over the next few months, an account of which I will word in a following article. And it was not until the end of july that I finally had the opportunity to fish the lake again. The day I fished the lake turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer, the heat going 25ø in the shade. Leon had fished the previous day, but without any occurring takes. We had made plans to fish together, and arranged to meet at the swim at around five in the morning. I arrived before Leon and decided to setup, thinking he was running late. But at seven Leon was still a no show. Enjoying the early morning sun, I sat watching the motionless indicators from my bedchair. The bedchair always comes with me during the summer, even if it's only a day session. A belief that comfort in the hours spent fishing in turn improves the fishing itself. Within half an hour of the bait being in position the left hand rod was away, not a screamer just a slow pickup. Striking into the fish felt like hitting into a solid mass. Line was taken at a ponderous rate, as she swam sluggishly along the island margin. At first the thought of stopping her seemed inoperable, but after a while I started to gain some lost yards. Once in open water the fret of her snagging was gone, and I just played her patiently until under the tip. My mind was racing too the thought of why Leon had not turned up yet. His session the previous day saw him borrow my scales, sling, and retainers. And now I was at battle with a maybe lake record, without any possibility to weigh or sack the carp. The struggle was brief under the tip, and apart from a nightmare occurrence with the net, the meshing had doubled up, I was finally able to slip the net under a very big fish. Now this is were the importance of an unhooking mat is emphasized, especially one that features a folding flap that covers the entire mat. With the fish safely covered and protected I wound in the two remaining rods, a run on these now would be suicide. Panic-stricken I called Leon on my mobile too get his arse over to the lake immediately, he lives within minutes of the place. In a sleepy voice he said he had decided not to fish today, but would be round directly with the weighing gear. It seemed like hours, as I stood waist high in the water holding a folded net with a possible thirty+ inside, waiting for Leon to arrive. When he entered the swim I let out a sigh of relief, only to curse him minutes later. In his rush he had forgotten to bring the scales. Being concerned about the well-being of such a beautiful carp, I took some quick pic's and decided to release her at the symbolic weight of 25lb. Knowing she would have gone a lot more than 25lb, to say I was gutted would be an understatement. Throughout the day the runs came consistently, a total of six fish landed with maybe the biggest carp going around 19lb's. I was pleased at this consistency, again it gave me confidence in my choice of rigs, swim location and most important of all, bait. Compared with the fortyfive nights I fished last season, I could only manage a handful of nights this year, you could say I was using the hit 'n run approach, and producing!. Although this is a reflection on few of the good moments of 97, we are already a couple of months into 98 and my fishing has continued through the mild winter months. The opportunity of fishing more nights the season is on the cards, and already I have landed a 26lb common. So with things looking this good hopefully the elusive thirty will grace my net officially this year.