We all have different aspirations and goals we set ourselves within our fishing careers, this is what drives us to go fishing.
There are anglers that just love to go and get bites and enjoy whatever they catch, Fishing to them is a release from all the stresses and strains life puts on them.
In my opinion every angler should start this way as this is where you learn all the basics and learn how to apply yourself to catch fish. No one should start fishing expecting to catch 40lb carp or a keepnet full of big bream. You must learn to enjoy your fishing and set yourself small target to begin with, and progress gradually in your chosen angling career path.
One target most anglers set themselves is to catch a PB (personal best). This is a very personal target to set as only you know what you want to achieve or what you want to get out of your fishing. The most important thing is to be realistic. It may sound silly but you aren’t going to achieve a new PB if the size of fish you are after, don’t exist in the lake you are fishing. Set yourself a small target first like; a 5lb carp, 1/2lb roach and so on. There is no better feeling when you set out to catch a personal best and you achieve it.
I’m going to tell you the story when I set myself a target to catch a PB and all the little bits in between.
It all begins at a very well known day ticket fishery called Linear Fisheries in Oxford. It was here that my angling career evolved from just catching carp to wanting to catch big carp.
I set myself the challenge to catch a thirty pound common carp. St Johns Lake holds a good few thirties with the biggest at over forty. The lake has many ‘known’ fish at over thirty so it became my ambition to catch one of these elusive monsters.
March is a good time to set out a new campaign as the lakes begin to wake up, and the fish become more active from their winters sleep. So with a spring in my step I began my first walk around the lake of the New Year.
The weather was particularly mild and the fish were very active, jumping and showing everywhere. This will do for me I thought. So with the barrow loaded up, I wondered into a swim called The Dug Out.
As I started setting up, a few fish continued to show, so it was time to think about rigs. I set the first rod up with a 7ft zig coupled with a piece of my faithful black foam and cast it out to the zone where I’d seen the fish moving. The other two rods were also coupled with zigs but in various lengths and were to cast out to a similar area.
Having all three rods out, I sat back feeling confident as there were still plenty of fish showing. House was set up and I fired up the stove and my first brew of the trip. I had work the following afternoon so I could only manage a quick overnighter.
Despite all of the fish movement, day drifted into night my rods remained static. My confidence was slowly draining away so I jumped into my sleeping bag ready to settle in for the night.
My sleep was interrupted in the early hours with a fast take on the 7ft zig rod. Like a flash I was out of the bag and into my wellies and ready for action. As I lifted the rod it was clear that I was attached to a good fish, it torn line from the clutch as I held on for dear life.
As the fish got closer I could see straight away what it was due to it’s colour. It was the ‘Big Ghostie’ and I knew it was over thirty, as it had been caught a couple of weeks before. My legs turned to jelly but I managed to hold it together and before long I had her in my landing net. With the fish secured in the net, I walked to the next swim to see if the lads next door would give me a hand. We weighed the “big girl” and she went 34lbs 5oz a new PB.
Buzzing from the result of my new PB, I could not wait to get back down there. I managed to blag three days off work (it helps to have a boss that’s a fisherman).
With the car loaded I was off gunning down the M4. The weather had turned much colder so I decided to give the deadly maggot a try, two gallons to be precise. The fish were still in the same area but unfortunately the dug out swim was occupied, so I opted for the beach next door.
Despite the cold conditions the fish were feeding and the biggest fish in the lake had been caught the day before. I changed the rigs around to solid bags, filled with maggots, and a short braided rig with a white pop up as hook bait. I positioned the rods really close together and spombed out the maggots to the same area. Lady luck was on my side, as my middle rod rattled off only two hours after baiting up. After a short battle yet another common over the magical 30lb was in my net.
I couldn’t believe it. Two fish, over thirty in less than two weeks; this one weighed in at 33lbs 6oz, a real result for March. The rod was repositioned and more maggots put over the top.
After a good night sleep I was once again torn from my bag to a flyer on the same rod. The morning was a cold one and my unhooking mat was frozen solid. I popped the fish in the retainer sling and fired up the kettle to try and keep warm. Just as the kettle hit boiling point my right hand rod registered a few bleeps and then tore off across the lake, this was big.
I was fishing a drop off lead system so the fish came up in the water straight away and did most of its fighting under the rod tip. It was still dark, so with the aid of the head torch I guided the beast into the net. Unbelievably I had another known common in the net it was the ‘Scar’. I was very excited to say the least as this could be yet another PB.
I was so excited, I rang my girlfriend to tell her what I had caught. This is what catching a PB does to you, it turns you into a kid again.
With the mirror in the sling and the common in my net and still a rod fishing I needed help. Luckily another angler had seen the commotion and came round to my swim. With the 21lbs 5oz mirror pictured and sent back to her watery home, it was time to hoist the ‘Scar’ up. She spun the scales round to 38lbs 12oz a huge fish and yet again a new PB.
This was a dream session and one that doesn’t happen a lot in carp fishing. However big don’t necessarily mean better and if you fish a lake where the biggest fish is 20lbs and you catch a 15lb fish then that is classed as a specimen.
People these days are too concerned with pounds and ounces and they forget why they really go fishing…. For fun. Fishing should not be stressful or become a chore, it should be a means to escape and enjoy your hobby. No matter what you fish I wish you all the best in your angling pursuits but most importantly have fun.