Holiday Blues 

Keeping a lid on it. 

For most people the holiday blues kick in at the end of your two weeks away. For the carp angler it starts the moment you leave the UK. 

Whether you just miss your angling or the fear that your target fish will come out whilst away, those two weeks in the sun with the family can be a fraught time. 

Holidays naturally come with stresses and strains – airport queues, finding somewhere [nice] to eat, sand on your towel, a noisy swimming pool, a disco next door at 3am, the list is endless. But for us carp anglers not fishing only adds to this. 

You may forget for a moment or two as you relax and find some peace and quiet but then something will jog your mind into action; the kid in those camo swimmers, sweetcorn in your salad (only in Spain), mobiles that sound like buzzers, Neil Spooner’s hat in a gift shop, beach shelters that look like bivvies, and that fella reading Total Carp in his carpy green crocs!!

Coping with this sensory bombardment is difficult, and more so with social media keeping you in touch with catch reports. It’s enough to drive you crazy. 

I’m not a hardcore carper but a generalist and a novice to boot, so holidays are a pleasure. This could all change as I delve deeper in to carplife. 

In this occasion Carppuzzle is treating the holiday like the old closed season (if shorter), or the weeks before the footie kicks off again. I’ll be starting a new campaign on a new water upon my return. Watch this space. 

Tightlines and tan lines!!

Overnight Success

Up and running 

First overnighter on ‘the’ lake and finally the final piece of the [Carp] puzzle fell into place – result. 

My first fish from the lake; it’s seems to have been a torturous journey to get here. This upper double mirror tripped up at 8am and fell to a single 18mm Triple N boilie tipped with buoyant corn on a KD rig, all presented over a few Spombs of boilie and particle. I kept the faith, kept it simple and kept believing in the bait. 

But it didn’t always look like this first overnighter would end with a bite, let alone a fish in the net. 

I arrived at 7pm and all bar two swims were occupied and this was a Thursday night! 

Option one, No. 14 at the northern end of the lake, was near the pads and the party. Next door and in the next swim down a “social” was in full swing, with the bailiff holding court. 

Option two, No. 8 at the southern end of the lake, was quiet but with limited water, having said that, a fella told me the carp were showing in that corner the previous night. 

No. 8 it was and I went and chatted to the man around the corner in No. 9, to see where he was fishing – in my water was the answer! But he agreed to wind in his third rod, which was great. 

The good side of carplife. 

Out went the rods, one in the left margin and the other straight out (eight wraps). Slightly different baiting up, boilies only to the left and boilie and particle out front. 

With the bivvy up, curry eaten and the coffee on, the angler in No. 7 was into a fish. A low double and I helped with the pictures – both sides – as he was sponsored by a bait company and needed to post everything on social media; yeah, yeah, yawn. 

The modern side of carplife.

Then the bailiff arrived pissed in his nail of a car with a blown exhaust, not a great advertisement for the venue!

Now the night passed quietly [well at my end of the lake, but more of that later] without any liners or shows. I was up at 5am scanning the water. It had rained a little over night and the pressure was low, it looked good. 

I had rebaited and recast at nightnight but was unhappy with the margin rod. I wound in and there was some debris on the KD so I switched to a Withy Pool and a white Mainline Banoffee pop-up. 

I also wound in the right rod, rebaited with four more Spombs and in the morning light I was happier hitting the clip and thereby the spot. 

The sunrise was red, very red, a shepherds warning if ever I saw one. Torrential rain was forecast for the afternoon and I started slowly packing away. 

And then wallop I was in on the right. The carp came quietly to the margin and then started lunging left and right in the deeper water. It took two attempts to net but what a relief and what elation at finally having a carp in the net. 

Pictures done, weighed (16lb 4oz) and back it went. It’s only after the fish is returned you think perhaps you should have taken a few more shots. I did resist the temptation to photograph its arse!

The odd side side of carplife. 

Out went some more bait and the rig. From passed visits I knew that multiple bites were possible and sure enough after ten minutes the bobbin crashed into the right hand  blank.  

This felt better initially, more resistant and then again no. What broke the surface shocked me – an eel! About a foot and a half long.

Figure of eight, in No.8

At that moment the bailiff appeared and his car now had a smashed windscreen and stoved in roof! He’d rolled it at the other end of the lake driving like a drunken loon. God help us if he’d hit an angler or a bivvy last night!

The ugly side of carplife. 

By now I was done, and so were a couple of others, the antics of last night putting us off staying any longer and in some cases ever returning. 

I think I’ll come back but not for another overnight. Don’t get me wrong a love a party but when I chose to fish that’s want I want to do. 


Bio Hazard

Facing up to reality 

Back on ‘the’ lake but this time Carppuzzle was thrown a curve ball not experienced before.

I arrived at 6am hoping the gate would be open, as has previously been the case but this time it was firmly closed. Faced with an hour wait I turned around and headed back to a road side cafe (Off On A Tangent) for a breakfast roll.

Here I got chatting to another angler and he said that one of the three lakes at the venue had KHV. I’ve heard this was a very serious disease and relatively new to the UK. After a quick look at Wikipedia I feared for the specimen lake. The fella was not sure which lake was affected but this would throw a big spanner in the works for todays and future visits.

This could be the ultimate blank!

Just before 7am I headed back to find the specimen lake was clear of disease but full of anglers. It was the Tench Lake that had seen a few cases of KHV that had been confirmed by the man at the Ministry and now all nets, slings etc had to be dipped.

Which does beg the question;

Why were we not asked to do this previously?

With the lake full by 7am I dithered as to whether to fish the small lake, Decoy, which was very weedy and not something I was confident tackling. I walked around it anyway and saw nothing bar one angler.

As I walked back to the car park a swim at the north end of the main lake was now vacant and I dropped my bucket bank side and watched the water still undecided.

This end was quieter with fewer lines in the water, it was also shallow with some pads which would catch the morning sun so as I was already here it made sense to stay.

One rod to the reeds on the opposite bank and one on the edge of the pads, and wait, and admire the latest acquisition; a pair of Fox Micron Mr+ alarms. I decided I needed to update the alarms and have a remote system as I often walking around the margin baiting up during a session.

I did not have to wait long before the new buzzers sounded. The right rod against the pads had come to life. As I lifted the rod there was no resistance just a large common rolled off my line as it pinged off his pec about ten yards out

The pads rod now became a zig slightly over mid depth and I fired particles over it from time to time in the hope that they were somewhere up in the water. 

In the meantime the left reed rod gave me a bite but as has been the case so many times before nothing. So the head scratching began, was it presentation, hooklink / hair length, weight or bait.

At that time the bailiff dropped into my swim and he told me that the previous occupants had fished two nights and in his words, “proper filled it in!”. So I was faced with another few hours fishing on or around kilos of unknown bait! And looking in the margin I could see a bright fluoro pink pop-up, so I guessed they were fishing these over boilies.

The bailiff believed the KHV was contained, and viewed the closure of the Tench Lake as a good opportunity to clean it of some weed and tidy the swims. 

Heading for another blank I threw out a few floaters as the sun hit a lunchtime high but it was only the roach that were interested. If anything it was a bit of a waste of time as I’d not seen anything on the surface. 

As the season drew to an end I thought about my fish in their tank – it could do with a tidy up, a good clean and some freshly treated water. Healthy fish equals happy anglers, no matter what the size. 



I’m Going Nuts

Still proving a tough nut to crack

Visit number seven and the Carppuzzle decided to complement our favored Dynamite Red Amo Tigernuts with the real McCoy in the hope that this will bring a chunk to the bank. 

I arrived at the lake at 6am to find one angler who was on an overnighter. With the whole lake to choose from I dropped into No.2. This would give me an easy cast down the reed line where I had had a bite before (Bucket List) and where I had seen a 26lb mirror come out (Blankety Blank). The second rod would be held back for shows and would more than likely end up on the middle plateau at seven wraps.

Whole, chopped and ground tigers were added to the mix and duly spombed into the margin, with the first rod cast tight to the reeds I settled down to watch the lake and hoped for the “frenzied feeding” to begin.

8am and the lake was still very quite but I had had a couple of liners, bleeps and knocks, which always makes you wonder about presentation. The margin rod was on a heli set up, but as I still had not cast out the second I changed it to a standard lead clip and whilst getting ready a large fish boiled roughly between the middle and the reeds.

Out went rod two with a boilie stringer toward the receding ripples from the show.

The conditions very perfect, we had just come of the back of some very hot weather and this mornings the pressure was dropping, the sky was heavy with rain and the odd rumble of thunder gave me great confidence the carp gods would bless me on this visit, but this feeling ebbed away as the minutes and hours ticked by.

I fiddled around with tiger, boilie and buoyant corn kebab combinations but to no avail the bobbins refused to budge and the lake was quiet . The session ended, and as I packed away leaving the margin rod to the last, ever hopeful. Two anglers have arrived four day session and I think half the problem I have is that if you are not on the fish a short session is never going to be long enough to see the carp arrive in your swim regardless of location, bait or presentation.

So far I have fished this water a total of 28 hours over seven visits (It’s Show Time, Off On A Tangent, Bucket List, Target Practice and Blankety Blank), not a lot when you read of 24 hour, 48 hour, and longer sessions ending in blanks. Frustrating as it is, it does not look so bad when you crunch the numbers or the nuts. But I need an overnighter here! I’ll crack it then.

I still have great confidence in the Dynamite Tigernut boilies but an offer from Carpology caught my eye and so I shelled out on a three month subscription and have now added BaitTech Triple N to the arsenal as continue this years nut crunching frenzy.

First impressions are great, they smell superb and the Stick Mix Liquid will be perfect for glugging the pop-ups and dumbells. I went for the 18mm’ers, more of a mouth full for the lakes crafty carp. Now to get another session in the diary – a long session.


Fame And Fortune 

Sound advice from Navitas

“Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”, so said Andy Warhol, and Carppuzzle wonders how many anglers have thought their fame would lead to fortune. 

Warhol later said, “I’m bored with that line. I never use it anymore. My new line is ‘In 15 minutes everybody will be famous.’“, which is now even more applicable in the digital carp worlds of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

Much like artists, professional carp anglers that make a good living from fishing are few and far between but that does not stop a constant flow of blogging, vlogging and such like from us ‘amateurs’, Carppuzzle being just one of the many.

Whilst many are out there chasing the sponsors and shouting loud about being a consultant and field tester; for me, my fishing and blogging is more about escapism, mental well being and mindfulness.

Sure, it is a diary of my thoughts on #carplife but it is also a means of coping with a stressful job, an arduous commute, and a means of tackling depression.

Yes; depression creeps up on you, as I found out. It exploded on the scene with a breakdown that saw me signed off work for three months.

Carp fishing was the perfect therapy as was writing about my “noddy” take on the scene, plus this coping mechanism eased the commute but it did not solve the work issues, so I find myself resigning this week on health grounds.

I’ll be back to the lakes this week to formulate a plan for the future, hopefully end my blank, but professional angling will not be on the list.

Carp fishing is here to stay and I now know when problems are piled high, a lake is the perfect place to collect my thoughts and maintain my sanity.

Tightlines – but not (too many) bylines.

PS Happy to test anyone’s bait  😉

Blankety Blank

Ten out of ten for effort

Two trips back to back is a rare treat and something to be relished. With the other half away on business and me doing the school run the opportunity was too good to miss.

This would be trip number five to the ‘usual’ lake where I have yet to catch but hopes remain high and I will crack this lake and its inhabitants.

With only a few hours on each day (9am – 2pm) the kit and bait was prepped and ready to go. My favored swim was available, wraps known and quick as a flash the rigs were out and boilies peppered the water – Dynamite Tigernut Red Amo, but with my edge form Target Practice – tuna!

Within an hour I had a tentative take on the right hand rod but lifted into nothing, as has been the case before. The carp are pressured here and crafty buggers.

Then a long slow drop back on the left rod, which I was fishing heli style. I lifted the rod and quickly realised the fish was swimming towards me. Then contact and the rod took on an aggressive bend. One big knock  and a swirl of water made me loosen the clutch and reach for the landing net. diaister changing the angle of the line and pop – the hook was out and I was left cursing my luck.

Back out went the rods and I topped up the swim with bait but the rest of the afternoon was quite. Soon it was time to collect the kids but I would be back the following day confident on location, bait and rig.

The following morning I was back at the lake but “my” swim was taken and at the time of arriving I was roped into helping a fella photograph a 26lb plump mirror. Not that I minded as this was the biggest carp I had come up close and personal with!

With “my” swim already occupied I dropped in to no.10, as during the previous day the angler here had two high doubles and told be the spot was seven wraps out front.

And with a recent Carpology post in mind – ‘How should you approach the last swim available on a busy venue this summer’ . I quickly spombed out a small amount of mixed boilies and particles and had the rigs out a moment later. One a wafter and the other a pop-up, and the same colour. It was now 10am, and from what I have seen and heard on previous visits bite time would be from now until 1ish.

The minutes and hours ticked by, liners came and went, something topped over the left spot, but nothing firm. No full on bites, it felt as though they, the carp, were getting away with it and the session ended with another blank.

As I packed away and chatting to the bailiff, according to him the spot was good, the lead 3oz was fine, the hook link length good and the bait got the nob of approval.

The only suggestion he had was shorted the hair. Could this be the last part of the puzzle on this water?

I can now see why carpers develop an OCD (obsessive carpy disorder) because I am now determined to get back to the lake and nail a fish – a big one too!

Tightlines – not frown lines!

Target Practice

Battlefield 1

Back on the “winter” venue which is fast becoming the “spring” venue while Carppuzzle waits for a new club ticket to arrive. This is visit No. 4 and on this occasion Jim joined me, swapping the X-Box for the tackle box.

Much like the X-Box the first decision to make at the lake is what game we are going to play – stalking, bait and wait, or chase the shows. Today having looked around the lake and not seen anything bar two lads with a 18lb’er on bank we decide to bait and wait a southern corner of the lake where the last few rays of the afternoon sun would warm the water, reed line and hopefully the feeding carp.

Next; weapons of choice; having got the range, the cast was only 50 yards, we stick with our favoured Sonik S3‘s and Tournos 8000‘s loaded with Fox 15lb mono plus Berkley fluorocarbon leaders – Follow The Leader. The BFG’s if you like from Doom for all you old skool gamers. And finally at the business end;  KD rigs courtesy of Gardner and Korda end tackle and 3oz leads from The Lead Shed.

Next; what ammunition to use; sticking to what you have confidence in, is what we are constantly being told, and for Carppuzzle that is Dynamite Monster Tigernut Red Amo, plus mixed particles for added crunch and sweetcorn for colour.

Now we are ready to play and with two other gamers/carpers on the lake getting that high score/PB may be difficult especially as the lake is still silent, bereft or targets, where are those carp?

It’s a short session this afternoon and bankside Jim tells me in gaming terminology we’re “camping”, sitting a corner of the “map” and waiting for the enemy or in our case the carp to take the hook bait.

Lying in wait and the kettle goes on (don’t think there is one of these in the Call of Duty armoury ) and we wait.

The minutes hours tick by and nothing, other carpers have logged off and we find ourselves alone on the lake as the sun sinks ever lower. I’m surprised we haven’t seen anything, previous blogs Show Time and Bucket List told us the lake was active late afternoon early evening but not on this occasion, not even liners.

We walk around the lake a drop some more bait in the reed margin, reload the rigs and fire then out as they may not have been presenting correctly.

Nothing – and as we run out of time it’s …


We too, logged off the lake and packed the kit away.

Driving home Jim and I agreed the carp “owned” us this time but we’ll be back and with a “patch” on that ammo. Previously I had glugged the boilies in coconut milk and thinking back to the angler who had the 31lb mirror ( Bucket List ) he said he’d put some tinned tuna in with his boilies. So hopefully with these upgrade we’ll “own” the lake on our next visit.