Deepings Diaries pt1- The Carltons
After a successful and hugely enjoyable winter followed by an equally successful spring fishing Deepings 3, myself and my better half Wendy were really looking forward to the start of our new ticket on Deepings one.
I had fished Deepings one before and had spent several happy years on the syndicate in the company of some very good friends and, as such, I had a good knowledge of the lake and its residents. Wendy however, had not had the pleasure and it was all going to be new and very exciting for her. All of the lakes at Deepings are closed for the month of June to allow the fish to spawn and recover in peace so our first session was to be a two-nighter commencing on Friday the sixth of July and it couldn’t come soon enough! I had booked a holiday from work Friday and Wendy had the day off too so we were up early and on the road for seven thirty along with Bane, the trusty carp dog. We arrived at the gates at around 9am and it became immediately apparent that three other anglers were already in situ so we set off for a reconnaissance lap of the lake to see what the plan would be.
The weather had been blazing hot all week and the forecast said much the same for the weekend ahead and we could feel the temperature climbing as we strolled from swim to swim looking for signs of activity. We soon spotted some fizzing on top of a shallow weedy bar that spanned the width of the lake between a pitch known as the ‘Long Cast’ and another known as ‘The Windy’. With the weatherman predicting a scorcher, this area could well throw up an opportunity of a fish that we were looking for. The long cast was occupied but the windy was vacant and I suggested to Wendy that we double up in there and fish just two rods each but the words had barely left my mouth when a carp poked its head out of the water in a swim to the left known as The Caravan!
During my previous time on Deepings one, the caravan had not proved to be a productive area of the lake and, as such, had been rarely fished. Likewise the swim directly opposite known as the cave, I did not recall ever seeing anyone fish the swim during my entire time on the venue.
Wendy instantly made a decision to go in the caravan and leave the windy to me. I explained to her that it could be hard going in there and, although fish often showed along the margin between the Cave and Caravan, they seemed to drift away as soon as a lead was cast towards them. Wendy was completely undeterred by this statement and began to set up shop as planned. I set about retrieving my tackle from the car and depositing it in the windy when I suddenly realised, like a complete fool, I had left my alarms at home! What an absolute nightmare! We had both been so giddy and excited about our fishing trip that we had thrown the gear in the car and shot off down the A1 without checking if we’d left anything behind! I must admit I seem to have form when it comes to forgetting things and on previous trips. I have turned up without a cup, which resulted in me drinking from an old pop up container (I do not recommend monster crab tea!) I once forgot my sleeping bag (that turned out to be a chilly night) and on another occasion, I was fifty miles down the road to Norfolk when I realised the bait was in the freezer at home!
Phil Gregory, who owns the three lakes at Deepings, lives on site and Wendy suggested asking him if i could loan the use of his alarms for the weekend. Phil readily agreed to come to my rescue, bless him, and his generosity saved me from having to perform a one hundred and sixty mile round trip…Thanks for that Phil!
Crisis averted, we set about leading around the water in front of our respective swims to try and locate some spots amongst the silk weed. Wendy opted for a clean area along the left hand margin and a couple of clean-ish spots straight out, likewise I soon found a couple of cleaner areas in front of me at a depth of around seven feet and then set about trying to find an area on top of the bar to my right where I could present a hookbait, but as soon as the light lead plopped into the water over the bar the resident swan waddled over to investigate…typical. I fired a pouchful of freebies further along the bar to see how it would react and it instantly homed in on the disturbance, closely followed by a family of coots (It gets better!). As soon as the coots began to dive on the bait a flock of seagulls appeared from nowhere and began dive bombing them in an attempt to mug them of any boilies they had scavenged. Suddenly, fishing a bait on top of the bar did not look like such a good idea, in fact, it would be nigh on impossible! I eventually settled for a spot in deeper water down the side, at around five and a half feet, safely out of the resident bird life’s reach!
It was scorching hot and the day passed by without event and as night descended we cracked open a bottle of wine and sat together, in between our swims, watching the water and the glorious sunset. We chatted into the early hours, it was such a beautiful night that we were reluctant to go to bed, and we talked of the huge carp that swam around in the lake in front of us before retiring at around three AM. We didn’t set ourselves any targets on Deepings one, in fact we never do on any lake, the sole intention is to enjoy our fishing and, hopefully, catch a couple but I did mention an awesome looking fish known as the “cut tail common,” and hoped that, one day, we would be lucky enough to slip the landing net under her.
We had purchased a spare receiver for Wendy’s alarms, which I kept under my bivvy, so I would be on hand to help out if anything occurred and just as dawn was breaking, it suddenly burst into life! I jumped out of bed and sprinted the forty yards or so over to Wendy to see her bent into a hard fighting fish, which proceeded to chug up and down the margin before rolling over on the surface allowing me to slip the net under Wendy’s first Deepings one carp!
We secured the fish in the net and began to prepare the sling and scales when we suddenly heard an alarm sing out. We both looked over to the car park , expecting to see the angler in there run out to his rods, but no one appeared from under the bivvy and suddenly it hit us, it was one of my rods that was away! I had not recognised the sound because I was using Phil’s buzzers ofcourse! I did a swift impersonation of Usain Bolt and discovered my middle rod in absolute meltdown as a fast-moving fish headed across the lake with my rig in it’s mouth! After a bit of a tussle I managed to coax the carp back towards me and Wendy arrived to slip the net under my first fish of the new season! We quickly weighed my prize, a lovely, scaley mirror of 22lb, and released it before heading back to inspect the contents of Wendy’s landing net.
This was clearly a better fish and the scales registered a weight of 28lb 6oz, and a stunning, jet black mirror laid on the mat. Wendy was absolutely made up, and rightly so, what a way to open your account on a new lake and on the first night too! We fired off a few trophy shots in the early morning light before releasing the fish and sticking the kettle on. We had only had around an hours sleep but we both felt wide awake and sat drinking tea as the world woke up, buzzing with excitement!
We whiled away the day chatting and watching the lake, it was absolutely scorching hot once again and the only signs we saw were over the shallow bar as fish lethargically pushed through the weed, occasionally poking a dorsal fin out of the water. I was desperate to position a hook bait on top of the bar but how could I overcome the problem of the merciless birdlife? I decided to wait until nightfall, when our feathered friends were less active, and under the cover of darkness, I managed to cast a single hook bait on top of the bar while the swan had disappeared behind one of the islands. I had tied up a long hook link of around 18 inch and attached a Vita-Lac pop up, trimmed so that it would sink very slowly and rest gently on top of the abundant silkweed. I dare not risk firing out any free offerings for fear of attracting the attention of any winged boilie thieves so I fished the hoo kbait in isolation.
Once again, we sat chatting into the early hours and just as we considered retiring at around 1 AM, the water over the shallow bar erupted and my right hand alarm screamed in protest as an angry carp made off with my single hookbait! The rod took on a healthy battle curve as the fish tried to get over the bar but I managed to turn it and gain a few yards of line before it made a lunge to my right in an attempt to shoot off down a shallow channel which ran behind an island and through to the water in front of the car park. I managed to slam the anchors on and the fish could be heard in the darkness, smashing the surface with its tail as it made a bid for freedom. Wendy sank the net and I slowly gained the upper hand and coaxed it towards us. Suddenly, a very large common loomed out of the darkness and Wendy netted it at the first attempt. We parted the mesh and stared in disbelief at the contents, a real breeze block of a carp that looked well over forty pounds! We lifted the beast from the water and onto the mat and I ran my hand along an armoured flank down to the tail and stared in disbelief at the small, semi circular cut in the bottom lobe! There lay the cut tail common in all her glory! The scales registered a weight of 43lb exactly and we attempted some trophy shots in the darkness, I say attempted because the resulting photos really do not do this awesome creature justice! We lowered her back into the water and watched her slowly waddle away through the marginal reeds when a single bleep emitted from my middle rod. I turned to Wendy and smiled, “She’s swam into the line.” I had barely uttered the words when the the alarm screamed in protest and the reel melted off signaling another take! Five minutes later, a scaley mirror of 23lb lay in the net! It didn’t end there either and as the sun began to rise Wendy was in for the second time, landing a lovely, dark common of 17lb. What an incredible start on our new ticket, forty eight hours in and we had landed five cracking carp including the awesome cut tail common!
The next chance we would get to go fishing was two weeks later and it seemed like an eternity before we were back on the road to Deepings. Every opportunity we had between work had been spent prepping the gear and tying up rigs in readiness for our upcoming session. I decided to treat myself to a new landing net and decided on the Trakker hydro, with a two-piece handle so it would fit nicely into the front pocket on the three-rod sleeve. I had my fingers crossed that it would get wet over the weekend!
We arrived at the lake rather late on Friday 20th July after work and several anglers were already set up. With conditions almost identical to our previous visit, we had fancied the same pitches, but, although the caravan was free, there was already a bivvy in the windy! The car park, long cast and point were also occupied so we decided to take a look at The Hole and Cave swims. The Cave is situated directly opposite the caravan and Wendy decided to drop in there, while I opted for the hole, a couple of swims to her left and we set about trying to find some spots on which to position our rigs while we still had some remaining daylight.
Sunset had passed before we finally had all the sticks out and we began setting up our weekend retreats in the darkness. I had just positioned the groundsheet and was in the process of fanning out the tempest when I heard an alarm sing out from Wendy's direction! I stopped what I was doing and dashed over to see her brandishing a rod in full battle curve! Whatever was attached was giving her the full runaround and each time she tried to coax it towards the waiting net it turned tail and powered off into the darkness! Eventually, a huge common appeared on the surface and I scooped it into the mesh! I was convinced this was a fish known as Clarissa, which could be anywhere between 48 and 53lb!
We secured Wendy's prize in the margins and dashed around getting the weighing gear sorted, all the while gibbering like a couple of mad primates! When all was ready we lifted the lump onto the mat and parted the mesh, I immediately went to inspect the tail fins, Clarissa had a crinkle in one of the tail lobes, but I was astonished to find this was not the case! What I did find was a small semi circular cut in the bottom lobe! Incredibly enough, Wendy had landed the cut tail common, just two weeks after I had caught her myself! This time she tipped the scales to 42lb 2oz, a personal best common for Wendy and we did our best to fire off a few trophy shots in the dark. Once again, the photos were poor and didn't do cut tail justice, but she wouldn't settle and Wendy struggled to hold her. We returned her quickly and she powered off into the night, totally disgusted that we had interrupted her meal!
We had been covering our free offerings with RG Baits Vita-lac liquid food and it certainly seemed to be doing the trick! We would put a couple of kilos into the Trakker pureflow air-dry system and liberally pour the liquid over the bait and then shake it around to make sure all of the boilies received a coating. Any excess liquid would drain into the bucket below and could be poured over the baits again as soon as they began to look dry. This would, hopefully, create a scent trail through the water for the fish to home in on!
After returning cut tail we raised a glass of wine in celebration before settling down for the night which passed by with no further action. The following day were yet again absolutely scorching and we whiled away the hours chatting and planning an approach for the night ahead. With the high pressure and subsequent high temperatures, the likelihood of a daytime bite was somewhat remote, so we didn't go overboard with the free offerings and simply scattered a few baits around each rod, in the hope of nicking one in the less than favourable conditions. Mid afternoon, we had a recast and positioned our hook baits in readiness for our last night of the trip well in advance of darkness to keep disturbance to a minimum at what we hoped would be bite time.
Dusk came and went with no further occurrence and, once again, we sat up late chatting and listening to the night. At around midnight our patience was rewarded when my right hand rod signalled a fast take. The fish was traveling at a fare old pace down the lake towards Wendy's swim and I was rather concerned it would plough through her lines if I didn't put a stop to it's progress sooner rather than later! I leaned into it in an attempt to slam the anchors on and it suddenly changed direction and kited in towards the margin down to my right, heading for an overhanging bush! I had to sink the rod tip to keep the line clear of the branches and the fish gave several powerful lurches before I managed to begin gaining line. A great ball of silkweed had gathered behind the anti tangle tube making things very difficult and my heart thumped in my chest when a huge, grey shape appeared in the light of the headtorch! Wendy, somehow, managed to net it at the first attempt and we stared into the mesh in a state of shock! This fish was positively massive! We ran around like a pair of headless chickens preparing the scales and camera while the beast lay patiently waiting in the margins. When we had calmed down a little, we lifted my prize onto the mat and parted the mesh to reveal a huge leathery flank. I instantly recognised my old friend Black Spot, the king of the pond! I had been acquainted with old Black Spot many years ago, when he tipped my scales to 51lb + but this time he looked considerably bigger! The needle registered a weight of 55lb 10oz and we fired off a few trophy shots in the darkness, all the while in complete awe of the sheer size of this colossal fish! What a way to christen my new landing net and what an incredible first month on our Deepings one ticket!
We had been ridiculously lucky and could not have hoped, or dreamed, for a better start on the syndicate but all good things usually come to an end and our luck was bound to run out sooner or later, or would it?...