A man of all species

For a non carp angler he catches a few does top Nash consultant and angling guide Des Taylor. Find out how Des has been bagging everything from 20lb commons galore to huge bream and even some sharks!

I say I’m not a carp angler but I love carp, and I always enjoy catching them. This spring I’ve probably had 20 20-pounders to just shy of 30 lb, and funnily enough the really horrible colder nights and north easterly winds we had through early May did me a bit of a favour. There’s no floating baits allowed on the pool I’ve been fishing so the unseasonally cool weather kept them feeding on the bottom, and I was catching six to ten fish a day, always with a few 20s in the mix. It was really enjoyable sport with nice commons to 25 lb-plus.

Fishing along and across – a simple edge

I always keep my fishing simple but one of the things that really helped was always fishing well away from where I was sitting.

I picked a spot where I could fish 50-60 yards away but up the margins to keep the disturbance to a minimum, baiting a swim in close and then walking a rod along the bank, swinging the hookbait in and making sure the feed was accurate - just where they find the leftover bait that people throw in at the end of the day. By fishing away from your own peg you also stand a much better chance of multiple catches. If you fish right under your own feet you hook one and then the commotion it makes ruins the chance of catching more, then you’ve got the disturbance of the netting, wetting slings, weighing and returning and it’s no surprise the swim has been killed.

In contrast, walk a bait 50 yards away and you hook a fish and it kites out away from the margin and you play it well away from where you hooked it, allowing carp to continue feeding happily on the spot.

The successful recipe for me has been lots of Instant Action 6mm Feed Pellet, plus a good helping of TG Active boilies over the top. I’m a fan of bottom baits rather than pop ups, if I put 250 boilies out then they want the hookbait on the bottom as well. The only things I will do are add a small wrap of paste around the boilie on the hair, and also add a cobweb bag or stringer so the rig straightens out as it settles when I swing it out.

One of the reasons I’ve been enjoying multiple hits has been that a swim I picked allowed me to walk a bait along the margin, and also cast one across to the other side for the same result, and I could walk round and bait up by hand but keep the disturbance away from the feeding area. When casting across I just add a stringer of boilies using the Fast Melt tape rather than the cobweb bag I use swinging a rig out in the edge. As long as the reel is clipped up every time the rig drops in the stringer straightens the link nicely.

It’s been interesting how quick action has been coming as well. On so many waters we get into the habit of waiting for takes from carp but I treat them just like any other species and if I know they are feeding then I expect to hook fish quickly. If I’m waiting more than an hour or two I recast, because often there can be something wrong like the rig isn’t sitting quite right, or the line is lifting off the bottom because of a twig you don’t know about. The same goes if I get a couple of bleeps unexpectedly – that was a near miss, the equivalent of a missed bite on the float sort of thing. It might be a bit different if you are sitting on Rainbow Lake and you do need to leave rigs in position for several days, but on so many fisheries the waiting isn’t necessary.

Getting the basics right has made for very consistent results, and thoroughly enjoyable fishing. It’s been so good that I took a young man James Lewis on a guiding day. He’d never caught a 20lb carp – by the time he went home he’d had six!

Don’t be afraid to ask…

I’d booked a trip to try and catch a big bream in May as well, and had pencilled in St. Ives Lagoon in Cambridgeshire, just because I knew there were some really good double-figure fish in there.

In the event it turned out to be a good reminder of how simple catching a big fish can be if you want it to be simple. I spoke to the owner Gordy Howes and got some background on the place and here’s the simple bit – instead of doing all that rubbish looking at the water and discussing the ripple and the weedbeds I just asked him to tell me everything he could about the place. Instead of wasting a day trying to work out the layout of the pit I got a comprehensive run down of the islands, bars, weedbeds, depths and potentially productive areas. All because I actually bothered asking…

There was an east wind blowing and conditions really weren’t very good. In fact I wondered if I might have cancelled the trip if I hadn’t been taking a friend Phil Riley with me. I popped the million dollar question to Gordy – if you had to catch a bream to save your life right now where would you fish? And obviously, that’s where we went.

We were in lee of the wind, in the more sheltered area of the pit, and I just made it as easy as possible for us, finding a nice uniform bottom and fishing at a comfortable range for recasting and Spombing bait out, about 50 yards or so. Tactics were to put a 5kg bucket of Instant Action Pellet mixed with brown crumb and corn out. None other than Bob Nudd taught me that simple it may be but bream love brown crumb.

The rods went out, both on balanced plastic corn on a size 8 Twister on a short braided link and using the Micro Lead Clip leaders.

We didn’t see much show but the fish we saw roll were big and Phil bagged an incredible 14lb 2oz fish to more than double his personal best.

The next day we did the same thing, rebaited early afternoon with another five kilos of pellet, crumb and corn and after nothing in the night again, early morning saw a couple of fish show right over the bait. I had one take which was a 16lb 4oz personal best bream. It’s nice when a plan comes together!

Tope time!

A little diversion I’ve had has been tope fishing. I go every spring and have done for years, and in the Thames Estuary this is prime time for them. Some of the guys I go with are carp anglers, like Dave Jordison, a very well respected and time served Nash consultant.

It makes such a nice change, and I believe that whenever you go and fish for something else you always come back a better angler than before, whether you are brushing up casting and playing skills or simply enjoying a new discipline that is giving you a different perspective. I’d recommend catching tope as a brilliant addition to your must do list – if you think carp can pull try sticking a hook in one of these things!