Durleigh Reservoir at Bridgwater, Somerset is a local venue to me and in the last couple of seasons has become a real 20s factory – and this autumn I’ve enjoyed a tremendous run of sport using Monster Squid.
In the past Durleigh has had a reputation as a runs water with people catching up to a dozen doubles per trip. However over the last few years more and more 20s have been matted and the occasional 30-pounder too. Generally fewer carp per session but a much better average stamp.
Durleigh is considered by many a distance water and when bait boats have been allowed in the past the carp were noticeably bottled up at extreme range. In the warmer months remote boats are banned so it becomes a distance caster’s paradise.
I’ve had to fine tune my casting and more importantly feeding at longer range because I very quickly twigged that when the carp rolled up in front of you in numbers, you needed a good spread of bait to make the most of it. The 13 foot 3.5 lb NRXDs make it so much easier than other rods I’ve used in the past, they are simply in a league of their own.
Being a reservoir I believe your baited area becomes a significant feature in itself at Durleigh, so my approach is based on using Spot On Stix to clip up at 25 wraps or 100 yards and feed heavily, putting all three rods tightly over it. Feeding at a genuinely measured 100 yards is 10-20 yards further than most people can comfortably fish, and it makes a big difference going just that bit further into what would normally be ‘safe’ water.
Late summer onwards I got to Durleigh as much as possible with my buddy Shawn Kittridge, usually for afternoon and evening sessions, packing up at dusk when the reservoir closes. Every time we both caught one or two carp each, fish generally averaging mid to upper doubles with occasional low 20s. Virtually all the Durleigh carp are long, fit and spanking condition commons.
Interestingly no matter what time of day we started we always seemed to catch a carp within an hour of baiting, and twigged the fish were coming quickly to a bed of boilies, and that you needed a decent amount to hold them in the swim to enjoy these spells of hectic action. We gradually began using more and more and the carp were really responding.
Fellow Angler’s Mail correspondent Colin Davidson joined me for one session and we enjoyed a spectacular evening feeding spell, a day when we had two braces of carp at the same time. But the real target for both Shawn and I was one of the venue’s very few 30s. Shawn bagged a fine 27 lb 10 oz mirror on a solo trip in early September and when that fish was caught again a few weeks later at 31 lb the weight gain suggested the time was right for maximum effort.
We set about fishing full days and the more of the Monster Squid we put in the more we caught. For a day trip I was thawing 6 kilos of the Purple the night before, sometimes with some Monster Squid Red and Black in the mix, adding a good squirt of the Monster Squid Arouser, a few of the 6mm Monster Carp Pellets and letting the baits soak it all in.
I don’t think Durleigh carp are riggy, and a KD style rig with stripped back 25 lb Combilink and snowman using 20mm bottom baits and 15mm Purple Airballs has been reliable, or size 7 Fang Twisters with 15mm bottom baits and a 10mm Airball. Both presentations have helped avoid the numerous bream in the reservoir, and the Heli Kits used with D-Cam tubing have helped ensure no tangles even when casting without bags and into big winds.
In two day sessions in mid October we shared a total of 23 runs, with 19 carp landed including five 20s and only one carp under 10 lb. The second of those sessions was one to remember, I got there at opening time and headed to the lifebuoy swim on the far side, it was really windy and overcast, perfect conditions.
I attacked it with 2 kilos Spombed straight in and had a run within 30 minutes. It felt like a good fish but came off about two thirds of the way to the net, ironically the first carp I had lost at Durleigh this year. I banked a 17-pounder just before Shawn arrived then topped up with another 2 kilos and virtually as soon as I had finished Spombing the left hand rod was away again. The carp seemed to be responding to the bait going in better and better. I knew it was a good fish as it felt like I had hit a snag but then there was that wonderful moment when the snag moved and nodded!
After several minutes Shawn slipped the net under the fish and when I looked I knew I was in with a chance of a rare Durleigh 30. Shawn zeroed the scales and the first reading actually settled over 30 lb. We retained the fish in a Kaptive sling while waiting for the ranger Paul Martin to come and see the fish. With Paul there we took the fish out and weighed her again but this time she was under 30! I had to accept 29 lb 12 oz, we double checked with another set of scales and so 29-12 it was.
I wasn’t unhappy, it was a new best for me and a great reward for the effort of the recent weeks. We’ve had amazing sport on the reservoir this autumn, and going in aggressively with a lot of top quality boilies has paid off in style over and over again. Durleigh is a superb up and coming water, well recommended for anyone in the south west. Where else can you get sport like this for £9 per day?