10 May, 2019 |0 Comments
Chasing Dreams – The story of a River Thames Carper
Last season Ash Geden enjoyed an incredible run of big carp on the mighty River Thames, culminating in the capture of some 40lb plus carp! In a two part article, Ash tells the story of his incredible summer carping on the river…
Part 1: The Scene of the Cheese.
With the brolly system trying its best to take off at around 07:30am on Sunday 29th July whilst I held on for dear life, tangled up in the spokes inside, soaked through to the bones from the driving rain and a little sleep deprived, it really had been a savage night out here on the river and i thought to myself, surely it can’t be much longer now or am I just mad for being here?
I had started my Thames campaign a little late this year in all honesty, preferring to be out there, pro-active and on it, learning, baiting, prepping tucked away swims and learning a little more from as early as the middle of March. However, having been really focused on my syndicate water during the previous couple of months, I just hadn’t done half as much homework as I normally would like to do during the close season.
So i felt a little bit behind and doubts were starting to creep in to my head such as, had I prepped my chosen area enough? More importantly, am I in the right place now… It was now just before 8am, I was still hanging onto my house whilst pondering life and out of nowhere the middle rod went from nothing to full of life, just like that. I thought stuff the brolly, I was on it in a heartbeat. I was a little shocked as to how the whole situation had turned just like that on my thoughts, I was into my first Thames Carp of the season, always a heart pounding moment that!
After a long run on the initial take and a spirited battle as I lead it back towards me from the distance it had gained, I could see it was a lovely scaly one. It was a huge relief to get it in the net, just under 20lb, that will do nicely for a first session result I thought. From that moment, I knew that it was game on, location was right and the bait was working, this was the place to be to catch a dream, I just needed to condition the spot and believe.
Get the bait in
I was due to work away from Monday onwards and having just had one from the area I wanted to apply a bit more bait knowing it would be at least seven days until I was able to get down to get some more in on the spot. So with the gear on the barrow and the rods strapped on, I deposited the remaining bait I had on me from the session which was around 3kg, a mixture of CompleX-T boilies and matching pellets and particles.
Another 3kg in weight off the barrow now, every little helps, anything to lighten the load for that absolute mission of a mission back to the motor, with gear being twice the weight, soaked through but did I care.
I was nowhere near happy with the amount of bait out there though but it was all I had on me so first priority for when I got home was to grab more bait and get straight back down there so off I shot with another seven kg which would then bring the hit up to 10kg, again a mixture of boilies, pellets, tigers, particles and liquids, I had been putting in around 5kg every three days for about three weeks so far, so I was happy with my ratio I had deposited for the week.
It was nine days later until I was back down and in the area so there wasn’t one moment that went past during the week whilst working where I didn’t think about the spot and what might be visiting it, I certainly knew what potential there was and what the river has to offer with years worth of knowledge, experience and sightings firmly embedded in my mind.
I was woken by a seriously fast take on a tightened up clutch on my left hand rod just before 7:30am on 7th August, having been wrecked from a busy week I had needed a couple more hours sleep in me upon waking up at first light to watch the water which I just really didn’t have it in me to do that morning and had fallen back to sleep so I proceeded to try and control a very angry Thames carp that chugged around in front of me for a couple of minutes whilst I rubbed my eyes in an attempt to wake up.
All was under control though and number two of the season was mine, a lovely dark 20lb mirror, even though it was a recapture of one I had off the surface last year a few miles upstream and with that out went another 5kg of bait and I headed off home.
I was back down three days later and feeling very confident. I had arrived just as the light was fading on Friday evening and instantly got to work getting the rods out on the spot, a small raised area out in the middle of the river which three rigs were accurately positioned on and around with a top up of bait. I put out around 30 spods, which sounds a lot of bait for an overnighter but trust me, you get cleared out in no time on rivers, depending on stock levels and species etc.
My bait choice was once again CompleX-T with the Fluro pop-ups key to my attack.
The spot felt very clean to me I thought back to myself when that lead touched down on the right hand rod, that will be away come morning. Sure enough 8am comes round and again I’m disturbed from such a lovely sleep (needed it!) to the sound of an alarm but this was different, just a few bleeps as a stuttering take suddenly kicked me fully into life after picking up the rod and tightening up to something kiting upstream at speed and now stripping line from a tight clutch, I couldn’t disengage the back wind quick enough, I hate playing fish on the clutch!
After what felt like a life time, the fish’s pace started to slow and a few big head shakes and thumps later I managed to turn it to which it then proceeded to beeline straight back towards me at speed with me cranking down hard on the reel for a good eight seconds in an attempt to catch up with this unseen torpedo heading straight for me.
The sun was beaming down and from 20 odd yards out I could see this long, lean, silver figure twisting and turning as I lead it up to the surface with my little Fluro popup just visible in the corner of its mouth, I knew exactly what I had hooked, I had seen it a hell of a lot in the area before committing to the baiting campaign and it was about to breach so at any attempt of netting it I was going to take it.
I grabbed the net and threw it into the water between the other two rods and jumped in with chest waders on (I’ve got into the habit of getting my waders on within seconds upon waking up to a take like this, apart from that I will live in the things as it’s too fast paced to lapse in concentration for even a second! I hovered on the edge of the marginal shelf. By now I was well aware of what caliber of carp I had on the end which I have no control of, it was going absolutely ballistic in an attempt to wipe my other two rods out and get free.
To my right was the thickest raft of weed that had built up in the margins and this is where it headed next, to which I followed, bad move! With the water even deeper there and with me now being well out of my depth, sliding down the slippery, silty shelf, the net being my only upwards support as I rammed it into the thick weed raft in the act of a counter balance so I could ground my feet. This I quickly managed to do but with the fish now thrashing water in front of me and the raft of weed, I was in a very bad position and now not thinking straight at all.
The fish boiled at the front of the weed leaving a hollow, so seeing the chance I got the net in there and heaved the 3ft long Common over the net cord until it was kissing the spreader block, there was still half a foot of wrist and tail hanging out over the net cord! With all my might, whilst water streamed over the top of my waders I tried all I could to shuffle the half a foot extra of 30lb plus Thames common into that net.
However, the weed had closed back in on both the arms of my landing net and I just could not lift it, the arms were locked solid in the weed and were now snapping due to the weight of the weed as I struggled. Within the blink of an eye before I could react to the situation I did not see I had got my self into, the great common thrashed, turned and swam straight back out and into the depths of the Old Farther, leaving my little CompleX-T Fluro popup on my rig hooked up to the mesh at the bottom of my broken, empty net.
A broken man..
After throwing the gear around the swim for a bit, lots of swearing and some chain smoking, I re-positioned all three rods with a light top-up of bait over the area. With such a good stamp of carp possibly still being in the area there was no way I was leaving so I forced myself to stay on for one more night in the hope that they were still about, I felt a broken man.
The night was quiet and I woke feeling even worse than I did but still, out went 5kg of bait and I decided to give it a weeks rest, repeating the baiting process three days later during that period of my absence.
My next actual fishing session was much later than planned but I had come back refreshed, after a couple nights break spent at my syndicate water with success. In between a busy week of work and a lot of hours spent tracking down these nomadic Thames carp in other areas of this big river of dreams, I had kept up with the bait application ratio, the more priming the better!
I then fished two blank nights in a row, what was going on I thought, where were they? I wasn’t too put off by the quiet spell though as the area was feeling polished, especially where the middle rod was positioned, right in the center of the baited spot. A full moon was coming up on the 26th August and I was feeling something was going to kick off as it had been strangely quiet recently.
It was 3am on the 23rd August and I find myself starting to come to my senses in the glare of the bright moon that I had been watching grow by the day, stood in the margins of the river with the rod starting to double over with a heavy and strong but steady moving weight on the end, this felt serious. I carefully attempted to make a turn of the handle in order to apply a little more pressure and with that, everything fell slack as it literally just fell off, how do you just fall off!
With my jaw now somewhere down by my arse, I skipped the rig back in to inspect my perfectly fine rig with a turned over hook point, two losses in a row, so cruel! 8am come round and with no more action I topped up the area and went off hunting, with the plan of not fishing that night. The original plan was to be there next just before the date of the full moon, having been pushing my self to the limits with the lack of sleeping and eating that was replaced by plotting and planning in the determination to keep my dreams a possibility, I was completely burnt out.
A fish loss always seems worse sitting at home, it really grinds away at you! Feeling sorry for myself and licking my wounds whilst trying my best to zone out starting at a TV that I wanted to throw out the window (there was adverts on at the time!) I still couldn’t stop looking at those bloody weather apps, it was bob on condition, moon, pressure, the lot! I glanced at the clock, it was 10pm and the motor was half load, sod this I said, I’m off.
The rest they say is history! Nah im joking!
Never has there been more of an anxious drive in my life, it was one of them rare vibes you get when your connected that deeply to what you have focused everything you have been working so hard for on, something made me do what I did that night and I weren’t going to question it!
It was now around 11:30pm by the time I was settled in and with my senses running at their peak on the bright moonlit night, one by one with 100% accuracy each of the three rods were positioned on their respected spots, not even having to feather the leads in flight, everything was second nature and I hit the clips sweet. Another 30 spods were baited out, focused mainly over the middle rod. I had done all I could, time to try and get some sleep.
The night had been quiet, half expected, I felt I was there for a morning bite well before the session anyway, it was just after 7am and I was still feeling very anxious after quite a sound sleep. Conditions were due to change later that day but as I sat there quietly starring at the middle rod it was just after 8am that all that build up, all that anxiousness and overpowering feelings of something brewing, suddenly became apparent.
The tip on the middle rod just slowly arched over and the alarm let out a few bleeps as line ticked off the tight clutch on the solid set up. Upon taking a breath, I picked up the rod and the surface just erupted! The rest really does feel a bit of a blur, everything felt like it was going one hundred miles per hour, I was well aware I had hooked something very, very special before even picking up the rod, you know what I mean, we have all had that feeling at some point.
It was going mental, such power from this beast I could do absolutely nothing with it. If it wanted to go all I could do was back wind, back wind and back wind, keeping those knuckles away from the reel face as much as possible as this felt wild and unpredictable. After what felt like a life time, I slowly gained control as we fought each other from out in the middle of the river all the way back towards me.
Now absorbing the powerful lunges with more control as it charged off up and down the margin in front of me in between the other lines. Having already got in the water after edging my way forward with the net in position during several stages of the fight, I had learnt from the loss of that 3ft Common to stay where I was for netting, despite wanting to keep the fish away from the other lines as much as possible, I got ready.
The fight was won..
I can still see it now, just this massive orangey/yellow glow coming from a stupidly sized block of cheese of a carp, just wallowing around beaten, below the tip and ready for netting, I recognised the fish straight away, it had been over five years since my last sighting of it! I will never forget it. As if in slow motion, I ever so gently fully sunk the net around the beaten beast and scooped!
Instantly I felt sick, standing there in utter disbelief having just had the adrenaline rush of my life, I actually had to sit down. Within a couple of minutes my head stopped spinning, I got in the water and carefully unhooked the fish and safely secured it in the retainer whilst I called a friend who had been on stand by, “Ive got the Cheese” I said.
My dream went 42lb 10oz. I fished a couple more sessions on the spot over the next couple of weeks, keeping to the same baiting pattern. I went on to take another two carp from the spot, another re-capture from back in 2013, which was a mirror going 27lb 2oz on the 3rd of September and a Common of 17lbs on the 6th September, both early morning bites again, before calling it an end to the campaign.
Seven bites from the spot resulting in five carp landed including my first 40lb+ Thames carp is a season that surely couldn’t be topped right! Incredibly amazing and epic times, what a rush! But the season was still young. I had been working hard on plan B for a couple of weeks by now, after visually locating carp on occasions during my spare time after work and when I wasn’t fishing.
The new spot was located in a completely different area of the river and I had a feeling there was quite a few carp held up there then what I was actually physically seeing, I planned to hit it two more times heavily with bait and then drop in for my first session.
It was 19 days later that I was on my way, ready to hit it the location they were giving their selves away.
To be continued…