The idea of fishing in the park came after a successful year inland. The park has always been a place I've wanted to fish at some point, but just didn't know when. This decision came after researching the red eyed beast I was looking for. I wanted to find the feeling that the Midlands pit gave me, freedom and nice carp without worrying about other anglers. Normally I don't care much about the size of the carp as long as the place excites me, catching a big carp is a fair bonus and the park was one of those places, solitude and freedom. I couldn't wait to go.
My first trip turned out to be a last minute decision, it was a full moon in April, the weather was nice and I knew I had to be outside. I remember it was a Friday night and I promised some of my friends that I would stop by for a few hours for my friend's birthday. It was 11pm and I remember looking up at the full moon, techno pounding in my ears and thinking fuck it - I'll do this... I said goodbye, the ten skirting boards and my backpack were thrown in the car and off we went it went ... the park. I was relieved to have fishing rods around midnight, especially after the trip and long hike. I always have my gear as prepared and ready as possible for this type of trip. My backpack is packed the same way every time so that I can operate optimally in the dark. Two 18mm hot shrimp cork balls fell a short distance away onto chods and a small dab of bait on top. I was sitting on the carpet in the shade of the oak trees, a southerly breeze was blowing the length of the shaft to my property and with the full moon illuminating the lake it really looked like the game had begun. Absolutely stupid.... A carp hit the wrist of its valley a little further than I was fishing, it was amazing. In an almost 90 hectare waterhole, in the depths of which about 30 carp live, there really is no such hustle and bustle. No more than ten minutes later, another show, it was the same distance and slightly to the right. The carp really put on a show on this full moon night, the atmosphere was electric and I didn't have to wait long for one of the chods to go. My heart skipping a beat, I grabbed the pole and began fighting an angry carp from the park's pond. The full moon provided me with a natural flare that night and it wasn't long before I pushed the hammock under a mirror in the wildlife park, and a good un too! A quick call to Rob and he soon agreed to come down to take some photos and share the excitement with me. Rob was down within an hour looking just as dazed as me, but that could have been the close encounter with a large deer on his way! After a while we decided to take the fish out and identified the fish as a mirror known as a chestnut - one of the two largest mirrors living in the lake. I gushed we both had seen the mirror on a hot day a few weeks ago and it looked amazing! On the scale it was something like 31 so not as big as we thought but what a result and it was a carp in the game park. To be honest I was blown away when I took a bite from the place and the lagoon under a full moon certainly had something. Rob fired off a few shots and we continued on. A few weeks later I made another attempt at Maimond but was plagued by tench and carp seemed to be avoiding me.
Fast forward to summer and I got sick news from Rob that someone had found a giant dead forest in the park. I remember finishing work that day and going straight there with a small backpack and a small folding shovel. I hoped the news was just a rumor and packed the shovel in case I didn't need it. I walked through part of the pit that had been warned of where the carp was found but saw nothing. I paced this area for a good half hour with no success... I decided to climb a little higher than I was told and it wasn't long before my fear became a harsh reality very quickly. I saw the best of the earth perishing beneath me. My heart sank, I was devastated. But I felt the least I could do was show the big carp some respect and bury it in the best spot I could. My chance was gone, but I was relieved to find the carp myself and not spend my whole life chasing a ghost...
Before I found Jims, I started luring an area consistently at the north end of the pit. When word of Jim's death spread, some fishermen who fished in the area removed his gear from the park and as far as I know everyone stopped fishing for him after that. I didn't know what to do at the time and after speaking to Rob he convinced me to go ahead and buy some of the other carp at the park. To be honest, you risked a lot for what was left in the pit, but sometimes you risk everything for a chance to achieve something amazing. We had seen two fish while hiking in spring that were worth going on, I had no other plans so I decided to go on for the rest of the year.
I baited with large bags of mixed particle dog food and hot shrimp 3 times a week for about 8 weeks. The first trip I took was blowing south, and to be honest I didn't really feel that zone. Even after all that baiting I knew how much these big wild carp followed the wind. It was a full moon and it was my intended start date, so I went and put my pound in anyway. I spent 72 hours on this trip and ate a bite the first morning. It was an ordinary top double on a 22mm pin whore and 18mm swinger. I left this journey knowing that the game would begin as soon as an aurora borealis exploded.
I was still baiting 3 times a week at the time and working Monday to Friday. I took vacation to fish the park midweek as it was much quieter with the public and breaks. With the next trip on the horizon and some consistent predictions from the north, a holiday was arranged with the manager and play began. I gave them lots of bait so I hoped some carp would benefit from it. Although it was a low stock pit, I knew some friends who had baited there well. Although after I spoke to them none of them did it at the level that I did. I was hoping I could take it to the next level with the consistency and sheer amount of bait I cast. Vacation from work soon came, and at daybreak I sailed the boat to my hole in the rollers. I had only done the swim boat access to minimize the steps at the back of the dive. The last thing I wanted was to walk through the bushes straight to my little hideout.
It was a simple case of attaching my gear and turning it on its marks. I had already cut them out before going in and had little electrical tape marks on the line in case there were any burrs. I had given them a bucket full of bait at first light when I floated over the spot in the boat. I could see the two highly visible electric spinners spaced 6 feet apart and placed 5 inches below the surface for easy viewing. I quickly cast the bait and quickly paddled back to my little hole. I used big Snowman baits back then, 22mm Hot Shrimp bottom lures and 18mm Garlic Xtreme hookbait toppers. There were many tenches and hybrids that could sometimes cause nightmares there. The snowmen seemed to fend them off pretty well, hanging onto themselves like ropes and hinges the entire time. The next morning I woke up in a cloudy night in the park. There always seems to be a very thick fog on the water in this lake that seems to take ages to burn off which is really ideal if you're trying to be unseen I suppose. As morning came and the fog cleared, the sign of the bubble leaves over the place soon boosted my confidence. They were everywhere and it was looking good for a bite, the wind was pumping the fountain towards me and it was going to be a good day too by the looks of it. Then the carp seemed to come up, not just in my place but all over the area and a good 100 yards across the bay to my right. It was clear that many carp were present and easy to feed. I was stunned by what I saw and it wasn't long before the sound of one of the claws starting to spin. As I picked up the pole I could see the mesh going through the rising mist on the water table and the carp climbing to the fence. After a short time I had a decent, squat stream of water in front of me, with which I could easily fish for carp. The slime is so soft and one wrong step can make you disappear. I had to bring my own boards to serve as a stepping stone to avoid sinking into the mud - dangerous place... Luckily the commoner played along and I got a special from the park. I decided to swing the rod back with the amount of carp that was present on the dive. The rod came out the first time and I sat down and gave Rob a bell, he had already arrived at the Midlands pit to fish. But the spot of a carp in the game reserve directed him back to the M6 - attention mate. When I saw Rob scrambling through the undergrowth, I walked towards him with a bag full of deer! What a buzz. He quickly helped me disembark the boat and as I was lugging the bag back in...I looked at Rob and said, "One bloody ordinary wild boar park". Rob made me proud with the camera and took amazing pictures. We both went out again, wet with piss and smelling of mucus, but with memories that would last a lifetime.