What is it about the ‘big fish’ scene that excites you so much Scott and when did you become enthralled in it?
“It was a while ago now, whilst fishing on a local club lake. I was playing football at the time and at a decent level too. It meant that I had to fish the night, get packed up early and then go and play football. I was having quite a few fish at the time and it was ruining me, I was totally exhausted and my body was in bits. I just didn’t get the buzz that I felt that I should be. I, like many, read Terry Hearn’s books, which I drew so much inspiration from and the excitement and buzz that you get just reading that alone, told me that I wanted to have a go for something a little more challenging. I then decided to fish a larger lake of around 40-acres with a lower stock. I fished all winter on there and managed an 18lb mirror, which isn’t a lot, but the rush and buzz I got from that bite was electric. That’s what makes fishing so great, it really is a personal thing and everyone gets their enjoyment from different things. This was something I loved and that was what led me down a certain path in my angling I suppose.”
Was it difficult playing football and going fishing regularly too or did you begin to manage it once you fished the less stocked waters?
“It did become much easier to manage, but I injured my ankle quite badly and couldn’t play for a while. This just meant that I went fishing a lot, to the point where it just completely took over really.”
What was the first place you really got stuck in to, a lake that had a big carp in it and one that you could pursue and dream of?
“It was a lake called Rodney Meadow and to be fair it had a decent stock of fish, with one stand out mirror going over 40lb. I didn’t choose it because of a specific fish, it was local and had so many things going for it. There were bars, bays, lily pads, weed, pretty much everything you could ask for in a carp lake. I just wanted to give it a go and see if I had a feel for the place. I managed to catch one on my first trip on floating bread flake funnily enough.
“It sort of went on from there and I had a really good season. I had over 25 fish that season, all fishing solid bags. I didn’t catch any of the real big ‘uns and it was during the last few days of the season when I eventually did catch one. I had a walk around and could see that a small, shallow bay was really coloured and there were clearly fish ripping up the bottom. I could see the biggest fish in the lake drop down and feed on some crumb I had put down. I bolted back to the swim, grabbed the gear and made my way round there. The next morning I had the mirror at over 42lb and it was such a huge buzz to actually catch it. I didn’t specifically go on there for it, but it’s one of those where you and your mate talk about catching it and will every bite to be it.”
Did you notice a difference in the way you angled on this lake in comparison to the lakes you had fished in the past?
“The main thing was upping the effort. I did a lot of early mornings, doing laps and really trying hard to find the fish. I had never really gone to that extreme before, but that effort was almost required if I wanted to be successful and I noticed how much of a difference that made.
“I spent a lot more time feature finding, learning what it was that I was fishing over and seeing what the fish had done to certain areas. At times they could be feeding on the bars, other times behind or on the side of them, which was something I could never discover unless I used the leading rod.
“Tactic-wise, I used solid bags for the first season and it worked well. I did notice that I seemed to avoid the better fish. I sat there during an unsuccessful winter session with my mate one day and we had a good chat about boilie fishing and how it would probably sort out the better fish.
“I suited our approach too, moving on carp and dropping baits in where they were feeding. Funnily enough, the first fish I had fishing with the boilie only approach was the biggest one in there, so it kind of cemented our theory to me and I have been a boilie angler ever since.”
Did you go all out boilie fishing from then on and did you notice the difference?
“Yeah, I was boilie mad then and used them almost exclusively. I stayed on the lake as I enjoyed the fishing and there were a few I wanted to catch too. Fishing with boilies, I caught as many fish in two months as I did the whole of the season before and even caught the big ‘un a couple more times.”
Was it then a case of moving on and targeting big carp from elsewhere?
“The time was right for me to move on, but I didn’t just want to single out bigger carp. It wasn’t so much about a particular fish, it was more about looking for the next challenge.
“That summer I spent floater fishing and stalking on local lakes while I tried to pin down a ticket on somewhere I wanted to fish. I chose a deeper lake in the winter that had good form and I was lucky enough to catch the biggest one in there, which was my second or third bite.
“I began to get realise that the buzz I was getting from catching fish like that, was the way I wanted to go with my angling. It felt amazing, like nothing I had ever felt before. Catching one of the most desirable fish in the lake appealed far more to me than catching a twenty- or thirty-pounder, which is just a pea in the pod carp from a high stocked water that have no character or any individuality about them. Like I say though, it is a personal thing and I found my enjoyment doing this.”
Where did you settle on for the season ahead?
“My mate and I ended up on somewhere that we both thought was out of our depth, but were so excited by the challenge. We ended up getting a Yateley Match Lake ticket for the spring and the CEMEX Fox Pool for the summer and autumn. I ended up catching over 30 fish that spring, including the biggest one in there. I wasn’t aware of what was a good or a bad season, but from what I got told by some of the anglers it was good going. My confidence was sky high and I took that on to Fox Pool, which I worried would kick me in the balls to be honest.
“This was completely new to us, with there being faces that I recognised from magazines and huge carp resting in the snags. This was a massive step up for the pair of us and we didn’t know what to expect, but that rush and buzz that you would get having a bite from a lake like that was going to be incredible. It wasn’t guaranteed though, with an average season consisting of, like, four to five fish a year.”
I suppose you had read about the Fox Pool before, which must have made it even more special being there?
“Totally, I had read the history about the lake, the fish it had and still held and the anglers who have fished it of course. I suppose Yateley was the same, it just had that atmosphere that some lakes have and it feels amazing just being there.”
Was there any particular fish in there that you really wanted to catch?
“There was a good stock of big fish and I would have loved to have caught any of them. There was one in there called The Dark Mirror and if I could have picked one it would have been that one.
“I actually managed to catch that one on my second trip. It wasn’t the biggest in the lake, but a proper looker as the name suggests. It was such a mixed variation of fishing, with there being marginal work as well as open water. It just made the place so interesting and you never got bored or lost any excitement.
“I fished from June until October time and got pretty lucky to be honest. I managed 14 fish, which included six thirty-pounders and a 40lb mirror too. One of them was a fish known as Shoulders, which only came out once a year or so, which was such an amazing feeling, catching such an old and wise carp.”
I have noticed you are only fishing two rods and from a lot of the references to your angling in years gone by, you were the same?
“Yeah, I used to fish with three, probably because I felt that I could so why not? I always found though that the third was always a chance rod, casting it somewhere random and rarely picking up bites. I spend a lot of time finding a spot and making everything perfect. I cause enough disturbances doing this, so I don’t want to cause any more with the third rod to be honest. It is also less lines in the water too, which I feel on pressured lakes can be an edge.”
Did you stay on there after that or go elsewhere?
“I went local and fished a lake with a nice mid-thirty linear. I didn’t click with it and the enjoyment wasn’t there. I got a few tickets that year, only cheap ones though, as the year before crippled me and I wanted to try and spend a little less money the following season. I then decided to fish a lake that required a mammoth walk with the barrow, which put a lot of people off. It had a nice mid-thirty in there that I really liked the look of. It was low-stock and I really liked it. I caught that mirror pretty quick, so went over to a local park lake for a few weeks.”
I suppose many would be looking for a lake with bigger carp in after catching fish to over 40lb from Fox Pool, but you didn’t. Do you look at the appearance of the carp, the history or story behind that fish or even the venue before the size of the fish?
“Yes, I would say so for sure. I wouldn’t just go and fish for a 60lb carp just on its weight. I would much prefer fishing for carp that mean something to me. I want to peel back the mesh or look in the net after an epic and enthralling battle, stand there in shock and awe of an amazing looking creature.
“Again, it is all down to personal preference, but this is what gets me going, chest pounding and hands shaking if you like. I suppose this is why I went to Pinge after that. The Brute is a big carp, but is full of character, so too are the back up fish in there, all totally unique and each has a story to tell.”
I thought that would be the answer after seeing your album of carp, there really are some special looking fish in there. Did you manage to catch some of the fish in Pinge that year and how did you find fishing a busy circuit water?
“I managed to catch a 24lb common pretty quickly, but I found it hard getting on the fish. I work all week and just have weekends and the odd work night to make use of, so getting in the areas where I knew I needed to be was tricky.
“It isn’t a moan, far from it, it is something you have to expect when you are fishing a lake with quite a few big carp in it. I plugged away and really enjoyed my fishing on there. In September I managed to catch Pearly at over 37lb, which was such an amazing feeling. It was one of the fish that I really wanted to catch. It was from a fairly ignored and quieter swim, so decided to bait it quite heavily. I was using the Krill from Sticky and the fish were trashing the spots that I had baited. I gave them a good hit of bait at the end of the session and booked a bit of holiday, with the aim to get back a few days later.
“I carried this on for a few weeks and it was looking better and better each time I baited. When I got back in the swim and decided to fish the spot, I had three that night, which included a recapture of Pearly, The Croptail Linear at over 37lb and The Leney at 28lb. It was an amazing trip and I really wanted to carry that on, but like many lakes it was impossible getting back in there and I had to think of another plan.”
Would you say that bait plays a big role in your angling, especially on the busier lakes where you are competing with other anglers as well as the fish?
“Bait is so important and something that I would never compromise in my fishing. Having the confidence in a bait makes such a big difference. Since I started using Sticky Baits, I was fishing on a park lake and only did the odd early morning. I was pre-baiting and that was doing all the work for me. I had a fish on my second morning, which was very good going for on there and from then on I was totally sold on it.
“It is easy to get caught up on the next best thing, but when you have a bait that is responsible for the captures of so many carp and difficult ones too, you know you are on to a winner.
“Where I could, I took that bait and that tactic with me and it was working so well for me. Every capture I had on Pinge, the fish were passing my bait all over the mat, which is something that I look at and pay attention too, especially when fishing a fleck of colour on top of the snowmans or using a bright one on a Hinge, you don’t always know if the fish have picked that up first. When it is being excreted all over the mat, you know they have been eating it, which gives you such immense confidence that they like what you are feeding them. I would rather use a kilo of good quality bait on top of using 10 kilos of poor quality food.”
You like using big hookbaits too, is there a reason for this?
“I like using 20mm baits wherever I go. It makes everything so much easier and simplifies my angling. I can get the baits out with the stick on pretty much any spot that I tend to fish. It also means less baits in the swim too, preventing the carp spending hours grazing round picking up small items. A kilo of 20mm baits will be eaten and found a lot quicker than the same amount of 12mm baits. It would take you a lot longer to get them out too, which causes more disturbance.
“You don’t see too many anglers use them too, which is always an edge. Most people stick to 16mm baits and of course they work, but so too does a 20mm bait and if the fish are not used to getting caught on them, there is more chance of a pick-up.
“I also use homemade Krill corkball pop-ups of around 18mm on my pop-up rigs too. The lakes I fish have quite a few tench and bream and having larger baits deters them slightly too, which keeps the rods in the water for longer, giving the bait more time in the water for a carp to pick it up.”
Do you keep the rigs nice and simple or do you really look in to it?
“They are pretty simple, strong and reliable components that I know will do the job for me. If I know the spot is really cleaned and I am fishing on top of somewhere that I have baited, I do use a bottom bait; normally a 20mm bottom bait tipped with a small pop-up for a bit of colour. If the bottom isn’t rock hard and clean, I will fish either a Hinge or a Chod. It is just about assessing the bottom that I am fishing over and adjusting my rigs accordingly. I like the helicopter system and with the Heli-Safe it allows me to use it and drop the leads when I need to.”
Did you stay on Pinge for the winter or go elsewhere?
“I went to a local lake, which was a small lake and had some lovely carp in it. I baited a spot close in over a few trips in the January. I did really well fishing with Vor-Tex and at the time, the test bait from Sticky. The first trip I had a few fish and the next trip was four, the one after that six and it got better and better, eventually catching the big ‘un. I started back on Pinge in the spring, but a ticket came up on another lake that I really wanted to fish. I can’t mention the name of the place, but it held some spectacular carp and some real big fish too.”
What made you choose that lake over Pinge, as you had been doing well on there so far?
“It was nothing to do with Pingewood, I loved it over there, and it was more that I really wanted to fish this place. I felt that it was the biggest challenge for myself to date and it just grabbed me from the off. You couldn’t fish all the lake, with there being boating on there. It had public access, which meant loads of dog walkers passing the swim all day long and it was just very demanding. I just wanted to catch a fish out there. It was such a great feeling to fish somewhere that I felt like I had no chance of catching. The thought of getting a bite from a lake like that was such an amazing feeling.
“I had a great couple of seasons, catching 51 fish including the big mirror at 46lb, which is by far the best feeling I have ever had in carp fishing. It just felt so incredible catching a carp that I never even thought I would come close to. I had gone through a lot of bait, constantly baiting an area at range and it was working. I was even having multiple hits at time and getting through a lot of boilies, which soon adds up when you are paying for your bait.”
You are a very modest guy and I know you would never blow your own trumpet, so I will give you a little big up and ask you what has helped bring you so much success in your angling, taking in to consideration that you work full time and don’t get everything for free?
“Erm, it is difficult to pick out good points in my fishing. I suppose I am a very determined angler and do put a lot of effort in. Things like getting up early even if you are shattered, walking round in the rain when you don’t really want too and so on. I suppose the other thing is attention to detail, making sure everything is bang-on. From the sharpness of your hook to making sure that rig is absolutely spot-on. It all adds up in carp fishing and I suppose a combination of all those little things puts you in with a better chance of catching the fish you are angling for. It is about reacting to what you see, as opposed to going to the lake with a preconceived idea of what they are going to do.”
So what are plans for this year?
“I am back on Pingewood for my first session. I would desperately love to catch The Brute. It is an old carp now and who knows how long it has left being such an old fish. I have managed to catch The Leney, this trip, which is nice to get back off the mark and hopefully my luck continues.”