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27 Jan 2017
by Kev Hewitt
How to catch ten fish over 30lb in 24 hours!
Two anglers in early January land 27 fish including... (gulp) 10 over 30lb and all in 24 hours!

Here’s how Kev Hewitt and his pal Ben Davis pulled together one of the greatest ever winter catches…

I always have a habit of looking at the weather forecast and imagining what the carp would be doing, even if I am not fishing. It was early in January and the weather looked about as good as it could get for winter: warm, wet and windy. And guess what, I wasn’t going carp fishing!

Well, I say I wasn’t going, but I just couldn’t resist. I shuffled around a few prior arrangements that I had made and at the last minute I found myself sat at the gates of Orchid Lake, Oxfordshire at 7am, an hour before they opened. I knew the weather was spot-on and there was a chance of a bite or two, but as I have found in the past on there, finding them is absolutely crucial. My previous winters on Orchid have been successful and one thing that is clear-cut is that whenever I have seen a fish show and got on it, I have always caught. If I don’t see a fish, I have never caught.

Observation is integral, the slightest show can make a winter session

So, after my first lap of the lake I saw two fish porpoise at long-range from a swim known as the Top Dugout. In fact, the fish was beyond the Top Dugouts water and was actually in front of a swim called the Alamo. There was a chap in the Alamo who had been on for seven nights but was just packing up and he had bagged three fish during his stay.

I got into the swim about 1pm and popped a marker float up on the spot where I had seen the two fish show earlier in the morning. It was just over 5ft deep and fairly silty, so I clipped three rods up and fished all of them on my version of the Hinge Stiff Rig. The hookbaits were 10mm CC Moore Equinox pop-ups, tipped with ESP plastic corn which had been soaked in Betalin and Black. I suppose I put around 15 Spombs of bait out, a mixture of sweetcorn and 10mm Equinox. I love this combination and use it pretty much all-year round with the inclusion of some hemp where I see fit.

Kev with a 32lb 2oz mirror

Much to my surprise I received a twitchy take within minutes of finishing spodding and I was soon off the mark with an upper-double, scaly mirror carp. I was well pleased to have got off the mark; any winter carp from Orchid is a precious one. The take had come on my right-hand rod and much to my disbelief, after recasting I had another bite within five minutes on the same rod! This one felt a lot bigger and plodded round showing me who was boss. I just knew it was going to be a chunk and my predictions were confirmed when the huge frame of a stunning Orchid mirror slipped over the net cord. Up onto the scales and the needle settled on 35lb 14oz. I was absolutely over the moon with my first thirty of 2015 and it was only the 11th January. I had a 23lb common before dark and after catching three in quick succession I just knew that this session was going to be a bit special.

All three rods were positioned in a silt bed

Returning the favour

Now, I must say that I was meant to be pike fishing the following day with my good friend Ben Davis. It was both of our birthdays a few days later and we had planned this as our ‘birthday session’. But as I mentioned before, the weather was just too good for pike fishing so I cancelled. Ben is a bit of an all-rounder and is a very good specimen angler when it comes to perch, pike, chub, tench and other species and during the winter months I learn a lot from fishing with him for other species. Ben definitely has the upper hand when it comes to specimen angling but with carp fishing being my forte, it was only fair I was to pay him back by taking him carp fishing from time to time.

A concoction of 10mm Equinox and sweetcorn got the fish grazing
A healthy addition of Roasted Nut Extract gave the mix a sweet twist - a huge winter edge!

Ben has had specimen fish of most species in recent years and was keen to catch his first 30lb carp. Normally I wouldn’t suggest a day session for carp on a tricky water in January but I simply knew that if he was to come down and double up with me, there would be a great chance of him bagging a new PB. So, I gave him a call at about 9pm and told him to get his tackle up together and get down for a day session. He agreed and the plan was for him to join me when the gates open at 8am.

Bait was introduced via the Spomb at regular intervals

My bite alarms kept me busy through the night and takes were coming at regular intervals all the way through until dawn. By the time Ben had arrived at 8am I had landed 10 carp, including another two thirties. First up, was a 32lb mirror and that was shortly followed by a chunk of a mirror at a whopping 36lb 4oz. Funnily enough it was a fish that was named BJ after my boss Bryan Jarrett from Hinders – and amazingly, all of my 10 fish had come on my right-hand rod which was fished closest to the reeds.

Kev uses a sea breakaway lead to check the lakebed

I literally had no sleep through the night and when Ben arrived I had already popped a marker float up a couple of rod lengths to the right of where I was fishing and Spombed 2kg of 10mm Equinox mixed with sweetcorn. There was a sense of urgency as Ben was frantically setting up eager to get his rods out. I got his three rods clipped up to the baited area and put line markers on whilst he delivered them to the spot with pinpoint accuracy.

The Debatable Common at 34lb 2oz

By 9am we were all set-up and fired up the stove to get the kettle on and had a quick natter about the events through the night. I said, “Don’t be offended if I have a quick sleep today when it is quiet as I have not been to sleep yet.” Well, as the events of the day unfolded, there was certainly no time for sleep.

Before we had finished boiling the kettle Ben’s right-hand rod ripped off and he was on it straightaway. We had six rods on in the swim and every fish was fun and games trying to land. Shortly after and my right-hand rod was away too and I landed a low-double in super quick time. Ben’s fish was an immaculate 22lb common and it wasn’t long before he was bent into another fish, only a double this time. We worked as a team and as I dealt with Ben’s fish, he was getting the rod out in super quick time to take advantage of the mad feeding spell.

Rig bushcraft - a closer look at Kev's rig set-up
Protection - To protect his main line and the fish’s flank, Kev uses ESP’s Flexi Anchor Rig Tubing in a length of 0.75m.
How balanced? - Whilst the pop-up is counter-balanced with putty around the rig swivel on the Chod section, it’s not over-weighted, more finely balanced so the hook section will always push away from the lead.
The boom section - The boom sections comprises of a six-inch section of unstripped ESP Two-Tone coated braid in 25lb breaking strain. “I would describe the hooklink as a semi stiff coated braid with the 25lb version being the perfect stiffness to kick the hookbait away from the lead when it hits the deck,” states Kev. He also adds it’s stiff enough to reset the rig if it gets picked up and ejected.
Go heavy - Kev opts for 4oz zip-style leads.
Rig set-up - For the hooking section, Kev uses ESP’s Ready-Made Chod Rigs which are tied from 20lb Stiff Bristle Filament with a size 6 Stiff Rigger hook.

Ben’s re-cast had only been out there a matter of minutes and the same rod was away again. The fish plodded around and as it popped up I knew that he had completed his ambition of catching a 30lb carp. The scales confirmed this as the needle swung past the magical barrier and settled on 31lb 10oz. Ben only had to wait another thirty minutes before he had completed his first brace of thirties and a second PB carp, a really impressive, huge framed fish with a big apple slice scale on its flank, one which goes by the name of Radders.

The Hinged Stiff Rig proved the winning tactic with a plastic corn topper

The takes came steady over the next few hours for Ben when he landed a couple of twenties and an upper-double before it all went quiet. My rods had stopped producing bites, the fish were stacked up in the reeds to my right and with Ben fishing in between me and the reeds the fish did not have a chance to get past Ben’s baits. I wasn’t too bothered as I had already had a hat-full in the night and was over the moon for Ben.

The rig looked superb over the offerings

'And it got even better'

As I mentioned, Ben’s swim dried up and he had gone around an hour without a bite which gave us enough time to get the kettle on. I topped up Ben’s swim with a dozen more Spombs of the deadly combo of Equinox and sweetcorn. This really got them going and I have to say that the next 40 minutes were total and utter carnage which saw no less than four thirties on the bounce fall to Ben’s rods. At one point he had a third personal best 38lb 14oz mirror in the net as the next rod went. No sooner had he picked up the rod and his last remaining rod was away which of course I helped myself to. Ben was playing his fish and I had landed the one on his left-hander. Ben’s fish was a mirror of 31lb and the one I landed was a gorgeous common of 34lb 2oz. At this point we were unsure of whose fish the common actually was. I had done the spodding and tied the rig, Ben had cast it out and I had played it in and landed it. I am still unsure as to whose fish it actually was but I had done so much to help Ben catch his fish – at the detriment to my own catch-rate that I felt like I had earned that one. We left the ultimate decision up to Marsh Pratley who owns the lake and he awarded the capture to me, I wasn’t going to argue with him on that one.

Ben soon got in on the action, landing this lovely-looking 35lb 2oz mirror

Whilst photographing the four thirties Ben’s rod was away again and we let Marsh get in on the action and he landed an upper-double mirror.

It is now only 4:30pm in the afternoon and Ben had landed 14 fish in eight-and-a-half hours. The action died on darkness and Ben packed up and headed home. Talking about hitting it just right! I had rung Bryan earlier in the day and had managed to blag the following day off work, which allowed me to stay an extra night. The action had died though and I was fortunate to land two more carp during the night, 24lb 4oz and 24lb 8oz. I ended up with 13 fish, three thirties and one debatable thirty but the effort I put in to help Ben had earned that one I think. It really was an incredible session for us both and possibly one of the biggest ever hauls of big carp taken from a day ticket water in such a short period of time in January.

Checking the end tackle’s all sitting perfectly
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