After the fish had spawned on his target water, Johnny Haars went back for a very special carp...
Luck of The Draw – Ben Talbot
9th August 2021
Ben Talbot travels south to Sandhurst Lake and gets a lucky draw…
Arriving at a social you’re never too optimistic about your chances due to draws etc. Having never fished Sandhurst, my plan was to not look too much into the venue. I wanted to see for myself and set my own plan after the draw. Upon arrival we had the standard social “meet’n’greet” and a short while after we had a bit of time to have a look about. After walking the pond, I had noticed fish actively feeding in a couple of areas should I get a decent draw. These zones of looked a great bet and arriving back to the car park to take part in the draw it was my turn to pick. As luck would have it, I drew ball number 1! With the whole lake to choose from, I settled into a swim known as The Pipes, which according to the bailiff did produce fish.
With a swim now secure, I set about getting my approach right. With information from the bailiff about maximum distances, I chose not to fish the going areas and tried to find something slightly different. I had a good feel about with the leading rod and found some nice ground for all three rods. My next move was to leave the fishing until the evening and get all my rods and bait prepped accordingly. With Sandhurst being shallow and with plenty of bird life around, I decided that my bait would consist of minimal food items but more attraction, crumbing up krill active combined with bloodworm pellet. I soaked it all in the new Pure Fish Liquid for a couple of hours prior to getting the rods out, giving the mix time to soak in the liquids. The plan was that when used it wouldn’t take too long for it to all break down, leaving just attraction and no food items for any birdlife. Once the traps set and the bait was out, I was feeling very optimistic as I soon started seeing fish in the area.
The first night drew a blank and I was slightly disappointed, as fish were still present. As the morning broke, I started seeing active feeding a lot closer to my baits, shortly after my left-hand rod burst into life and I was into my first Yateley carp! Using the new Thinking Anglers OGX main line (which is set for release later this year), I played it with care and eventually the fish was mine (I’m usually a braid user for 99% of my fishing.) Looking into the net, I was greeted by a really nice common, dark and wide across the back it looked a ‘goodun’. We soon had her hoisted up on the scales and she went a rather pleasing 37lb!
I was made up – catching the first morning lifted the pressure slightly from coming out first in the draw. I could now settle in to the session and repeat the process with hopefully more to come! After getting the rod back on the spot I fancied my chances of another one as the fish were still there. Not long after the same rod let out a couple bleeps before taking off. This fish felt more powerful and after seeing the fish draw closer, I noticed it was hooked in the wrist. I was gutted this one wouldn’t count but happy the fish were still feeding in the zone, so I slipped it back and got the rod back on the spot once more. An hour or so had passed and it was now the turn of my right-hand rod. The fish powered off through a couple of weed beds before picking up my middle rod, I eventually led the fish to the waiting net. A nice chunky 28lb mirror was the culprit and it had been a good first morning and I couldn’t have been happier!
The action started to slow down, so I reeled in and kept the spots topped up with attraction before going to meet with some of the other lads. We spent the evening talking over the day’s events. Once the evening meal was done, I got back to the swim to repeat the same process as the night before. With the majority of the fish getting caught late morning, I wasn’t too unhappy to wake up and find everything as I left it, knowing that bite time was still to come.
As I sat staring at my water in anticipation, I watched the fish slowly move back into my zone. Not long after the fish had returned, my middle rod pulled up tight and held there. Thinking it was just a strange occurrence, I slackened off the line to reset the bobbin – no sooner had I done this the line pulled from the rod tip and the clutch starting ticking! On picking up the rod and leaning into it, I was undoubtedly into another carp. Again, I found myself playing it quite softly and very differently to using braid. This fish felt heavy! As it neared the surface, I noticed it had collected a load of weed which made it tricky to see what I had hooked. Soon the fish was closer and almost within netting distance, it was at this point I realised what fish it was and without panicking too much, a couple more turns of the reel and it was mine, a fish known as the Armadillo and what a carp! 37lb and ounces – a mind-blowing fish! I was buzzing, my first trip to Sandhurst and arguably the best-looking fish in the pond. I could have gone home more than happy with that result but with one more night to go I reeled in again before topping up the spots and heading off for the evening BBQ.
I repeated process once more for my final night. I was struggling to get to sleep after what had been a mega couple days fishing so put the kettle on slightly earlier than usual. I sat watching out across the lake as my middle rod melted into action. Running across the gravel bare footed, I pulled into what felt another powerful carp and after what seemed like forever, I finally pulled the fish over the cord and had another Sandhurst carp! Securing the fish whilst I sorted my kit, we lifted her up on the scales and it was another 37lb common – three 37lb fish in three evenings, how’s your luck!?
Three very different carp but all mega ones. With all three spots producing a bite I left with four fish in total. On a venue I’ve never been to before, I’m certainly planning another trip!