Sam Whittaker embarks on a Belgian road trip, which all came good in the end!
Queen of The Valley
23rd July 2018
Oz Holness – Queen of The Valley
With his main target water over a two hour drive up the motorway and his wife having just undergone knee surgery, Oz made the wise decision to fish close to home for a few weeks and dropped back onto his local syndicate water, Milton Pan.
Having walked the pit plenty of mornings and evenings during the spring, Oz soon got a visual on the big, resident original common ‘Swirly’… even managing to film her coming out of a huge patch of fizz one morning in May. She looked huge, seemingly in fine condition for such an old carp.
Having fished the lake for short periods in the past, Oz was well accustomed to both the movements and moods of the resident carp and had given them plenty of bait on a couple of trips shortly prior to spawning. He was due to do an ‘in session’ film with the Cypography crew, but Oz cancelled the filming as the fish went into full spawning frenzy right before the planned start of the trip.
Oz patiently held off a return until everything fell into alignment on the two weeks before the New Moon of July. It proved to be a good move.
The first night spent in a shallow corner of the pit proved fruitless, and on packing down Oz noticed a large carp exit the water, way over in the far corner of the pit. It happened to be the exact area Oz had seen the big common show back in May. The following night, of course, Oz was back at the pit armed with a bucket of 12mm Sticky Krill, heavily laced with Pure Tuna liquid. Using prior knowledge of the area, three rods were dispatched, on dark, to a bar and with the bait scattered over the rigs, he settled in for the night.
The following morning was hot and humid, subtle bubbles occasionally plinked to the surface over the area of the bar. It looked good, really good! One by one, the rods fizzed off in turn and three Milton corkers lay defeated within the net that morning! Ozzy’s good mate, Rob Beckett, was soon on scene to lend a hand – a mint common, a stunning fully scaled carp along with an incredibly long mirror were photographed and returned to the warm waters of the pit. It truly was a good start!
Baiting the bar over the following few days, Oz dropped back in for another overnight trip and as the morning breeze picked up, two of the rods fired off in succession, resulting in a brace of scaly old mirrors, both full of character.
Unfortunately, the next take, on the weekend, was lost due to the ferocity of the take, the braid actually melting a groove into the backplate of Ozzy’s Neville alarm. Even after managing to free the braid from the notch, in the moment of carnage and unable to lift the rod effectively, the hook pulled out. Undeterred, and encouraged by the visitations to the area, two more baiting missions were carried out before a three-night trip was planned in running over the moon-phase.
Convinced the big Swirly common would not ignore the consistent food source he was offering and having not graced the bank for the best part of a year, Oz gave the swim a big hit of bait on the first morning of the trip and settled in to await events.
The first night was flat calm with sweaty hot conditions prevailing. A few liners at first light being the only indication of fish in the area. As the sun rose above the trees, the carp bobbed up on the surface, dorsals plinking out as they milled about over the subsurface weed beds in front of the swim. Waiting patiently until they drifted off into the corner of the pit, Oz recast the rigs with fresh baits onto the now clean, polished zone… the moon phase was peaking, it was a good time to be angling.
Ozzy’s old mate and TA consultant Si Bater dropped in for a tea or two – as the evening rolled on a shy bite had Oz out in the waders, bent into a crafty old carp that kited away from the pressure and way, way round a large willow tree to the left of the swim. Slowly, Oz drew the fish up the margins, under those vast overhangs, until with a violent, explosive surge of power she made a bid for freedom down the shelf to deeper water. ‘That’s Swirly mate!’ Oz remarked to Si as she lunged about under the rod tip in big, wallowing boils of water.
Soon enough she went in the net… Queen of the Stour Valley at last! At a spawned-out weight of 42.4 she looked a fine old carp. Burnished bronze with those deep-set scales and dear little clam-shell pecs, weathered away by time. She was old as the hills and commanded much respect from the anglers who laid eyes on her over the years. The lads from the adjoining pit came over in celebration and the shots were done in the cool of evening, behind that magnificent willow, a backdrop she had seen on a few occasions in the past!
Oz has been testing our new Straight Eye hooks over the last year and was using them in conjunction with Sticky wafter hook baits mounted on hook ring-swivels for this short campaign, gaining exceptional hook-holds on what is considered a tricky venue.