I have been privileged to have been invited to fish the new carp lake at Bulldog Fishery on three occasions in the past twelve months and it has been a pleasure to see it develop into a beautiful venue.

            On my first visit in April 2021 the banks were still a little bare, with no completed swims and vegetation still not  yet flourishing. Despite the cool early spring weather, I was pleased to spot a couple of dark shapes cruising in the clear water and relished the opportunity to try and tempt these fish that had not yet endured much angling pressure.

Swallows and Martins were swooping above the water in profusion and I was thrilled to once again see these harbingers of summer after a bleak winter of COVID lockdowns.

            On this first trip I was delighted to catch a 27lb 8oz mirror carp and a very colourful 16lb koi.

            I returned again in August to find most of the swims now completed and lakeside rushes starting to grow to give the lake a more natural feel. As always I was given a warm welcome by father and son team Nigel and Tom Early. On this occasion I was to fish a twenty four hour session.

            The session got off to an encouraging start with a mirror carp of 8lb tearing off as I erected my bivvy. A couple of hours later a common of 12lb 3oz graced the net.

            As the sun dipped below the horizon I relished the reflections in the lake and the peace and quiet of this lush wooded valley. I lost a good fish in the fading light when the hook pulled and hooked two more big fish as darkness fell.

            The night was still and quiet with the occasional splosh as big fish rolled sending ripples out across the lake.

            As daylight broke a couple of bleeps resulted in a bream of 6lb 6oz.

            At half past seven as the early morning sun shone through illuminating the lake. Bullrushes reflected in the water, early morning mist slowly rising from the calm waters. The kettle started to whistle and then a screaming bite alarm. Minutes later I was cradling a pristine 16lb mirror carp in the morning light.

            Skeins of geese flew above silhouetted against a brilliant blue sky. A heron glided up the valley its wings pulsing rhythmically  like a prehistoric bird. I watched all of this and noted in my diary. “This sure beats working”.

            Late May 2022, Nigel and Tom invited me to a carp fishing social weekend event and I was delighted to attend  for a few hours on the Saturday afternoon into evening. On arrival at the lake, I was surprised to hear that just one carp had been tempted.

            This was to change over the coming hours however as the lake came to life in dramatic fashion. I settled into the deep corner of the lake where Chris Connaughton had already got a few fish interested in floaters. I put a bait in the margin to my right and catapulted out a steady stream of floaters. Eventually the occasional fish could be seen slurping down baits and after an hour or so I put out a floater set up.

            After a few close calls the water eventually erupted as a carp hooked itself against the heavy controller. After a spirited tussle a mirror carp of 18lb was safely netted. At the same time on the opposite bank, I noted another carp being netted by Thomas Rushby

            Food was due just after 7.00pm so with other things to attend to that evening I packed away my gear and loaded it into the car. I returned to the lake to chat with fellow anglers.

            The sound of a bite alarm rang out and Thomas Rushby lifted his rod to commence battle with what appeared to be a good sized fish. We gathered around to watch the tussle and offer encouragement. After a few tense moments the fish a handsome common carp was safely in the net and a weight of 27lb 2oz was recorded. After a few images were captured the carp was lowered back into the lake to swim back into the calm waters.

            I took the opportunity to learn a bit more about the complexities of modern carp fishing. The intricacies of zyg-rigs and application of washing lines to tempt the wily carp.

            During the next hour Chris Connaughton banked a brace of fine mirror carp. Nigel delivered a delicious tray of roast pork and potatoes. That were washed down with a few cool drinks as tales of fishing were swapped.

            I left the lake as the sun set wandering what more secrets would be unlocked during the next twelve hours or so.

These are a few additional images kindly provided by Chris Connaughton.

            Bulldog Carp Lakes are due to open sometime this year and will undoubtedly offer another excellent venue for North Devon’s carp angling fraternity.

Kracking Carp from Paradise

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George West caught a 33lb Mirror from Nirvana’s Kracking Carp Lake.
George shared –
“So far the campaign is going ok, I’ve done about 8 trips and been lucky enough to net 4 carp, all be it 2 and 3 were the same fish a week apart! The pic attached is from last weekend, I managed to hook this one after an early morning swim move onto showing fish.
I fished a washing line set up to the far margin, placing the rig on a small flat area on the marginal shelf using the baiting pole. End tackle was a heavy drop off inline to a simple bottom bait hooklink with a 12mm krill active as a hookbait.
The fight was quite tense as by the time I lifted into the fish it had gone through a load of pads, however a slight change of line angle and steady pressure on the 20lb fluorocarbon got it moving again.
Bait was crushed krill active, 2mm krill pellet, sweet corn and pure calanus liquid.”
Well done to Karl Cartwright for catching a 42lb 8oz Mirror from Nirvana’s Day Ticket Kracking Carp Lake.

A River Alive

It was good to be there; walking into the river surrounded by the vibrancy of late Spring. Lush green growth lined the river bank and birds flitted to and fro disappearing into the dense foliage to feed their broods. I stood in the river and put a line across the flow allowing it to drift before imparting a bit of life to the fly with a few pulls on the line. The river was very low but a few spells of light rain had perhaps put a slight tinge of colour into the water.

I was delighted to note large numbers of swifts swooping in the evening sky occasionally swooping low over the water  emitting their characteristic screeching cry. Sand martins too in profusion with an abundance of insect life propelling a feeding frenzy.

After fishing the first run I moved on down and noticed a fish bow waving at the tail of a pool. Sea trout or shad I wasn’t sure; it wasn’t a mullet that can often be glimpsed here on the club water well above the tide.

I waded out into the next run and was thrilled to see a salmon leap from the water opposite. This brought about a feeling of expectation that was fuelled further as two more salmon leapt from the river further down the run. The river felt alive and for a the next half an hour I believed it could happen.

Then a cool wind picked up blowing upriver making casting more difficult. The river seemed to switch off and my confidence ebbed away. My phone rang; “Are you heading home its getting dark”.

I walked back to the car across the the field as drizzle began to fall. It had been good to be at the river and to see a salmon leap was reward enough for it renewed the belief and showed that silver prizes still await.

Stafford Moor= Carp Catches latest

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(Below) Matt Rice banked 6 fish up to 25lb in 24 hours from the outlet swim on Lodge lake all fish were caught on Pallatrax jungle squabs and carp pellets.

(Below) Nigel Bassett with his 31lb catch from swim 2 up on lodge lake fishing with pva bags with pellets and wafters.

(Below) Neil Liddicott who had 10 fish out from the inlet swim on Beatties lake including a few stunning commons , all caught on Sticky baits krill boilies and pva bags of pellets.

Bideford and District Angling Club Midweek Evening Competition

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1st Mike Snudden  22lb
2nd Martin Turner 20lb 3oz
3rd Nathan Underwood 19lb 5oz
4th Kevin Shears 16lb 1oz
5th Craig Crash Lamey  14lb 6oz
6th Keith Mountjoy  13lb 1oz
16 anglers fished.
The earlier rain passed through and the competitors enjoyed a pleasant, but breezy evening. The top 3 positions probably changed several times in this, the third match in the league. Mike’s last gasp decent carp, added to a net of better bream proved to be the winning catch, on peg 19 pole fished worm and maggots.
Martin’s mainly smaller fish net on peg 8 on caster, pushed Nathan’s all paste carp bag into third place.
Martin takes a one point lead in the league at this early stage.

Always worth a cast !

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The Taw and Torridge are both running very low and most anglers have given up hoping for fresh fish. It is however always worth having a cast as Simon Hillcox found out when he drifted a fly across a middle Torridge beat. In a short half an hour spell he hooked and landed three fresh run salmon. There are also reports of a few fresh fish lower Taw beats. I addition a shad estimated at 3lb was hooked and carefully returned by an angler fishing the Weir Marsh and Brightly Beat on the Taw. With fish seen jumping in the estuary anglers are hoping for some heavy rain to encourage a good run of fish into the rivers.

Footnote :- Inspired by the news of Simon’s salmon Paul Carter headed to a Lower Taw beat to catch a 9lb sea liced salmon.

Final of Stafford Moors May festival 2022 

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Final of Stafford Moors May festival 2022
Report from Joanne Combes
“The worthy winner with 6 points and a total weight of 537lb 12oz a huge well done to Colin Horwood 👏👏👏👏🥇who fished a fab match all week well deserved Col !
In 2nd place with also 6 points with 393lb 4oz was Ben Evenden well done to you Ben 🥈👏
In 3rd place with also 6 points with 306lb 15oz was Perry Stone well done to you Perry 🥉👏
Largest bag of the week was also Colin Horwood with 185lb 12oz on Day 3 peg 1 on Tanners lake well done Col again ! 👏😂😂
Largest Silvers bag of the week was Nikki Miller with 49lb on Day 1 from peg 10 on Pines lake well done Nikki “

Shallow water bass

It is always good when that first bass of the season hits the lure! I have not invested much time in lure fishing for bass so far this year as I have been focussing on other species. My first session after bass a couple of weeks ago was thwarted by dense weed that made fishing the shallow ground I enjoy fishing virtually impossible. The latest session saw clear water and a gentle wave hitting the shoreline. I love this visual fishing in very shallow boulder strewn water bringing a soft plastic through very shallow water. The bass will move in with water just covering their backs and when they hit the lure there is a flurry of spray as the fish fight hard on a tight line clearly visible as they struggle before being brought to the shoreline.