Wild Carp Fishing in the Wetlands

Finding a word to describe Ashmead Fishery is not easy, but for now I’ll settle for unique. I’ve just returned from a fabulous session at Ashmead and in conversation with another angler it was described to me as a maze with no swims and a thousand places to fish … it describes Ashmead beautifully, writes Daiwa consultant Brian Skoyles.

This was a trip I’d been looking forward to for many weeks. I was meeting up with son Martyn who was also looking forward to the trip. Ashmead is our sort of fishing, not easy, lots of margin work, and the chance of some very lovely fish to well over fifty pounds. Owner Mark Walsingham has a love of nature and it is reflected in the care that is given to make sure Ashmead is always looking its best and is never over fished.

We met up with Mark and had a tour of the lake. Heavily weeded, but enough clear spots to fish to, and we found signs of feeding fish, time to get organised. The weather was perfect, warm with just a light breeze, my rods were sorted and the colour in the water indicated recent feeding activity in the area I had chosen, sometime after dark I settled into the bivvy full of confidence.

A text message from Martyn soon after first light said he’d had a small mirror and soon after my buzzer burst into life. After a fair old tussle I slid the net under a decent common, which turned the scales to just over 25lbs, it’s fair to say I was well pleased. Less than 24 hours into the session and we had both had a fish, the perfect start.

The day passed slowly with no further action but more signs of fish in my swim. The second night was a bit special for Martyn as he landed a beautifully scaled mirror at 31lbs-6oz. I also had my second fish, a small mirror. As we’d walked around, on arrival, we both thought if we could get a fish each we would be happy so to already have had two each was more than we could have hoped for, but it was to get better.

Martyn had one more night and he made the most of it, catching a small common and early morning another scaley mirror, this time weighing 22lbs-6oz. My swim had gone quiet, but I was still seeing the odd fish moving in and out of the area. Martyn had to return to work, but I had two more days did I stay in the swim or move?  I decided to stay put.

Up until this point I had been fishing my near margins but the fish I was seeing were a bit further out close to two islands directly in front of me so I was staying in the same swim but changing tactics, targeting the islands rather than my margins. I’d love to say it worked a treat but it didn’t and 36 hours later I had a decision to make. I could present a bait near the island, but with the weed between me and the island the line lay between me and the hook bait was rubbish. The Ashmead fish are notoriously line shy and I was giving them plenty to be shy of. I couldn’t see any point in continuing with an approach that wasn’t working, so I either had to move or go back to fishing my near margin ... I opted to stay and fish the margin.

Lowering the hook baits into clear spots under the rod tops, felt right and I scattered free baits along the margin to my left and right. I dispensed with any hangers and made sure the lines were slack ... It was my last night and the traps were set!

Nothing happened overnight, other than it rained. I just love it when you have a long drive with a car full of wet smelly gear. In the early morning light Ashmead looked wonderful, a slight mist over the water and a sparkle of rainwater on the grass and leaves. It was one of those mornings when you know exactly why you go fishing, the only thing missing was a fish. It would soon be time to pack away, but somehow it just felt right.

I wasn’t to be disappointed and out of the blue my buzzer burst into life. I was only a few paces from my rods but this fish was motoring, and was well into the weed by the time I had grabbed the rod and adjusted the clutch. It was time to apply pressure and pray the angler’s prayer …. “please stay on”.

 Grudgingly it started to move along with a washing line of weed. A thick line of bubbles and disturbed silt indicated I was making progress. Eventually my prayers were answered and I had a lovely common in the net. I hadn’t noticed it was warm, but it must have been as I was seriously sweating, did I care, not one little bit. On the scales 34lbs- 8oz, a car full of wet gear and a long drive no longer seemed to be an issue.

“Wild Carp Fishing in the Wetlands” is the slogan used to describe the fishing on the Ashmead Fishery website. It’s not easy fishing, it can be frustrating and confusing but if you like a challenge with the chance to catch some stunning carp in equally stunning surroundings then Ashmead is for you, I’m already sorting out my booking for next year.