Ashmead and a very special “Gem”.

Ashmead has to be one of the most atmospheric carp waters in the country and I have some wonderful memories of sessions spent there. It’s not the easiest water I’ve ever fished and by no stretch of the imagination would I call it a runs water, but the rewards can be very special. When I go to Ashmead, I know I’m going to be in good company with idyllic surroundings but catching will require that I work hard and have luck on my side.

I can easily get lost amongst the maze of weed filled channels and knowing where to fish is never an easy decision. Spotting fish is usually not too difficult but presenting a bait for them a lot harder. In the end you have a choice of two options: 1) To try to get a hook bait into the area they are in without spooking them. Not easy, the Ashmead carp have superb danger sensors and usually melt away. 2) Try to predict where they might turn up next and set a trap.

On Ashmead, I’m a set a trap angler and I had five days in front of me. I chose my spot, an area called “Old North” and spent the first twenty-four hours watching and waiting. Late morning on day two and out of the blue I had a one toner. I was quickly on the rod and a while later had a bundle of weed and a lovely mid twenty mirror in the net. It was fair to say I was a happy angler!

I rested the swim for the afternoon then reset the traps. Twenty-four hours later and no signs of fish, I decided on a move to the south bank of “Goat Willow” (Ashmead’s main area of water), where the margins were clouded up. Another twenty-four hours passed with no signs of fish in the area and more worryingly, the cloudy margin was now clear. I had one night left; did I stay or move?  I had caught from the swim I was in before and felt there was a chance of the fish drifting back, so I opted to stay.

My last night passed slowly, with periods of rain and a lot of wind, the beginning of Storm Ali, but no signs of fish. I’m midway through my breakfast and my second brew when again with no warning I had a take on my middle rod. I grabbed the rod and slowed the fish to a halt way under the main weed bed in front of me. My first thought was, I’m going to have problems getting this one back into the clear water in front of me, but I clamped all on and felt the fish move. Slowly, ever so slowly, I made progress and ever so slowly took a couple of steps backward to keep the momentum going. Walk forward, wind fast, keep the pressure on, walk back, wind fast, keep the pressure on, walk forward, repeat and the fish is back in front of me. The usual scrabble for the net, the usual prayer to the God of hook-holds and I have my prize. I’m damp with sweat, kneeling in the wet grass, with a big daft grin on my face.

Catching any fish at Ashmead is very special and this was a known fish. One called “Opal” I have no idea why it’s called “Opal”, but one thing I do know as I lifted it up for the pictures, it is certainly a Gem!

Brian Skoyles (Sept 2018)