Spring On Wraysbury | Sam Jones
What was it about Wraysbury that made you want to fish there?
The older lakes have a huge appeal to me. I spent a lot of time down there with a friend while he fished it, long before RK took it over. The place has an appeal that pulls you in; it’s a lovely-looking place to fish and the carp are incredible. As nice as the stocked fish are, it was the older ones which I really wanted to catch. There were still some of the old originals in there, such as Jacko’s Common, which was the number one target for me. Then there’s King Fungus, lord of the pond and a carp which seems to go uncaught for long spells of time. A fish called the Broken Lin is stunning, as are the Redmire commons which reside in the lake. It’s a nice place to fish with loads of incredible carp, so it was an obvious choice to go to Wraysbury North.
What is the make-up of the lake?
I suppose it is about 40-odd acres in size, with various depths. It is choked with weed and has numerous bars and snags. There is a shallow end with depths between 6ft and 8ft, and the car park end is between 10 and 20ft. At the start of the season there was just blanket weed, but as the year has gone on, the Canadian and the onion has flourished. It’s great though, because you have to angle for the carp and try to find clear spots. It can take hours, but when you do find them you know about it, and a crack-down often means a bite.
When did you start fishing there?
I had a winter ticket but it was hard going. I managed five fish to over 30lb, but it was more of a case of getting to learn the lake, the depths, and so on. I wanted to be ready for when it did liven up, so I had heaps of information for when the time was right.
When did the ticket start for the season?
It was 1st April and I came low down in the draw. I wasn’t on the fish, so just sat back and watched how others approached it. It was all throwing sticks with boilies, and nobody was really catching. I went home and racked my brains. I had noticed that my leadcore was too blatant and the spots were really small, so I changed to braided main line and fluorocarbon leaders. I also decided to fish large beds of pellets. Nobody did it and I was convinced it would work.
On the next trip, I fished over 10kg of pellet, with Signature Squid and Krill pop-ups over the top. I was in a swim known as Rocky the next weekend, and managed 10 fish, landing each bite. The last fish of the trip was a 32lb scaly, which made it a great end to an awesome weekend.
The change worked well for you then. Did you continue to do this for the foreseeable future?
I fished like this until the start of May. I had another session in Bus Stop, where the fish were all behind the islands. A lot of anglers were fishing the swim and a lot of bait had gone in, so for this reason, I didn’t fish over the pellets. Instead I fished single Squid pop-ups. I had caught most of my fish on the Squids; there was something about them that the fish just loved. I flicked out three Squids, mainly pinks and yellows. It was early-morning, still dark, and I was fast asleep. The moon was bright, and when I got the bite, I was on it in a flash. I could see the fish on the surface, wallowing around 50 yards out. There was a snag to the left, so I had to make sure that it didn’t find it and cause me any problems. I eventually got her close and I knew it was a big fish. She charged up and down the marginal slope, shaking her head, desperate to be free. When it eventually popped up, I slid the net under a ball of weed and a large carp. A slip turned into a shuffle and I was eager to see what it was.
It turned out to be one of the big Redmire commons at over 38lb. It was an amazing fish, and the reason why I went to Wraysbury. It gave me such a buzz. I caught a few more that trip, including an older mirror of 29lb and a few stocked fish.
How long did you manage to keep what you were doing quiet?
I caught a 30lb+ fish pretty much every weekend, and it was going well for me; I loved my fishing. Other anglers started using pellets, and it was at this point that I switched to boilies. I went on The Krill from Sticky Baits, knowing how much the older fish loved it, and anything which swims for that matter. I made an effort to fish midweek overnighters, just to get bait on the spots, and I didn’t mess around either. I gave them 5kg of bait from the of, and chose three swims that I could target; each one would suit different weather conditions, and they didn’t get fished too often. Picking popular swims was pointless, as most of my fishing was done on a Friday after work.
When did the baited spots start paying off for you?
I did an overnighter on the Wednesday and caught a 25lb mirror. The spot had seen a good hit of bait, so I wanted to get back in there on the Friday night. When I got to the lake, something told me that I should be in Springate’s. I started there, leaded around for a few hours, and was struggling to find anything worth fishing. While I was doing this, I clocked a number of fish showing on the spot that I had fished midweek. I knew I had to get there, so I packed the gear and made my way round. I got a couple of rods on the spot and gave them 5 kilos of bait. I then raked another spot and put just a kilo over that one, hoping the fish were still in the area.
With it being so weedy, I take it you were dropping the leads.
I was, yes, because I believe I landed more fish as a result. It costs me a fortune in leads and especially bait, but catching fish is why we go, and both those things are worth paying for to catch more fish.
Were you doing anything with the bait, such as crushing or glugging them?
I left all the baits whole; the only thing I did was glug them. I added plenty of the Pure Krill Liquid and did this a few days before the session. They were stinking and I am sure that the fish hadn’t seen big beds of boilies.
I’ve noticed you use sharpened hooks. Is that something you are a big fan of?
Of course, I think it is key. Having a bait that the fish want and a hook that will prick the hard tissue in the mouth is essential. I get my hooks sharpened by Jason at Specialist Sharpened Hooks, which is a bit more expensive, but for me it’s so important. In total, I’ve hooked 45 fish and lost nine of them. Other anglers have lost more than they have landed, so to me it’s worth it. I’ve used the Korda Choddy hooks for my Hinge Rigs and they seem to be working great for me. The older ones in the lake have tough old mouths, so I need something to penetrate the flesh easily. I have paid a lot of money to fish this lake, and it would be crazy not to do everything to the best of my ability.
What was the spot like that you chose to fish?
It was very firm on the drops, surrounded by a fairly wide area of weed. It was a clear strip, almost like a silt gully. All the rods went out bang on and the baiting couldn’t have gone any better. The spot was a lot cleaner than when I fished it a few days previous, so I was happy that the fish had been in and cleaned it all off.
Nothing happened through the night. It wasn’t until 9.00 a.m. that I had a tench, but I didn’t have any leads left to make a recast. I wanted to sit morning bite time out before nipping to the shop, which was a good decision in the end. About half an hour later, the other rod off the long spot was away. Initially I thought it was another tench, and I managed to get it back through all the weedbeds. I then caught a glimpse of the head of a mirror carp, which took me by surprise.
I was convinced it was a small fish, but my friend confirmed that it wasn’t a little one. It was, in fact, a fish called the Broken Lin, which was one of the ones I dearly wanted to catch. My legs turned to jelly and I prayed that the fish would stay on. With that, the fish decided to wake up and make a beeline for the snag to my left. Thankfully, I managed to turn her, and on the first attempt she was in the net. It was all a bit mad really. BT Sport were filming on the South Lake, so they came over too.
She went 40lb 8oz and was an epic-looking creature. I spent the whole day just buzzing. I wasn’t concerned about getting the rods back out, I just wanted to enjoy the moment with friends.
I went to the shop to get some bits I needed, before going back and getting the rods sorted. I put another 3kg of bait on the spots, got the rigs bang on, and enjoyed a couple of beers. At around 4.00 a.m., the right-hand rod rattled off. I landed the fish, and every time I looked at it, it just got bigger. I placed the fish on the mat and couldn’t believe how much bait it was passing. There was a trail going from the water to the mat. It was a common known as Swirly Tail, at 33lb 2oz. I slipped her in the sling while I got sorted, and then we did the shots of her looking glorious, that’s for sure. While I waited for Rupert to come around, I caught another common, this time around 20lb. It had been an amazing session. I caught some epic carp, including one I dearly wanted.
Even with the spot clean, why did you opt to fish a pop-up over a bottom bait?
I never think it is as clean as you think in your head. I still think there is a fine layer of silt, the odd leaf and weed debris on the bottom, so a pop-up will be fishing over virtually anything really, as long as the spot feels smooth.
With the spot rocking, when did you plan to get back down there?
I had to go to work that Sunday, so I stashed the gear in the bushes and went back late that evening. Thankfully, nobody was in there, so I got the rods back out and managed another three, all stocked fish. It has been a great season so far, and hopefully it will continue.