Manor From Heaven | Marc Cavicuiti
Marc spends his second season on the Essex Manor, where he manages to catch some of the lake’s biggest residents.
It was second my season on the Essex Manor and with the first one being such a success I had learnt a hell of a lot and was sure that 2017 was going to be a good year too. The lake is famous for its big fish and there were a few in particular that I was itching to catch.
It is heavily pressured for such a small lake and has seen some of the biggest baiting campaigns in carp fishing. So much good quality bait has been introduced over the years, and in vast amounts, that looking for an edge was going to be tricky but achievable.
Being an irrigation pond, it has gradual sloped margins, all pretty much reed lined offering obvious holding areas for the carp. The marginal shelf goes down to deep water with a pretty barren bottom. The carp would often show in the deep water, but could sometimes prove tricky to catch.
It is a deep pit, which takes a little while to wake up. It was around May time that I got back into it and picked up the odd fish during overnighters. I was fishing the shallow areas, going in with single hookbaits and trying to be as quiet as I could. They weren’t up for eating bait yet, so single bright hookbaitswould be enough in areas that they were clearly visiting.
A few weeks had passed, and I had managed to get a two-night session in. I fished a swim known as the Garden after doing four laps in the darkreally early in the morning. The fish were showing like mad in front of the Garden and I dropped my bucket in the swim behind a friend, who was off that morning. It was the nature of the lake, it is a circuit water and, as much as I don’t like doing it, if the fish are there and the angler is packing up, you have tomove in or someone else will.
When Chris left I simply flicked out a few naked Chod rigs, all with small, bright Signature pop-ups. It ended up being a great session, catching a few fish, including my first big fish of the year, one known as Matt’s Mirror at over 39lb.
I was back the following week and the fish seemed to be spending a lot of time in the same area that I had caught from the previous week. The lake was unusually quiet, but the shows that morning were non-existent. In the darkness I thought that I heard one fish and could just make out the odd ripple coming to the bank. With nothing else to go on it was a good a place to start as any.
I clipped the rods up to some spots that I had marked down and the conditions were bang on. The wind trickled in and the thick clouds came over and held the heat in, it felt incredibly warm, and as I sat sipping on my third coffee of the morning, the middle rod was away. By the time I got to the rod the line was peeling off the tight clutch. A couple of lads came round to give me a hand and I played the fish for what felt like forever. I knew it was a good fish and on the first sighting we caught a glimpse of two big scales. We all thought it was a fish known as George’s, which is the one everyone wants.
Eventually I slipped the net under a huge-framed mirror, which wasn’t George’s but another one of the big girls called Joe’s. It was a fish that doesn’t get caught a lot and one that I dearly wanted to catch. The lads gave me a hand and we weighed her in at 46lb on the nose, a right result and one of the lake’s biggies under my belt for the season. I seemed to be getting most of the bites on the pink Signatures and the small orange Peach and Pepper. I kept it under wraps as much as I could, as I knew a lot of the lads would be using the whites and yellows. The morning fizzled out with little going on and nothing happened during the night either.
The next day was a warm one and I could see a few fish ghosting around the surface. I got up the tree and I could see fish passing around in and out of the spot.
I ran back to the van to get the floater gear. I got up the tree and the fish that I had been seeing had disappeared. I rigged up the floater rod anyway, just in case I had another opportunity. Out of nowhere the middle rod had gone into meltdown and I was into a powerful fish. The fight just went on and on and when it surfaced I could see why it was fighting so hard; it was a fish called the Big Ghostie, which is known for putting in a good battle. She went 35lb 8oz and is a lovely-looking fish.
I had caught a few more during the spring, but a few of these were repeats. I caught the Anchor again, but I didn’t weigh her, but she would have been close to 44lb. It was going really well and I knew that the matches were looming, which meant spending a little bit of time away from the lake.
My next trip down was a hot one, it was a scorcher and the fish were up in the water as expected. I arrived very early that day and the fish were showing in an area where no other anglers were nearby. I dropped in the swim and with empty plots either side of me, I was able to flick some rods out without interfering with anyone else’s angling. Only ten minutes later I was away. It turned out to be a really nice-looking mirror of around 20lb. I unhooked it in the net and let her go back. An hour passed and by now the fish had stopped showing and the heat was almost unbearable.
I decided to bring the rods in and go for a walk and what I saw next was incredible; there were so many fish up in the water in front of swim one. I thought about the past floater fishing exploits anglers had experienced over the years and I couldn’t think of too many successful ones. Still, I had little option than to put out some Krill Floaters and see how they responded. As the first set drifted over the large pack of carp, they instantly began to engulf them down. I must have had 14 or so fish absolutely smashing themso I ran back to grab my gear and fish the swim.
To watch so many big fish taking them with such confidence was a sight to behold. I fed a few more and overcast the controller beyond the pack and drew it back. It took seconds before a big set of lips took in the little 12mm pop-up, so I struck and a huge eruption on the surface and a bent rod meant I was in!It was a really hairy battle, with the water level being so high and there being so many reeds close in, I knew it was going to take a large stroke of luck to land the fish without any dramas. Thankfully, I got lucky and I landed a 27lb mirror. That put the others on edge and the fish moved away from the commotion.
I still had a few taking, but not with any gusto. I clocked them out in the middle near the rope, so began to feed some floaters with the Spomb. I kept them going in for an hour and the fish had regained their confidence and it was time for the rig. First cast and I had a 34lb mirror quickly making it three fish for the morning and I still had a night to go.
During the heat of the day the fish were extremely lethargic and they stopped taking the baits. I climbed up the tree and could make out a couple of fish that seemed up for the odd bai so I decided to stop feeding and fish with a single, looking for an opportunist capture. I watched the line these fish were taking, made the cast and crouched down. Not long after one of them was making a line for it, it slowed down and the faintest sight of a lip appeared. The line twitched and I struck, I was in! It completely stripped me on the first take and I just had to hold on completely terrified.
After a long a drawn-out fight, I netted a large common, which I recognised as the Bream Common. It was one of the old Manor carp, one of the A-team and a fish I really wanted to catch. She was surprisingly low at 37lb, but I was still buzzing to catch such a special carp.By this point I had ran out of Krill Floaters, so had to rush off to the tackle shop to grab some more. By the time I got back, the conditions had completely changed, with the cloud build up and a fresh southerly really blowing down towards the Pads.
I went for another walk and stood in a swim known as Mums, which is a neglected swim, but with the wind smashing in there it looked the one. I could see the odd fish coming through close in and the margins were all clouded up. I dropped my barrow down in there and went about setting up a couple of traps. They were only in shallow water and were clearly feeding on something, so I rigged up a small Krill Wafter and attached a bag of matching broken boilies. I flicked the rod down to the clouded water and got a good drop. It was early evening and everything felt perfect.
Less than an hour had passed and I was away. It was an immense carp called the Pikey Mirror, again, a rare one and at mid-30 I was absolutely buzzing, but totally exhausted. Nothing happened that night and by 7.00 a.m. I was packed up and went off walking.
I was stood in the Rope swim and I could see a big group of fish on the surface again. I grabbed my floater kit and began to feed a few floaters. Straight away they were taking them, and I could see the Big Ghostie and Stella feeding together. They were only close in and I was in a dilemma and knew I had to pick my moment. I had caught the Ghostie already and Stella was high on the desired list. I kept on feeding them, hoping that I could get an opportunity of them feeding on their own, nut unfortunately they both went further our and it was really hard to distinguish one from the other. I had to go for it and hope that the one I wanted pickedup the bait first.
I whipped the rod out and a swan made a beeline for the floaters. I prayed that the swan didn’t scupper my chance of a bite and while watching him but luckilyI saw a pair of lips surround my bait and I was in. Unfortunately, it was the Ghostie again; I had been so close to catching Stella that it did hurt a little bit. I had to be off but couldn’t grumble as I’d caught six fish in 24-hours, but the thought of Stella wouldn’t leave my mind.
I plugged away during the summer, grabbing any opportunity that I could to fish the lake. I caught a few during the nights, but with so many other things going on I couldn’t be there as much as I would have liked.
My next trip would be a significant one, and after finding a few fish showing, I set up in a swim as close to them as I could without affecting other anglers’ fishing. As I flicked a couple of rods out, I noticed that the lad who was bang on the fish was packing up. I quickly whipped the rods in and threw the gear on the barrow. By the time I was round there he had gone and I got up the tree to see what was about. There were loads of them, most of the lake’s stock for sure and I couldn’t believe my luck.
I was soon the only one on the lake and lowered the rigs in the edge. I had been glugging my Krill boilies in Cloudy Bloodworm to give them a washed-out appearance and slightly different taste to what they were used to seeing. I threw a few handfuls over each rod and sat back and waited.
An hour passed before one of the rods was away, which unfortunately turned out to be the Anchor again. I unhooked her in the net and let her go back safely. The day was quiet, even though there were plenty of fish in the area, but at around 10.00 p.m. I was in again and it turned out to be Popeye, another repeat capture, but a sign that things were working.
A big wind kicked up during the night to a fresh northerly. It was around midnight and I decided to reel the rods in and go and sit in the car park where the wind was blowing in. I took my brew kit and sat up and listened, as I was sure they would turn up on it. Within the hour the fish were showing like mad; I went back to the swim and a fish showed 10 yards past the spots I was fishing. I decided to lower them back in and move first thing if nothing happened. I woke up with a horrible feeling and knew I should have moved, so I quickly packed up and went round to the Pump swim.
I lowered three rigs in, with the first two going in with a soft drop. The third went down with a huge crack, so I reeled it back in and it was covered in clay.I had clipped it up, so attached the rig and flicked it back out there.
The wind was pumping in and I had my bivvy facing away from it and behind some bushes, which meant I couldn’t see the lake. I crept out as quietly as I could and went and sat by the rods. As I sat down, a really big fish came out right on top of the left-hand rod. I had seen another seven fish over me before the rod on the clay spot was away. It was a savage fight that seemed to just go on forever. If I lost it I would have said it was a catfish, which is how savage this fish was fighting. I was shattered from the night before and with the wind battering into my tired eyes, I could make out this huge-framed mirror on the surface. I grabbed the net and the waves seem to carry her over the net cord, she was mine.
I plugged the net into the clay and had a proper look at the fish. I could see it was George’s, the biggest fish in the lake and the one I wanted the most. It didn’t sink in as for some reason I didn’t think I would catch her, but there she was in the net. A few lads were around now and they gave me a hand with the pictures and weighing. She went 47lb 2oz and looked absolutely awesome. All the hard work seemed worth it and the realisation hit me when I was holding such an epic creature.
I had another fish that evening, a lovely apple-sliced mirror of 34lb and the last fish of what was an epic session. I had been doing really well fishing with match the hatch pop-ups on my adaptation of the Spinner rig, fished over the washed-out baits, but I felt like I needed to change things as the roach were really becoming a problem. They are so big and there are so many of them, I felt that they were able to eat the soft, washed-out baits easily. I wanted to give my bait a little edge, but couldn’t have them as soft as they were before.
I started to take the bait out of the freezer the night before and give them a really good shake around with some GLM powder. By the time I got to the lake they had this thin skin around them and they smelled absolutely incredible. I began to introduce it to a few areas and the fish responded really well. I began to focus on finding those spots that took a while to locate. There was a lot of dead, dark and dank silkweed on the bottom, so I tried to find something that was hard and clay. Finding those spots was going to be tricky. There is a swim called Little Pads and it looked spot on, and even though the lake was busy, the swim was free. I set about leading up a few areas, looking for something firm and clean.
It took a while, before I got that perfect crack down. I gently pulled the lead and it was smooth with the odd rattle from a bit of stone coming through. I clipped it up and had a good feel around and the lead came back covered in clay each time. It was only small, but surrounded by silkweed it was exactly what I was looking for.I only fished one rod too it and fed chopped boilies to the area, so that they would sit well on both the clay and the silkweed. I gave them a good couple of kilos of bait and put the other two rods on nice clean spots. It took a while to get everything sorted, but once I was fishing I knew that if the fish turned up I was going to get a bite.
I thought that my chance would have to wait until the following morning after all that commotion, but amazingly I was playing a carp within an hour. It felt heavy, similar to George’s the week before, and I knew it was a big fish. When I slipped it in the net, I instantly thought it was George’s again, just from the sheer size.
When I did have a proper look, it soon dawned on me that it was in fact the Peach. It had been out at a low in weight in the spring and she didn’t look great. It hadn’t been caught since and she had gone big and looked in great condition. She went 47lb on the nose, which meant I had caught two 47lb mirrors in as many weeks, I really couldn’t believe my luck.
That night was really quiet and despite setting my alarm for 2.00 a.m. to listen, I didn’t hear or see anything. I went back to bed and woke up again at first light. Out of nowhere, the rod ripped off and I was doing battle with another big fish. It turned out to be the Bream Common again, this time looking a lot bigger and in better condition. I gave her a quick weigh and a picture, before slipping back the awesome old common of 41lb and ounces. I am not a fan of repeats or picturing them, but it was great to see her looking so healthy.
I was back the following week for two nights, but it was totally dead. I was back again the week after and the fish were spending a lot of time up the top end, but I was convinced that I needed to be on the back of the wind. I don’t know what it was, but something was telling me to be away from the main pack of fish because I was sure they would move.
I found some nice spots and got the rods out on my spinners with matching Krill pop-ups. I saw one show on me on dusk and over the next hour the fish began to show with more regularity right over the rods. I was up there on my own and I eventually got to sleep after being exhausted from coming off a nightshift. The rod ripped off around midnight and half asleep, I was doing battle with a big two-toned mirror. I was sure it was Stella, but unfortunately it was Joe’s, a fish I had caught in the spring. I unhooked her in the water without anyone clocking me and got the rod back out.
The next day the shows had stopped, which is what I wanted. I didn’t need other anglers clocking them, so I stayed put and got the rods back out that evening. It wasn’t until 4.00 a.m. until the rod went again; the whole time I was playing it I was praying for it to not be a repeat. There were loads of fish that I was yet to catch, but the repeats just kept on following me. Eventually the fish was ready for the net and unfortunately it was Gracie’s, another repeat. I unhooked her in the water and sat back for a think. I didn’t know what I could do? They were loving the Krill, the spots I was fishing, the rigs were working, what should I do?
That morning as I contemplated what I could do, I received a random daytime bite. This fish was stripping me of line and was boiling up towards the pump. I had to clamp down and pray she didn’t do me, but thankfully I managed to turn it.
As she surfaced I knew which one it was, it was a carp called the Big Lin, a new one and a cracker too. I wouldn’t have cared how big it was, the fish was stunning, a really old-looking carp and one that I dearly wanted to catch. My mate came round to give me a hand and we quickly weighed her at 39lb 9oz – what an end to an incredible season.