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Shaun Harrison's June 2023 Diary Blog

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 29 June 2023 |

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Well, what a month this one has been. It was a little tricky at the start of the month with the scorching weather we have been having but taking that into account, I was able to adapt my approach accordingly and kept the baiting to a regular trickle, rather than putting a feast out there and expecting the carp to stop by and feed. I’m sure from what I see, many anglers just have their one main approach, that works - sometimes.

The first weekend of the month was an absolute scorcher, and I knew I would be scratching for a chance. We were in the phase of the big old Strawberry Moon, I knew I was on the wrong type of venue for full moon angling, but the venue I really should have been on with older fish, I simply didn’t fancy. So, I was up against it, but up against it somewhere I was more than happy to lounge around and hope, after tweaking what I could for a chance.

I’d not slept well, 4 am and I was wide awake, so I took advantage at the time of the day I expected them to be peckish and scoured the water for any bubbling in areas I perhaps didn’t know well, to further my knowledge of the spots they want to be in, rather than the spots we feed them in. Suddenly the lakes tranquillity was shattered as my alarm sounded and the water on top of the bar erupted.

It ended up being a bit of an awkward fight as the carp had managed to tangle up quite a raft of weed up my line during the fight, so I ended up playing the fish with a proper right angle in my line. All was semi-okay until it came to the netting stage and trying to lift the weed to net the fish. Fortune was on my side and all went okay. In the net the carp was gasping, it had put up a great account of itself, so I used the raft of weed to cover it from the weak morning sun and rested it for a while. I never lift fish straight out after netting them anyway, I do believe in resting them in the net until they have calmed their breathing and both of us have our breath’s back.


The clothing is misleading, I'd slept under the stars and it had become damp in the night.

I recast the rod, put just one pouch full of freebies over it and almost straight away it was away again with a tench. I don’t mind this, it shows your rigs are right, the spots are right and the tench are quite big there too. Many manage to avoid tench simply because of their crude rigs that carp still slip up on. I always want to know tench are around, so I know if I need to top up my bait. Far more carp are caught on single hook baits than a lot of anglers realise after tench have wiped them out and easily dealt with their rigs.
222222The next trip I hooked a good fish after a very light and stealthy baiting with one of my old Anglers Workshop spods. It is possible to feed small lines of bait with these, very different to dumping piles of bait as happens with most of the bait dispensers used these days. Plus, they go in so silently.

Sadly, it got around a freshly fallen tree that we have not yet managed to get out. A real frustrating one this as it was hooked nowhere near any danger, so I let it go to do its most aggressive fighting well out the way. But, suddenly after taking a lot of line, it kited fast to my left. I wound and pumped as fast as I could, but it was obvious it was going to get around the tree, so with the rod plunged deep under the water to hopefully keep the line under the main danger, the first bits of judder came back up the rod and all went solid. I learned a long while ago that I am best slackening off immediately a fish hits a solid snag and often they will come out rather than forcing them to loop the loop so to speak. After a minute or two of no movement, I wound back down and simply wound my rig in. It had unhooked itself. I was sad at losing what was a good fish, but relieved that it was not tethered under the tree.

This session had to be cut short as the carp started to spawn. Before leaving, I prepared a couple of rods and minimal kit to stop off and look at a venue elsewhere. A much deeper water where I was confident, they wouldn’t even be thinking about spawning yet. A tip worth mentioning here. I always travel with a spare landing net, unhooking-mat and sling on the off chance I may visit somewhere else. I have always taken contamination from wet gear very seriously indeed. I had my own venue for 20 years, I guess this really hammers home the importance of doing as much as you can to protect the fish everywhere.

Well, it was scorching when I arrived at the next venue and a slow mooch around revealed what I considered to be 3 opportunities to catch a carp. It was a no brainer for me though, I sat in the only one that afforded me shade but did mention to a friend that there was a definite opportunity to catch one out the edge in another swim.


I sat in the only place that offered shade.

I crept into position and managed to drop a couple of hook baits in without seemingly spooking the carp. It was an area I had never fished before, or else I would have settled for just one rod. I did want to up my chances of my baits being fished right though, as there was a bit of weed evident.

I sat there and received liners whilst watching the sky darken from a deep blue dun, to dark grey as a storm moved closer. Did I really want a soaking? I had my ever-faithful poncho with me, but it really was too hot and humid to seriously consider another layer.

I was getting itchy feet and my mind was wandering, did I really need to catch a carp this much?

I decided I would wind in on the first spots of rain. I had spare clothes in my motor if I got wet but didn’t want to be sat in what was forecast to come. Suddenly one of the rods went into meltdown and I was playing one. Bit of a hectic fight but soon a gorgeous scaly mirror was sliding over the drawcord.


I'm glad I made the effort of calling in somewhere else.

I immediately wound the other rod in, dealt with my fish and packed. The first drops of rain splattered my window screen as I drove off. The gods of Sir Izaak had smiled down on me yet again.

Giving the fish in my main water a break after spawning and not particularly fancying the deep water pit, I had caught my last fish from, I decided upon a trip to another very special venue I try not to visit too often. It is a place I really love being at and intend to hang onto my place on this real exclusive syndicate forever. I refer to it as my ‘Country Retreat’ and don’t want to ever become too familiar with it.

I arrived and was the only one there which is usually the case, so acres of beautiful surroundings to myself. There is also enough deadfall in the various woods to keep me going with cooking fuel forever more, even if I cooked every day for ever more!


I intend to keep my syndicate place forever, I love it here, but don't fish it much.

The fish had spawned several weeks previously as it is a very shallow lake. Notice I have options of deep, medium, and shallow waters at my disposal. This isn’t by accident. It comes in very handy when deciding which might give me my best option of action, all through the year, depending upon the weather and air pressure etc. Okay, perhaps a little extravagant having the 3 different syndicate waters to fish, but I fish every week, I take few holidays and with being self-employed, I can go a few years without time off, other than weekends and bank holidays. So, I treat each weekend like a mini holiday, and I don’t want every holiday to be in the same surroundings.

Well, with what happened this session, I was unsure whether to write about it or not. It makes the place sound easy, and it isn’t. Yes, they are certainly catchable and far from being mega difficult, but I do blank there. You do have to think what you are doing and being really weedy, it offers presentation problems.


The first fish was incredibly long and fought like an express train!


I wound in for the night after landing this one.

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A great christening for a new set of rods.

Friday night I wound in before I went to bed, I was already totally content with what I had caught. it had been a great christening for a new set of rods I was trying out. Some Free Spirit Fishing 9ft Seeker Creepers.

I decided an uninterrupted nights sleep under the stars with no baits out would be a good move. I needed to catch up on sleep and knew the way they had fed that I would probably be woken.

So, with the rods wound in, I treated the carp to a decent munch of Rock Pool Rahja boilies and was soon in the land of huge carp and beautiful ladies with some great music in the background. Well, we do sometimes have happy dreams.

I never set an alarm, I awoke when I awoke, but it had been light for a while.


They were queued up waiting for me when I got up.

Soon my rods were re-cast, a little more bait scattered and the kettle was on. The carp had been waiting for me and soon I was in battle again. Three times I had double hook ups, it was all rather surreal, everything had aligned just right. They were up for a feast, and I was willing to give them that feast. I had to raid my emergency supplies of bait by lunchtime as well as leads.


They weren't all commons, but all are nice old strains of carp.


Another mirror which joined the party

By the evening it was obvious I would need to wind in to be able to cook in peace. I reflected upon what had been the most hectic carp fishing I had experienced in years. I ended up leaving the rods wound in for the second night too.

It wasn’t even dark and I had the rods in. When carp are up for it like they were, I really have no interest in totally raping them. Instead, I paid them back with more free food.

Sunday morning I rose and decided to spice things up with my centrepin rod. I often do this. I love playing carp on centrepin reels and it gives a little more of a challenge when they are being as obliging as they had been. One of the reasons I believe for the carp congregating where they were, which was an area incidentally where I had never caught a carp before, was the number of dragonflies crawling out the lake. My gear was covered in them. Unlike other winged insects, such as butterflies, dragonflies do not have a pupal stage and transition straight from a larva to an adult. This transition, the final larval moult, takes place out of water and was happening all around me.

It wasn’t long before a brace of 20’s was landed in quick succession with the centrepin rod. I quit the session on 20 carp. Yes, I could have caught more. Some anglers would have caught a lot more and continued to catch. But I’d had more than enough action. I had nothing else to prove this trip and decided that I would rather return with a fresh challenge. This one I felt I had well and truly conquered. Hook bait presentations had been no more complicated than ¼ pop up and ¾ boilie, just to negate a bit of the weight of the hook. A steady trickle of bait had again kept the action coming. I honestly think I had got them waiting for me to feed them, rather than me waiting for them to finish eating what I’d fed.


My centrepins were brought into use on the Sunday


My largest of the session fell to my centrepin rod


They were emerging from their old bodies before my eyes.


and turning into the magnificent creatures they are

Mum had been away with my sister for a few days the previous week and with a new hip fitted just after Xmas, she is finally able to walk again. Mum has always loved wooded areas and being surrounded by trees. During their mini break, Tina, my sister, had managed to find a wood that didn’t entail a big walk in, or a hill. Along with my late father, mum used to go away most weekends camping in one form or another, perhaps you see where I get it from now, my insistence on making every weekend a holiday away.

It occurred to me that if I could get special permission to take mum along to the ‘Country Retreat’, then she should manage to be able to walk as far as the first mini woods. There we could rest and have a picnic one evening. Knowing I would be unable to fish the coming weekend with it being the British Carp Study Group A.G.M. and get together, I decided upon a mid-week after work session, combined with a picnic with mum. I picked her up and a bag of food was loaded into the car along with her chair and wellies.

To cut a lovely story (for myself anyway) short, I caught a carp, the first mum had ever seen me catch. The last time she saw me with a carp was that cold winters day in 1977, 46 years ago, when I rang up to see if there was any film in the camera after landing my first carp in the snow! There wasn’t, but mum and dad drove out to see anyway.


It was a lovely evening and I even caught a carp for Mum

It was great sat there watching mum’s eyes light up, each time she spotted and pointed out a different bird. Shining times indeed and the sun treated us to a beautiful orange glow, as it started to set on our journey home.

Well, I mentioned the British Carp Study Group A.G.M. It signalled me completing my first year as Membership Secretary. A voted in role that has been a busier position than I expected when I took it on. But I’m a glutton for punishment as they say, so have stood for another year in yet another un-paid role. The B.C.S.G. means so much to me. For years I wanted to apply but dare not apply. It was something all carp anglers from my generation aspired to achieve. Acceptance into the British Carp Study Group.

Since becoming a member I have taken on several roles and still do the following...

Regional Organiser for the East Midlands and Lincolnshire region.
Regional Organiser Co-ordinator
Forum Moderator
Membership Secretary
Part of the Steering Group

I think 5 voluntary roles is enough for anyone.

Our A.G.M. in our 54th year went very well indeed, despite a major drama for our Steering Group the morning of the actual A.G.M. when we heard one of our key steering group members Tony Preston had spent the night in hospital after our meeting the evening before. But Tony being Tony. As I predicted. Turned up before we were due to kick the A.G.M. off and conducted business as usual. Amazing effort. Not only that, but he insisted on barbecue duties for not far short of a 100 people in the afternoon and then again in the evening. Amazing effort Tony and so massively appreciated by all. He also carries out 5 roles on behalf of the group. It is a good job there are a few out there who can get stuck in and do, rather than just suggest.

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It is always nice catching up with fellow group members from all over the country. There are 5 different regions represented here.

Sunday morning I loaded my motor up, drove around to the entrance only to find Tony cooking breakfast for many as well!

So, that brings me up to to-day. Tomorrow is still June and I’m going angling. But I have waffled on far too long over this month, so if I have a result tomorrow night, it can wait until my May ramblings.

Best wishes as always
Shaun Harrison

About the Author: Shaun Harrison

shaun profile pic

Quest Baits boss Shaun Harrison has put over 40 years of experience into developing his range of carp baits ” This bait range is the culmination of the bait knowledge I’ve gained throughout my carp fishing career, a journey which started in the 1970’s. It has truly been a long and winding road – frustrating at times, fascinating and rewarding at others….. Our range you’ll only find proven baits, the ones I use myself 

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