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Shaun’s Diary April 2011 – Part 2

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 19 April 2011 |

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Wednesday April 13th 2011

Saturday and Sunday were spent catching up with work after a couple of days away from the office last week for my birthday fish-in and filming at the Sky Sports TV studio.

As usual after almost a week away from the bank I was starting to get real itchy feet to wet a line again. I had been out on the road visiting the shops and was fortunate enough to be able to take the offer up of a guest session on a gravel pit in the Northampton area, which again I promised not to mention the name of. With just a slight detour it was almost on my way home from my last shop visit of the day anyway, so a natural stop off point to relax and unwind.

Who am I kidding? It was a long way out of my way, but closer than driving home to a local water. By the time I had met up with the person taking me as a guest and after visiting the local chip shop for food (chips never seem to taste as good as they used to do) it was turning dark by the time we arrived at the venue.

After a quick scout around, a swim out of the wind in a sheltered bay seemed to be beckoning a pile of Ghurkka Spice. This also meant I needn’t lug the gear far from the motor thus saving a little more time.

The pit in question contains quite large tench and bream as well as the carp and because I would be working back at the office the following morning I didn’t particularly want to be up half the night winding Bream and/or tench in so I opted for my ‘Butterfly Rig’ which is basically a 20mm boilie cut in half and mounted on the hair back to back forming a butterfly shape rather than a conventional round bait. Although still 20mm diameter the other species seem to have a problem with this set up.

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Butterfly Rig to put off the Bream and Tench

Quickly 3 rods were cast to varying areas and my host commented that they weren’t the areas usually fished in that swim – suited me all the rigs had bumped down nice and firm and often a overlooked spot so often catches a wary fish out.

Basically I had looked at what appeared obvious areas then dropped the rigs short where I thought the odd stray bait would fall when others were baiting the obvious marks. Simple logic but fishing short of obvious marks and at the bottom of slopes rather than trying to anchor the rig on the sides produces more than the odd fish for me.

I scattered a sprinkling of halved 20mm Ghurkka Spice boilies over the areas and settled back in my chair to relax with a nice glass of red brought around by my host for the evening. It must have been a lucky red for I wasn’t even halfway 

down the glass before the right hand bait was found and the ATTS started to call me over for attention.

A strange old fight ensued, the carp came in really easy and didn’t do a lot but wouldn’t let itself be netted. It was fighting on the same length of line not really taking line for some time before finally giving in and slipping into the net.

A nice mirror of 27lb 12oz was soon cradled in my hands for a quick photograph before being returned back to its watery home.

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Quick overnight success between work days

My host followed this capture up with a 24lb’er and a 19lb common at first light. A real enjoyable nights fishing but oh to soon I was loading the car again and driving the 80 odd miles back to my office for another day in that other world I need to live in to be able to fund my lifestyle/hobby.

Saturday 16th April 2011

The hot weather is finally here to start to spread some warmth into the carps blood.

The Total Angling Open Day near Shrewsbury had soon come around again and this time rather than having the grim thought of packing everything away at the end of the day and the longish drive home after an early morning start to get there in the first place, I had this time accepted the offer from Dean Watson for a guest session on a local mere after the day of showing new Quest Baits product off and meeting and greeting some of our Shropshire customers.

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Showing some of the new 2011 Quest Baits product

In fact it looked like it would be a bit of a social session as Ian ‘Chilly’ Chillcott and Neil Smith from Fox would be coming along as well. Chilly was on fire to get back to the ancient mere as he had turned up the previous day and had already done a night. Unfortunately he hadn’t caught but I don’t think he had taken account of the bait stealing Shropshire eels before his trip!

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Great company, great lads at the Total Angling Open Day

I was still suffering with my damaged legs and wasn’t really up to barrowing the gear for far so somehow I managed to convince others that it would be a good idea for me to fish the 2nd pitch up from the car park (the owner was already fishing in the 1st) as this would save my legs but also meant I would be close to my gear for the mini social we were having in the owners pitch whilst munching away on the Chinese take away we had ordered. My salted chilli prawn starter went down real well as did the Singapore Chow Mein I followed it up with.

Soon the tales started to spill from this ancient and very haunted mere. Yet again there is a publicity ban on the water but I have permission to write about it so long as I don’t mention its name. The place is absolutely steeped in history and mystery and many strange things have happened there with several anglers refusing to fish there again after spending nights there.

Chilly had been reading a book about some of the history surrounding the area and like me I think he was secretly hoping to witness some strange occurrence during the night but alas it was Neil Smith who was the chosen one for a strange phenomena to happen.

We had all retired quite early to our respectful pitches and I must admit that Brook my ever faithful carp dog would not settle. She didn’t seem too keen to be there at all once everyone had left for their swims. Perhaps a sixth sense?

Anyway Neil decided to have a brew and was sat there with his kettle almost boiling when it simply went out, inches from his foot. Try as he might he couldn’t re-light it and thinking he may have a dodgy gas canister (that is another story from when I last fished with Neil – he blew himself and his bivvy up burning loads of gear and setting himself alight) he went to change the gas and was shocked to find the bottle un-screwed already!

The kettle had been on for some time and was almost boiling yet it had gone out and the canister was unscrewed. It would have been impossible to light the stove in the first place without the connection being tight. Most bizarre, but Neil in his matter of fact Bolton way simply took it in his stride and presumed two very different worlds had simply connected for a few brief moments in time.

Sunday 18th April 2011 - dawned with nothing being caught. The far corner was looking really attractive to me. Originally we were going to be fishing until the Monday lunch time but suddenly various phone calls and everyone had to be away leaving Brook and myself alone at this magnificent if not spooky venue.

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The ancient haunted mere

I decided to load the gear into the old punt and cross the mere for the second night and set myself up next to what they call ‘The Haunted Swim’ would you believe?

Now I thought Brook was a little un-easy about being on the other bank, when I got over to the far side she spent the rest of the session hiding behind my bed! All the years I have spent in loads of out of the way places I have never had a strange ghostly type experience but this place was making my mind wander a little – particularly with Brook being so out of character. I didn’t particularly feel scared just really curious but not knowing if I really wanted a strange happening or not.

Anyway, back to the fishing. Having spent a lot of time on the Mangrove which looked a very similar place to where I was now it only seemed logical to fish the methods which had been so productive for me on the Mangrove – that being baits re-hydrated and pre loaded with liquid so as to not be able to take the smelly smell/taste of silt into them. There is a lot of mis-understanding about my re-hydration methods as most get them mixed up with pre-soaking baits and washing flavours out. I basically load extra liquid in until they can’t take any more.

I fished with the left hand rod up the margin with a re-hydrated to the max’ blend of 10mm, 15mm and 20mm Ghurkka Spice shelf-life boilies. The liquid I had loaded into these was my ever faithfull juice from freshly cooked hemp.

My middle rod and right hand rod were both fished over just a very light scattering of free bait.

It was so quiet and peaceful as I sat there miles from anywhere and anyone (other than Brook trembling in the bivvy) watching the darkness envelope the Shropshire countryside and boy did it get dark!

It wasn’t long before I could see very little at all. A canopy of trees above me and the lack of light pollution from distant villages meant this was one of the darkest places I have ever fished.

Tiredness eventually came and soon I was settled down in the bag with a Staffy clung to my leg.

Monday 18th April 2011

What a wonderful start to the day. I was up watching fizzing over the heavily baited area up the margin wondering to myself if I had over done the baiting or not when suddenly the war cry of the ATTS pierced the peaceful Shropshire dawn and

the left hand tip wrapped around signalling a carp had tried to eat one Ghurkka Spice boilie too many.

A brilliant scrap ensued and when the frame of a large mirror came to view I couldn’t believe my luck. My first session on the water and I had hooked one of the larger fish. I had a few hairy moments keeping it away from pads and overhanging trees but the hook held and soon the carp was mine.

A true English warrior of 30lb 8oz left me feeling so very honoured to have been given the chance to not only fish this mysterious place but also be fortunate enough to be lucky enough to catch one of its very special inhabitants.

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Ancient old warrior from an ancient old mere

So far this month I have fished 3 different venues with 3 totally different approaches to bait and baiting. I guess it is the open mindedness and taking each place as a totally different challenge, which keeps the indicators moving.

I was packed away and once again back on the road to that other world of work after photographing my prize. Saturday I am back on Grenville – will my April luck hold out? I certainly hope so.


Best fishes


About the Author: Shaun Harrison

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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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