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Shaun’s Diary April 2011 – Part 1

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 1 April 2015 |

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I thought it an idea to start a Blog Diary in here and starting off with last month run through how I have approached my fishing through the different venues I have visited and how I adapt to differing weather conditions through the season.

It has only just occurred to me how many different tactics I have used this past month alone to keep those bobbins moving. So, hopefully there will be points of interest in here and possible little tips you may pick up on to start getting those bobbins moving on a regular basis. So, with no further ado let us start off with my first trip in April…

Best fishes

Shaun Harrison.


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A tiny bay at 'The Country Retreat'.

Saturday 2nd April 2011 – Country Retreat  – East Bay. Water temperature 55f/12.8c

A lovely mild week with no frosts after Tuesday and finally I have been able to leave the patio doors open at home – I do like to be able to join the house to the outdoors if that makes sense?

Thursday was windy and overcast but still shirt sleeve weather whilst walking the dog.

This morning I was up at 5.45am and had a nice relaxed drive here taking the scenic route through Melton Mowbray, Oakham, past the mighty Rutland water and on through several other places I am unable to name as the Country Retreat has a location publicity ban in place.

I fished until lunch time without introducing any free bait – other than a handful of 10mm’s and some halved 15mm and 20mm Ghurkka Spice boilies over a bait swung out in the left hand margin. I very much wanted to avoid spooking any fish if they were already in the swim so as well as holding back on any baiting I also kept the lead sizes smallish at 1 ½ ounce.

10am -  I missed a chance which to be fair may have been a liner at 70m towards the willows. The hook bait had been a 10mm Ghurkka Spice snowman.

Lunch time feeling confident in the fact that the carp would turn up but weren’t there at that time, I baited with 3 kg of Ghurkka Spice boilies being an equal mix of 10mm, 15mm and 20mm.

I put two baits over this – a fluoro Fruity Trifle pop-up and a 20mm bottom bait to start with. The margin rod remained in place and just before dark a tiny pikelet decided it liked my double Pimple Pop hook bait.

Pimple Pops 2

The pikelet liked my static Pimple Pops.

Not wanting to catch pike I re-cast with a standard colour 15mm Ghurkka Spice Pop-Up with a boilie mesh stick of matching paste, Pellets and a broken 15mm and standard 15mm bottom bait. I have found in the past that the fluoro baits do catch a few pike.

This rod was to produce a big old bream in the night along with a second one on the Fluoro Fruity Trifle hook bait over my bed of Ghurkka Spice at 70m.

Sunday 3rd April 2011

5.45am and the same time as my alarm sounded at home the previous morning one of my ATTS alarms woke me this morning. It was the re-cast fluoro hook bait over the bed of bait and the healthy bend in the Free Spirit E.S. signalled a carp straight away.

Soon I was gazing down at my first 20lb carp from the Country Retreat – an old warrior of a mirror which swung the scales to 22lb 6oz. It is fish like these that I sometimes feel sad to weigh. It seems such a shame turning them into numbers rather than what they are. Old characters who have no doubt delighted anglers in the past.

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One of my first captures from The Country Retreat. A proper old warrior.

A couple more bream showed up on the baited area and seeing no more signs of carp I packed away more than satisfied with my result on what is a very new venue for me. I need to learn about this place as I go along and for the first time in years I can honestly say I don’t have a clue what is in there. It wasn’t until I started to fish it that I realised how much of this mystery and un-known I have missed in my fishing over more recent years.

It produced a big fish in the mid 80’s but since then I really don’t know. The fish I have seen have been very old looking. It may contain a surprise, it might not but whatever way, the few trips I have had there I have loved every minute of and can see me being a very long term member for it is such a gorgeous and tranquil place.

Tuesday April 5th Grenville Lake, Cambridgeshire.

Special treat for me, a mid-week session – well it is my birthday tomorrow!

I wasn’t sure where to go as my legs were still in a pretty bad way after an accident a few weeks before, after doing some film work for Sky TV for their Tight Lines show and falling off a dam wall landing on my knees.

I rang Paul up at lunch time to see how many were there and to see if I could be excused the walk around the lake to choose a swim due to the state of my legs telling him I wanted to try and catch a carp on my birthday. Believe it or not despite starting in 1977 I had never managed to catch myself a carp on April 6th. Salmon yes and trout yes but carp no. I had caught them on the 5th and the 7th but not the 6th.

Paul was fine to let me drive straight to a swim rather than having to do the usual mile and a half lap on foot first. I finished a little office work then started to chuck a few things into the motor and managed to get away by around 3pm for my first Grenville trip of the year.

Pimple Pop hook baits both over bait and fished at range on their own had been producing well for me up until dropping off fishing the place when this last long and silly winter kicked in. So, it was 3 rods out on the Pimples whilst I got busy setting the house up for the night.

The first one didn’t take long to come as I was still loading the bivvy with the junk I feel is necessary for sitting around awaiting a carp to find a bait – you know the sort of thing, all the comfort stuff, bed, chair, good food and wine…..

This carp was one of those that simply screamed line off the reel on the take and continued at exactly the same speed despite me pulling back from my end. I find my first fish of the year from any venue no matter how many I have caught in the past to be a rather nerve wracking affair. This one was no exception and I prayed to the gods of Sir Isaac that the hook would stay in place long enough for me to gain enough line and engulf the fish in my landing net.

My luck was in and 2 days after my first early birthday present I was looking down at a much younger but larger fish than Sunday’s capture. At 26lb 12oz I was happy to be off the mark and only a few hours before my actual birthday. Could this year be the year I achieve my personal goal of a carp on my birthday?

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Whilst still setting up!

Wednesday April 6th 2011

What a start to my true birthday! 5.50am and the unmistakeable sweet sound of the ATTS had me off my bed and bent into a carp on the same rod which had produced for me last night. Again a brilliant scrap and eventually a nice big set of shoulders appeared on the surface in front of me. After a few last minute lunges which took a fair bit of line I slid the perfect present into my net.

Un-wrapping that fish from the mesh was a truly special moment for me and I found myself saying ‘Just what I always wanted’!

With the hook out I hoisted the fish onto the scales and was delighted to read 33lb 12oz – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

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33lb 12oz Happy Birthday to me!

The weather was lovely and mild albeit very windy which only gave brief opportunities to scatter a little bait with the catapult. I was fishing in relatively deep water but didn’t want to crash a spod or Spomb into the water as I was obviously already on fish but wanted to keep a few in the area and felt I could get away with a light scattering of freebies.

I wasn’t wrong as a fish of 23.04 took it’s place on the mat and in front of the camera at the same time as I had a birthday cake delivered on the bank!

So, with the carp, Yaz, Brook the carp dog, birthday cake and me all smiling away, the moment was captured on camera.  A very special moment in time, as are all the captures so long as you aren’t constantly targeting individual fish when other fish tend not to be appreciated so much.

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Celebrations and another carp joins in the fun.

It’s so nice out of the wind that I have even got into shorts for the first time on the bank this year and I tend to live in shorts through the summer so hopefully this is the start of some nice weather. We certainly deserve some after this last winter.

Around 6pm Paul turned up and offered to put a little bit of bait out with his boat as he could see I was struggling a little to get much in. I gladly accepted the offer and gave him a kilo of 10mm Ghurkka Spice and a kilo of 15mm’s.

What happened next was quite un-believable, the bait went in on my spot, Paul came back to the bank and had only just stepped out of the boat when another carp roared off with my double Pimple Pop hook bait. The boilies falling into the area had obviously triggered something and that tiny alternate bait sat amongst them produced a take before the fish could even have started to make a dent on the freebies.

The result this time was a deep bodied fish of 29.08. What a day it had been.

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Straight after having 2kg of Ghurkka Spice boilies tipped on its head.

I’m sat in the bivvy now gathering my thoughts. After the 29.08 coming straight after baiting I changed one of the Pimple Pops for a peeled 15mm Ghurkka Spice bottom bait with 2 peeled baits PVA’d and dunked in Ghurkka Spice Glug before casting out. It seems the baits going in had triggered a response so I felt I needed to put a bait down there on the deck where the freebies were although the Pimple Pops were almost on the bottom but much lighter in weight.

I need to be away first thing in the morning. Got to take Brook home and then after sprucing myself up it is the long drive down to the Sky TV studios to appear as this weeks studio guest on Keith Arthur’s Tight Lines programme. 500 miles of driving is not something I am looking forward to.

But am I complaining about life? No way, not after to-days sport.

Thursday April 7th

5am and the peeled bottom bait and stringer arrangement has been found by a leathery looking 27.12 – I’m going to be tired by the end of to-day!

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I'm going to be tired by the end of today

What a birthday it was. 9am I was packed and on the road, the filming went well with everything shot without re-takes but the drive home was a struggle as I had to keep stopping for coffee breaks etc to help keep me alert.

Being self employed I have to make up for this last bonus day on the bank and day away filming so this week-end will be spent working. Many think we are out on the bank all the time forgetting we work as well. In order to take week-ends off I have to work very long hours through the week but would I revert back to a normal 9 to 6 job like I did for 25 years? NO WAY!

Best fishes


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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