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Matt & Alexandre hit the bank during a mild late winter spell and bank a string of 8 x 30lbs+ Beausoleil beauties!

Timing is everything with carp fishing, especially during the winter. Once the water temperature reaches 8° or 9° degrees, it’s like flicking on a switch. The carp’s movements are still hard to spot but the signs are there for those who look. Once you see them, location becomes a little easier and less like playing Russian roulette blind folded. I’m very lucky to be able to spend time with anglers that are better than me and when it comes to fish location, Alexandre is up there with the very best. He will walk the banks or just stand, heron-like, for hours until he sees what he needs. Time spent doing reconnaissance is never wasted and as a result, just a few short hours into the session Alexandre was into his first carp which turned out to be the Dark Knight at 33lbs…. nice!

As an extra bonus, this carp was taken on one of the new 30mm Nutty Nuggets that we were testing. Now, a 30mm cylindrically shaped bait might seem a bit bonkers if you’re more comfortable fishing with 15mm boilies but when you look at the size of the mouth on our fish, you’ll see that they still don’t come anywhere close to touching the sides!

Over on the opposite bank I’d not had the time to do any fish spotting so I’d gone with my usual “pick three known spots and roll the dice” routine. Fortunately, I’d chosen wisely and a few hours later, I banked another low thirty named Planets. This one was taken on a single Shrimpy Nugget which was all the proof I needed to know that these larger baits are readily taken by carp even in winter.

Click here to see all the fish that came out during February

Just as I was exiting my bivvy the next morning Alexandre was into his 2nd from another spot where he’d seen some slight rocking of the water the evening before. I stopped to grab the camera and on the way I noticed he’d got another rod hooped over and he was plainly into another…. steady lad, we’ve already got one in the net to photograph! There’s no stopping him when he gets going though and banked four in two nights. Three came from the same spot which just goes to show how critical location is.

Shrimp & Crayfish snowman rig with 16mm cork ball popups

As well as catching on the Nutty Nuggets, Alexandre also had two on Shrimp & Crayfish snowmen made up from our 24mm bottom baits with one of our 16mm cork ball popups. If you haven’t used cork ball popups before, you might not know that you can’t pierce them with a baiting needle. Well, when I say you can’t, you can, but if you do, you’ll crack and damage the 2mm popup shell which will seriously reduce its life in the water. To stop this, Alexandre made the bait loop in the hair as normal but added a small rig ring. To load the rig with the baits, you pierce the bottom bait with a baiting needle in the usual way and then hook the baiting needle through the rig ring. Pull the ring through to the other side of the bait without splitting it. To add the popup, simply tie a 4 turn slip knot round the popup and then over hand knot it three times to the rig ring. Blob with a light to secure. The bottom bait can then be pulled tight onto the popup and the finished setup looks like this:

Luckily for me, I had some more nights fishing ahead of me and it was clear from Alexandre’s success that I’d need to move if I was to add to my score sheet. I didn’t want to over pressure the two spots that had worked for Alexandre so I picked three others and had another quiet night. The next afternoon, I took the time to walk quietly round and spotted a big swirl underneath the fir tree that had been kind to Alexandre. I’d rested it for a night, and I hadn’t baited it so I decided to glide my Anatec stealthily over to the edge and just drop a single 24mm Nutty Banoffee off underneath the fronds. An hour later my bobbin thwacked up to the top and danced merrily in front of the Delkim. After a slow plodding fight, I slipped the net under Dink at 36lbs… lovely jubbly!

I re-set the rod with a few crumbed and whole baits this time and at dawn the next morning I banked Earl Grey at 32lbs from exactly the same spot. Finally I’d managed to string a couple of fish together!

The next night, we were expecting Storm Doris. The barometer dropped to 1009mb and with it came some good south westerlies and a load of rain. Up to this point the barometer had been up around 1025mb which is far from ideal. The high pressure had kept the fish in the shallow margins and they certainly weren’t getting their heads down. With the pressure dropping fast and the wind hacking into the snake bank margin, I chose some deeper marks and picked two of my favourite ones in 6ft (2m) of water. Simple bait boat traps had tricked two carp in the last 24hrs so I had no reason to change. I loaded five whole and five lightly crushed Shrimp & Cray baits and a single matching 24mm bottom bait, knotless knotted to 7” of sinking braid in the boat. Pretty basic stuff really but I knew that my hand sharpened size 4 hook would do its stuff and not let go!

It was a wild night as the wind and rain lashed the bivvy.  Just before dawn, my right hand Delkim chirped a few times and as I flicked on my head torch I could see the rod tip nodding and the bobbin locked at the top. This fight was long, and strong and when I glimpsed the flank of a nice looking common, I wasn’t surprised. Eager to see which one it was, I knelt down for a closer look and from the massive set of shoulders I knew that I’d banked a carp that in six years I’d never caught! Finally, I’d caught Pepe. With dawn very close I slipped her in the retainer for a bit so that the camera had a chance of doing her justice.

Just as we were ready to photograph Pepe, my left hander was away and resulted in a 31lbs 8oz mirror. Just after slipping the net under him my middle rod gave me the nod and I was into my third of the morning…Monkfaire at 31lbs 8oz.

What a morning, a hat trick of thirties! I’ve done plenty of blanking this winter so I was very happy that my persistence had paid off. If you are lucky enough to be booked on this year, rest assured that no matter which of our bait options you choose, they all work extremely well here. Beausoleil is a magical place to fish and six years on, it still has the ability to surprise and delight me. It can be hard, cruel even at times, but when you get it right, the buzz is the best feeling in the world!

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