Feel The Drop

The weed-filled Lake 2 is not unlike many English lakes

Aaron Rilings has a great time at Cretelakes.

After arriving at Cretelakes and completing the draw to see where I would be fishing, I felt very confident about the week ahead. The forecast was for overcast, showers and warm temperatures, and I was definitely confident of getting a bite or two.

Lake 2 is tricky with large amounts of weed throughout and not like the other lakes within the complex. You won’t go on Lake 2 and bank 30 carp in a week’s fishing; you really do have to work hard for your bites. It’s basically like an English lake in France, full of stunning carp with English characteristics.

Single Scale at 62¾lb – my first carp of the trip and a new PB

Finding my spots proved to be very challenging. The amount of weed really did make it tricky to find areas to present a bait on. It took me from around 11am to 8.30pm to find just two spots, and I went into my first night chancing the third rod with a PVA bag into an area where I knew carp would venture.

Just before first light I had a bleep on my middle rod, and due to fishing my reels locked up I had to act immediately. The carp weeded me up for a while at around 60 yards out, but then I felt the grating of the carp freeing itself from the weed and battle recommenced. It weeded up once more before landing it, but not for as long as the previous time. I could feel the weight of the fish while playing it and knew it would be a great start to the week if I could land this obviously 40lb-plus carp. Eventually I sank the landing net and lifted it up around a colossal creature. I knew it was a decent carp and stunning in colour. I phoned my friend and informed him I had a fifty in the retainer.

The Dark Mirror at 51lb 9oz

A simple mix of 18mm and 10mm Antartic 365 boilies accurately Spombed out was enough to get the bites

It felt like a lifetime for him to finally arrive. When we weighed the fish I couldn’t believe my eyes – I stared in shock, but my friend confirmed the weight at 62¾lb. Known as Single Scale, it was a new personal best, beating my old PB of 58lb 6oz. It was an amazing feeling to have such a spectacular creature grace my presence. The week had certainly started with a bang. Word got around fast with people at breakfast congratulating me on my stunning capture.

I returned to my swim after breakfast, got my rods out and began trying to find a third spot. At around 11.30am my middle rod was away again. Once more it weeded up fairly quickly into the fight, but I knew this would be a regular occurrence with every take. It was my job to play the carp right and do everything in my power to convert takes into landed carp. I got this one out of two weeded situations, then just out of my reach down to the right of my swim it weeded me up again. I stayed patient for some time, keeping constant pressure on the fish, feeling it knocking, teasing me.

Fortunately, my friend was able to flag down a passing bailiff, who was accommodating and went into the water to try rescue the situation. Even this wasn’t an easy task, taking many attempts, so I had some very heart-in-the-mouth moments. I began thinking I was destined to lose this one, but eventually the bailiff managed to get the carp by literally hand-balling the fish along with all the weed into the net. As the net was slowly lifted I felt the line slacken and I shouted out loud with joy, as I had my second carp in the net. What a carp it was, with stunning dark colours and English characteristics. The beautiful Dark Mirror weighed 51lb 9oz – what a brace!

This 55lb 7oz mirror was my seventh carp and third fifty of a busy week

After the mayhem of taking over an hour and a half to land the fish, photo it and get the rod back on the spot, the morning had soon passed, but it wasn’t too long before I was bent into another Lake 2 warrior and landing my third of the trip. Again I knew it was a big fish, but it weighed in at exactly the same as the second one, 51lb 9oz. I was in awe after three takes, three landed carp and three fish exceeding 50lb – amazing!

I knew I needed to focus on what I was doing to keep the bites coming, as it wasn’t a case of just casting out and getting a bite. I had to really put the effort in to keep the results coming and make the most of the opportunity. After the third carp I was finally able to find a third spot to fish. I then began to clear and thin the weed around the edge of my swim to aid landing the carp, clearing two channels to try and guide them through.

After dinner I got my rods back out, excited about the night ahead and what could potentially happen, but it passed without any action. I kept focused and didn’t let the lack of action worry me. With the level of weed I knew that action was more likely in the day than night due to photosynthesis.

At exactly the same time as the previous day, 11.30am, I was bent into another fish. Again entering a similar battle encountering weedbeds, I had to just keep focused and concentrate. It wasn’t too long before I had my fourth carp of the trip in the landing net at just over 34lb. What a week it was turning into, and it didn’t show any signs of slowing down. I managed to land a further three carp that day; two more thirties and an amazing third 50lb-plus mirror at an incredible 55lb 7oz!

I had no time to think about things too much, as I wanted to push as hard as I could for the next bite. I had plenty of time left for more great results, but I knew I would have more time to reflect on the success once I returned home. Whilst I was there I wanted to fish as hard as I possibly could.

Knowing I wasn’t really likely to get a bite during darkness I settled into the night wondering what awaited the following day, and the next morning my confidence was sky high. Keen to get the rods in after breakfast I rushed back to the swim to ensure I was fishing by 10.30am, as my first runs seem to be coming any time between 11.15am and noon. How right I was. By 11.20am I was bent into yet another Lake 2 specimen, playing it from the high bank behind my swim to help ease it through any weed. My heart was racing, but I just had to remain calm as I had during previous fights and get this one landed to take my total to eight.

The Sergeant

This 55lb 6oz mirror was my fifth 50lb-plus carp of the week

When the carp was in close I reeled down and walked forwards to the edge of the swim preparing to net it. I saw this amazing creature and knew I didn’t want this one to get away. Moments later I lifted the net around a stunning carp and I couldn’t help but let out a shout across the Lake – I had a special one in the net and struggled to contain my excitement. Known as the Sergeant due to the large mirror scale pattern along its side and weighing in at 47lb 14oz, this really was a warrior that rightfully deserved its name and reputation.

Only an hour passed after the release of the Sergeant before I was called back to action, playing the carp in the same way, using that high bank to my advantage and keeping composed. Around 10 minutes later I had another huge carp in the landing net. I had a giggle to myself, as I really was in complete shock over how the session was unfolding. It was another fifty, a 55lb mirror. Could I believe it? No way! This really was exceptional.

Hookbaits had been soaking in 365 for over a month

Ample evidence that they loved the bait

All the fish were landed on Vardis Tackle, creating a D-rig paired with a snowman which caught the majority of the carp. I kept everything very accurate; if I wasn’t happy then I would recast. I put out six to eight Spombs of whole 18mm and 10mm Antartic 365 boilies after each bite, and this simple way of fishing was working wonders.

I went on to bank a further two carp to 30lb over the next two days. Then the last day arrived and I was so confident. The weather had returned to being overcast and warm, and I’d had daily runs so I had no reason to doubt a bite arriving. I had no night action all week, so this felt like my last chance of the trip to catch and finish off the trip in style. The morning passed and afternoon was soon upon me. Before I knew it the time had arrived to reel in and go down for dinner… I couldn’t believe it. I’d had runs even when the temperature reached 30ºC, so I was left scratching my head. I wondered if the shift in temperatures could have affected things slightly, but I accepted that I hadn’t had any more bites and went to dinner very happy with what I’d already achieved over the week.

Not expecting any more action that evening, I packed away all of the bits I didn’t feel I would need, ready for the early pack up. How wrong that decision was! On the final night I had a further four carp, the last one being a 35lb mirror at 6am. The photo with my dad was a really special moment for me.

What a way to end a fantastic week, with 15 carp landed out of 18 runs, including an upper forty, four fifties and a 62¾lb new PB. It shows what can be achieved by facing things head on and working hard to feel the drop in the most challenging of situations. I can finally say that I have had a red letter session, and what a session it was, one which I will remember my entire life.

The final carp of the week and a special moment with my dad

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