Carp is proving to be the dominant catch within our Suffolk waters
The completion of spawning usually signals a bonanza of specimen carp catches as the fish seek to regain the energy expanded in the frenetic and stressful process.
But the variable air pressure and extremes of air temperature in the following couple of weeks appear to have had a negative impact on catches on most of our local specimen carp waters.
However, last weekend there were reports that large carp were starting to feed more confidently.
At Middle Reservoir (Bury AA water) on a Friday night session last week, Josh Revell-Brown landed a mirror weighing 14lb 8oz and a common of 16lb 12oz.
On the same Friday, but late afternoon, at Creeting Lakes (day ticket fishery), Phil Southgate landed four carp in less than four hours. The biggest weighed in at 20lb 5oz (see photo), but he also had fish of 14lb 5oz, 11lb and 10lb.
In the latest Bury AA Veteran’s match held at Barrow Lake, last Thursday, carp also featured in the leading weights.
The bulk of Dave Williams’ winning catch of 22lb 8oz was two carp at lucky peg 13! Andy Hardy also had a double figure carp in his second-placed net of 15lb 8oz from peg 17. Bob Martin had a mixed bag of 10lb for third spot.
The Bury club lake at Badwell Ash continues to fish extremely well with carp the dominate species in the catches, but these are not of a specimen stamp with most weighing between 4lb and 8lb.
However, they are providing very good sport for pleasure anglers with catches reported in excess of 40lb for a five-hour session.
I have had no reports from any Bury AA member fishing Water Lane Reservoir but I would be very pleased to receive any information, good or not so good, on sessions at this reservoir on firstname.lastname@example.org
On a completely different scale, at a large commercial fishery (Rookery Waters), Bury St Edmunds-based angler Stewart Bracey (Dynamo Baits) won an open match last week with 264lb of mostly carp (see photo).
Stewart is a regular competitor at Rookery matches and knows the fishery reasonably well, but all the same that is a phenomenal weight of fish to land in a six-hour match.
A couple of years back Stewart won an open match at Decoy Lakes with 318lb and regularly weighs in over 100lb in matches held at these heavily stocked commercial fisheries.
These weights are so vastly different to my experiences in either club or open matches 30 years ago, in my match fishing prime, that it almost seems like a different sport altogether!
Between 1982 and 1992 I fished 402 matches, recording 40 first places, and my best winning weight was just 54lb.
Its impossible to make meaningful comparisons between then and now but there is a massive difference between 54lb and 318lb!
My 54lb win was at the club lake on the British Sugar Beet site in Bury St Edmunds and was made up of 17 carp (I also lost 10 carp) and I recall being pretty busy for the five hours of the match.
So, it is hard for me to imagine what it must be like physically catching 264lb, let alone 318lb in six hours. Albeit that the carp Stewart caught at Rookery were mostly much larger than those I netted at the BSC lake.
The match I won was a charity event organised by local angling legend and Lakenheath farmer Denis Flack, who famously held three British specimen fish weight records at one time. He also wrote an angling article for this paper in the 1990s.
Denis and I were both on the Bury St Edmunds Angling Association committee at the same time in the early 90s.
Catching primarily carp in matches 30 years ago was a novelty and consequently Denis’ charity matches were very popular and tickets hard to get. But no one could have extrapolated back then how 50lb-winning carp weights could become 200lb or even 300lb plus winning weights 30 years on.
I gather that the club lake on the Bury Sugar Beet site, after years of no fishing being allowed, is operating as a fishing lake again.
Photos on their Facebook page suggest that substantial work has been carried out on what had become a very neglected lake and significant re-stocking has taken place too.
Operating under the fishery name of Plan B on a not-for-profit basis I understand that the membership is currently full.
Looking back at Rushbrooke and West Stow lakes still generates the most fishing nostalgia for me but the club lake at BSC in Bury is a close third. Apart from several top three placings for me, my son James won his first open match there when he was just 14.