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Big Fish Column: Boilie tipped with artificial maggot nets Jason 18lb common carp

Ian Welch

Easter is always popular for angling, typically the time when many get their rods out for the first time after a winter break and enjoy their first taste of the spring sport to come. A late Easter and warm early spring temperatures promised much this year and although temperatures fell away over the bank holiday weekend there were some decent returns.

Carp are usually one of the more reliable early spring species and the day ticket Island Lake is rapidly becoming one of the ‘go-to’ local venues for big fish enthusiasts. Now boasting plenty of fish over 20lb, and a few creeping over 30lb, the former match fishery has now come of age and is beginning to generate a regular clientele, including Woodley’s Jason Fowler.

Jason spent part of his Easter break on the three-acre venue, baiting two patches with a mix of pellets, maggots, hemp and chopped boilies. Presenting a boilie tipped with an artificial maggot on a size 8 hook to a 20lb coated braid hook length, 12lb main line and a 3oz running lead over the top Jason netted a common carp of 18lb on his first night and then backed it up with mirrors of 20lb 14oz and 23lb 4oz on his second day.

Jason told me, “A friend fished the lake the previous week and told me it looked like there might be an early spawning but the cooling off put paid to that, in fact there was a touch of frost overnight – although it didn’t stop the fish from feeding.”

Carp were also feeding well over at the Royal Berkshire Fishery, where Dean Andrews fished what he calls the ‘Dinner Table Swim’, opposite the car park on Lake One. Fishing the straight lead with a PVA bag packed with mini pellets and a banded pellet on the hook, Dean had three carp to 16lb arrive at the table for Easter lunch.

Carp are not always good news for anglers as their aggressive feeding can destroy the chances of encouraging other species to feed, and so it proved for Del Pearson who has enjoyed some cracking cool water roach fishing on the Main Lake at Finch Farm throughout the winter.

With some good bags of roach to 1lb 10oz during the winter Del was looking for another steady session on the waggler but after netting several fish to 12oz the carp started to home in on the bait and activity. After hooking and losing three carp he accepted his roach fishing was over until the autumn and stepped up to a heavier set up to offer a pellet bait on a size 10 hook to 6lb line to take carp to 8lb and a single tench of around 4lb.

It was not just the coarse anglers who enjoyed some good holiday sport, over at Haywards Farm the local trout anglers also enjoyed brisk sport. With warmer temperatures resulting in a multitude of hatches, particularly buzzers, anglers have been scoring with dry flies and small naturals fished up in the water for the first time this year. Mini lures are still picking off fish but naturals are now the way to go for the best results.

Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at


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