July 25, 2014 5 min read

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about fishing in Oxford that really grabs me, whether it’s the crystal-clear, picturesque gravel pits or the dark scaly carp that live in them. Whatever it is, I simply love it there. So, that’s why I made the mammoth journey around the M25, battling the traffic on a busy Thursday evening, to finally arrive at Linch Hill fishery. For those of you that haven’t heard of or been to this superb day-ticket water, then you’re missing a treat.

 Unbelievably, I left a stormy Essex at 5pm, rubbing my hands together because this was the first time we’d had low pressure and rain in a long time. However, once I drove through the gates at Linch Hill, the sun was out and there wasn’t a breath of wind, which wasn’t ideal fishing conditions.  At Linch Hill, there are two-day ticket waters, Willow and Christchurch. Both hold a good head of beautifully scaly carp, but on this occasion, Christchurch was my lake of choice. At first, it looked that there weren’t many vacant swims, but on my strollaround, I noticed that a swim known as The Point was free. Now, I’m never a person to jump in a swim because of its name or form, I normally go on where the fish are. However, being flat clam and sunny, the fish I was seeing weren’t feeding fish. So, this is where doing your research on a venue beforehand pays off.

My brother, Dan, has been spending some time down there, fishing and shooting features and he told me the fish had been coming out around the bottom end, where they had been spending the nights and mornings. So, that cemented my decision, The Point commands a lot of water and the plan was to find a clear area, put a small amount of bait out and get up at the crack of dawn to see where they were willing to feed. Being a clear gravel pit, it’s extremely rich and as a result, there’s plenty of weed about. So, I simply attached just a lead to my marker rod and had a few casts around. After I while, I’d roughly mapped out what I was fishing to. I found a large clear area, but rather than plonking my baits blatantly in the centre of the spot, I pulled the lead back as close as possible to the weed, where it actually felt like it was just moving into the silt.  Rather than cluttering the spot with too many rods, I opted to fish just with two. The third was ready to go in case I saw any shows, just to keep my options open and not put all my eggs in one basket.

Bait wise, I left the boilies at home and went for Chopped Tiger Nuts and Hemp. Particles are a great bait, but through the summer months they really come into their own. Moving onto the rig and one thing you’ll notice is that I was using the Krank hook, but in a slightly different way to how I have been recently. The Christchurch fish have seen it all. They have been fished for my some of the best anglers in the country over the years and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing they haven’t seen. So, with that in mind and because I was fishing over a rock-hard gravelly area, I wanted a stiff, clear hook link, that would reset itself if I was fortunate enough to get picked up. Plus, fishing over a tight bed of light particle baits, the last thing I wanted was my hook bait wafting around whilst the carp were feeding. So, I opted for a combi rig, which consisted of 15lb IQ 2, joined to 20lb Dark Matter braid and then just a simple nine turn knotless knot to a size-six Krank.

When it came down to my hook baits, I had one on a tiger nut corked out and one on a brazil nut.  Once the traps were set, I sat back on a warm summer’s evening looking over a pretty lifeless Christchurch lake. That was until the sun dropped behind the cloud and then it was like a different lake. At around 11pm they started showing to my right, which was right amongst a large weed bed. Then by 1am they were well and truly all over me; I haven’t experienced liners like that before. Especially when I was fishing Kontour straight through and I had putty up the line, the Stows were dancing up and down. I was like a yoyo, up and down off the bed chair; I thought I was going mad. Was it my rigs? Was it the hook bait? Had they cleared me out? All these things run through your head, but finally that was all put right when my left-hand rod rattled off. 

Straight away it had the better of me, angrily shaking its head and just steaming towards every bit of weed, or reed bed it could find. After a while, I started winning, so I slipped the waders on and delicately went out to try and shuffle what at first I thought was just a ball of weed into the net. Once I peeled it away I saw my prize. It looked a good fish, so I removed all the weed from the net, got my retention sling out and lifted what was certainly a fish pushing 40lb.  The hook hold was simply unreal! That size-six Krank wasn’t coming out in a hurry! So, I quickly unhooked it and placed her safely in the retention sling, so I could get the rod straight back out. Unbelievably, it only took a matter of minutes for that rod to go again, which just goes to show that you should make every second count! Sadly, only a few minutes into the battle it weeded me up solid. I was patient with it, but after a while I reeled in nothing but my rig. After a delightful cup of coffee, it was time to call on some friends to do the honors with the trophy shots. Not wanting to leave it in the sling for long, I gave my mate Adam and Sean an early morning wake up call and they willingly shot straight round.  

Once we got her on the mat, Adam instantly identified the fish. It was one of the big mirrors known as Scar, a rare visitor to the bank and you can clear see why with that overslung mouth. Once on the scales, it pulled them round to 39lb 2oz, clearly spawned out, but who cares! What an immense-looking fish. The lads took some great shots and I have to say, I was completely blown away at just how stunning it really was! The colours, the scaling, its unique overslung mouth, so many characteristics that make carp like this simply breathtaking. After that, the weekend was incredibly slow. There were no other fish out, apart from the following morning when I caught possibly the smallest carp in Christchurch. I didn’t weigh it, but I’d put it at mid-double. What a belting common it was too!  Overall, it turned out to be a difficult weekend, but an enjoyable one and thankfully, one with some success too. I simply can’t wait to get back. Jake.