The Diary of Stu Harris

These past few weekends have been interesting, a complete mish mash of conditions. The TFF trip to the moat brought no fish for me, but after witnessing some of the carp in an obliging mood, I simply couldn’t wait to get back and have another go. It was the following Friday when I managed a sneaky couple of hours, and I’m glad I did too.

Jessica had arranged to visit her Nursery buddy, have tea, go for a walk, that sort of thing. Well it transpired that this friend lives 5 minutes from the moat, therefore it made perfect sense for me to stay local, in case there were any issues and so I could collect her later. I dropped her off at 2pm and said I’d be back by 5, that meant 3 hours to stroll around the moat, and as I’d be there, it would be silly not to take a rod.

I wandered the banks with the sun on my neck and a smile on my face; it was great to be back and all lone too. The carp were at first tricky to find, but then a small common appeared in a gap among weed and just beyond some pads. I made a cast with just a dipped free-lined crust and luckily it landed a good metre or more past the fish without spooking it. Gently I drew it back until it was in eyesight of the fish, which gently moved
over and snaffled it first time.

The carp dived straight downwards into the weed, but I never once let it get stuck and gradually heaved the whole weed bed towards me. I scooped beneath the fish and hoped it wouldn’t kick too much as I lifted, it never and in went a small carp and loads of weed. Upo1n clearing, quite reminiscent of a toddler tearing at wrapping paper, I spotted my gift, a stupendous long dark common carp; it was the best start possible.

Shortly after grabbing a quick self take I was off and on my travels again, touring the moat a full 3 times before spotting more carp, and these ones were in front of peg 32 and alongside the sticks loaded up on the far margin for cover. Three fish cruised through, picked off a few freebies and moved on into the pads. I made my cast hoping they’d come back looking for more and they did. Two smaller commons went the wrong direction and missed the hook-bait, but the larger mirror didn’t and sucked in the hooked mixer causing a tremendous splash when I struck.

A fight not dissimilar to the previous one, the carp tried its best to use the weed to its advantage but soon enough I was lifting the net under what a beautifu2l mirror carp, I’d glimpsed it during the fight and knew it was a cracker. Really dark it had clearly been tanned in those clear waters these past few seasons, an incredible carp and it marked the end of an incredible couple of hours. With Jessica collected I headed off home very happy indeed.

The following day I was back at the moat for a full day, and another chance to capture some of those beautiful dark carp. The first one came quite early on, I spotted a carp in the edge, not a big one but the target species and to be honest sizes are fairly irrelevant at the moat. I cast in front of the fish but it moved along the bank, half spooked but not bolting off as I’d have expected. Then it veered out into open water and sunk out of sight.

I pretty much thought that was that, but then up came this sheet of bubbles, it was clearly feeding. I pinched a piece of flake on the hook and cast, letting it sink just where the bubbles were rising. Within a minute or two the line twitched twice and upon striking it was clear I was finally attached to my adversary. It gave a spirited scrap for its size and posed wonderfully in the morning sun.

3All truly stunning fish I knew I had to make hay while the sun shone, the colder nights were drawing in, mornings were darker and it would soon be time to hang up the carp rods. I was determined to seek out a few more so was once again on my to4es and actively seeking out those dark marvels.

Just out from peg 37 is an overhanging bush which usually harbours a few fish. I stood a while and after a few moments saw a few dark shapes gliding through the weed just shy of the bush. I made a cast with a dipped crust and it landed inches from said bush, perfect. A minute or sp passed and then I watched on as a pair of lips rose up around my crust and took it down, I flicked the rod over my shoulder and walked backwards as I tried to steer an angry carp away from the snags.

Clear from danger the carp came and once in open water it was business as usual. The fish fought well and watching every twist and turn in the clear water before me was a joy. A gorgeous jet black common of mid doubles slipped into the net, a warrior of a carp probably from the old stock and certainly showing the signs of age. It was a real pleasure to hold such a majestic carp up for the camera, it was already looking to be a red letter day.

It took a little while to find some more fish, after lunch I made my way to the platform of peg 25 and spotted two carp swim towards the platform, under it and back out again. I got into position and saw two more behind me, and again exit from right under my position. A bush 20 or so yards to my left also showed signs, with a group of 4 small commons patrolling just in front and towards where I was sat, I fed them some mixers and watched them engulf all of them and swim off.

I topped the swim up and the process repeated itself, only this time I had a hook-bait amongst them. Strangely enough these fish seemed a little more clued up and the bait with the hook in it was the only one left standing. Next along came a carp that seemed somewhat larger, it turned away from the hook-bait but never spooked from it. On the third time of asking it sucked the hook in and I made no mistaking with the strike.

5Again the battle in the clear water was electrifying and gracious all at once. A tired mirror carp, as dark as night, was netted without too much of an argument, and once more I found myself smiling whilst posing with yet another carp of dreams. I held the fish in the water a while whilst it regained strength and I watched longingly as it kicked strongly away back to those clear weedy depths.

Next up, and from 37 again as the day was beginning to draw to a close, was the Mongroid, a carp I’ve now had 3 times. The colours of this fish are wonderful, but it is badly misshapen and isn’t too pleasing on the eye. I released the fish without too much hassle and continued, trying for one last fish before the light faded too much.

That last fish came just on dusk, I could only just see the white of the crust and only knew I had a take when I couldn’t see it any longer. A smallish mirror 6with outstanding features was carp number 5 for the day, and a very welcome carp it was too. The moat had been kind to me, and I felt that perhaps there wouldn’t be too many trips left until spring.

Last weekend I went fishing, an invite to a private water. This water I can’t say too much about, but a sizeable water which is quite shallow all over. With this in mind I thought the cold nights might have an effect, but a whole weekend of stalking produced only one fish for me, with a couple more opportunities but nowhere near the amount of activity as my previous trip there when the days were longer. That said, it was a beautiful mirror carp of over 23lbs, and meant that Carpathia had received more than a decent workout over the past couple of weekends.


I probably will still go carp fishing a few times before the frosts arrive, but I’m already starting to think about grayling and perch, along with roach and chub. But whatever happens, I’ll keep you posted.


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