Top Essex carper and Fox-sponsored angler James Willsmer kicks off his brand new blog series and it includes a proper stunner!

Well to say it's been a long time since I've put a pen to paper is an understatement! So, forgive me guys if I'm a little rusty around the edges as it may take me a few diary entries to get back into the swing of it...

With the sale of my old firm DT Baits at the end of 2016 finally cast in stone and starting a new job in December, to say my fishing had taken a hammering from autumn to late winter would be putting it mildly. But with the snow drops making an appearance in mid-Feb I was climbing the walls to get back out and wet a line again. 

My current local syndicate never has great form until the end of March so instead of wasting my time sitting it out, my years of experience on the bank have taught me to keep my options open with regards to venue choices. Carp fishing in my opinion is all about maximising opportunities and often timing is utterly crucial for consistent success. Chelmsford Angling Association (CAA) have several pits that perform this time of year and one no better in the shape of Boreham Mere. A venue with a lot of history for those that can remember, it holds a good number of twenties and a handful of fantastic looking low thirties that love a munch up leading up to the end of the traditional old close season. 

First trip down was the last weekend in February and with a number of lads fishing already, fortunately a swim I had in mind that has shown me great form in the past happened to be free. Touch! Using my trusty Fox Swim Mapper APP, the rods were out there in no time. Strong south westerlies on the cards, it looked prime for a bite from the word go.

One angler Jim Chisnal a local guy who I knew was having it off at the opposite end to me and a swim that would have been second or third choice had I of managed to get down on a Friday like most people. But generally being a weekend bod my angling normally centres around a Saturday night but despite that, at least the fish were coming out! So, I settled in my favourite swim known as Reeds and was more than confident for the forthcoming night. 

The day passed uneventful but with my pal Kris turning up for the night a social would soon take my mind off the motionless bobbins. Dawn broke though and upon looking across a mirror like surface, apart from a dirty old bream picking up my Chod at midnight I was seriously contemplating this could be blank session! Kris on the other hand had bagged a few. Last time I tell him where to fish! Lol. Fair play though he'd had a mid-double and a cracking 24+ mirror which we photographed first thing before he had to head off home. 

Above: My mate Kris with a lovely 24lb mirror

Scratching for an idea and with only the day light hrs left I needed a sign! Kris had fortunately clocked a fish down to my right before he left so I knew this would be my first port of call given the night time spots were uneventful. So, with an underarm flick a naked chod was soon settled amongst the old Lilly roots for the right rod. The left similar but straight out from an old reed bed I could stand on. Rods in place the calm morning soon changed its tune and with a hard westerly now blowing straight in my face by late morning it looked perfect for a margin/close quarters bite. 

True to form it didn't take long and the first rod rattled off within twenty minutes! An 18lb common in the bag it felt nice to be off the mark... Not putting any freebies out and just fishing singles for a quick bite I've found to be devastating this time of year and this became no more apparent in its effectiveness as over the next 5hrs I managed to bag another 4 fish all from 15-19lb on both rods. Great action for the time of year even if I had been very unlucky on the size given how many twenties the water holds. 

Above: I am really loving the new Edges Stiff Rig hooks!

Happy with my tally I knew I had to return for one last visit the following weekend and see if I could better my luck on the size of my quarry. Upon returning the following Saturday morning at 6:30am the lake was once again busy, but luck happened to be on my side again and the Reeds swim was free again. With slightly different conditions this week being colder and much calmer the fish were still trickling out here and there so I knew the odds had to be in my favour for a few more hopefully.

With the right rod flicked back out short into the old Lilly bed to my right the left rod this time was placed at 30yards in open water to a soft clay patch that has scored great for me in the past at this time of year. 
The day light hrs were uneventful though but sure enough at 4am the following morning the left rod was away! After a slow and heavy battle and getting snagged in some old lilly roots twice I knew it had to be one of the larger residents at last and upon finally peering down into my net I was met with one of my target fish I always wanted to catch. I don't know it's actual name but I've always called it the big plated and at 27lb 8oz although a couple of pound down on its top weight I was more than happy! 

 Above: Another one nailed!

Unfortunately, I was soon to learn that the entire lakes stock was down in weight due to a lack of angling pressure due to the lake suffering a severe oxygen crash in October. Something I keep hearing about all too often the last few years it seems. Either our summers are getting drier or we are just that bit better educated than we have been in seasons passed? What I do know is there have been some severe fish kills in the Essex area the last couple of years so something is causing an impact?

Anyway, I’m rambling on, that was my last and only bite of that trip and my last trip of the season there until the new season begins. I’ve got a trip booked to Holme Fen in mid-March which is one I’m looking forward too so let’s hope my next piece proves to be just as successful!