Kev Grout checks in with the latest instalment of his website blog...

With May being my favourite month of year for carp fishing, I always plan to I have plenty of time on the bank throughout the month, and this year was no exception. With my new syndicate ticket starting on the 1st May, and my all-important BCAC qualifier scheduled for the middle of the month, it was panning out to be an exciting and hopefully fruitful May. After my surprisingly unproductive winter and spring I must admit I was starting to wonder when my fortune was likely to change, and I would finally get some successful sessions in the bag for 2017. Thankfully my favourite month of the year was kind to me, and I was blessed with some pretty memorable carp fishing action.

BCAC Qualifier

My BCAC qualifier this year was to be held at Walthamstow Reservoirs, pit 1. After winning our qualifier on this venue last year, I felt very confident prior to the match with regards to our chosen tactics and initial plan of attack. As we arrived at Walthamstow I was completely buzzing about being there, and super ready for the competition. However on our first walk round the lake Thursday evening we noticed that the lake was very quiet with very few fish showing. Normally Walthamstow 1 is alive with fish this time of year, so the lack of action worried us to say the least. On the morning of the draw we spoke to another competitor who informed us of a match held on the lake last week, which was won with only 6 fish. Considering we won our BCAC qualifier last year with 43 fish, this was a big surprise and increased our concerns about the potentially unpredictable fish behaviour that we now faced. Thankfully the draw went well and we came 3rd out the bag and selected our first choice swim, which happened to be the swim we qualified from last year.Due to the lack of activity we decided to approach the start of the match delicately, fishing with small 10mm pop ups, coupled with a small mesh PVA bag of groundbait, cast relatively tight to the island. As we had fished the swim in the previous year, we were very familiar with the productive spots, so with little preparation to do, we were ready for the start of the match in plenty of time. One of our key strengths as competition anglers is the amount of time and effort we put into making sure we are fully prepped for the matches, and therefore 100% ready to compete before we arrive at the venue. The only down side to this is that you get a bit too much spare time before the start of the match to ponder on the possible outcomes and eventualities, which can increase the nerves to say the least. Finally after what seemed like an age, the start of the match arrived and we positioned our rods on what looked likely to be the productive spots. In our qualifier last year, the right hand side of our swim produced 90% of the bites, so we sat back expecting our right hand rods to come alive. However we were both surprised that after waiting for 2 hours it was the furthest left rod that produced the first bite, and I was finally into what could be potentially a very valuable fish. Most of the fish in Pit 1 average around 15lb in size, so I cannot tell you how surprised I was to see this stunning mid 20lb common come to the surface and grace our net.

By the first afternoon of the match there had only been 2 fish caught and it started to become evident that this was not to be a normal, action packed Walthamstow Qualifier. After a quiet night, I was awoken by a savage take at around 6am. Knowing that the lake had produced no more bites though the night, I was fully aware that this fish could put us one very firm step towards qualification. One of the things I love about competition angling is you never really know what to expect, and after landing that stunning common the previous day, my heart was in my mouth when I picked up the rod, and lent into the fish. To our amusement the dramatic fight resulted in probably the smallest fish in the pit, a 10lb mirror. None the less, it was another fish banked, and valuable points on the score board.  After recasting the rod to the productive spot, I did not have to wait long before I was in again. This fish felt remarkably heavy as it kited slowly down the island. After all the surprises so far this weekend I had no idea what to expect, when what looked like a possible 30lb common rose to the surface. By this point I was completely buzzing as we were comfortably in 1st place on 3 fish for 66lbs. It was at this point that we started to relax, hoping that we had done enough to qualify for the semi-finals.The match continued in a similar fashion with steady action coming to our rods at regular intervals, and the remainder of the lake staying very quiet only producing another 4 fish in total. Well done to those who competed in what was a surprisingly tough qualifier, to be honest it was the strangest and most unpredictable match I have ever competed in.

West Stow – Three captures in three casts

Although I managed a few nights on my syndicate lake before the BCAC qualifier, I unfortunately did not manage to trick one of the residents. By this point of the year the fish had mainly been caught from deeper areas of the lake, but with a sudden increase in temperature forecast. I was hoping that the fish would move onto the shallower areas of the lake where my preferred tactics work best. So with that in mind I set up in one of the main island swims, and positioned 3 rigs tight to the island margin in hope for a bite through the night. After another fruitless night I must admit I was a little disheartened, and confused about my next attack of approach. Knowing the weather was going to be very warm throughout the day I decided to sit it out in my chosen swim and give the island margin a real chance to produce a bite. So at around 9am I recast my first of three rods onto what looked like a good daytime spot, around 6 feet from the island. I opted to fish with exactly the same type of rig and bait that I used in the BCAC qualifier earlier in the month, as it was very similar fishing so I felt very confident doing so.  To my amazement seconds after setting the rod, my bite alarm started sounding as I saw a huge bow wave against the island, and I lifted into my first West Stow carp of the season. Although only 18lb I was so chuffed to finally get a result. Excited by the sudden quick action, I recast one rod back to the productive spot, and started to prepare another rod that I planned to cast round 20 feet to the left, with the intention of maximising my chances of another bite. However before I had even finished prepping my second rod, I was in again. This fish felt heavier and put up one hell of a scrap, but with the kind assistance from an angler fishing in the next peg, I soon had this lovely mid 20lb mirror in the bag.

Not really believing what just happened after waiting so long to get a bite, I excitedly position a rod back on the productive spot, and one just to the left as previously planned. As I stood watching over the productive area for signs of fish, I started to ponder over my success, when my bobbin suddenly smashed up against my rod and I was away again. Although only a relatively small fish of around 19lb, I was completely over the moon when it graced my net as it meant I had just caught 3 fish in less than 2 hours. Although the action dried up after the third fish I could not have be happier with this result, especially considering 20 fish in a season is seen to be a very good year on this particular syndicate lake. I just hope I can take what I have learnt from this session, and turn it into more exciting results like this in the near future.

So all in all I had a fairly productive month, but with my UK Carp Championships qualifier, and at least another 6 nights on my Syndicate through June, I am hoping for a great deal more action to come my way.