Fox-sponsored for British and World carp fishing champion, Neil Rivers, has kindly agreed to start writing a blog for the Fox website - here is instalment number one...

Well my time actually on the bank fishing is always limited so to help me with these circumstances I try and get as much prep work done before I get to the lake as possible.This would include getting on the Internet checking catch reports, going through Facebook pages or ringing the bailiff on site to see how the lakes I'm planning on fishing are doing. I'm not one of these anglers that looks for a drop in air pressure or a full moon then goes fishing. If I get an opportunity to go I’m going regardless of the weather!

In preparation, once I've done my homework on the chosen venue, and found out what tactics have been catching I will do what I can at home, or in the evenings after work to get my tackle ready. For example I will tie up solid PVA bags on mini leadcore leaders (if they are allowed) which can be kept in a bucket of the pellet that I've tied the bags with. I'll often tie up 30-40 solid bag rigs in all with the same size hook and hooklength, again these are all done in the comfort of my front room. Different colour hookbaits are used, as I never know what will work on the day, so keeping my options open is paramount.Once all the prep has been done, the countdown to the forthcoming trip begins. This past month or so I have visited a friend of mine who has just purchased an old established fishery with a mixture of lakes, with carp of various sizes. The plan was to travel light and move if the fish weren't playing ball. I had a walk around the lake that was suggested and managed to see a fish pop his head out straight away, so I was quickly back to the car to grab a chair, rod bag, stalker bag and food bag! Rods went out with solid bags to where I saw the fish show and I sat back and got the kettle on. The rod wasn't out for long and I managed a carp of about 7lb. Not a monster but a nice and clean fish and definitely one for the future. Ben the new owner said he wasn't sure of size of the fish in the lake and in the end I managed 7 carp up to 7lb bouncing between the lakes, not bad for 4 hours fishing. 

The next session I had featured a birthday social, which consisted of a 12 hour trip. It was my weekend to have my daughter so I only had a quick Friday night and arrived in darkness.

The brolly was set up, gear put away, rods out their bags and I had a quick lead about, which resulted in me locating an area of about 6ft deep. We were in the teeth of the wind and the fish were showing on it so things looked good! After wrapping up the rods to 11.5 wraps, the spod rod was also wrapped to the same and 8 spods of maggots were dropped on the money. One rod was fished at 11.5 whilst I fished the other at 12 wraps, so one was on the bait and one just off it. Rigs were already tied up in the week, so a mesh PVA bag of maggots the size of a golf ball was tied up and attached to the hook before casting out. Then all that was left was to get the barbecue on and crack open a beer!  It was good to catch up with friends, and it wasn’t long before my left hand rod was bleeping on the receiver, which resulted in a nice common of about 15lb. I topped up the swim with 2 spods of bait, and put the rod straight back out.30 minutes later the same rod was away again this time resulting in a slightly smaller common. I decided to re-do the right hand rod, I re-wrapped it at 11.5 so it too was on the bait.  

The night proved very eventful and by morning I was on 8 carp to mid-doubles. As is the way though with my fishing, it was over all too soon and I was packed up and on my way home before the others were up for breakfast. The next session I managed was a practice trip to Orchard Place Farm in readiness for an upcoming carp match. This time I had a 24-hour pass from the Mrs so a plan was set. Food bag was packed the night before and my alarm set for 6am. I got to the lake at 6.30am, to find it was nice and quiet considering the mild weather that was forecast.  

I set up in an area that is usually good for a fish or 2,  and the plan was to give them some bait but to try different methods as well as the old faithful maggots. Once set up, I scooted round to the shop picked my bait up and paid for my ticket. 

Back at the swim I introduced a gallon of maggots with a liberal helping of the new Spod Syrup that I was trying. One rod was fished on the bait, in a gully just off the island, whilst the other two had solid bags and different colour wafters on them. Rods were recast every hour, or when I saw something worth casting to. After a while I changed one of the solid bags for a wafter on a D rig, which was fished with a small bag of crumb that I dipped in the Spod Syrup. 

About an hour later the rod on the wafter and crumb had a bite, which resulted in a common of about 12lb – a nice way to start. The wind picked up and started blowing a strong south westerly, which seemed to get the fish moving. I was getting liners on the rod fishing over the bait, so I moved the right hand rod to just off the bait, this was put on a corn and maggot longshank rig and fished with a bag of maggots. As the session went on it got better and better as the fish seemed to get on the bait. I ended up with 7 fish to low 20s, which was a great tip and perfect confidence booster to the match.

As I write this I'm out on the bank having another practice as I've got the BCAC qualifier on Orchard and UK Carp Champs at Brasenose One coming up. Also I have just found out that I'm being posted to Plymouth with work for the next 10 months so if any of you know of any waters down that way drop me a line and I'll come and pay you a visit!