Two were the same carp, an old looking warrior mirror, distinctive as it had no pelvic fins, the other two, a mirror and a common were superb looking fish, weighing 22lb and 20lb respectively. It was a great end to a fantastic season at the estate lake; Seventeen 20lb carp with only two repeats. Itís a wonder now how many 20lb carp are actually in the lake as most of the known carp did not see the bank at all. I will have to wait for June now though to find out more.

I was hoping to get straight in to fishing after catfish in early April but a variety of things have thus far stopped me, not least the very cold nights with a frost nearly every night. The days of course have been sunny and sometimes warm but the cold nights have put me off. Never mind there is plenty of time.

The traditional close season is of course time for work parties and AGMs and several clubs I have associations with are planning great and ambitious things, I wish them well. I am always itching to get the rods out though, so when my mate Gary said he was going to try some day ticket fisheries I readily tagged along. Most of the sessions were pleasant enough, mainly because of the dry sunny weather. Unfortunately the carp kept their heads down in general but on two of the sessions we had a nice result.

The first successful session was to Twynersh fisheries near Chertsey. This venue is very much a man made set of lakes and, to be honest, is extremely unpleasant to my eye - basically just holes in the ground. But we wanted something to pull back and the main carp lake is stuffed full of carp that are constantly ravenous due to the lack of weed or marginal vegetation, they need anglerís baits to survive, there are some big fish in there as well. If we could not catch here then we should give up was our thought as we turned up on a pleasant enough day.

We chose a likely looking patch of bare earth and cast one rod each in the margins over some particle baits (better be careful here as quite possibly we broke some rules but Iím not a great one for following fishery rules so there you go) mind you, Gary has made stroke pulling a real art form. I digress! The second rod we whacked out both using stringers to the middle. The first take came after just half an hour when Gary led in a nice mirror around 10lb from the margin. The carp was a nice fish but we could tell it came from a day ticket fishery as it was somewhat tatty compared to the carp I am used to.

My far rod tore off next and I hooked in to a better fish that chugged away out in the middle, but with no snags there was no way it was going to win the battle so I settled back to enjoy the fight on the light rod and 6lb line. It was great fun and after a short while the carp was just running up and down the margin and we were both having a giggle about its antics as it tried its best to escape. Soon Gary folded the net around it and we placed the carp, another mirror, on the mat to protect it from the stone hard grassless banks. The fish was in quite good condition, just a split tail and dorsal, and spun the scales round to a rather pleasing 22lb 3oz, a nice result. However a fish of that size from a fishery like that to me is no great prize so we slipped it back with little ceremony and I whacked another string of bright red sweets out to the middle.

It was quite pleasant sitting in the sun as we chatted away before being interrupted by Garyís buzzer on his far rod screaming out. The fight was similar to my one but this carp went on a couple of relentless runs and we guessed Gary had hooked a common carp. Sure enough as it came nearer we saw its fully scaled flanks as it rolled. On the bank we found it was not as big as we hoped but it was another 20lber, 23lb 11oz to be precise. Three more carp fell to our rods that day, with two more slipping the hook in the edge; barbless hooks, the greatest carp losing contraptions of our time! It had been a pleasant enough day but we were both left with the same feeling, a feeling of little achievement and a feeling of sadness for the poor carp that swim round in these featureless holes waiting to be mis-treated on the banks. That should get me banned from most day ticket venuesÖ.shame!

The second venue where the carp played ball was a considerably nicer place, still a day ticket but the lake, although quite newly dug was with hard work made to look old, the banks were lovely and green and the surrounding very pleasing to the eye. I wonít name it as we quite like the place and because the carp fishing is a bit of a challenge it is still nice and quiet, but as news gets out I think things will change. For a mere £5 we strolled down to its green banks and looked across the small lake before choosing two adjacent small swims surrounded by emerging plants. We only fished one rod each, both fished with small particle baits over a bed of pellets in the edge.

Before long we found carp visible. moving over the bait. Gary was in first again, his slack line hissing off as the carp ran away up to his left. The fight was strong, we had stepped up to 8lb line as the margins were snaggy but after fifteen minutes a nice common rolled over the net. The hook was neatly in its bottom lip, it popped out nicely leaving no mark, no silly barbless hook rules here. The scales went to 16lb 14oz, a much more pleasing result, Gary remarked, than the rather scabby looking 23lber he had caught from Twynersh. Indeed the carp was pristine, undoubtedly it had been caught before but by real anglers. Gary had only just put his carp back when my rod was away. A harder fight where I had to use all my cunning to coax it through some marginal snags and in to the net. A gorgeous nearly fully scaled mirror, not a mark on it, its fins perfect. Again, it had without doubt been caught before but it looked perfect to the eye. A trifle bigger than Garyís common and a real peach. Just one more carp fell to our rods, to Gary again, a mirror of 21lb 2oz, a lovely creature, and one that we toasted at the end of the day as the sun set.

We were reluctant to leave but the owner had said we should drop in on our way out to look at some photos over a glass of red wine - we had readily accepted, as that was the perfect way to end the day.

Have fun!