Clicking Into Gear – Mike Salisbury

It’s no secret that park lakes have fast become my favourite hunting ground for carp these days – I regularly fish four of them! One that interests me the most is Priory Park in the centre of Southend, and although I’ve had a ticket since June, my time on the bank there has been very limited. A few after-work evening sessions during the summer had proven fruitless, so recently I’ve been doing the odd work-overnighter. Three of these had produced my first fish, a lovely 17lbs ghostie. Last weekend I decided to put some serious hours in, so straight after work I headed to the park with the intention of doing a 48-hour session.
Despite it being quite busy on the bank, the swim I wanted was free, and tucked away in the quietest corner of the lake I was confident that this was the right place to be. I’ve rarely been the type of angler to put “all my eggs in one basket”, so my approach was to fish one rod in the margins on Chilli Growlers, and the other on 14mm Poloni boilies towards the island. In terms of rigs, the fish in Priory Park have probably seen it all over the years, but I didn’t see the need to over-complicate things, and in 90% of my fishing I’d say that this is the case. My margin rod was baited with a Chilli Growler and a 10mm Pineapple & Squid Pop-up, and a small shot on the hair to balance it out. The island rod was pretty similar – a 14mm Poloni Wafter and again a shot on the hair to balance it as I was using a small size 8 hook. I wasn’t shy with the initial baiting, applying a kilo of bait to each spot. By the time I hit the bag I was questioning the wisdom of heavy baiting, but not for long! At around 3.30am my margin rod was away, and soon the first fish of the session was mine. At 12lbs I had caught “The Bayes Common”, named so because it had been donated to Priory Park by Gary Bayes from his day-ticket lake Bayeswater. Definitely a good start, and I was confident that more would follow.


A fruitless Saturday daytime had me questioning whether my approach was right – I guess my match-fishing background is responsible for this, and sometimes I have to resist the urge to keep tweaking things. I decided to stick rather than twist, and before night fell on Saturday I had applied a good helping of fresh bait to my spots. Then it was time for me to get fed! Takeaway curry demolished, a good film on the i-Pad, who could want more on a Saturday night? By 11pm I was sound asleep, but this was short-lived. Around 3am some savage liners started, followed by a huge BOSH in the margins. I was wide-awake, confident that it was only a matter of time….The indicator pulled to the top of the margin rod, and under the light of my head-torch I saw the tip of the rod pulling round. I was up like a shot and lifted into a solid lump, and after it had ploughed up and down for ages under the rod-tip I had it in the net. Now hearing all the commotion was my long-suffering wife Amanda who was with me for the weekend. She was wide awake now and (reluctantly) agreed to get out her nice warm bag and take the photos. We were just figuring out the mechanics of how this was going to work when my ATT bleeped and the indicator on my right-hand rod pulled up and then dropped back. Surely not? It pulled up again, and expecting this to be a tench I lifted into the bite. The rod hooped over straight away – definitely not a tench! Another lengthy battle followed, and soon there wasn’t one big carp nestling in the bottom of my net – there were two! Pretty unbelievable stuff, and after some huffing and puffing with two big angry carp, I had one ready for a picture and one waiting in the retainer. The Chilli Growlers on the margin rod had produced a mint 23lbs common, and no sooner had I put this one back it was time to have a look at the fish in the retainer. This one was on a 14mm Poloni Wafter, and at 23lbs 6oz it was a lovely sparsely-scaled mirror. A 46lbs brace from the park? I must have been dreaming! No, I definitely wasn’t, and after a short sort-out the rods were back on the spots.

I was pretty wired after the brace, so it took me a while to drift back off to sleep, but at first light I was up again doing battle with another park lake carp. This one was a real beauty, a low double, but an almost fully-scaled mirror with apple-slice scales. I couldn’t go back to sleep after this, so I got the kettle on and sorted breakfast for Amanda and me, and over a strong coffee we couldn’t help but laugh about a relatively sleepless night. Just as well she has a sense of humour! By around lunchtime we’d had enough – the net and cradle had nearly dried out, but the fish had other ideas. The island rod was off again – 5 fish in 1 session? No I wasn’t hallucinating, and I shortly had a very angry common in the net! Definitely the smallest of the session, this scraper double was a peach, and definitely worth getting the mat wet again for.

If I had to sum up my thoughts about this session, I would have to say I’m delighted with how things went. It certainly surpassed my expectations, and now I can’t wait to get back down there for my next session. With some truly stunning fish topping over 30lbs, Priory Park is the place to be for me now!

Tight Lines

Mike Salisbury
Bait-Tech Carp Team

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