England international hauler Tom Maker outlines his essential tips for tackling Brasenose Two on Oxfordshire's Linear Fisheries
Day-ticket carp legend Tom Maker has a saying, 'don’t expect or hope it happens, make it happen'.
And with some unbelievable hits of fish under his belt from some of the UK’s most pressured waters, the Fox/Sticky angler must be doing something right.
To find out the top edges Tom employs, we joined him for the day on the banks of Linear Fisheries’ Brasenose Two. And with over 1,800 carp stocked, it was only a matter time before he was into a few…
Always take the weather with you
A smartphone with a good weather app is possibly Tom’s most important piece of carp-fishing kit.
Not for the temperature, pressure or moon phases, but the wind strength and direction.
On large gravel pits, the wind can swing quickly, so the kiss of death is to start fishing in a south-westerly with it off your back only for it to change direction a handful of hours later.
“I always check what the wind is going to do over the next 48 to 72 hours,” Tom said.
“It is pointless baiting up at 100 yards, the wind swings 24 hours later and you can no longer reach your spots. I’d rather start shorter, 70 to 80 yards, and then I know I can fish the exact same area for the entire session.”
Look and then look again
On day-ticket waters too many anglers select the nearest swim to the car park, taking three hours to set up and three minutes to cast. Unsurprisingly, they often end up struggling to catch.
Don’t be in too much of a hurry, especially if you are there for the whole weekend. It is better to spend two hours in the right place, than two days in the wrong one.
“When I arrive I spend maybe an hour or so looking around and speaking to other anglers to get a feel for what’s been going on,” Tom explained.
“Today I looked at three other lakes before deciding on Brasenose Two. There are seven day-ticket lakes here, so don’t plan to fish a specific lake - St John’s Lake or Manor Farm Lake – before you arrive. Plan to fish the Linear complex and then make an informed choice on the lake once you are there. If you’re lazy, you’ll get lazy results!”
Tom’s first job in a swim is to lead around. This is to find hard, clear areas, not depth. The depth is only relevant if he is planning to fish zig rigs.
As long as he can present a bait effectively, he is happy. This process should take a maximum of five casts, unless it’s a weedy water.
“I avoid blatant gravel spots like the plague,” Tom said with a grin. “Everyone will target this, so for me any area of polished hard clay is perfect, and much easier to find in the minimal amount of casts.”
Be as accurate as possible
Tom reckons his huge success is all down to being mega accurate. If he feels that the rig is ‘close enough’, then it’s not good enough and he will recast. “I would rather have three single hookbaits in the right place, on top of my loosefeed than three PVA bags slightly off it,” he said.
To help with this, he employs measuring sticks, meticulously counting his wraps so both spod and fishing rods are clipped at the same distance.
All his rods have a large loop in their mainlines, so he can attach a new rig or spod loop to loop. This means he is not cutting the line back every time he changes something, shortening his lines and then his cast every time too.
For Tom, close enough is simple not good enough.
All in the spod mix
Day-ticket waters see a lot of bait, so again Tom keeps things simple – hemp, corn and boilies – at a ratio of 6kg hemp, 4kg boilies (two of chops and two whole) and 2kg of corn for a 48-hour session.
“I like to use heavier items on big pits as they sink faster and so aren’t as affected by the tow,” Tom explained.
“I kick off with 10 spods, with three rods over the top of it. Every 30 minutes or so, I’ll top up with another two or three. Just like a match angler, I like to keep the food going in, little and often.
“There’s 1,800 carp in here to be caught, you just need to feed them.”
Again simplicity is the key. Fancy rigs look good in the hand or the margins but not necessarily at 90 yards in a crosswind. A 6ins to 8ins length of 20lb semi-stiff coated braid, striped close to the size 4 hook, is as complicated as things get.
“I prefer a big hook because there are some very big fish in here and I don’t want to lose them by using a small hook that could pull out or get straightened.” Tom added.
Over the top of his spod mix, Tom prefers to fish a neutrally balanced wafter. He feels there is no point having a swim full of bait on the deck then having a hookbait sitting two inches above it.
“A Sticky Krill Wafter cut in half and topped with fake corn is the perfect hookbait in my eyes,” Tom explained. “I will try a pop-up now and again if nothing is happening, but only on one rod, just to see, generally.”
Getting ziggy with it
As spring marches on, the water will be starting to warm, so the carp will be coming up in the water.
If Tom has fish crashing over his bait but isn’t getting any action, he will replace his bottom rigs with zig rigs. One set just under and the other set just over half depth.
“If they are in the area, you will get bites,” he said.
“Plus, I’ll still spod over the top of them as very often they are eating the loose feed as it sinks. That’s why they are over the bait, but not bottom feeding.”