altaltAs one of the original carp ‘Meccas’, Gold Valley has been quietly developing a solid reputation when it comes to your none Cyprinius Carpio species (that's carp, for all you folk who don't speak Latin!), highlighted previously by some fantastic match weights of roach, skimmers and perch during the depths of winter. We decided to track down one of the chief culprits, guilty of amassing big nets of these sparkling Silvers@Gold.

On the recommendation of owner John Raison, we sought out Mark Goddard, one of Daiwa Dorking’s venue specialists (aren’t they all!) and asked him to run through the pros and cons of picking up a decent bag of these carp under-studies during winter and spring.

Mark’s a ‘chippy’ (carpenter) by trade and hails from Farnborough, literally just up the road, which in some way explains his enviable catch record at the venue. We met up in the clubhouse and discussed what the day may hold, and more importantly where we’d set up, as there was a strong wind blowing outside. This had completely ruined our plans to use Gold Lake’s canal bank, which was prime silver territory!

Marks rigs:
12m Joker:
No.3 Elastic, Sensas Desque .6gr to 0.10mm Daiwa Matchwinner mainline, 0.069mm Daiwa DPLS to size 18 Green Gamakatsu. Bulk shotted with number 8s and three number 10 droppers.
12m Heavy, Joker/Caster:
No.3 Elastic, Sensas Desque .8gr to 0.10mm Daiwa Matchwinner, 0.069mm Daiwa DPLS to size 18 Green Gamakatsu. Bulk shotted with number 8s and three number 10 droppers.
5m Caster:
No.4 Elastic, Carpa Caster 4x12 to 0.10mm Daiwa Matchwinner, 0.089mm Daiwa DPLS to size 18 Gamakatsu G Point pellet hook. Spread out numbers 10’s.
5m Heavy, Caster:
No.5 Elastic, Carpa Caster 4x12 to 0.10mm Daiwa Matchwinner, 0.089mm Daiwa DPLS to size 18 Gamakatsu G Point pellet hook. Bulked No.10’s, 12 inches from hook.

Our best alternative was on the other side, along the causeway bank at peg 27, this would put the wind behind us. Mark had consulted with team-mate, England International and joint fishery owner, William Raison, about our prospects and decided this was going to be as good as it gets today. It didn’t take long to move his kit into position and even though Mark’s only ‘five foot nothing’, he still carries his kit to the waterside… with all that weight on his shoulders, perhaps that’s why!

altaltThe first order was to get his Daiwa Tournament Pro out and dry it off from the previous day’s monsoon. He sets out four top kits and gives them all a good dousing with lubricant, a very important task, considering the quarry. He has two No.3 elastics, one No.4 and one No.5, all Kamasan latex.

Mark roughly positions two pole rollers, not the tripod variety but he more stable four legged variety, which he prefers, especially when there's a gales blowing. “Always make sure that they are set at the correct distance otherwise you can have big problems when shipping back,” he says adding, “because the winds behind us I’ll need to keep the pole stable and level otherwise it’ll be all over the place!” He's going to fish two lines, a dedicated short 5 metre caster line and 12 metres with joker and caster.

altalt Mark’s concerned about the wind and whether it will throw his rig around at 12 metres so he tries out a .6gr float first. “I want to see if this rig is right for the gusty conditions because you really need the lightest float possible to collar some of these larger commercial roach and skimmers. With joker fishing, some of the bigger roach get choosy and clever, so you need to be a bit smart with them and fish as light as you can”, he says. The float proving satisfactory, Mark explains his shotting method when joker fishing. “Most of my rigs are prepared with small shot (No 8 or 10s) acting as the bulk, with three or four No.10 droppers, this is both simple and positive. The floats are weighted up to the base of the bristle which I then fine tune by adding a couple of very small style leads directly under the bulk shot. This gradually drops the bristle down in the water up to the black marked part of my bristle, which I find easy to see in most light situations. If the wind drops then I add another style, if it increases then I take off. This way I have an extremely sensitive rig which I can adjust quickly as and when conditions dictate, what I don’t do is grease the bristle!”

The rigs are attached to No.3 elastics while the caster ones go onto the No.4. Mark’s preference is the crowsfoot connector over the stonfo, which he says are clumsy and can sometimes open up on you, with the crowsfoot there’s no such problems. There's another caster rig, this time on a No.5 elastic, just in case it’s solid on that 5 metre line! It's shotted with a bulk, then a strung out pattern to cover most situations.

Having attached all his rigs to the correct elastics, he checks the depths of both lines. He’s got just over 5 foot on the 5 metres and just under 6 foot on the 12 metres. It’s not much of a drop, considering there’s 7 metres between lines. This is pretty consistent depth and shows how the lake has been created to make a fair and balanced terrain.

The next job is to mix the leam up which Mark does with the aid of a powerful drill. “I normally mix up my leam the night before but I got a bit behind after yesterdays match” he adds cheekily, “so I’ll show you the quick way”.

He then deposits a 2kg bag of Terre de Somme and a kilo of Terre de Riviere into a large bucket and puts the whisk in to combine the two leams evenly. “I’m making the mix quite soft today so I’ve added less Riviere, he says. The next process surprises me as he starts to add water! Now I always thought that this was done gradually over time to stop the leam glogging up… wrong. "This is where the drill whisk becomes invaluable", Mark explains, adding, "you obviously have to be careful when adding water to leam, too much and the mix goes solid and is ruined, so add a little at a time and use the drill mixer to distribute the water, its really a quick process and produces a superb dampened leam which is ideal for the jokers. When the leam goes into tiny balls the mix is almost ready and there's no need to sieve it fine, as its not feed, just a soil carrier for the joker. There’s one more thing to add", Marks say, "and that’s some grey leam, or Bentonite to the prepared leam. This acts as a binding agent and allows the mix to be compacted into tight balls, which won’t break up as they hit the surface. If you vary the pressure as you form the balls, you can create a timed release of the joker feed thereby avoiding unnecessary and frequent top ups. What we don’t want to do is create a cloud as this will only attract smaller fish!” he adds.

Now that the leam is ready for the joker Mark explains how much he adds. “This fishery has a strict limit on joker, which is half a kilo (500gr), so you need to establish how much joker is added to the 3kg of leam. This I’ve achieved through experience fishing many matches here. I start by adding 400gr, which is most of my allocation, to the mix. I’m going to introduce a fair amount of caster as well, about 250gr, in the hope of picking up some of the larger skimmers and perch which are down this end of the lake.” It’s not uncommon in the depths of winter for the swim to lie dormant for 2-3 hours before kicking in, but in winter I never add casters unless I suspect larger fish are present, or there’s some colour in the water.”

altalt Mark folds the loose feed into the leam carefully and proceeds to mould nine ‘jaffas’. He positions 12 metres of pole in the rest and proceeds to deposit the balls around the end of the pot at the tip. Once he's done that, the 5 metre line is fed with just a small ball of joker (60gr) bound up in grey leam and about a 150gr of casters in the pole pot. The intention is that this will purely be a caster line, with the small quantity of joker acting as an initial magnet.

Mark positions his joker and caster hookbaits on his tray and prepares to start. I ask him whether he uses bloodworm hookers and he says, “NEVER… if you use it you just seem to get plagued with small fish. This is probably because you’ve not introduced it in your initial feed and it therefore stands out, which the smaller fish seem to go for it. With joker the better stamp fish just seem to prefer it.”

altaltaltalt Looking at Marks joker hookers, I ask how he sorts them. “On an important, or big match, I like to get my joker the week before and ‘tank’ it, I can then sort out the better sized joker for hooking by running a batch through a fine flour sieve. Those that do not go through are then put in a small container of water, which I change every two days. If you look after them with regular water changes every couple of days then they can keep for ages.”

altaltI watch as Mark picks several jokers out of his blue bait tray. He selects the best and hooks it carefully onto a size 18 ‘Gama’, “Amazing isn't it, you wouldn’t think you’d catch on that, would you?” he exclaims and adds, “but those big roach just love it”.

altalt He sets the rig 2 inches off bottom then ships out to 12 metres and settles down. We doesn’t have to wait long before a small roach of around 4oz dips the float and we’re off and running. As if to prove the point about jokers and big roach, the next put in produces a good tug on his number 3 elastic. “This could be a good fish” Mark says, as he gingerly guides the unseen fish away from his feed zone. A short time later a roach off about a pound is guided over the waiting net. “There you are,” he says smugly, “that’s what we came for”.

altalt It's not long before another small fish is brought close to the bank, this time its swung in. “Take time hooking your joker,” Mark advises, “it needs to be good to stand out against all the others you initially fed. If you damage the joker, or hook a dead one, then big fish won’t be interested in it because they're a bit ‘cute’ at that size!”

 Mark starts to set a rhythm as his peg comes to life with a string of fish between 4 to 10 ounces. The odd tell tale pull of the elastic produces a good skimmer and roach, a welcome addition to the gathering weight.

altaltaltalt Sixty minutes soon pass-by and Mark decides to rest the 12 metres and have a look on the short line, which he’s been constantly flicking casters onto. So he swaps over to the 4x12 strung-out caster rig and it’s fish-on immediately… a small roach again.

Perseverance over the next hour sees the odd quality roach up to 12ozs grace the net along with the inclusion of a couple of marauding perch, one of which comes close to a couple of pounds. The line however is not producing what Mark feels is its best, as he thinks it needs more time so its back onto 12 metres, this time with caster set just on bottom.

altalt An encouraging skimmer first put in sees Mark continue with the caster to produce more quality roach to a pound and a couple of skimmer/hybrids to 11/2lb. The fish are certainly responding to the casters, in particular the lighter ones. “I think they’re picking up the light coloured caster easier because it stands out a little better in this coloured water” he says.

altaltThe remaining two hours of the session see our 'chippy' working hard with quite literally, a 'fish-a-bung’.

The day’s been quite cold with gusty winds and threatening skies but the ‘silvers’ at Gold Valley have played their part in an enlightened and most productive lesson in joker and caster fishing. However, one important task remains… the weigh in, for which we’re joined by a stand-in scalesman, England’s 2005 European Champion William Raison! The scales tip round toward 27lb and the conclusive point that ‘all the glitters at Gold' is actually 'Silver'!altalt

altalt Top Tip: Use the Drennan Polemaster pots which have measures on the side to weigh out your joker and caster quantities.


altaltTop Tip: Instead of using white Tippex to mark off the depth on your top sections, use the fluorescent yellow variety, it’s easier to see and rubs off far easier than the white stuff.