Daren Norman – Burghfield Challenge

Back in April I began a new fishing adventure and a challenge that had been at the back of my mind for many years. Burghfield has so far been everything I’d hoped it would be. It feels very similar to my favourite water of all time ,the old leisure sports days Wraysbury. Real 'get your arse in the grass' carping. Raw, unmanicured, and bloody challenging, both mentally and physically.

A big Burghfield mirror

With 96 acres of mazy wilderness and a stock of around a fish per acre, it has me hooked for sure. As we all know April 2021 was very cold, on my first 3 trips we had frosts every night and even a dusting of snow on one occasion. May bought some warmer night time temps and things started to look better. May was also when I had 2 weeks off work and I knew I really had to make this period count as it would be a great chance to string some consistent nights together and hopefully build a picture that would lead to future bites. The fish seemed to spend this whole period sitting in a large area of out of bounds and although I was walking the pit regularly I couldn’t find anything to go on elsewhere. When I finally hooked my first carp, disaster struck and I lost it. I was devastated obviously, but got on with it and over my holiday period I did manage to land my first Burghfield carp. Firstly, I had a 17 lb, blind eyed common and I’ve got to say that little common had me beaming for a few days, I’d caught a Burghfield carp! Things got better when I followed it up with a 42lb 2oz mirror that was an otter attack survivor from a few years ago. A proper old character that definitely looked like it had a few stories to tell.

Always fit in time for a social!

Spring turned to summer and to be honest things seemed to get harder rather than easier for me. My normal approach of lots of walking and looking didn’t really work and countless 4-hour laps of the lake over the summer months lead to me seeing pretty much bugger all and left me seriously scratching my head. Only once did all the effort pay off when I spotted some fizzing in an unlikely area one morning. With nothing else to go on I set up for the night in a little corner and was rewarded with a lovely, long common that looked like it had been around for a few years. That fish meant the world to me and I’d certainly walked a lot of miles looking for that little sign. I took August off, as I always do, to spend the school holidays with my family and started back up in September. The lake had changed a lot in my absence and the thick weed beds had started to break up making a lot more of the pit fishable.

This long common meant the world after hardship!

On my second trip back, I stumbled across a few fish in Alsatian bay and set up on the entrance for the night, thinking they would come out in the evening. Without a liner it was obvious they had stayed put so a quick move further into the bay the following morning had me feeling much more confident. Two rods swung out no more than a couple of rod lengths onto a smooth silty area were followed by a kilo of Krill boilies and I settled in hoping this would be my chance. That night the carp gods took pity on me and I had a bite on each rod, landing a 26 mirror followed by a 29 common. A burghfield brace, yeehaaa! Although small fish by Burghfield standards they really made my year on the big pit. I had one more trip after that resulting in feeling close, but no cigar this time, and all to soon it was mid-September and time to finish for the year on Burghfield as I had a couple of big trips abroad planned for the Autumn.

The Gods took pity on me that night!

So, my first year on Burghfield ended with 5 carp landed and 1 loss in 38 nights angling. Tough fishing for sure but I’m looking forward to next year and hopefully with a bit of knowledge I’ve gained this year, I can catch a few more of the pits stock and who knows, maybe one of the pits special prizes. The bites came using a combination of Sticky Krill Active and an assortment of ESP terminal tackle. Size 2 Cryogen Gippers, Tungsten Loaded, and Original Leadcore made up the armoury for my most of my rig arrangements, all tried and tested strong stuff.