The Jason Walker Interview
Paul Mallinson: Jase, thanks for agreeing to do this interview for the DNA website. I know you’ve had some pretty awesome results over the past few years since making the switch to DNA and I’m looking forward to hearing about them and how you go about your angling. First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and the sort of angling you like to do?
Jason Walker: No problem, mate. I live in Manchester and I’ve been fishing since I was six, with carp fishing taking over when I was 13. I’m 45 now, so that’s 32 years, and I’ve loved every minute of it. When I started carp fishing it was always just about catching carp, mainly doubles, with the odd twenty thrown in. As I got older, my fishing progressed, as it does, up to the point when I caught my first real big ’un, a lovely fish called the Big Lin from Wyreside’s Wyre Lake, which at over 35lb was a really big fish for the area; it still is, to be fair. This fish, along with another thirty from Wyre known as the Snake, really ignited the big-fish buzz in me, so since then it’s been about chasing big old fish, ideally ones steeped in history with a bit of a story behind them.
Paul: Can you tell us a bit about when you started to use DNA Baits? I think you were on Dead Man’s at the time. I know when you first made the move to using DNA boilies the results were pretty instant and you had a great run of fish on the SLK range.
Jason: Yeah that’s right, mate. It was around January/February 2014 when I was invited up to the DNA premises to see what it was all about. As soon as I met Jason Trought he instantly struck me as a genuinely passionate bait guy, and that was enough for me. The bait looked, smelled and tasted great as well! So, after a good look about at the various products, I took some bait home with me to try out. The two baits that stood out to me at the time were the S7 and SLK, so those were the ones I took, along with the matching EVO hookbaits and pop-ups. Oh, and some Milky Malts as well.
Spring was just around the corner and I was fishing Clifton Marina at the time in search of the best carp in the North West, Mr Angry, a true English thoroughbred 40lb-plus carp steeped in history and a really tricky one to track down as well.
The stock at the time was roughly 20 original mirrors, with Mr Angry being the biggest. They were all different shapes, sizes and scale patterns, a real mixed bag. On top of those, there were about 15 commons up to mid-twenties, so a low stock really for 17 acres of water.
In early spring I set to work fishing zigs and managed a couple of fish. It wasn’t until mid-April that the carp finally got properly on the feed and started showing big time.
I really loved the palatability and subtle smell of the SLK, so opted to use this bait and started to introduce it all over the lake in small amounts, a few hundred baits wherever I saw the fish showing. I ended up following them all around the lake, as they were so mobile in spring.
I was also soaking the boilies in Hemp Oil and Yeast Extract, just to make them that bit different to everybody else’s, and, boy, did it work! I’ve never seen such a phenomenal response to a boilie before. Those carp, the bigger mirrors, in particular, got straight on it. Throughout the spring and into the early summer, I caught three-quarters of the stock – it was mad! Bearing in mind I was on a new bait, every capture made my confidence in the SLK grow and grow.
SLK doesn’t possess any synthetic flavours or additives; it’s made up of 100% natural ingredients, and I’m sure that gave me a massive edge, as those carp were all old, wily fish that had seen it all.
Some of the particular highlights from that spring were catching a fish called Peter at 37lb-plus, Shiner at 32lb and bracing Single Scale at 29lb 15oz with the Walnut at 39lb 5oz on a day session – that was a real red-letter day! I also had the Lemon Leather at 29lb and Big Tail twice over 25lb, along with a few of the smaller mirrors and commons.
It was the best result I’d ever had on there by far, and I’m sure the SLK played a massive part in my success. Those white Milky Malt pop-ups also came into their own, as well earning me a few bonus captures, when whacking out singles to showing fish.
Paul: That’s some impressive angling, mate, an awesome spring by anyone’s standards! That list of big fish would be more than respectable if you were fishing down south; it’s incredible for the North West. I understand after that spring there were a series of bad events on the lake?
Jason: Yeah that’s right, mate: the lake shut around June for a two-week break when the fish started spawning, after which a few fish turned up with big sores on their sides and I think one or two died around the same time as well. The decision was made, quite correctly, to keep the lake closed for an extended duration and it didn’t reopen until around August.
By August the fish seemed to be fully recovered, so I recommenced my fishing, catching a few more residents along the way. Mr Angry, however, still wouldn’t turn up in my net; I just couldn’t seem to catch this particular fish, despite doubling up on a lot on the stock. The fishing on Clifton always shuts off quite early and that year was no different, with the carp shutting up shop around October time.
Paul: Still, you’d couldn’t complain with the results you’d had during your first year on DNA Baits, some awesome carp fell to your rods! I understand that there was some pretty exciting, although potentially very distracting, news around the corner for you in 2015?
Jase: Absolutely! Before I knew it, it was 2015 and I got a phone call I’d been waiting a long time for. A ticket for Dinton Pastures had become available for me, starting in June of that year. I didn’t fish it much that year, as I still had unfinished business with Mr Angry back at Clifton, and as a result I ended up flitting between the two lakes a lot.
Once again, the fishing on Clifton went well, with the only slight downer being I ended up re-catching a lot fish, and I still couldn’t seem to track down the ultimate prize. On top of that, one or two of the old original gang were departing to the big carp lake in the sky and it wasn’t long before Mr Angry was the only member of the original A Team left. It was starting to feel like I was running out of time.
Dinton was to prove to be a real struggle; I totally underestimated it, landing only one 20lb common and losing two. I was losing my way a bit and really felt like throwing the towel in. I had spread myself too thin by trying to fish the two lakes. I found I couldn’t concentrate when I was on Dinton; all the time it was in the back of my mind I had unfinished business with Mr Angry.
Paul: So, 2015 ended up being a year of recaptures on Clifton and struggling on Dinton? Still, at least you’d caught a few again on Clifton to keep the confidence up. Am I right in thinking that for the 2016 season you changed over to S7? If so, what were the reasons behind making the switch?
Jase: Yeah that’s right, I did swap to S7. After a chat with Jason at DNA, I learned it was a better winter bait than the SLK, so initially I swapped over for the winter. The reason I decided to stick with S7 through the warmer months was down to the fact Clifton and Dinton are both ridiculously weedy waters. As a result, a lot of the time I found myself fishing into holes in the weed, or tight up to weedbeds, which quite often meant fishing in silt, and the S7 repels the silt, which can sometimes taint baits. Also, in the autumn when all the weed starts dying off and breaking down on the bottom, this create some stale smells which can also taint the baits. I figured it was better to stick with the S7 throughout rather than using the SLK in the spring and changing to the S7 when the weed came up and through the winter. This turned out to be a good decision, as now I can’t see myself using another bait ever again such is the confidence I now have in the S7.
I started the year on Dinton with the S7 and caught four fish in a few visits, which was a big improvement on my efforts the previous year. The best fish of those four was a lovely old mirror called the Rudder. The winning tactic for me at that time was watching for shows and then casting to them with food-bait single pop-up soaked in my faithful combo of S7 Liquid Food and Hemp Oil.
Mr Angry was always at the back of my mind, though, and no matter how much I tried to shut it out, I couldn’t. I didn’t want another year flitting from lake to lake again, so in mid-April I pulled off Dinton and went back to Clifton.
It was hard work that spring; I was putting in a lot of effort specifically fishing for Mr Angry. I would spend hours and hours walking, looking in all the nooks and crannies and watching the open water, not for carp, but for that one specific carp. I would fish, not always where I had seen fish, but where I thought I had the best chance of catching Angry. Coming towards the end of May, I’d put a huge amount of effort in and, due partly to the way I was targeting that one specific fish, I was yet to catch a carp that spring. It was tough going.
I was set up in a swim called the Pipe when a lad caught the Lemon Leather, so I went over to help out with the photos. I won’t lie, I was struggling, having yet to have a bite. As I trudged back to my swim, I was thinking of packing up, but decided to have a brew and watch the water for a while; after all, one of the good ones had just been out, albeit from the other end of the lake. As I sat sipping that cup of tea, Angry launched herself out of the water, then plunged down into the bottom, sending up a huge sheet of fizz!
She wasn’t in the water of the swim I was in, she was actually on the opposite bank in front of a swim that hadn’t been fished at all that season, to my knowledge. I packed up sharpish and headed round to the other side to claim the swim. Once round there, I was in a bit of a state, a migraine had kicked in, which was far from ideal, and it had started chucking down with rain. I knew my obsession was out there, though, and feeding by the looks of it, so I just had to push on. Even the simplest of tasks became difficult in this situation, and I ended up tying a white Milky Malt pop-up to the D of the chod rig, rather than to the rig ring! I ended up with all my gear soaked and spread all over the swim, but at least I had my rods out there covering the water where she had shown.
The following morning all was quiet, so I decided to try and take the opportunity to find some spots in the peg, as it wasn’t one I was familiar with that season. I soon found a cracking gravel area, surrounded by fresh Canadian weed shoots. I clipped up to the mark and baited up with a couple of kilos of S7, fishing the trusty Milky Malt pop-ups over the top.
Not long after everything had nicely settled, Angry showed again, about 30 yards past the spot. I worried myself, thinking I’d spooked her off, but at least she was still in the general area. I needn’t have worried, as an hour later she showed again, this time right over the bait – she was right on me!
Paul: That must have been a pretty intense time, mate?
Jase: It was! She showed again on the spot later that day and was sending up sheets of fizz in the area as well. You know what it’s like, how on edge you are when you know you have fish on you; well, it was like that but tenfold, with me knowing exactly which fish it was.
As the evening drew in, all the activity seemed to fade away and I was sure I’d been cleaned out, so decided to top the spot up with another half kilo of boilies with the catapult and then got my head down, wondering if the opportunity had passed me by.
A bream in the early dawn had me out the bag, and as I tried to unhook it in the margins, I slipped and ended up in the lake up to my waist, which was far from ideal! The only positive was it wasn’t on the banker rod. Soon enough I was back in the bag, drifting back to sleep. Sleep never lasts long on a park lake, though, and soon enough I was woken up by a yapping dog. A morning brew was on the cards: I filled the kettle and fired up the stove, then reached into the back of the bivvy to fish out a tea bag. As I did so, the banker rod let out a series of bleeps before the clutch started spinning at an alarming rate!
On that first run, the fish took 60 yards of line! I think I knew then I was attached to Angry; she was charging about, trying to get rid of the hook by plunging into the bottom and sending up bubbles everywhere she went. It was an awesome battle and I was immensely relived to see my dream fish slide over the net cord. I’d finally realised my dream and captured Mr Angry at 43lb. Words cannot possibly describe the emotions I felt as I saw that huge pointy head and big brown humpy shoulders up on the surface slowly waddling its way towards me, before sliding into the waiting landing net!
That was it; I was free from Clifton. My nemesis had been tamed, Angry was mine. As I packed up it was actually hard; I knew I’d not be coming back to Clifton, but had loved every minute of being there.
It was now game on for Dinton White Swan, with a clear mind only focused on one thing: getting to grips with those famous old carp.
Paul: That is a mega result, mate. It’s an amazing feeling when one you’ve been focused on for so long finally slips into the net, something you can only relate to if you’ve been there. Thanks for sharing the details of your Clifton campaign with us and hopefully we can catch up in the future at some point to hear all about your exploits on Dinton.
Jase: Thanks, Paul; I’ve enjoyed doing the interview and hopefully people will enjoy reading about a slice of North West history.
Paul: I’m sure they will, mate!