• Posted: 17th April 2023
  • Author: Team DNA

By his own admission, Liam Searle doesn’t know if he’ll ever be able to top his six-day trip to Furzebray Island Lake in Devon, a session that not only yielded his first two UK 40-pounders but also culminated in a stunning mid-thirty mirror on his birthday.

The highlight of the trip was the session-topping Clover at 42lb 14oz, which came not long after Liam’s first UK forty, a 40lb 2oz mirror known as the Sovereign, before a mega birthday carp of 34lb 8oz wrapped up the session of a lifetime in the most fitting fashion possible.

“Arriving for our annual 2023 trip to Furzebray Island Lake, spirits were high within the group,” admitted Liam.

“We had six nights ahead of us and, looking at the forecast, we were due a mixed bag of weather, from sunshine to torrential rain, with a big storm also brewing. I had a couple pegs in mind based on the weather and, coming out second in the draw, I knew I would get at least one of them. I ended up settling for my second-pick swim, Lawns. This was at the end of the lake that would see the brunt of the weather front that was due in about midweek.

“I wanted to get a good feel of the swim to start with, so set up the marker rod and went about finding an area where I thought would be a good area to intercept them coming up into my end of the lake. It was around 6ft and a slightly softer area. This would be where I’d apply a good hit of bait in the hope that at some point in the next six days they’d turn up.

“Mix consisted of mini dumbbells and 12-millers in Bug and Secret 7, which I’d prepped around a week before my session and kept topping up with the matching Bug and S7 Liquid Food and Calanus Hydro. Also, I smashed a lot of this up before putting it out along with Bug and Secret 7 pellets, Crayfish Maxi Mix pellets, Hot Hemp Oil and matching Bug and S7 Hydro Spod Syrups, rock salt and some particles. I’d say I put out around 3kg that day, with the plan not to fish this area too hard to begin with.

The mix

“I also investigated the little bay area off to my right. We were due sunshine for the next two days and with some pretty shallow water in there, I thought this could be a good area to nick a bite in the first day or so. The area I found was around 2.5ft deep. It was a very small polished off hard area, almost like a little carp hole being slightly deeper than the softer silt around it. For this rod I decided to fish a solid bag as a washing-line set-up across from the smaller swim next door. Keeping all my line out the water, I thought they’d feel a little more confident in venturing there to feed. My solid bag consisted of some Insect Meal that I hydrated with some Bug Liquid Food, Calanus Hydro, Betastim and Hot Hemp Oil, as well as some Crayfish Mini Mix and Betastim Mini Mix pellets that had been soaking in Hot Hemp Oil. I finished off the rig with a light small Crayfish wafter, slightly trimmed at the bottom.

The solid-bag presentation

“The traps were set and a barbeque and a few beers were enjoyed with the lads that evening, as at the end of the day we were kind of on holiday, with the hope of catching a few along the way!

“It wasn’t until around 2.30pm on the second day that the washing line signalled a take! After a good battle, I slipped the net under a lovely linear. The owner was there and identified this one as the Rudd Mouth Lin, which weighed 30lb 12oz – what a start to the session!

Off the mark with a 30lb 12oz beauty

All rods were reset that night, the barbeque was fired up again and a few beers were enjoyed. This was the last of the decent socialising weather, so we made the most of it.

“I was awoken early that morning by the washing line pinging out, signalling another savage drop-back. I was surprised by this, as I was kind of banking on that spot for the sunnier days and warmer weather. This one felt different and I nearly got it in the net quickly, but then I think the fish realised it was hooked and the real battle began! Plodding up and down the margin for what felt like forever, I kept having to lift up my other two rods to let it run down my left, then eventually got the net as deep as I could to scoop it all up. I was blown away by the size of this one, smashing my previous PB that I’d held for quite some time by a few pounds. Known as the Sovereign and weighing in at 40lb 2oz, all the lads came round to share the moment and get me some great shots.

Sovereign at 40lb 2oz, a new PB!

“I hadn’t planned on keeping a rod on that spot, but after two fairly quick bites I just had to. Also, I topped up the baited area that day with around the same amount of bait as before. With the low pressure and stormy weather due in the next day or so, I was just waiting it out on this spot. Later that day, at around 5.30pm, the washing-line rod was away again! Another good fight in the shallow weater ensued, resulting in a lovely upper-double scaly. What a day!

What a little beauty

“The next day passed very quietly. With some heavy rain and fairly strong gusts, it seemed they were holding off the back of it slightly. The following day was when the real storm hit, with gusts up to 50mm smashing down my end, but they still seemed more content off the back of it for the time being. However, I was sure they’d be down to investigate once it calmed off, so that evening I gave the baited spot another slight top-up. Up until this point, I was fishing it on the deck with wafters, but decided to switch over to 12mm pink Bug Half Tones pop-ups on simple rigs. My mate next to me managed a couple of quick bites that evening as the storm was beginning to settle slightly, so I was feeling pretty confident a few were starting to mooch down.

“The next morning I was woken early by the baited rod signalling a slow take. To be fair, it came back relatively drama free. With consistent pressure and keeping the tip low, I thought initially it was weeded, but it turns out it was just the sheer weight of the fish! This one looked bigger and felt even bigger than the Sovereign and, after a quick look at each side, I identified this one as a fish called Clover, another one of the lake’s A team, another forty and another PB. I honestly could not believe it. We settled on 42lb 14oz, another special moment shared with good mates, who smashed the pics once again for me.

Clover at 42lb 14oz, the second PB of the trip

“We were now into our last full day and I reeled in that morning enjoying the moment and soaking it all in. I got the rods set again later that morning and, to be fair, it did feel good for another. That night we enjoyed a few beers with it being the last night of a session I won’t be forgetting any time soon. Unfortunately, I lost one that evening on the washing line, but I still went to bed that night on cloud nine.

“The final day of the trip was my birthday and I was awoken early that morning by the washing-line rod. After another solid battle, another awesome-looking fish slipped over the cord, resulting in my first birthday carp at 34lb 8oz, and one of the rare ones apparently. This put an end to a red-letter session I’ll never forget in great company! Don’t think I’ll be topping that one any time soon.”

A birthday carp – what a way to end!

An amazing week shared in great company