Simon Dew - A Carp Angler Surrounded by Sea

Well, where do I start? I guess a little about my angling and how I came to be living on the Isle of Wight. I’ve been an angler for 30 years now, and when I look back on this time, my earliest memories were fishing my local river, The Yorkshire Ouse for roach and perch with my dad. You see I haven’t always lived on the Island and I haven’t always been a carp angler. In fact I’d say it’s only really been the last 10 years or so that I’ve concentrated on what I consider the ultimate freshwater species in the uk. 7 of these 10 years have been on this Island I now call home, so I guess you could say it’s shaped my angling from a carping perspective.

My teens and early 20’s saw me fishing very little, as I chose to occupy my time with other things. I moved to Brighton for college in my mid 20’s and this is where I started to get into the idea of fishing again. I had a mate who also used to go and we often talked about getting the rods out again. So, one day we did. We went to do a bit of pike fishing with lures at a local lake, I ended up catching the only fish of the day, a small jack, but the buzz was definitely there for more trips after that. Over time my interest in fishing was reignited and I began to seek out larger fish which I guess is what brought me to target carp. I’d been fishing a mixed fishery with a waggler and maggots catching small roach and skimmers and the odd small tench when I witnessed a guy catching a 15lb carp on the method feeder. This really got my interest and I returned the next week to have a go with the same method. To cut a long story short I caught a good double figure fish and since then I’ve barely considered targeting any other species.

Around 7 years ago, I moved to the Isle of Wight with my wife to settle down near her family. At first i’ll admit I had my concerns about the future of my fishing. It’s not exactly renowned for it’s carp fishing here, but there are hidden gems that are well worth fishing for. At the time when I moved to the Island, Rookley Country Park was the place to be with its impressive stock of large carp, it seemed an obvious place to start. 

Now bearing in mind when I first fished Rookley, I hadn’t yet caught my first 30lber.  Reputably the lake held 12 or more fish over this size, so you can Imagine the anticipation for my first session. Luckily enough I did catch my first fish from there on my first session, an 18lb mirror if I remember rightly. This was towards to end of autumn that year and, try as I might, my next few sessions into winter went by without a bleep. I decided I would have a break as day tickets are expensive, especially if you feel you have little chance of catching!

My next session was booked for the spring the following year and it seems I timed it just right as ended up having 21 fish over the three day session including my first ever 30 and 14 other fish over 20lb which just goes to show what an incredible fishery this was. I ended up catching 7 different 30’s that year and felt I had well and truly sussed the place out until the following winter when again I struggled.

During my time on Rookley I got to know Tim quite well. He was the lake owner and also ran the onsite tackle shop. I chatted to him whenever I could about carp fishing on the Island, as it seems he played a big part in making it what it is today. He also told me about some other nice little lakes I could have a go at. 

Unfortunately Rookley is no more as the land was bought for development and Tim was forced to move his tackle shop elsewhere and drain and net the lake. His new shop  “Tims Tackle” is great though, and probably the only tackle shop worth a visit if you’re a serious carp angler visiting the Island.

The next 2 or 3 years, I concentrated on a couple of other day tickets and also joined the Isle of Wight Freshwater Angling Company. This is the local club that runs a few waters with carp up to low 30’s. I had good success on these lakes catching the largest residents fairly quickly.

On the whole the Island isn’t a bad place to fish, but we are limited by the numbers and size of the waters and so It doesn’t take too many other anglers to make the lakes feel busy. I think you learn to adapt to this and fish tactics that suit slightly more pressured waters. It rarely pays to bait heavily on Island waters, and instead I find subtle tactics fishing for a bite at a time to be much more productive.

I have increasingly started to look at waters on the mainland the last couple of years, and I do try to make several trips a year to lakes that hold the fish i’m after in terms of size and quality. I do an annual road trip to the mainland with a mate each year and was lucky enough to land the awesome “Trio from Linch Hill at 34lb. I also try to go to France once a year and was lucky enough to beat my PB last year with a fish of 64lb 7oz from Etang Du Manoir.

One winter a couple of years ago, I decided to put all my effort into one lake that I knew had winter form and an impressive stock similar to what Rookley once had. I worked hard fishing most weeks and visiting the lake between sessions. Long story short, I had a really good run of fish including 9 x 20’s and 2 x 30’s in January which led to me getting more involved in promoting myself online and securing sponsorship deals with Richworth Baits, Angling Iron and Carp Craze. 

I also started my own Youtube channel, not only to help promote myself but also for the sense of satisfaction it gives me knowing people enjoy watching my videos. Hopefully I help people put more fish on the bank, which is my aim when planning each video rather than just blogging my sessions.

My most memorable session on the island happened in September 2019 when an impromptu visit to my target water ended in the capture of the biggest day ticket common on the island and a fish that I had targeted for 2 years. I’d fished the lake consistently throughout the previous winter and caught well, but as summer came I decided to pay more attention to my club lakes and so left the lake alone until the autumn when I knew this fish often made a mistake. Having kept an eye on the weather, I noticed a strong new south westerly was due to blow into my favourite swim. Wet and windy conditions at this time of year this can really get the fish going. 

I only fished overnight but managed 5 fish over 20lb including my main target and PB Common of 35lb 6oz fishing simple boilie tactics and topping up after each fish which is how I generally always go about my angling.

The island is also home to several private syndicate waters, one of which I have been lucky enough to fish several times as a guest, enjoying some incredible fishing but out of respect for the members and fishery owner, I’ll say no more about that.

As far as the next couple of years go, I intend to continue targeting one of my club waters that holds some lovely old fish with a bit of history but also a nice 30lb common I’m yet to catch. 

I’ll continue with mainland trips as and when I can and through my work as videographer for JAG. After that I will be looking to join a syndicate either on the island if I can, or close enough to the ferry off the island to make a couple of trips a month worthwhile.

The island is a great place to live and to come and visit. The carp fishing is fairly limited but some of the fish are lovely and well worth the effort!

Tight lines

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