Tom Maker is the most successful angler in the history of Linear Fisheries, having caught hundreds, if not thousands, of carp from around the complex over the years. Multiple-fish hauls, big-fish captures and consistent action are guaranteed when Tom is around. In this in-depth interview, Tom comes clean about some of his most-guarded secrets and reveals how you too can excel at the country’s most popular day-ticket complex.
Carp-Talk: When did you first start fishing at Linear Fisheries?
Tom Maker: It would have been 2005 or 2006. I had entered the BYCAC for the first time, which at the time was held on Oxlease Lake. Fishing at Linear proved difficult, though, as it was a 250-mile round trip for my dad just to drop me off!
CT: What has kept you coming back all these years?
TM: For sure it has to be the standard and quality of fish that all the lakes are stocked with. Couple that with tidy facilities and lovely surroundings, and it really is hard to find a reason why you wouldn’t want to keep going back!
CT: When you visit the venue, do you always have a certain lake in mind where you want to fish, or do you keep your options open?
TM: One thing I have learnt over the years is always go to Linear with an open mind. The complex is extremely busy and sometimes getting on a peg on the lake you wish to fish can be near on impossible. However, all of the lakes hold a large head of fish, and big ones at that, so with a bucket in hand and a walk of each lake you are sure to find fish up for a feed on one of the seven day-ticket lakes.
CT: After arriving at the venue, how do you decide which lake and what peg to fish?
TM: First I grab a bucket and simply go for a walk, talking to other anglers along the bank to try and get a picture of where fish have been coming from and what time people are leaving. There are always people coming and going, so if I have to wait a few hours to get on the fish I am more than willing to wait.
CT: What are the biggest mistakes you see people making when fishing Linear?
TM: There are a few big mistakes I see people make. First off is laziness; turning up to the complex and simply going in the first peg they come to. Although these pegs may be convenient and tidy, the chance of a lot of fish being in front of them is probably zero.
Secondly I see people spending three hours setting up their tent and only three minutes casting the rods out! Although the lakes do have a high stock of fish, they won’t hang themselves. The more effort you put in the more you will get out.
CT: What is the common trait that links all of Linear’s most successful anglers?
TM: Most definitely it is the lads who are willing to work the swim and fish accurately. These have to be the most pressured carp in the UK and the simple chuck-and-chance-it method may work on occasions, but the tight baited area with three rods on the top will out-fish anything else time and time again!
CT: What do you consider to be your top three catches at Linear?
TM: It’s hard to pick any really, as I feel all captures from Linear are an achievement, but I suppose one would have to be a 59-fish hit from Oxlease in March. The Lake was half frozen when I had my first bite and by the time I packed up there was six inches of snow on the ground. Another would be when I set my stall out on Hardwick/Smiths to try and target an original. On my third session I managed to land the Lake’s largest at 39lb 2oz. Another one would be a session back in December 2015 on St John’s. A few of us had been catching consistently with some good fish thrown in, too, when suddenly I landed what I believe to be the rarest carp in the lake, an orange koi of 34lb 6oz.
CT: Do you have a favourite lake on the complex?
TM: I have watched all the lakes develop over the years and can honestly say that I will quite happily fish any of them at any time, The one that stands out for me, if I had to pick one, would be St John’s. I mean, how many waters, let alone day-ticket waters, hold two 46lb-plus commons and two 47lb-plus fully scaleds?
CT: Former Linear head bailiff Roy Parsons once said about you: “Tommy Maker could catch fish in a puddle. He’s very polite, extremely approachable and catches a shedload of fish. There’s been many a good angler down here, but I think he’s the best I’ve seen.” How did that make you feel?
TM: Having pretty much grown up and developed my fishing at Linear, I developed a really strong bond with Roy, and for him to say that was an absolute honour. The man is an absolute legend and by far the best bailiff I have ever come across on any lake. The best thing with Roy is that everyone knew where they stood; he said it how it was and if you didn’t like it then it was tough!
CT: Are there any individual fish you’d like to catch from the complex that you haven’t yet?
TM: I would love either of the two plateds from St John’s, as well as the common from Oxlease. I think that for any angler to catch those three fish is a real achievement.