It was a bit of a surprise when my new syndicate ticket came through the door a few weeks ago. A quick look at Google maps revealed that my journey would be a hundred and ten miles which is nothing compared to what many angler’s do week in, week out in search of some good fishing. The Manton syndicate comprises of two lakes, the old lake and the new lake but new members like myself are required to spend a year on the new lake before applying for membership on the old lake where the residents are a little larger. The new lake is around thirty four acres in size, it’s relatively shallow with depths averaging around five or six feet, the water is clear and the bottom sandy. There are plenty of carp present and I’m told that the numbers are in excess of four hundred, all the fish have been sourced locally and they have grown to be real lookers that average around twenty pounds.
I left the house early and as I made my way over the Pennines on the M62, I was reminded that we hadn’t yet left the winter behind us. Huge mounds of ice were piled up on both sides of the motorway on the embankments, I felt cold just looking at it even though it was warm in my van! It was light when I reached the fishery and as you can drive around the lakes I parked up by a swim that was pretty central on the new lake. It was bleak to be honest, the wind was cold and after watching the lake for a good half hour, I had no clue as to where the fish would be.
I decided to set up in a swim on the opposite side of the lake called the lifebuoy, it was central and it was on the back of the cold wind but more importantly it gave me a great view of the lake in case anything showed. I flicked a marker around a few times to get an idea of the depth in front of my swim and it seemed pretty even, it was five and a half feet deep with some weed on the bottom that was about twelve inches high. I decided to put three zigs out; one that was two and a half feet, one that was three and half feet and the other at four and a half. I knew that very few people would be using zigs like this and as the lake was fishing very slow, I thought it could be possible that the carp were spending some time higher up in the layers.
It’s nice to be able to park behind each swim on this lake, most of my gear left in my van with just the rods, net and unhooking mate on the peg. Many of the anglers here seem to be set up to have the bedchair in the van and use it as a bivvy, some would say this is being lazy but I weighed it up and I reckoned it could have it’s advantages. My van is big enough for my bedchair and with most of kit underneath it, I would have enough room to get in and out and be comfortable while I’m fishing. This lake is pretty big, I want to be on the fish when I’m there so moving swims is now very very easy when I’m fishing out of the van. If I see one show I’ll probably be on my way round the lake in a minute flat and I would normally be still pulling pegs from the bivvy!
I sat in the lifebuoy swim for a few hours watching the water like a hawk and as the time passed, it got much milder and the sun eventually broke through. I knew it was shallower up towards an island to my left and so I sat watching the water there for a while, I got tricked by a coot a couple of times (like you do) but I eventually saw a definite show from a carp that looked fairly close to the island. The lake wasn’t busy, I think there were four other anglers besides myself and the peg I needed to be in to reach the showing fish was free, that will do! As I was winding the last rod in, another fish showed coming clean out of the water this time and I remember hoping that no one else heard it. It didn’t matter anyway, I was moving in super quick time and was soon parked behind a swim called the royal box.
This shallower area had obviously warmed up quickly in the sun and the carp obviously liked it here. I didn’t bother getting the marker rod out, the last thing I wanted was to spook the fish out of the area. When the sun hit the water, I could see a shelf around the island to my left which is probably only two and a half feet deep, then it drops off quite quickly to maybe three and a half or a little more a couple of rod lengths from the island. Four casts with a light lead revealed that there was a little bit of very light weed on the shelf but thicker weed in the deeper water off the shelf.
The zigs hanging off my rods were swapped for two chod rigs and a solid bag for this swim, perfect presentation with the strength to steer fish from the weed and the island to my left. I have been using 35lb Mirage for my naked chods recently which is superb, I have discovered that I can use a medium sized Line Stop’s from the Gardner Target Specimen range as the back stop and a Covert Safety Bead rests on this perfectly! I am using one of the Drop Out Chod Safety Clips to create a weak link to attach the lead, I’ve put a Covert Tail Rubber and a Covert Buffer Bead over it as you can see in the pic. If the lead gets caught up on anything while I’m playing a fish it will simply drop off. I had some prototype baits from Franks Bait factory designed for choddies that needed some testing so out they went, one on the islands shelf and one just on the edge of it. I filled a solid bag with some PVA friendly hemp mash, I put the lead and rig inside it with a small Franks Baits Wild Berry popup attached. This went out more to the right, straight into the thicker weed off the shelf.
I knew that I was fishing well but nothing happened that evening, maybe three rigs hitting the water was enough to put them on edge? As the sun got lower in the sky, the temperature fell to freezing which meant that the fish would probably leave this area. I checked the forecast on my phone while relaxing in my new mobile bivvy and Sunday looked good for a bite, it was going to be warm again and surely the fish would return to this area if they had left it. I put a kilo of boilies out with the stick when it was dark so I wouldn’t attract the gulls, there would be bait spread across the area ready for any fish that arrived in the morning and hopefully it would get them feeding. A fish on the bank on my first visit would be a great start!
The next morning was a frosty one but the skies were clear and it wouldn’t be long before the sun’s rays hit the water by the island. Watching the water I saw no signs of fish anywhere but as I scoffed my bowl of porridge I reckoned it wouldn’t be long. I was happy with my presentation on all three rods, my lines were slack and I had no intension of recasting any of them and risk disturbing the swim. It got to about eleven o’clock and a fish boshed twenty yards past my middle rod, five minutes later the rod was away and a very angry carp exploded on the surface making all the coots run for cover. The fish was tamed fairly quickly after it’s little outburst and it was soon resting in my net waiting for a quick weigh and some pictures. I had a quick nosey before I got all my camera gear ready and I was shocked at it’s scale pattern to be honest, it was a stunning linear, not huge but it didn’t matter.
The rig was baited and back out it went to the spot where it was picked up last time, there were more fish out there and now I was confident that I could get another before I had to leave later that day. I watched as a few fish cruised around with their backs out of the water to my right, by now the odd fish could be seen patrolling closer to the island on the shelf and I fancied a bite on the left hander. I had to squint a bit through the bino’s to see them at that distance but every now and again a coot would make off looking down over it’s shoulder into the water, this confirmed that I wasn’t imagining things!
I think it was about one o’clock when the right hand rod was away. I had hooked this one off the shelf in the thicker weed but the fish kited left towards the island straight away, I managed to gain enough line so that it just missed the bushes on the corner and it ended up giving me a battle in the channel to my left. I had to lean out as far as I could so that my line was past the reeds in the margin, the fish almost got into them and I would have needed the chesties but thankfully I got away with it and my sturdy tackle won the day. This was a lovely dark fish that went over twenty five on the scales, still not huge but another nice looking fish which made it two fish on first visit to the syndicate, I was well pleased with that!
It’s amazing how much can change in a week; I returned to the syndicate the following Saturday to find a completely different lake! Two pegs spare out of twenty two in total, ouch! This could make things really tough this time, I’m not a great fan of just slotting into an available peg where there are no fish but it’s a long way home so I pulled up in the little point swim which is pretty much opposite the lifebuoy where I first fished. As far as I knew no one was catching on the lake and there was nothing showing so I thought I’d try the zigs again, I was sure this method could be devastating on this lake at certain times especially when everyone is struggling on the bottom.
I watched the water for ages, no signs of any fish in front of me or to the right so I wondered into the next swim to chat with an angler there. While we were stood chatting and I gained a little more info about the place a carp snatched at the surface and caused a little disturbance about sixty yards out. The wind was getting up and blowing across the lake from behind us, I thought the fish had taken an insect off or just below the surface. I said to Dave that zigs might be worth a go and it turned out that he already had one out which eventually ripped off an hour or so later. I did some nice pictures his mid twenty common and unfortunately Dave had to pack up due to family commitments.
I moved into the big point swim as soon as Dave had left it, I’d seen nothing in front of me and he had caught the only fish that day to my knowledge. These new lake fish don’t seem to get caught much at night, all the pictures that I have seen have been of captures in the day light so I fancied trying the zigs at night. An hour before dark, three zigs went out to the area where Dave had his bite, no more fish showed but I was confident that something would happen, it didn’t!
The wind got stronger on Sunday morning, I left the zigs out there. White Zig Rig foam, with size 12 Covert Mugga’s, 10lb Zig Link, 5oz lead and a Covert Lead Clip; the same set up that has done me proud many times before on other lakes. The size 12 Covert Mugga really does knit into the bottom lip, I usually need forceps to get them out. The big lead drops off a Covert Lead Clip easier than a small one, the fish never comes in with a lead bouncing around above it which is a hook pull waiting to happen.
My first bite came at about ten o’clock, and I managed three more bites before I had to leave. They all came to the same rod, I didn’t really need the other two! All the bites were on a three foot zig with black and yellow foam on the hair. I had a couple of nice looking upper double mirrors and my first commons from Manton weighing 21lb 2oz and 22lb 8oz, which scrapped like hell! I’m sure you will agree that they are nice looking fish too. One of them gave me a take that was so fast I had to be really careful when I picked the rod up, I gently tightened the clutch and put some pressure on but it just kept stripping line off me, I thought it was going to hit someone else’s lines further down the lake! It was another enjoyable session over there and I’m really pleased with six fish in two trips, I’m hoping to have lots more to report before I get started on the old lake next year where the action may slow a little! I will keep you posted as always and I might try and get some good video footage down there before my luck runs out!