Continued from part 1… The next trip came around, and the weather was still cold and dull, but my tucked away swim was protected from the wind, and once again it looked good, as I flicked the baits out with little 1.5oz leads, and I was fishing within a few minutes of my dawn arrival. I felt mega confident, a complete contrast to the previous spring when I had one of those lean periods that had me doubting I was ever going to catch again! A friend came down to see me, and whilst we sat there drinking tea, I had a screaming run on one of the other rods cast over to the far bank. This one really rucked, going hard for the far bank trees, and then kiting round almost behind me deep into the bay. I piled on the side strain and had a good ten minutes of deep runs up and down once I’d got it somewhere near my bank. I had a few looks at it twisting and turning in the clear water before Jim netted it for me, and with one look at the size of its paddle I could see why it had fought so hard. It weighed 28lb 8oz, and I was delighted – two trips and two fish was a result. Having one so early in the session looked like I was bound for more, but as is the pattern, one fish out of the bay seems to completely kill it. I wasn’t complaining and felt full of self-belief – the power of catching a couple nice and early from what is a tricky venue.
I was bought back down to earth soon after when I went back over to the Mead for a two-nighter. I found some fish in the main body of water and managed to get nicely in the zone. However, after finding a couple of silty spots behind gravel seams, it was clear that the fish were showing much further out. My carefully placed rigs surrounded by 50 or so Spombed-out free baits weren’t the ones, as the random pattern of show suggested they were just out in open water, with nothing much feature wise to target. I stripped off my stiff rigs and put on a naked chods with a 4 oz distance leads and fired out singles 90-plus yards out into the general area. This was far removed from my normal style of angling, my confidence lying in fishing over bait and on actual features, but needs must, as fish after fish showed out there, so it had to be done. The fish continued to show on me repeatedly, and I never had a bleep, but my neighbour had two, so somehow I’d clearly got it wrong! What that was I don’t know, but I was disappointed, as it was a bit of a knock back.
The following trip was with my boys to a club lake that is always good for a bite, shall we say. This really was an FA Cup style banana skin, as failure here in front of the kids could be a nightmare. My older boy and I had caught a fair few the previous year, but my eight-year-old, Matthew, had never before caught a carp, and more than anything I wanted him to catch one to get an understanding of what his dad was so infatuated with.
It was another cold one, and after two hours all huddled beneath the Tempest brolly, I hadn’t even seen a fish. Bear in mind this was a place you sometimes see three roll at once, so I was certainly getting concerned. I had a quick look at the other end, where the lake goes into a no-fishing duck feeding corner, and sure enough I immediately spotted a number of dark shapes drifting in and out. It all made sense, as it was flat calm, out of the biting cold NE wind, and within five minutes of casting out Matthew was into his first ever carp, a cracking 16lb common, and hopefully a love affair with a sport that has bought me the most wonderful of times. We all added a few more, and I left happy, with a feeling that I’d had another result, both for my confidence and my two boys.
I had a new challenge lined up for this year, and I was busy building up to it all winter. It’s funny how things work out, but after catching my target fish the previous autumn, I was left with no plans for the following year. However, one of my best friends had been fishing this lake, and after hearing of his success and the inspiring stories he had told, I was more than up for it. I didn’t completely think it through though, and precisely the amount of bits I had to get to fish it effectively. I was able to use a boat on this lake, which I had, but not much else. I sat down and put a list together of leisure batteries, outboard, gas, better inflation life jacket, markers, battery charger etc… It went on and on, so I spent the winter slowly acquiring it all with a view to being ready to start come the spring. It took a fair amount of time, but eventually the list was ticked off, and my boat was down at the lake and all ready to go. After carp fishing for 30-odd years I thought I had most things, but to get kitted up for this I was miles off, and I really hoped it was worth it.
I’ve just had my first trip, and what an eye-opener it proved to be – 60-plus acres, three islands and a mass of carpy looking features and areas. Loading the boat at dawn and motoring out through the mist was enough to raise the feelings of excitement and anticipation to new levels, but there were certainly several new skills to be learnt in this boat fishing lark. Out on the lake in a fair wind presents some challenges in locating spots and bait placement, and I had a long way to go to master these. However, each day bought a new confidence, and with practice it should come. Anyway, the first trip was a success in more ways than one… I found a cracking area, fishing off one of the islands with a bank of snags alongside it. It screamed carp, and one drift out and around here showed a little bit of coloured water you’d have never seen from the bank. It helped too that it was in the lea of the wind, flat calm and the warm rays of sun were on it, in contrast to the rest of the lake, which was hit by a cool wind.
I put two rods out here, each with a handful of crushed up baits glugged in GLM liquid and rock salt, and I sat back to take in the sun and enjoy the peace of this adventure. There is nothing like fishing somewhere new, and all night my mind was churning with thoughts of areas I liked, how I was going to fish them, etc etc, and sleep was hard to come by, even with the early start that morning. I was probably in my deepest sleep when I was woken by an absolute screaming take, just a one-noter that seemed to be getting faster and faster, and I scrambled out from under the brolly barefoot and pulled into a weight that felt miles away. With the snags to my right and no real idea where it was, I piled on the pressure in an attempt to get some much-needed line back on the half empty spool. The next thing the line fell slack, and my stomach dropped with that awful feeling, until suddenly I was back in contact, as it had run a good 50 yards towards me. A few deep short bursts in the edge, and I had a big common rolling over the net cord and that special moment of a first fish from a new lake. It was a stunner too, in mint condition after the winter, and as I slipped it back I couldn’t wait to return, well up for the challenges ahead and hopefully with more highs than lows.