I had always maintained an interest in the CWA Fisheries Long Lake project. Not only because it was only a few minutes’ drive from my front door, or even because I fancied fishing exclusively for carp for a while, but it appears to have that something special about it that only an angler can relate to.
Five years down the line, I decided to take the plunge and send off my application form. Subsequently, Alan Cooper was very kind to offer me a place on the syndicate which I eagerly accepted, therefore setting into motion the wheels of my summer fishing project, which is mostly doing carp fishing!
Having spent a frustrating 9 months love affair (which is not over yet by a long shot) on the massive lake next door (that I don’t need to name it, those who know will know) and having only seen one carp leap out in all that time, it was with blessed relief to at spend time on a venue where the carp do, well, carp type things. Things such as roll, jump out, swim in the margins and even eat anglers baits! To say that this was a total breath of fresh air was a total understatement. Being 8 acres in size, I also found it wonderfully novel that I could walk around the whole lake without changing counties or climbing any fences too.
Anyway, due to one reason or another it wasn’t until June that I found the time in my angling calendar to string a few sessions together. As a result, lots of walking, looking and baiting was occurring, which was soon aided by the lake being closed for spawning, which meant I could walk and bait unhindered by prying eyes and without risk of treading on other anglers toes. During this time the only other humans I had encountered were local dog walkers. As expected, the opening date could not come round soon enough, and I was incandescent with enthusiasm to drop a baited rig over my focused area, which was flanked by a couple of other satellite ‘plan b’ spots to allow me a chance of fishing over my bait area without conflicts, regardless who else was fishing.
Friday afternoon soon came around, the lake had been opened for fishing and I must admit that I took my time getting down to the pond. Never one to be in a rush, as it can lead to mistakes being made, I leisurely arranged the hardware required for a weekend in the preferred swim. Spots were topped up, hooks were honed and baits tested in the margins. After bungee cording a couple of branches back, I was ready to make my first cast. So cast I did.
Landing true and accurate, with a good drop (not that it mattered with the long running chod rigs) I placed the rod in its rests and launched the second rod alongside it. Rigs were a simple affair of chod rigs tied with a size 4 Incizor mounted on a short 20lb Tripwire hooklink that was allowed to run about 7ft up the 16lb Mirage mainline stopped by a medium Target Line Stop and a small Covert Safety bead (they sit perfectly together). The 2oz streamlined distance lead was suspended from a foot long boom of the same Mirage and secured with a 6lb Drop Out Chod Safety Clip covered in Covert Silicone Tubing.
Having learned that one bite can turn into two if you fish your baits close together, I wanted to maximise the potential benefit of the baited area I had created. Well, less than half an hour later the first rod tightened up, pulling my Mini Bug to the butt ring and then simply carried on going. Lifting into it, the Mirage cut through the water and the rod took on the battle curve we all know and love. Fish on!
As the fish reached its first weed bed the pressure was maintained and the rod did all the work to tease it from the onion weed that adorns the middle of the lake. Within a few more minutes, it was within netting range and a short wade up to my knees later, it was safely engulfed and awaiting inspection. After a quick fin check, it was lifted onto the mat, secured in the sling and placed back into the deep margins to gather its thoughts and reflect upon the mistake it had made. This also gave me time to arrange the photographers, mats and other trophy shot equipment. Thankfully my wife Rebecca and also my friend Mark had popped down to see me, and had witnessed the entire affair, from casting out to landing the carp.
With a lens-person (PC way of saying the wife took the pictures) and goalkeeper, it was soon weighing and photographing time. Having already zeroed the scales to the wet sling the needle swung round the dial to 34lb on the nose. That will do nicely! It was smiles all round as it was hoisted briefly above the mat before a quick spray of Intensive Care on the hook hold and an obvious spawning wound down the right flank. Before it knew what was going on, it was back in the sling for a breather before I let it slide gently back into its home. Absolutely superb!
A fresh bait and re-hone of the hook point later, I topped the swim up with a scattering of Manilla and Krill boilies before casting the S2 crushed cork hookbait back onto the spot. Much tea and banter followed, and I was soon left alone with my thoughts and the relative silence of a lake devoid of any other anglers. Unbelievably, I was still the only angler present. Thoughts of fat mirror pigs and epic battles drifted through my mind as I slept, awaiting dawn with the anticipation that we all know and love of further imminent carp action. Dawn did indeed break a few hours later, and with it evidence that I had chosen the correct area. Fish after fish head and shouldered over the baits and a few liners later had me a nervous wreck, hovering by the rods. By late morning the acrobatic aerial displays had slowed down, yet the liners continued.
Wandering round, to top the spot up and check the margins in the area, I stumbled across a couple of fish tight in the marginal reeds, which were as startled as I was. I almost trod on them they were that close. With the task done, it was down to hitting the clips once again and getting into the onerous evening tasks such as eating dinner and drinking tea. Rebecca was on her way over to spend a couple of hours before darkness with me, and to bring The Fonz (our famous fishing dog!) as he loves it over there.
Before they could arrive, and amazingly 24 hours to the minute after the previous evening’s bite, I had a take on the right hand rod that saw a powerful fish motor its way down the pond, heading for Caversham. There was no time for the waders, so it was trousers off and straight into the lake for me. A short but very enjoyable tussle later, with the rod once again doing its lunge absorbing business, I soon had another rather large carp wallowing in the net, just as Rebecca walked into the swim. Talk about timing!
Once again, the fin check, mat, unhook and into the sling ritual was performed and once again the photographic equipment was assembled. This time the dial went round to 38lb 10oz, which equalled my personal best that had been set over 10 years previously over on the Kingsmead Island Lake. For some reason that 40lb carp barrier has eluded me over the years, not that it matters to me at all, but some people are interested in the numbers. After a couple of returner shots it was soon swimming strongly into the deep margins and out of sight. Success did indeed taste sweet, and the tea went down all the smoother that evening as I was once again left to wallow in my new found state of carpyness, so all was good with the world.
I have since returned and managed to sneak another one out after casting onto showing fish following a dawn swim move. I don’t know how long this particular summer campaign will last, as I already have a yearning to return to the big lake as we head into autumn, but in the meantime I want to spend as much time as possible on this lovely venue.
In fact the winter sessions are already being planned, as the pike fishing potential is totally untapped, and that really appeals to me so watch this space. Until then, fish safe and may your collective carpy dreams all come true!