Despite good intentions to fish throughout the winter, I just didn’t have the desire to put myself through the weather we just had so instead, decided to keep an eye on the lake over the cold months and see if it was worth doing a bit. Before the cold snap kicked in at the back end of last year I had seen a few carp head and shoulder in front of a swim that we call “The Blue”, usually late at night, in temperatures hovering around the drop zone and I thought I would have a go for them. This swim was the furthest walk from the car park, which usually wouldn’t bother me, but with the path being precarious at the best of times, let alone flooded from the ridiculous amount of rain we endured (which was filling the lake up like a bath with a tap that had been left on!) I decided to have a go. Unfortunately this wasn’t conducive to getting a bite, so that was my winter over and done with after just two nights in “The Blue”!
During the months of February and March, I kept an eye on the lake whilst doing some work parties on the now stunning complex of Longfield. Armed with a handful of 15mm PGB Chocolate Orange boilies, I kept a couple of areas going in front of some unlikely looking swims at the back of the constant cold northerly wind. This was repeated at least once a week during those months despite there being a lid on the lake at times. I say ‘unlikely’, as to be honest the whole lake looked devoid of anything remotely moving. It wasn’t until early April that a number of fish showed up in the snags not far from the area that I had been baiting. They were moving slowly and were just basking in the sun even though it wasn’t that hot. I could see some marks on the majority of them where they had probably started to rub themselves free of leeches on the many branches that surround the lake.
With my wife working during the evenings in the week my time is limited to Saturday nights only, so I needed to keep to a plan which was to concentrate on the south westerly corner of the lake, which also received the most of the spring sunshine. I felt sure I might have been able to nick one despite the first bites of the year traditionally coming from the opposite end of the lake.
I arrived on a sunny April afternoon and after a brief walk around the lake, not learning much, I decided to adhere to my plan and positioned myself into what is an uncomfortable swim in the far corner due to its rather steep and treacherous slope down to the rods.
Three rods were positioned no more than 20 yards out with the right hand rod spot offering the firmest drop of all the silt spots. I cast a balanced pop-up rig comprising of a size 8 Covert Talon Tip, 15lb Sly Skin, 25lb Plummet Leadcore and a 3oz Bolt Bomb connected to a Covert Lead Clip to this harder spot and baited the area with no more than fifty Choc Orange boilies and a few handfuls of matching pellet. Traditional long chod rigs were sent out to the softer areas with beefed up 45lb Covert Leadcore and the awesome size 5 Covert Chod hooks on 20lb Trip Wire. As is so typical of when I go fishing, it was chucking it down all night and was so loud on the roof of the bivvy that I couldn’t sleep. At 4am the following morning I had a pull up on the right hand rod that didn’t develop into anything. It was only when I reeled in to pack up the next morning that I realised I had been done by a fish and that I would need to look at the rig I was using to prevent that from happening again.
The following week I had again prepped the same area after work, only this time opting to pre-bait a snag to the right of the swim next door with the view to perhaps moving to this swim at the weekend as it gave me a few more options.
Come the next weekend, only two other anglers were on the lake and they were over the other side from the prepared area. That afternoon the weather was all over the place culminating in a beautiful rainbow to signify yet another crap day!
I decided to fish the swim next door to where I was the week before. A very quick lead around to the edge of the snag a rod length out revealed a nice hard spot on which I presented a balanced pop up rig as before; only this time tweaking it with a size 8 Covert Mugga and changing the hair set up.
The other rods were fished chod style again to softer areas in the main pond. It was so cold that night I was thankful for remembering to bring all my winter clothing and couldn’t wait to call it a night and get into the sleeping bag that evening. After nodding off once I got warm, I woke up in the very early hours of the morning to fish crashing out right over the left hand rod where I’d baited fairly regularly. I was buzzing and surprised that I fell back to sleep with such a spectacle presented to me! Before I knew it I had done one of those moments where you spring off the bedchair with no shoes on holding a rod bent double. Only this time I’d somehow got myself into a mess and ended up holding two rods due to my complete incompetence!
It was early, I knew that much and two swans were over my right hand spot where I’d obviously hooked a now angry carp! A tense twenty minute battle ensued with me holding on for dear life at times, ever thankful I’d replaced my mainline with some new GT80+ (the best mainline I have ever used).
I was amazed by the power of the fish especially after the long winter we had endured and eventually kind of bundled it into the net as there was no way I was going to lift his head out of the water in submission! I recognised it as the fish I had caught almost two years ago to the day which was disappointing; however, it is an immense fish that has only seen the bank a few times in recent years. Slightly down in weight at 42.08, it was great to see her looking so good.
How to tie Dan’s rig:
What you need…
Step 1 – Strip back 10cm of 15lb brown Sly Skin.
Step 2 – Start KD rig with 7 turns up the shank.
Step 3 – Fold back the hair and whip a couple more turns round the hook.
Step 4 – The finished hook and hair should look like this.
Step 5 – Attach the swivel with a reliable figure 8 loop knot.
Step 6 – Tighten down using both tags from the knot and cut off excess.
Step 7 – Dan covers the knot with 0.5mm Covert Silicone Tubing to make it neat and tangle free.
Step 8 – Mould some Critical Mass Putty onto the hooklink to help pin it down.
Step 9 – Attach a S2 pop up and balance with a BB shot.