It was all change on the Church Lake upon my return with some people moving onto fish, whilst others who had done there maximum 4 nights in any one swim who were also jostling for position. With half collapsed bivvies everywhere and buckets in quite a few swims I decided to do my usual routine of a couple of laps, looking for a few signs of the reputedly elusive Church Lake carp while chatting with the collective of fishing nomads. It turned out a lot of fish had been spotted in Dog Bay and had been there for the past week or so attracted by the highest density of weed currently in the lake, ideal in the weeks prior to their ‘sexy time’ (i.e. spawning).

Back in the Ski Slope.

I opted to fish a swim called the Look-Out which fishes the extreme entrance of the bay, and is aptly named as upon walking to the edge of the pontoon situated in this swim you have a roughly 95% view of the entire lake, which is ideal for the spot and move approach that I favour.

Having never fished in the Look-Out before, I cast a bare leads around a few times, feeling for the drop and placed a Grange snowman rig on each of the two clean areas I located. The night passed quietly and at first light I took my cup of tea and positioned myself on the edge of the pontoon. For the next hour I felt like I was at Wimbledon, head twisting 180 degrees left to right and then back again, surveying the lake for any signs of carp. Sure enough on the opposite bank, from 20-50 yards out there were four or five lumps out and by 8am the barrow was loaded and I squelched my way round to the opposite bank. Yes, the rain had come down and all the banks were truly sodden. I’d seen fish in front of the Ski Slope right the way down to Scooter which was 4 swims down, and as someone was in my favoured choice of Ski Slope I decided not to punish him and fished in the Scooter.

By 11 O’clock I was all settled down with the rods in the water, but I just wasn’t feeling it! You must know that feeling, when you are in a swim and it just doesn’t feel right. Well, by 1 O’clock I’d pulled the rods back out and went trudging in the rain to try and find an area where it felt a little carpy’er.

Lee favours a fluorocarbon, which keeps his main line pinned to the lake bed.

With Dog Bay still thoroughly stitched up I popped into the Ski Slope to see the occupant and have a chin wag. It was only then that he informed me that he was pulling off later that afternoon. So my mind was made up… By 7 O’clock that evening I’d set up and started to reflect on my first session on Church lake, 2 months prior, when I’d fished this swim and happened to be the scene of my first capture from the lake on opening day April the 1st.

Right now the swim just felt right and not even the paddling pool it had turned into could dampen my spirits. The way I chose to approach the swim this time was a semi slack 16lb (0.37mm) Mirage fluorocarbon mainline attached to a slightly heavier lead than I usually use, being a 3.5oz inline Gardner flat pear, The contributing factors of the stiff crosswind and deeper water in front of this swim (16ft) dictated my lead choice. That and the fact that in deeper water I prefer a slightly heavier lead to get everything down that bit quicker, especially in this quite ‘towey’ area. The rest of the rig comprised my own triple pivot lead arrangement, with 8 inches Sink Skin hook link attached to a Covert Mugga hook. This hook pattern is complimented perfectly by the addition of a Covert Hook Aligner, as it not only aids the flipping mechanics of the rig but as a Mugga’s eye is so aggressively in-turned, once it’s in it holds. Unsurpassed…

The moment of truth...

The spots I chose were at 30 and 50 yards range, positioned on relatively barren areas with half a kilo of New Grange scattered over each rod, Sure enough three swims and 36 hours after my arrival at the lake I was finally into a fish. After hairy fight, where the kiting fish had me in all sorts of trouble as the margins were full of overhanging branches and the carp had found its way into the inevitable broken branch debris that occupies these areas of the lake. Rather than panicking and trying to pull it through I slackened the clutch and allowed her to take a bit of line to see if she could make her own way out of the thicket! Thankfully she did as I’d hoped and she was soon back in front of me. After a spirited 10 minute fight was put to an end as I slipped the Out-Reach net under her and my prize was safe.

It turned out to be a fish I’d seen in the identification book and had earmarked as a nice target. At 33lb 2oz I had caught ‘Jaws’ at her top weight to date. As you can see by the pictures, this scale pattern really appealed to me, unfortunately my self-take photography left a little to be desired in the drizzle and the scale pattern was lost a little.

Buzzed up, I slipped her back and packed up ready to head straight to the Carp Society Junior Carp Camp that I tutor on at Horseshoe Lake. Another session and another Horton carp down, I drove there more than happy…
At 33lb 2oz I had caught Jaws at her top weight to date.