May can always be a funny month for angling as the fish can often spawn if the spring has been a warm one. We have had an exceptionally mild winter this year and as a result most lakes around the country have started much earlier than last year and my syndicate is no exception. This has led to a frustrating month of angling for me, but we can’t be too annoyed as after all they only get to go through the motions once per year!
My first outing was from Thursday evening through until Saturday afternoon. I arrived after work around 6pm and on pulling in to the car park I was amazed to see only one other car. The weather looked moody, so I quickly grabbed my waterproof jacket and went to have a chat with the guy who had set up in a swim called The Armchair. On talking to him I found out that he had arrived around lunch time and seen only one show in another area of the lake, so I ventured around for closer look. I spent around twenty minutes in a swim known as Comfy, sat watching the water where I witnessed a further two fish poke their heads clean from the watery depths below. The conditions looked spot on with a fresh south westerly blowing straight in to the swim and on seeing the third fish show I made it sharpish to the car to get my kit.
I decided to apply a bit of bait from the off as from talking to other mates who were members they had been well up for a bit of grub over the last few weeks. It wasn’t too much of a disturbance getting my spots sorted as I have fished the swim lots in the past and had some good areas noted, so all it took was a few casts with a bare lead just to check there wasn’t any fresh weed growth on them. I knocked up a mix of Hinders Hemp, Mixed Pellet Combo and chopped and whole Carp Company Icelandic Red boilies. To add further attraction I dosed the mix with a good helping of Fish Pro liquid and a splash of Chilli Hemp Oil before adding a healthy dose of Antarctic Krill Powder from Carp Company. The finished mix has a real natural fishy aroma and once the fish start feeding on the spot and disturbing all the krill powder they tend to start troughing!! Once the rods were out I decided to get some rest early as I was tired from my week at work and wanted to be up early to watch the water.
At some time in the early hours I was awoken by a few bleeps and as I focused my eyes on my rods the beeps turned in to a churning take as the line pinged from the clip. After the initial take the fish didn’t do an awful lot so was soon in my net. It was only a small male mirror of 18lb 10oz, but I was pleased to be off the mark and placed it in the retainer for an hour until the light was right for a few pics. The fish had picked up my hinge stiff rig fished with a 16mm Icelandic Red cork ball pop up on the outside edge of the baited area. I used a size 6 Covert Chod Hook coupled with 25lb Trip Wire for the choddy section then my favoured 25lb Sink Skin in brown for the boom section with a few blobs of Critical Mass Putty just to ensure its pinned down. Using the Pro XM main line and 5 feet of CamFlex leadcore, I was confident I had a well concealed trap the fish would be unable to detect.
That was my only bite until the following morning when I managed a 17lb 14oz common on the same rod. It had got fairly busy come Friday evening and the fish just seemed to switch off as I had failed to see them show for the rest of the trip. I also had my suspicions that they were getting ready to spawn with many other lakes in the area also starting the annual ritual. Also the few other fish that graced the bank whilst I was there were all small males up to around low twenties. It was Bank Holiday weekend the following week, but on the Wednesday I got a call from a friend who was at the lake and the fish were in full swing spawning, so I decided not to bother and fished on the other lake where the fish had already spawned. We knew they had already spawned as we found pin head fry in the margins and some of the known fish were well down in weight. I personally couldn’t think of anything more disrespectful than to fish for spawning fish, they deserve a week or two a year with enough time for them to recover otherwise they won’t be there for us to enjoy if damaged unnecessarily!
I couldn’t believe that by Thursday the little lake started to fill with bank holiday anglers that blatantly didn’t care that the fish were going through the motions and some even tried to stalk them in the edge! I was the only person fishing on the big lake and I caught lots of fish up to 21lb, which was a nice change from only catching the odd few yet people still fished on! I was angry to say the least but that’s a whole other tangent I really don’t need to go on! The following week the fish had finished, well at least for the time being anyway, and were in my opinion fair game again after a week of rest (well from those who had morals!). I unfortunately had other commitments, so I was unable to fish that weekend and it looked like it would be a few weeks before I could return as I had a couple of competitions coming up. This suited me fine anyway as they always look a bit ropey for the first few weeks after spawning but it is important they receive food, so I was glad that a few people would be horsing it out in my absence.
The final weekend in May coincided with my 25th birthday which happened to be the date we decided to open our carp lake at work. The lake is only small at around an acre with a small island in the middle and a little bay at both ends. This year through a project we did with the EA, the lake had a clean start being completely empty so we decided to stock only 15 fish all over 20lb and have a pre book basis for four anglers at a time from Friday-Sunday each week remaining closed for the remainder of the time. We hope this rest time each week won’t put too much pressure on the fish and give them time to recover and grow. The fish have been in the lake around four months and in that time they have put an average of 2lb on and Graham had saved the opening weekend for us to have a go! In all the time they were in there not once did we have a go for them and trust me I could of caught them all twice over the way I managed to get them feeding at times.
The first night was quiet for me but I had made a racket in my swim celebrating my birthday with a take away and my girlfriend Jenny even brought me a cake up! Graham managed a 27lb mirror at first light from a margin spot on a solid pva bag then managed another fish later on a common of 22lb from putting a bait on a fish that rolled. The day was spent trying to get them going on mixers and stalking them using free-line tactics, but I had an unlucky run of events and pulled out of a couple. We retired early that night and Graham’s margin rod was away again in the morning at first light with a fish called Ben rolling in to the net looking rather large. The fish went 29lb 15oz and set a new lake record in the process. I also managed to sneak one out of a baited spot in the edge using a single bottom bait on the hair over a handful of the same mix I had used on my syndicate. The fish was a cracking mirror of 22lb 8oz and I had thoroughly enjoyed my birthday and it wasn’t over just yet as it was home for a quick shower before loading the van and heading to France for 5 days. We had been invited to fish The Dutch World Carp Classic Qualifier at The Resort De Der with the winners progressing to the main event in September at Lake Bolsena in Italy. I’ll let you know how we did in my blog next month!