June has now passed and judging on my last capture from Horton’s Church lake being Split-Pec 6lb’s down in weight, it confirmed that those fish that were going to spawn have done their thing. With this in mind, and as the Church Lake has so many more fish that I’d love to catch (including my target fish) I decided to disappear to some of the other lakes on the complex and try and get amongst ‘em! Don’t get me wrong the fish’s weight is not the sole reason for this. For me it’s simply how they look after this (healthy) weight loss. I’m not into repeat captures either, so catching some of these historic fish looking ‘drawn’ would not do them justice when I look back over my albums in years to come. So until September my beauties…
With all that in mind and being a gold card member I had the choice of Kingsmead 1, Kingsmead Island, Boat Pool and Crayfish Pool. All these lakes have cracking fish, and all of them have a certain appeal. Last season I’d fished the Island Lake; 65 acres of wild carpy habitat that had been really kind to me. So instead, I set myself the target of fishing on the Boat Pool for the big common that lives in there, that and to capture one of the stunning looking thirties that resides in Crayfish Pool.
As I only have 2 months until I head back to Church Lake, I decided on fishing Crayfish Pool first, as it felt like a more manageable target to start with. After a thorough search of the 5-6 acre lake, half a dozen or so carp were visible on the surface meandering down into the larger bay. As that is around 15-20% of the stock it was good enough for me, so I opted to fish a swim called the Beach which commanded a large portion of the lake.
Spots had to be seriously considered due to the resident crayfish that gave their name to this lake. I’ve dealt with these pests in the past and with the wrong mindset they can drive you to simply give up! All the usual Cray avoidance tactics such as fishing plastic hookbaits, or wrapping your bait in high diameter shrink tube (Hardball Bait Savers) or even using wooden balls soaked in a bait glug are great at slowing them down, but past experience tells me it’s easier to fish away from the Crayfish. That means any snags or shallow water which would be my usual hunting zones will usually hold a large population of them and I try to avoid these areas unless stalking. As a general rule I find that water up to around 10 feet deep is where they are most prominent and the deeper areas are usually less populated.
With this in mind I went about my usual routine of flicking out my lead in likely areas counting down the drop to ascertain the depth. By drawing the Mirage Fluorocarbon (0.37mm) through my fingers I managed to find a clean sandy clay area in around 11 feet of water about 2 rods lengths off the Fiat Uno that’s found its home at the bottom of the pool many years ago! I knew that snag would be teeming with Ronnies & Reggies, but took the chance to ping my right hand rod as close as I dare to it with the idea of checking the hookbait in a few hours time to ensure I was still fishing.
My left hand rod was cast at around 60 yards to a slightly deeper area; again I discovered another relatively clean area that was a little bit deeper. I was pretty confident that even at this time of year I could get them feeding in the deeper water with a steady stream of bait to the spot and I’d be able to get a bite.
I applied just a bites worth of Mainline New Grange to each spot, to minimise Cray attraction and fished a critically balanced bait on each rod. The rig was my trusty bottom bait arrangement consisting of 15lb Sink Skin, a size 6 Covert Mugga, made mega flippable with the addition of a Covert hook aligner, and a Gardner inline flat pear lead was mounted drop off style to a 1 yard leader made with the new 45lb Camflex Leadfree (my first time using it but I’m well impressed).
A few baits fell in the margin during bait application and upon close inspection I found a few baby crayfish had moved in on the 18mm bait almost straight away! Oh dear, this could be fun…
I set my alarms to +6 sensitivity to get a feel as for the Cray activity on the spots and how wisely I’d chosen, and for the next few hours I was serenaded by regular high pitched peeps as both my lines being were constantly tweaked. I knew the Cray’s had been active and sure enough my right hand rods bait had been mullered. I was blindly happy with the spot, so stubbornly I decided to give it another chance with a couple of pieces of plastic fantastic to see if I could avoid the Cray’s long enough to get a bite. Reeling in my left hand rod I figured a similar story had occurred here as well, bearing in mind the comparable frequency of liners. However, this time the hookbait was as pristine as when it had entered the water.
Surprised, I tried to get my head around why? The only realistic conclusion that I could draw was that the way I’d fished my slackish Mirage. Due to it hugging the bottom, it was conducive to these false indications and the alarm was registering every time they crossed in front of me bumping the main line! When I recast the lines were set much tighter than I usually favour, leaving the line to settle with the rod tip up high for 2-3 minutes, allowing the first 5 yards of line down by the rig to get right down before I placed the rod on the rest and the bobbin was set.
The right hand rod was left overnight and a restless few hours demanded that the alarm be set on -1. Even on this setting it had still been beeping, informing me of Cray activity in the bite radius all night long. However, on the left hand rod the tighter line had done the trick and no beeps were registered. Normally I would consider it a bad thing but this time at least it meant it had been fishing undisturbed. Sure enough the following morning with no bites occurring I checked the rods. The plastic had gone from the consistently beeping right hand rod (so much for that idea) and once again the bait was perfect on the other rod. Still no carp banked but a lesson had been learned!
By now I knew that I was fighting a losing battle on the spot by the car, so I went about looking for a new area. A few casts later I had found another spot, in a similar depth to my left rod, and opted to fish there. With my new found knowledge, using tighter lines and using the -1 setting on the alarms, a few hours later there were no beeps to report, and when the right hand spot was checked, the bait was still perfect. I could now start fishing confidently on areas rather than sitting there fretting about whether the rigs were still fishing. My strategy worked when the right hand rod roared into life. After a fantastic fight I was rewarded with a stunningly pristine 22lb deep bodied common and my first look at one of the Crayfish Pool carp.
Forty right hours had passed and I went home happy having not only caught a carp, but also having learned a lot about how to approach the lake.
I returned the following week and had the pool in my mind. I figured dropping straight back in over my bait could well pay dividends, but I still went on my usual adventure scanning all lakes on the complex for my best chance. A few hours walking and boating around failed to convince me that anywhere else was would offer me a better chance, so I dropped back in the Beach swim. Unsurprisingly my right hand rod went back on the banker spot, but this time I chose a different area for my other rod as it had been untouched by both Crays and carp.
All the prior knowledge I had accrued was applied and a great night’s sleep saw me rise about 6am. With a brew in hand I watched the bay area for signs of carpy activity. I wasn’t disappointed as I saw bubblers breaking the surface all over the areas, none more so than the spot I’d abandoned this time round! Typical, I thought. I wrestled with the thought of casting to the area, but with the intimate nature of this lake I concluded that this could do more harm than good and spook the other area. Luckily my gamble paid off when around 7:30am the banker rod roared off. A relatively placid jostle resulted in me slipping the net under a chunky looking fish, an unsurprisingly stunning looking mirror called Uppy at 32lbs 2oz.
An hour or so later, whilst still buzzing from the stunner I’d just caught, I realised I had already achieved 50% of my challenge – so now with 7 weeks (or the equivalent of 8-10 days on the bank) I‘ve just got the forty common to go! No pressure then…
Fantastically, later that afternoon the banker spot rattled off again! I’m not afraid to admit it, but this time I couldn’t get the beast tamed. It took me to the far bank, then up towards the Uno swim, and both times strong arm tactics were needed to reign in the beast. With 60 yards of line still between us she started kiting left and I franticly reeled to try and keep her on a tight line when I realised what she had planned. There was a small peninsula that juts out into the lake 25 yards up to my left, and this was the devious beggar’s destination. Sure enough, with her getting closer to getting round the corner I dropped my tip and put on the pressure.
Two heavy lunges forced the once hooped over rod to fall straight, and the once tight line fell as limp as Gail Platt’s husband