A lot of my time and effort this year has been focused on my competition angling, practising on different venues as I progressed through to the knock-out stages, leading me up to the UK Carp Cup final where I finished 6th overall. This hasn’t allowed me to spend much time on my local water and a spell of around six weeks with no vehicle also hindered my angling quite a bit.
After my first visit to a local water last year it was evident that if I wanted to reap the rewards, I would need to spend an amount of time studying the water and getting to know the place – after all it is a low stocked 37 acre clear gravel pit full of large weed beds and many snags. My first year on the lake was tough, with a lot of anglers using bait boats (which are banned now) and sending them out to the ‘no fishing zone’ on the lake. This meant a lot of the fish were held up out in the middle at around 200 yards range. Due to the angling pressure and quantity of bait being sent out to the area, it made the fishing somewhat difficult for the rest of us. I did managed a number of fish, the best a 28lbs 10oz common, but I can honestly say I lost more than I landed due to the severity of the snags present in the lake. Some contained thousands of zebra mussels and I even heard stories of 45lb leadcore being sliced due to severity of them! This was something I had never experienced before, especially to this extent and it was a massive learning curve trying to overcome the problem.
I did consider whether it was worth joining the water again this year as I knew almost all of my time fishing the lake would be over nighters between work. I put in lots of effort in last year, unfortunately leaving most of the time feeling disappointed after losing fish or just seeing them held up in the middle of the lake. With this tricky water only ten minutes away from my house and some stunning carp up to low forties swimming around in it, I felt I had to have another bite at the cherry. I do love a challenge and I was determined not to be beaten.
The season started on June 1st and as per usual the lake got heavily pressured by anglers initially all chomping at the bit to catch their first fish of the season. I sat back and did a few nights mid-week here and there gathering as much information as I could. After four single overnighters a very similar pattern was beginning to emerge again. I could get bites, but landing them was the biggest problem and I lost the majority through cut off’s. I had only managed to land a low double figure common to show for my efforts, which was painfully frustrating!
I had some time away for my matches, however the main blow was the cambelt snapping on my old van, which kept me off the banks for around 6 weeks! I kept in contact with one of my good friends who had been putting some time in and it was handy to know what was going on at the lake in my absence.
At the back end of August I was finally back on the road and ready again to start my overnight campaign. After a couple of blank nights I decided to really get my head in gear, popping down after work quite a lot and visiting the lake at the weekends to find out what had been caught. With the weather being so mild throughout September, the fish seemed to be congregating a lot in the shallow end of the 37 acre pit. During the last week of September I managed to catch a 26lbs 1oz mirror and a 16lb+ common during two quick overnighters from the shallows, which gave me a massive confidence boost. Was my luck about to change for the good? The weatherman reported that the settled warm weather was about to change during the early part of October, bringing strong winds and low pressure conditions.
During the first day of the big winds, I was working and got soaked through as we had relentless rain, so I left early and went for a quick visit to the lake! The lake looked completely different and there were south easterly winds blowing up to around 30mph and temperatures of around fourteen degrees. The fish were clearly not going to be in the shallows any more and would have moved up to the wider and deeper part of the lake. It certainly didn’t take long to see where they were located and within an hour of me watching the water whilst dripping wet I must add – I saw fifteen shows and some proper lumps too!
I quickly made my way home to collect my gear and did a quick shop and got straight back down the lake for my first overnighter of the week. I decided to set up in a new swim which I had never fished before because I had seen a number of fish in the area. They were still lumping out as I was setting up my gear which was very exciting – unfortunately I had to have a quick lead around in the swim as it was quite weedy in this particular area of the lake. It didn’t take me long to find a lovely clear spot beyond a weed bed at 95 yards range. I put two rods on this spot and baited it with around 2kg of CC Moore Equinox 15mm boilies. I fished my other rod closer in with a similar approach where I had also seen a couple of fish show. As the light faded it looked very promising and I was feeling very confident as I got my head down for the night. As regular as clock work at 6am I was woken up to a very slow take on my middle rod and I lifted in to the rod and immediately felt a very heavy weight on the end. The fish took me into three weed beds and with a lot of perseverance I had my third fish in the net from as many bites. I was buzzing and not actually too sure of how big the fish because of the visibility and it was just on day break. I hoisted the fish out of the water and then realised it was a bit of a unit tipping the scales round to 33lbs 12oz. I was over the moon with the big mirror, my first 30lb+ from the lake after many agonizing losses. The pretty mirror (and all of the captures) were landed successfully using Pro Light Blend main line, a shock leader tied to a 4ft Mirage 25lb leader, a 3oz GT Torpedo Distance lead, Covert lead clip and tail rubber, nine inches of 15lb Sly Skin Silt, tied to a Size 10 Covert Mugga. The hook bait also for all of the captures was a 15mm Equinox boilie tipped with half of a CC Moore 12mm yellow Ns1 pop up.
I went to work loving life and couldn’t wait to get back down the lake the next evening. I baited the swim before I left hoping to get back in the same spot after work. Eventually when I made it back down I was disappointed to find two anglers fishing the same area where I had caught from, so I had to have a rethink and fished another new peg on the opposite bank. With massive head winds coming into my face I fished all three rods on the same spot at 90 yards using the same tactics as the night before and at 6am the following morning I was very pleased to be woken up by a lovely 25lbs 10oz common. I was very pleased with four fish on the bounce in four nights, especially fishing short over nighters between work.
I’m going to carry on my quest for one of the venues big girls and will carry on my campaign until the lake shuts down, then I will start to target some smaller lakes throughout the winter.