As you can see from my last blog, I’m not one to shy away from spending time on the bank in the cold. Being there and observing the water, all paints a bigger picture for me. This, I hope, you will realise after reading this installment!!!

Taking the rough with the smooth!

After a busy weekend down south working on the Free Spirit stand at the Brentwood show, I decided to drop in at the lake on the way back north. I thought it was a good plan as it would save some money on fuel for the planned couple of nights ahead.

Once again I arrived in the dark as the near gale force icy cold wind blew down the lake. If you remember my last piece about a lake that has the lid on, the layer of ice offers a good deal of protection and traps the warmth from the sun’s rays. Well, there was no such luck on this water tonight. A normal water temp for a lake this time of year is around the 4 degs, but without a lid the colder surface water just keeps getting stirred in. I suppose a lid is nature’s way of protecting the creatures below.

With my new found info (observation of the ‘The Ice boshes’) I really had to give the area a go; even though it was a swim towards the end of the cold wind. As the night rolled by it even snowed which didn’t help the water temperature. Oh, how I wished for a bite with the snow on the ground, I can tell you…

Unfortunately, as expected with the massive fall in water temperature my bobbins stayed motionless. Morning came and a move of swim was needed; just to warm myself up if nothing else. With snow on the ground and setting up a bivvy in the bitter conditions I spent the next 24 hours feeling the chill if the truth was known. Not a single bleep came my way that session, and would you believe it; the move to the back of the wind saw my swim awake to a lid of ice much like the session before!

Always hungry for information, I spent the sunny afternoon before leaving for home, doing a water temperature check all round the lake and out in open water – as you do!! On the end of the wind the margin was an icy 1 deg and in open water it sat at 2.4 deg (now that’s cold for open water).
The best I found was on the back of the wind which still sat at a very cold 3.2 degrees Celsius. With all these water temperature’s duly written down, one thing stood out to me above anything else with the water being so cold it will warm to 4 degrees from the bottom first; as the densest water (4 deg’s) will still want to settle lower than the water that is at a higher or lower temperature. This means that with the water temperatures so low this settlement would have a warming effect. This is opposite to normal where the dense 4 deg water won’t let the warm band down and always takes a good while to warm the bottom layers, at this given time of year. So with lethargic fish sat up, I could see a change on the cards in the not so distant future. Well, on the next mild spell anyway.

It’s getting warmer!

On my very next trip I could see a rise in temperature coming, well so the weather man threatened anyway. Turning up all excited after a mild day in Shropshire the day before, I was sure a bite would be on the cards. Looking at the lake from the car park, I could see white patches down the lake! My first thought was ‘are they blowing?’ but as I got nearer I couldn’t believe it and my heart sank. It was ice!!

It seems the area had suffered from a freak 3 hour spell of clear sky early during the night and with the water being so cold it had iced up straight away!

It was only thin ice and a warm wind was supposed to blow in that afternoon, so obviously without seeing a single show I pitched up down the bottom end of the lake facing into the oncoming warm wind (so they say?). Setting up camp was done at a nice leisure pace, and soon I was all set up and all I needed was a bit of wobbly water to cast into!

The day crept by and sure enough the wind eventually picked up. An hour before dark I had decided that there was no chance of getting my rods out this side of mid-night. Then, with ice cracking around the margins and starting to fold over itself at some pace, just on dark I was amazed as a side wind blew the last 15 yards of ice right down the bank! At last, I could cast out.

With a liner early in the night my confidence was high, but for some reason my bobbin never moved and my buzzer never let out another bleep. With my rigs staggered across the swim I seemed to have all the bases covered; hookbaits being a little bit of Trigga Ice on one, and bright baits on the other two.

I’m not one to chop and change rigs; I just ride my confidence and use the right rig for the right situation/lake bed.
After two nights of sitting waiting for the carp I’d talked myself into a move -and a show right up the other end of the lake helped if the truth was known. I was just at the point where I had gear everywhere and bivvy pegs in my hand when – Beeeeeeeeep!

Off went one of the snowman rigs, being carried off by Mr Carp! After a very, very weedy battle I netted a ball of weed and wasn’t 100% if there was even a fish in there, but after a bit of digging about I soon came across the tail of a common waving at me. At 22lb 14oz it was a real sight for sore eyes. I still didn’t think that the carp had come down on the wind so I stuck to my guns and made the move (many would say I must be mad moving after having a bite, maybe?)

I got round to the new swim right round the lake and had tackle strewn all over the swim. Rods out first was the order of the day, on this occasion a chod rig on one rid and two Wide Gap Talon Tip rigs fished blow-back style were soon on their respective spots. Daytime bites seemed to be the norm on here at the moment (he says… but not a lot has been out lately apart from my 26lb common and that was a good few weeks ago) so it seemed a good idea to cast out sooner rather than later.

Whilst in the process of trying to sort my gear out after a lazy 3 barrow move, I was amazed when my ATT alarm signalled a take only 30 minutes after the cast. Already sweating from the move I picked up the rod to be greeted by a steady pressure, peeling line and accompanied by the odd nod of its head. This felt a better fish altogether (even without the weed) as it was holding deep and doing the big fish thing. Then she rolled and I took my fist glimpse of her through the clear water – it looked like a water pig! After a nervy 3 or 4 minutes she rolled safely into the waiting net. Now to say I was buzzing would be an understatement and I carefully lifted her out to find a chunky mirror that rolled the scales round to 33lb 5oz which was a very pleasing capture out of water that had risen slightly to 3.8C. Now that’s cold water carping!

With another ‘gear everywhere’ photo shoot completed she was slipped gently back into the lake to join the other blocks of ice with fins! Before dark fell on my final night I really couldn’t believe my luck when my well thought out baited trap fooled another in the shape of a mirror weighing 21lb 7oz. With the lake warming it had switched them on and this had turned into a red letter session on the last full day.

When your luck’s in!

My last morning rolled in and beep – beep – beep!

After 30 seconds of trying to work out whether it was a liner or a bite, a very small lift of the bobbin when it should have been going back down soon had me lifting the rod. As soon as I bent into the fish the carp decided to double cross me and swam at me and then kept going left, powering off down the margin at a slow but steady pace and nearly hitting the margin branches as she went. By now I had a serious bend in the rod and started to make ground, but a turn of her head and she was again in the driving seat. The battle went on like this for a good 5 minutes. As she neared my own bank one of my other rods lit up and started taking line. At first I thought she’d hit the line but after checking it was clear my fish was plodding right and the other rod tip was screaming left!

After a shaky few moments after seeing her roll, I netted my winter prize; I was stood gobsmacked, by the time I’d picked the other rod up the other fish was long gone but I can only deal with one rod at a time. Taking a moment I still couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Winter carp don’t get much better than this and that’s for sure, I thought.

After a ride on the scales she rolled the needle round to 40lb 10oz – a beautiful winter mirror. After a phone call, I found out this one hadn’t been seen for a good while going by the name ‘Moon Scale’, and do you know what, I’m still buzzing now! With the carp feeding like this, I couldn’t resist doing another night and the following morning I was rewarded yet again with another carp! This time being a stunning zip linear of 21lb 9oz.

As I write this I’m still blown away by my February session, and to have a 40 on Friday 14th was mad in itself. It seems that my reading into water temperature’s sometimes really comes good, and on this session it really was a case of just finding them.

Be Lucky Nick