Having taken a break from carp fishing for the best part of a year, the first rays of spring sunshine and the close season on the rivers made me think about dusting the rods off. It took a few hours to get all my stuff together, but by that time I was actually looking forward to sitting under the brolly for the first time in a very long time. The first session was pretty eventful, with a 17lb common tricked off the surface before a 30lb 2oz mirror succumbed from the bottom in the early afternoon! Long gone are the days of me fishing whenever I wanted, but luckily I had a week booked off work the following week, and planned to do at least a few nights on the syndicate.

I arrived in the early afternoon, and set off on a wander round to see if the fish were anywhere to be found. With my Polaroid’s fish were evident basking in the sunshine almost everywhere. This gave me a plan, baiting and waiting in the middle area of the lake, attempting to stop groups of fish as they passed around the lake. My gear was dropped in a central swim called Armchair, and a big bucket of Odyssey XXX, hemp, mixed sized trout pellet and a good helping of the new Pacific Tuna boilies. Armchair is one of the most popular swims on the lake, covering the middle area, and there is a huge spot straight out in-front that sees vast quantities of bait every year. It goes against what I normally like doing by going against the grain, but the fish know where to go when they want to feed so the whole bucket was spombed to the area and 3 hinged stiff rigs placed on top to counteract the light covering of silk weed. Rigs were made up of 20lb Trick-Link booms and 25lb Trip Wire, and a super sharp size 6 Covert Chod hook baited with a white NS1+ pop-up. The Pro XM mainline was fished slack from the tips to give me the best presentation on the undulating bottom.

With the rods sorted, the brolly and bedchair went up and a few cold ciders were consumed with a couple of friends as the sun dipped over the horizon. At first light I was awoken by a couple of liners, before the left hand rod received a fast take. The fish fought hard before eventually getting a ball of weed over its head and being lead into the waiting net, a lovely scaley mirror of just under 20lb.

The morning passed slowly before I noticed a large number of fish in a swim called Main Woods so the gear was quickly assembled. I quickly eyed a group of fish that were slowing moving their way across the swim at about 30 yards. I thought it was worth a cast, so flicked the duo floater hookbait slightly past their course and dragged it back. The first of the group stopped and then slurped in the bait before sending out a huge swirl as it realised it was hooked! It was an incredible fight on 8lb line and a 2.5lb test curve rod but eventually I was victorious and cradling a lovely low 20 with a big smile on my face. After this the fish proved hard to tempt on the surface having shamed themselves by giving one up so easily.

It was while surface fishing that I noticed more and more fish turning up in front of a swim called Comfy. I had caught lots of fish out of this swim before, but I was unsure whether to move off the bait or not. That was until a huge mirror showed right on one of the areas, and I was moving as fast as I could! The plan was the same, large amounts of bait on the first night with bright hinged stiff rigs over the top to counteract the silk weed covering most of the lake bottom. A couple of shallower gravel areas were identified with the leading rod, and with everything sorted I settled back for the night quietly confident something might happen.

It was 8:30am the next morning as I was just having a brew with the guy fishing next door, discussing how the hot and windless conditions would probably limit the chances of a bite when my left hand rod received a savage take. The fish gave a traditionally brutal fight, going on several long runs before finally succumbing to the waiting net. On the scales the stunning common went 29lb 2oz and went some way to prove the move had paid off! Shortly afterwards I lost another one on the same rod, and an opportunistic single floater bite was lost in the same weedbed. I didn’t have long to think about it as a few floaters were introduced and soon fish were taking, before the hookbait had even settled it was taken but it turned out to be one smaller ones so I slipped it back quickly, but again the fish did a disappearing act.

Rods were again re-done in the evening, and there was lots of fish in the area so I was quietly confident of a few takes. At midnight it was the productive left hander signalling for attention, and as it kited round in front of the swim the right hand rod also started to peel line from the clutch – I couldn’t believe it a double take! Fortunately neither put up too much of a fight, and a brace of upper doubles were resting in the net. Rods were re-done and I was definitely confident of a few more now! At around 8am again, I had just nipped back to the car when I noticed the left hand area looked more like a Jacuzzi than a fishing spot- they had certainly found the bait now. A friend was fishing the next swim along and he wandered into the swim just as the middle rod was away again. He offered to get his waders to help with the netting, but before he got back the left hand rod was away as well so he picked that one up and started to play it. It was crazy action, and this time it was mirrors of 19lb and 23lb.

That evening my friend and fellow Gardner angler Tom doubled up with me as the lake was now very busy. With both of us having rods on productive areas it looked good for a few more, and we were right as first thing the next morning we again received a double take! His being a 23lb mirror and mine a 31lb 9oz mirror called “The Thick Skinned”, shortly followed up by a 14lb common on my rods. The next day was not as productive with just 1 fish, but another stunning common with a huge heart shaped tail, pulling the scales round to 28lb 2oz. This was my 11th and last fish of the session, and as I packed up on the final morning I was already buzzing to get back, just looking out the window now, I wonder if there is a surface opportunity this evening…