The day was finally here, the opening day of the new syndicate I have joined this season. I had booked a few days off of work and this allowed me 5 nights and 6 days fishing. Enough time to have a proper look around the complex and to fish a couple of different swims in different areas to get a feel for it.

Being the opening day I knew it would be busy and sometimes you can use this to your advantage. I started in a swim with plenty of water, with a reasonably good view of the lake. There was a gravel bar out at around 35-40 yards range, which I found with a light 1.5 ounce lead being sure to make as less disturbance as possible while plumbing the swim. I fished one rod behind it in the silt in around 13ft depth and the other rod was fished on top of the bar in around 8ft of water.

I choose to fish the rod behind the bar with a hinged stiff rig using a size 5 Covert Chod hook, 25lb Trip Wire and a 6 inch 15lb camo-brown Disruption boom section. A 15mm CC Moore Equinox pop-up was flossed to the rig and a scattering of around 60 boilies were catapulted to the spot. Normally in spring I would fish bright pop ups, but knowing the fish were probably on their guard due to angling pressure I chose a more subtle approach, matching the pop-up to the free offerings.

The rod that was fished on the bar was a snowman setup again tied up with a size 8 Covert Mugga hook and the new 15lb silt Ultra Skin fished on a Covert lead clip arrangement. On the hair I mounted a glugged 15mm Equinox boilie with a 12mm Citrus Blast Hell Raiser pop-up. A small bag of crumbed boilie was hooked on the rig for presentation purposes (to prevent the rig from tangling on the cast) as well as a piece of Dissolving Rig Foam, so no debris could mask the hook point when it landed on the spot.

With the rods were out, now all I had to do was watch the water and take in my surroundings. Night-time came and I repositioned the rods on the same spots with fresh baits and topped them up with about 30-40 more freebies. I stayed up till about 1am to listen for any signs of fish but it was very quiet.

I was up at the crack of dawn but there were still no signs of fish! At around 2 in the afternoon a good carp rolled about 20 yards from the bank in my water. I decided I would stay put for another night and put a rod where I had seen the fish. Once again the same tactics were used one rod over the bar and one in my margin this time. The margin rod was the snowman fished over a light scattering of boilie. I was now feeling a bit more confident.

Once again it was a very quiet night and nothing to report in the morning. I gave it until late morning and decided to have a walk round the lake and chat to a few anglers. I’d done six laps in the blazing heat of the sun on a really nice spring day – carefully looking for signs of fish with and talking to other anglers about the lake and they were telling me how tricky it can be. Nothing was really standing out apart from an area that had seen no anglers or pressure the last 2 days. I didn’t want to jump in all guns blazing so decided to move into a swim with an even better view; you could see up the whole lake and I could keep an eye on the least pressured bit of water.

Just into dark a huge fish boshed out in the less pressured area that I had been keeping my eye on. That gut instinct when you just know the fish would be there, I decided to stay in the swim I was in. I was woken up to a belting take at first light. After a rattley battle I landed a tench of around 4lb and quickly returned and recast back out onto the spot. At 7am the kettle was on and a couple of carp boshed off the island around the same sort of area.

Obviously, I knew that was the area I needed to be in but I couldn’t get in the swim straight away as someone had rocked up and done a quick night in there with no action. I was kicking myself a bit for not moving when I could of and was also running out of supplies, so I popped home to have a nice bath, refresh my mind and get back down that evening hoping that I could possibly get in the area where I’d seen fish activity

When I pulled up to the complex I walked straight to the swim and to my surprise it was empty. I knew I was closer to the fish now and had a feeling they hadn’t gone far and all I had to do was get the rods out with minimal disturbance using light 1.5 ounce leads. I fished my right hand rod about a rods length off the corner of the island and my left very tight to it about 20 yards apart. The left rod was on a snowman, the right on a stiff hinge and about 40 boilies were catapulted over each rig. Rods were out, brolly up and the light was quickly fading. I retreated to the warmth of the bag and watched the water for an hour or so with no signs of fish and I was soon asleep.

I was up early again the next morning and started making some zigs as I knew it was going to be a sunny day. The kettle was on and a brew made whilst doing some “Rig Therapy” I sat by my rods for half an hour watching and waiting. At about half seven my right hand rod gave some indication, the buzzer sounded and the bobbin rose to the rod blank and slowly dropped back down but not onto the ground. I thought it was a liner until it slowly rose back up again and held firm. I lifted into to what I thought was a tench or possibly a bream until I felt the heavy plodding.

The fish started making its way to the left and I could do nothing with it and after a heavy scrap the carp boiled about half way out I could see it was a good fish. I couldn’t quite get its head up and it was boring through the deep margin in front of me and my legs started to go. My fourth night on the lake and I was battling a chunk! The fish was plodding around in circles near the net and every time it went round and round I could feel the hooklink pinging of its peck, and the horrible thoughts started creeping in.

Finally, I lifted the rod tip high and she was over the net cord and I let out a huge sigh of relief. I called another angler from the swim next door to help with some photos as I explained I had one in the net and he was more than happy to help out.

We both admired the big mirror in its spring colours, both buzzing that there was a good’un on the bank – as it had been reasonably quiet for 5 days with only 2 other fish out. When lifting the carp out of the water in the landing net we both looked at the size of the fish and I was saying “yep this is a heavy one could be a nice 30”.

With the sling sorted and scales set to zero we lifted the fish and it went right round to 36 and then settled at 35lb 8oz. I couldn’t believe it! I asked Scott (the other angler helping me) to grab his scales so we could weigh it on another set of Reuben’s. His read exactly the same and he said “That’s the big’un”.

To my shock it was her and we got some really good pictures before she was safely returned to the water. First mission accomplished – a carp landed and a target off the list – Two Tone was new personal best mirror!

It just goes to show that watching the water and making a move does pay off as well as using the tackle and bait you are confident in. I know I couldn’t of asked for more on my first session.