I don’t know about you but this year seems to be disappearing before it’s started, non more so than my fishing season! I always knew this year was going to be difficult in terms of having available time, with trying to move house and having committed to a heavier workload in the office, I needed to make some decisions as to what I was going to be able to achieve with my fishing. You could say that realistically it’s one of those years when I wouldn’t be ‘up for it’s as much as I normally would be!

My Colne Valley syndicate lake holds some really mysterious gems; fish that never seem to grace the bank from one year to another. You’d see the buggers regularly alright, but they’d never come out, so wild is the place!

Just like a few other carp waters in the valley that seem to be under the constant threat of some development plans; be it HS2 or the flood relief channel and I suppose next it will be the Heathrow expansion plans! The lake is potentially going to be affected by at least one of these development plans. So naturally I’ve decided to give it one last hurrah in an attempt to catch one of the elusive ones before the curtain falls down on the lake, once and for all.

The lake has never been easy. It’s only 6 acres in size and not that pressured but the bait doesn’t go in regularly and the abundance of natural food keeps them more than pre-occupied. There are certain swims that deliver fish more regularly than others, although generally they tend to be the same fish. With this in mind I wanted to concentrate on some areas where I could bait up, be left alone, and perhaps nick the occasional odd’un (if fortunate).

The plan was to fish over ‘the other side’, starting off in a swim that had exclusive access to a small bay and part of the main body of the lake. I ‘d been baiting with hemp and small quantities of nut mix boilies fairly regularly during April, trying to establish my bait the best I could but it wasn’t until early May that I decided to have my first session. Don’t ask me why I left it so long, it’s just been one of those difficult years when I’ve struggled to get out and fish!

A couple of fish had already come out to some of the other members during the spring, but luckily nothing that I was particularly after anyway.

The spots felt perfect, certainly well fed on anyway. The two rods in the main body of the lake were behind a bar at 40 yards range onto hard silt… lovely! The bay rod, to my right, was fished just behind a gravel seam so I really wanted to fish my hookbait on the deck on that spot.

For that, I decided to use a rig Lewis had shown me, known as the ‘German rig’. I’ve always been a fan of big hooks and, to some, a size 4 Mugga may seem like an anchor! However, if you tie it up with a snowman style hookbait and 20lb Trick-Link it looked superb in the margin. The other beauty is its anti-tangle properties, which being relatively high diameter mono, are second to none!

The other two rods were fished with standard Hinged Stiff rigs, albeit I’m now using 25lb Mirage fluorocarbon as my boom section. I’m over the mono with the finished results as it’s not too soft, or too stiff, but it kicks the hookbait away from the leader and lead brilliantly, and obviously being a fluorocarbon it’s invisible!

Amazingly, for once it wasn’t raining when I arrived and the customary BBQ went down a storm as the sun slowly disappeared behind the trees. Not even a bubble broke the surface on the still mirror like surface; which is quite often the case at this mysterious water. The lack of visible signs also makes it virtually impossible to judge whether you are in with a shout or not!

Allowing myself to fall into a deep sleep I awoke to my receiver going into overdrive! Diving out (missing the shoes completely) I quickly grabbed the bay rod that was wedged against the ATTS alarm and immediately took up battle with an angry carp. Without too much drama I eventually netted a lovely 23lb linear. It was a fish that I’d never set eyes on before, so I was naturally over the moon! The rod was repositioned spot on, and I returned to my bed a very happy chappy!

As the sun rose, the lake continued with its moody standard form; even the opportunist Herons looked bored, so demoralising can that place be! Eventually I dragged myself out of bed to make a brew, trying to muster up the enthusiasm to pour the water in the mug. To my surprise I saw the left hand tip bend down and the line pull taught. Switching ‘carp brain’ back on I coasted another scaley beast into the net. Brilliant! It got even better when I realised it was another fish I’d not seen before and it also went just over 23lb. It was also really nice to have caught it on one of the new Specialized Hookbaits S4’s too. To be honest I couldn’t give a stuff about the weights of the two fish; these were two fish I’d never seen on the bank and that was my goal for this season.

With things going to plan and the onset of hotter weather kicking in, I decided to concentrate baiting a swim to the left of the one I’d caught the last fish from. This offered me a greater expanse of water and also had access to a plateau 50 yards out in just 6 foot of water, whereas the rest of the swim averaged 9 – 10 feet. The plateau hadn’t done a bite for a few years but I knew a good friend of mine who used to have great success fishing this feature well over 5 years ago.

Using the boat, I put three kilos of hemp and nut mix over the plateau which had a light coating of silkweed present with the intention to fish the following Saturday night, some three days later.

It’s not always the way, but that Saturday I was lucky enough to get straight in the lake receiving most of its angling attention over the other side. Although there was silkweed still present (I couldn’t get a draw of the lead) the 3 ounce Bolt Bombs hit the lake bed with a satisfying donk. I was confident enough to present the same stiff hinge rig as before but this time with a very short boom section, rather than fish a choddy. The other two rods were positioned in 9 foot of water on a nice clay spot some 60 yards out.

Just like most other nights this one was reminiscent of many other, with my trusty BBQ being the only thing moving! A meat feast and a lovely night’s sleep was followed by the low flying 747’s at the crack of dawn that signalled another slow session.
The majority of takes are early morning, but as the sun got stronger, and the time drifted past 9am I felt that my chances were long gone. I had to be off for 11 so I started to slowly pack up.

To my surprise, the plateau rod made a short burst of bleeps and the line slowly lifted out of the water, I raced to the rod and pulled into the fish which came up in the water and danced across the surface almost immediately. The Drop Out chod clip doing its job superbly on the helicopter set-up. The weed between me and the fish was getting very bad so ejecting the lead early allowed me far greater control. With everything going to plan, I netted a very old low twenty common. Another one I didn’t recognised!

The ever faithful S2 was cast bang on top of the spot thanks to the help of the new Gardner Wrappers, and with only a couple of hours to go, surprisingly I felt like I was still in with another chance. The hot weather had clearly made the fish want to feed on the shallower areas of the lake bed and the plateau was obviously no exception. I watched the water like one of the bored Herons and was amazed to see the minutest of bubbles keep hitting the surface over a 5 metre radius right over the baited area on the plateau.

‘Negotiating’ another hour on the bank from the good-lady-wife seemed more than worth it when I received a violent take and before I knew it my heart was pounding as I was connected to something that felt rather special! The battle went on for ages and then, suddenly, it was over! The leadcore flew out of the water towards me. I was devastated – so much so that the BBQ went flying through the air! I left the lake wounded, and needed to pick myself up quickly as I had the good fortune of being a guest with a good mate at Wasing. *Wasing proved to be an absolutely stunning place that I was lucky enough to bank a stunning 24lb common from the shallows on a glorious summer’s day.

Eventually, I returned to the CV lake, after what seemed like a lifetime since I’d lost the good fish on my last trip. With renewed focus I baited the plateau midweek, again with 3 kilos of nut mix boilies. This was done with the intention to return the Saturday armed with my lucky charm, my 8 year old daughter Olivia.

Unfortunately, our session didn’t start too well with Daddy not getting lunch right and moving twice in the afternoon, but eventually we had three baits on the money with a healthy top up of bait which Livvy helped apply.

The lake was its usual quiet moody self, but a couple of liners had Livvy nagging at me to turn the alarm off in the evening. Eventually it went quiet allowing us to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep, which to be honest was exactly what I was hoping for as having a grumpy tired child in the morning to deal with wouldn’t have been fun!

My daughter managed to wade through our entire food provisions that I had allowed for us both in the morning, so I was relieved when the plateau rod tightened up and the line lifted out of the water. With Livvy screaming ‘have we got a fish’, and me realising the fish only had one thing in mind, which was to kite round and head for the sanctuary of the neighbouring snags I told Livvy to ignore what Daddy had been telling her for the past 24 hours and instead jump and scream to her hearts content in the swim next door! The plan worked superbly and soon we had a stunning common in the net. Once again it was another one I hadn’t caught and a rare visitor to the bank that usually weighed around the 30lb mark. The fish had spawned, so a weight of 27.09 was exactly what I expected.

So, although the year is motoring along for me, things seem to be going to plan, so hopefully I can bag one of the real mystical beasts in the not so distant future.

Bye for now…

‘Nice’ Dan