Angling for me is all about the anticipation, the chase, the buzz of trying to work out the quarry and piecing together a tactical plan. Recently I’ve had a lot on my plate, a lot of things to contend with both myself and my family and to be honest my head really hasn’t been on fishing. Despite my efforts, I’ve had that feeling when you know it isn’t happening for one reason or another I new I needed to change things. I needed a change of scenery, a new challenge and something to get me fired up. As luck would have it, I called in a favour with a friend and he managed to get me some fishing this autumn on a venue I hadn’t fished before. I knew very little about the lake only that it had a bit of history and despite a few issues in the past the lake still contained some good’uns.

In a bid to get some rod hours in, I worked flat out for 13 days straight to free up some time to go. Prior to fishing, I walked the venue a couple of times and had a quick lead around in an attempt to get a head start and gain some valuable knowledge.

Monday morning arrived quickly and my alarm clock went off at 5:30am. I was soon washed, changed and after a quick drink I was soon on my way to the new venue. I arrived just before first light and did a lap of the lake, which gave me very little to go on. As I only had the morning I carefully raked and cleaned off four marginal spots dotted around the lake and primed them with a helping of chilli hemp, red dari, tigers and some whole and chopped ABS maple cream. After letting them settle I did three further laps of the lake, checking my spots each time. The deep coloured water made this a little tricky and with the day getting on I decided to carefully position a rod on the more likely area first. If nothing occurred within an hour I’d revisit the other areas and try them too.

I crept into position with the minimal amount of kit and flicked a few crumbed baits over the area to get any fish that might be feeding to drift away, so I didn’t spook them when getting the rig into position. I carefully lowered in a 4oz drop off inline and balanced bottom bait rig, slackened off the line and hid behind some foliage. I felt the fish would be visiting the spot and around 40 minutes later I did receive a flicker on the slackened line and a slight tip bounce suggesting the fish had moved in. The atmosphere felt electric and I sat on my hands. Some 10 minutes later the tipped pulled round and the clutch began to spin and after a short frantic scrap I slipped the net under my first carp. It was an odd shaped common that looked ancient and after a couple of self takes I slipped her back.

As playing the fish had caused a lot of commotion, I decided to gather the kit and try one of the other carefully prepared areas. The wind had picked up and was blowing directly into a little reed lined bay up the other end. Off I trotted and repeated the same process, only this time the rod was away almost instantly. The carp in question pulled hard in attempt to gain sanctuary in some snaggy tree roots. With the rod bent double and I held on for dear life. The pressure took its toll and after several more surges down the deep marginal shelf she rolled over the cord of the net. This one was a much younger and slightly bigger common.

Happy with my lot I decided with only an hour or so spare I’d spend the rest of the day walking and leading about. This gave me a good insight to the areas I hadn’t been able to visit due to where other anglers had been fishing on my previous recce trips.

Wednesday morning came and I decided to go for an overnighter, this time with the idea of trying another area of the lake. Sadly there was a different weather front and the fishing was really slow. Despite my efforts I only had the one carp this time, a lovely scaley old looking mirror. Just before leaving I primed an area ready for Friday in the hope I could get a quick bite stalking.

Friday morning couldn’t come quick enough and on my arrival I noticed there were already a few anglers setting up. I decided I’d take a chance and give the primed marginal spot an hour. I was careful not to draw any attention to myself and trickled in a little chilli hemp and boilie crumb onto the spot. I lowered in the rig, slackened the line off and carefully sat back. I received a liner a short while later, which got me thinking I was fishing the spot from the wrong angle and caused some paranoia. I then noticed a succession of little bubbles leading towards my rig, which then stopped. I started to think I’d got it wrong, so I tied another tiny pva bag of crumb and just as I placed it into my pocket the rod ripped off. I held on with the tip sunk trying to keep the fish out of danger. A common rolled on the surface and went into the net the first time of asking.

As it was nearing the Friday rush, I went for a wander, climbed a few trees and tried to second guess where other anglers may go in a bid not to get cut off by there lines. I eventually decided on a swim where I had discovered a gravel seam running into smooth silt behind a weed bed on one of me recce trips the previous week. I decided to position both rods on the area and after applying some bait I wanted to keep any disturbance to an absolute minimum. One rod was fished on 15mm Maple Cream boilie wrapped in paste and the other on my favourite Ultra D Rig topped off with a 12mm S3 cork ball pop up.

I stuck to the plan of not recasting the rods, keeping quiet and 22 hours later the right hand rod ripped off and resulted in a lovely 20lb+ old dark scaley mirror. I re-wrapped the rod, placed the line into the clip and tied a fresh rig. After getting the rod back out, I topped up the area with some fresh bait and sat back. Although I’d had a couple of carp, I was really keen to get amongst one of the lakes good’uns.

Conditions continued to look good and around an hour later the same rod melted off. After an epic battle (and with a little help) I slipped the net under one of the lakes real gems – a fish known as the ‘Big Common’. The fish was in great shape and spun the needle round to 31lb 4oz. A few friendships were forged that trip and I went home happy, I finally felt I’d got my mojo back!