After an intense three month river campaign it was time to return to the pond and get ready for some autumn fishing. With the weather still warm things should have been easier, but unfortunately it wasnt. I was working hard for the odd fish here and there, however the venue had me scratching my head from day one. It’s a venue where one minute you will have a few captures and then rack up the blanks, sometimes for weeks. I have found myself on a number of occasions being on fish, but they would not be fooled easily.

My first few trips back found me trying to find the location of the carp as I was out of tune with the lake. Location was proving difficult as the carp were not giving up their whereabouts like they did in spring. They were becoming noticeably harder to catch and wising up to bait and pressure the lake had seen. I started regularly introducing CC Moore Pacific Tuna boilies in the areas I was fishing in small quantities and over the course of six nights, consisting of two separate sessions I managed to get quite a bit of bait spread around the lake whilst trying to find the fish. This strategy was a sneaky baiting technique, yet I hoped it would allow me to identify the areas the fish were visiting and as well as giving them a good food source.
Unfortunately I didn’t catch on these two sessions, but I was confident the carp would get on the bait at some point. On my last night of the second session I had fish all over me, but unfortunately the buzzers remained silent. At least after lots of effort I had finally found an area where the fish were holding up.

I arrived one morning around a week after I had found them and fortunately the area was free. I knew they wouldn’t have move too far as there was a fresh weedbed present. The fish had been forced to move from other areas of the lake as many of their favourite weed beds had started to die off.

I applied around 3 kilos of two day old washed out Pacific Tuna boilies that were soaked in the Tuna Extract to a gravel plateaux at short range, which I knew was a feeding spot. I hoped by washing the boilies out it would made the carp think they had been in the water for a few days and would be considered as safe. I soon had a hinged stiff rig positioned on the plateaux. The boom section of this rig was made with a material called HydroFlex. It’s brilliant and I have been experimenting with this strong and extremely supple mono material for a few weeks. The material is also almost invisible and has a light green tinge to it which blends in perfectly with light silk weed which covered the area.

The second rod was fished in open water to a silty spot just off a big weed bed, again with the same rig but with a stiff boom made of 15lb Disruption. The camo effect on this material is perfect and I love the stuff.

The evening came and I was feeling pretty confident with the rigs on the spots, however I awoke the following morning with no action to the rods. I knew that the fish were not far away so I decided to stay put, especially as heavy rain was forecast and conditions looked to be improving all the time. I looked out of the brolly to the plateaux spot and a small stocky launched itself right out just behind the plateaux. I started rubbing my hands together knowing the fish were now on the spot and beginning to feed on the bait.

The fish continued to show over the bait throughout the day, yet I had yet to receive a bite. I decided to leave the rig out there for the evening as I didn’t want to recast and risk spooking the fish. I topped up the area with 30 or so baits every 2-3 hours to keep the fish interested and hold them in the area.

The following night passed without incident and I woke the next morning without any action. The heavy rain was still coming down and the fish were still present in the area. I started to think that perhaps my rig wasn’t presented properly or that I had overdone it with the freebies. From around 8am in the morning the fish really started showing over the baited area, there were quite a few carp feeding on the bait. A good fish stuck it’s head out just to the left of the spot and I started to think about re-positioning one of the rigs. I sat on my hands for around another couple of hours and continued to apply 20-30 baits every hour or so with fish still showing.

At around mid-day, the bobbin slowly lifted to the rod blank and the line pulled tight. Finally I was in! The fish had made its way into a mass of weed behind the plateaux and it all went solid! Surely after waiting so long for a take I couldn’t lose it! I calmly put the rod back on the rest and waited for the fish to free itself. After five minutes, just as I was fearing the worst, the tip pulled round and the fish moved off. After a tense few minutes, when I led a weedbed in the size of a bivvy, I eventually managed to scoop the whole lot up. I started ripping the weed up, hoping the fish was on. I eventually found my line entering the mass of weed along with my leadcore leader. I traced it down to the hook link and I was greeted by the sight of a proper chunk.

After a few blanks from the previous weeks I finally had good’un in the net and I was over the moon! I prepared the mat, sling and scales and text my mate rich, who had popped home, to tell him I had one in the net. He was soon back down and taking some pictures for me (much appreciated!) which on the sales weighed in at exactly 31lb. I went home that evening extremely happy!
I returned the week after at first light and had a walk around the lake. I soon entered a swim that had also seen a bit of bait during the session the week before and it felt right. I hadn’t seen any, so I decided to go on instinct alone. I was speaking to a mate at work the day before saying how strange it was that I hadn’t connected with any commons and he advised me to tip my bait with a colour.

I fished my usual hinge rig again with the HydroFlex boom section on a small bar that was close in. My chosen hookbait was a Pacific Tuna pop-up tipped with a piece of yellow plastic corn. Around 30 baits were scattered around the rig and the other rod was position off the island in front of me. This was my usual banker spot that I had been successful from on previous occasions. There was a lovely south westerly wind was pushing into the swim and everything seemed spot on. I sat back, relaxed taking and left the rods for the night. I set the alarm clock for 5.30am so I could be up for first light.

At 7am I had a brutal one toner from the rod that was placed on the bar with the tipped bait. After a good battle a common would soon nestling in the bottom of the net. The fish was far from huge but I was happy to have a common in the net, it’s what I wanted despite the size. The fish went 18lb 2oz. I decided to do another night in the swim without any luck and decided to pack up at midday.

I had a break the next week and went to the River Trent for some barbel fishing with a mate from work, which was another successful trip but that’s another story.

I went back to the syndicate the following week armed with some new toys. I had some new rods and I had a horrible feeling the new gear curse was going to affect my chances. The rods but they remained with no action for a number of weeks, it really started to do my head in. All I caught in the space of about six sessions were tench and a very big bream. Finally everything came right and I had found a way to catch the carp when they were not interested in bait at all. They were bang on the naturals and I often watching them fizz up on beds of natural food. I had to try to trick them into picking up my rig when they were not interested in boilies and that is exactly what I did.

Combi-rigs consisting of a long Subterfuge fluorocarbon hook link of around 12-14 inches paired with a supple section of Trickster Heavy and a size 8 Covert Incizor hook seemed to do the business. Fluorocarbon leaders were also used as I wanted everything to be invisible and even more so when they were being tricky to catch. I mounted a 12mm Northern Special on the hair and balanced it with a size 2 shot, before trimming the pop up to around 8mm in size. This is not my usual rig choice for the time of year due to leaf matter and debris on the lake bed, but I thought I would try it as the fish seemed to be burying their heads deep into the silt.

This rig seemed to work very well and at first light I would wake up and look for fizzers before casting the rig carefully on top of feeding fish. The bites often came soon after casting, often within 15 minutes to half an hour.

The first fish to fall for this tactic was one of the best looking fish in the lake and within 15 minutes of casting to a fizzing spot mid-morning the fish was on. I couldn’t believe how quick the bite had come after recasting. The fish run me ragged all over the place and I could tell it was it was shocked to have been hooked as it was supercharged and very aggressive. After around 10 minutes I saw the fish roll around 25 yards out and spotted it was one of the fully scaled beauties. My legs turned to jelly and the adrenaline was certainly pumping. After a few moments here my heart was in my mouth, I eventually had one of the lakes finest prizes in my net. What a fish it was and at 22lb, it wasn’t one of the lakes biggest residents, but who cares when they look so good! That capture really did make my day and a superb way to break the new rod curse! I decided to stay one more night, but unfortunately I didn’t receive any further action.

Four days later and I was back for another session and it panned out very much the same. I arrived in the dark and headed straight for the swim where I’d seen activity the week before. A good angler was a few swims away, so I quickly popped down to have a chat with him. He assured me he had heard a couple of fish in the corner of the lake between the swim I had in mind and his, so I knew there were fish still in the area. A strong South Westerly wind was battering the boards in front of me and it even smelt carpy and by this I literally mean I could smell carp in the area. Some believe this and some don’t but I have found this a few times you can smell the carp. Strange but true!

I left everything on the barrow and got the rods sorted with combi-rigs and Northern Special hookbaits. The left hand rod was flicked around two rod lengths out to the bottom of the marginal shelf where I had seen a fish show the week before. The right hand rod was flicked slightly further away and I made sure to leave a good gap between both rods as I thought the fish would be spread about in the area.

The kettle was soon on and within 15 minutes the left hand rod belted off! The take was brutal and another good fight was underway. With the rod almost bent in half I eventually managed to get the upper hand and slipped another mirror into the net. The fish weighed 26lb 4oz and was a great start to the session.

I soon had the rod was recast back to the same spot and I stayed put for the rest of the night. The following morning I awoke at first light eager to see if I was able to spot anymore fizzers. Luckily just beyond the left hand spot some bubbling occurred around 9am. I flicked the rig right onto the fizzing and like previous session it didn’t take long to roar off.
I was soon leaning into a good fish and one I could do very little with. My first thoughts were that I was attached to the lakes resident catfish! It was a while before I could get proper control of the fish, but it eventually began to tire and I was able to gain some line back. I saw the fish boil on the surface around 35 yards out and it looked like another common! After a few more minutes I eventually led the fish over the waiting net. As I parted the mesh I was greeted by the sight of a wide framed common with big shoulders. It was a known fish that I had wanted to catch for months. On the scales the fish went 31lbs and was one of the lakes true big commons and one that could do a really big weight in years to come. Yet again I left the syndicate feeling over the moon, mission accomplished and another target ticked off the list.

Hopefully this winter will be kind and there will be some more good fish to come.

Tight Lines, Scott.