After being unable to get out on the bank for a few weeks it really was time for a trip out, and with a week’s break from college coming up it was a great time to do just that. The only concern I had was the weather, which was certainly against me as minus temperatures were due the evening before the fishing trip. It’s true what they say you can choose when you want to go but you can’t choose the weather.

I decided to fish one of my favourite winter venues, Tri Lakes in Yateley. There are several very attractive lakes, each with many different features and lovely looking fish – which is what I look for especially through the winter.

I was looking to do a 48 hr session so I decided to get down early on the Monday morning to hopefully find some fish and grab myself a quick bite before I set up for the night. As planned I arrived there at 7am, about half an hour before the front gates open to make certain I would be the first in line and the first to the lakes.

By 8.30 no one else had arrived so it looked like I had the whole complex to myself; probably due to the weather the night before as most areas of the lakes had a thin sheet of ice on them. I walked around the complex for an hour or so and saw no signs of any fish so I had to come up with a plan.

My idea was to set up in a swim known as ‘The willow’ as this particular swim covers a lot of water and was a very popular swim on the complex, I just had to spend about a hour smashing through the ice and the Weed Rake was perfect for this task.

I decided to put one of my rods on a very well known spot, and use the other one as a roaming rod to see if I could pick up a quick bite off any fish. It got to midday day and it was still very quiet. The ice had finally melted away and I still hadn’t seen any signs of any fish around where I was so I decided to reel my rods in and have another stroll about in the hope of seeing some signs of fish and to get rough idea where they were.

After spending at least another hour walking about I saw absolutely nothing, so I went back to my swim to get my rods back out. Within an hour of getting back in the swim the right hand rod was away and after a short battle the fish was in the net and I was pleased to see that it was a lovely clean common. A lovely way to start the session off and what with it being the first fish of the year for me I was buzzing.

As I slipped the common back I thought that there was probably more fish in the area so I took a gamble and spread about 100 baits in a mixture of 10 to 15mm sizes to get the carp grubbing around as the sun was now beaming down on this particular area of the lake. Knowing it was shallow (approx 2-3 ft) I was confident a few fish would be actively mooching around.

My set up for Tri Lakes is simple but extremely effective. I was using about a foot of brown Camflex Unleaded leader as it blended in brilliantly with the bottom I was fishing on, and the mainline I was using was the new GT-HD in 12lb (0.33mm). The rigs were Hinged Stiff Hinged rigs tied up with size 5 Covert Chod hooks on very short 20lb Trip Wire pop up sections and brown 25lb Ultra Skin booms as it blends in perfectly to the bottom I was fishing on.

As the day passed I had only managed to get just one more carp under my belt. As the night drew closer in I decided to put fresh bait on both rods and put them back on the spot for the night ahead. I stayed up most of the night in the hope that I’d hear some movement but I it was all quiet and I heard nothing, so eventually I got my head down for a much needed sleep.

At around 5.30 the next morning I was woken up by a screaming run on the right hand rod. As I struck into the rod this fish felt much bigger than the first one, as it was plodding about and kited off left staying down in the depths of the lake. Eventually, as it was getting closer in it hit the surface and I realised it was a lovely looking mirror – a very rare sight on the lake as it’s predominantly commons. I slipped the fish over the net and I got the rod straight back out on the spot confident that there were more fish around that area. I had now become very confident that I would have another bite.

I left the fish to rest for a little bit, so I could get everything ready to take some pictures. After taking a few shots of the stunning mirror (which weighed 19+) I slipped her it back into its home. Only a couple of hours later after having that mirror I was in again on the right hand rod. This time it was only a short battle before I had a lovely looking Ghostie safely in the net.

As the other (left hand) rod hadn’t done a bite yet I decided to reel it in and put it straight out onto the spot which was producing all of the bites for me. Not long after making that decision the rod was away again and as I was playing the fish it became obvious that the fish were holding up in that area. Once again after a short battle there were two fish laying side by side in the net, a ghostie and a common; two stunning little fish. After taking the pictures and returning them the little flurry of action died down for the day.

As the light was running out I did the same as the night before, putting fresh ABS hook baits on the rigs and casted them back to the spots. Obviously I decided to keep the left hand rod closer to the right hand spot. During the night I had three very small commons on both of the left and right hand rod which showed me that moving the roaming rod was a good move.

At around six in the morning I was awoken by an absolute screamer on the right hand rod. As soon as I struck into the rod it buckled over and could tell, that this was a much bigger and more powerful fish than the others. After trying to get into every snag it could, it finally came closer in and hit the surface I could tell it was one of the big commons in the lake. Finally, it was in the back of the net and by far was the biggest fish of the session. I got everything ready and it was soon time to get the beauty on the mat. The fish weighed 24lb 8oz, one of the biggest carp in the lake and I was buzzing. I got my pictures with the stunner and slipped it back and that was where the session ended for me, it was time to pack up and go home on a real high.

The particular fish was actually a target of mine for this year, one of the stunners that this little lake holds. I just keep wondering what other stunners are in here that I haven’t seen yet.

Brandon Butler