My last trip to Acton Top Lake went swimmingly! I arrived to an empty lake, but where many anglers would think ‘fantastic result’ I wasn’t so sure. Let me explain; on the few trips I’ve had time for this season, I’d taken great notice of the carp’s movements observing the changes in their routines with angling pressure from here or there. This approach has held me in good stead, with many 30’lbers coming ending up in the net during my trips.

This time, with an empty lake and only a dozen or so swans to keep me company, I set up halfway down the lake, hopeful of seeing the carp doing their normal night time swim though my area in the wee hours.

Two nights later and I’d still not had a bleep! With another couple of nights left under my belt, I saw a couple of fish show right up the lake, so on the evening before my second night I went for a little bait up, applying just a dozen Shropshire cold as a taster. At the time I thought this was a win-win idea, after all if it moved them out of that area I’d have some action in the night, if not they’d have a taster and be easier to catch the day after.

Morning came, and as I’d said before that made two nights without a bleep, so it was the slow and muddy move all the way up the lake. A night in and I’d finally had a double for my trouble, which was a start. Then on the very next morning I spotted some blowing; which also seemed to be attractive to the swans. The area was only 3 feet deep at best, so a few free baits went in to see how the swans and fish reacted.

Luckily, the swans seemed to be far more interested in the weed to be fair, so with a bit of luck and a stealthy approach the chance of a bite of something was definitely on the cards! A double bottom bait ‘dead snowman’ was soon cast out mounted on my ever faithful Wide Gape Talon Tip/Trickster heavy combination and it was time to sit back, enjoy the view and watch the water for more clues.

A friend came round for the afternoon to drink my tea, as they do. Whilst we were sat there I was receiving the odd liner that I just put down to the swan plucking weed near my line. When suddenly the sounder made a beeeeep! beeeeep! Bleeeeeeeeep!!!
Looking up I could see the swan leisurely swimming away; not stressed at all – so jumping into the chest waders (the water’s getting too cold for shorts and crocs now, even for me) I picked the rod up and tightened the line. I was somewhat surprised as the swan was going one way and the line was going the other. After getting stuck a few times (me in the silt, not the fish) we soon met in 18” inches of water; as her orange/golden flank rolled into the waiting net… Yes!

At 36lb plus a few oz’s, this was a great result for the effort I’d put in, and another Shropshire 30 plus added to the years tally.
With the pictures done and a waddle through the silt dunes to her freedom (the fish not me this time!) I was understandably feeling rather pleased and contented. A few cups of tea later, and just as Billy was getting ready to go, Bleeep, Bleeeeeeeep! I was a little bit quicker on my feet this time; chest waders on and this time as I really thought I’d hooked a swan as I saw she was swimming away with her back up and a little annoyed for sure. But no! it was the same again with the swan going one way and the line going another!

Slowly and steadily she plodded up and down; kicking up silt each time she turned in the shallow water. With her back already showing well before netting range, I knew she was a deep girl. Head down into a dying bed of silt weed, she soon rolled and started moving again! But this time, with her weed mask on she came in looking like the phantom of the opera. Doing the fat girl waddle trying to get to a crowded bar, she did the same through the last clumps of weed; but was soon safely ensconced in the net! What a result. Another chunk, but this one weighed a bit more…. swinging on the scales she went 42lb something! (What day is it again?)
To be honest we had a great afternoon and it was made even better being able to share the moment with a friend. A lot of my captures are done on my own and in a way I’ve missed the banter on the bank with close mates.

As the session came to a close I’d cleaned the figures up with a 40, 30, 20 and a double! With over 13 x 30’s and a 40 in just 7 trips you could say I’d found a pattern; but with winter on its way and quiet lakes, I’d say I’ve got a challenge to look forward to on this lake. One thing is for sure though, I’ll be relishing it…

Nick Burrage.