By the time we reached January this year I felt ready to get out fishing again after family circumstances had meant it had been several months since I’d been out. During that time, I had kept my finger on the carping pulse, staying in contact with a few close friends, and then early in the year had also taken a trip over to Gardner Tackle HQ. This was to catch up with everyone in the office and to see the new products that they had recently brought out. As soon as I saw things like the Covert Tungsten range, I knew they would be part of my forthcoming terminal arrangements. I was keen to get out on the bank.
I had no real expectations of instant success as I unlocked the padlock at another club lake that I’d not fished before. It held promise with some previous winter form, being small and shallow, but is also bordered by a road on one side, and a railway line the other. I’ve always liked lakes in the winter with roads nearby, as I’m sure the vibrations keep the fish on the move. I love snags too, and the first big overhanging tree I came across looked a good starting point, as it was about the biggest feature in the lake. It had a mass of twisted branches that overhung the lake’s surface, and I immediately saw areas of clean gravel beneath. As I peered into the tree from the raised bank, I could make out a couple of dark shapes below, which was enough to get me hurriedly running back to get my gear out the car.
It was a great bonus to even see a fish, so much so I felt like I’d had a result already! I knew that the lake was shallow but was surprised just how shallow it was, as next to the tree it couldn’t have been more than a couple of feet. I was prepared though as I had just the tool, in the form of my trusty baiting pole. In no time at all, I had shipped out a rig with a pink pop up silently up against the snag tree, having placed half a dozen free baits alongside my rig in the scoop.
This sort of scenario is exactly where the stiff boom of the 20lb Mirage fluorocarbon hooklink helps me maintain a good presentation, as with the pole I couldn’t hold anything back and feel for a drop. Instead I just relied on the stiff material, fished rotary style, to kick the pop up away from the little 1.5oz chod finish lead.
It was a good way of achieving a stealthy approach, without any fear of a mis-cast on top of fish that I already knew were present under the tree. I flicked my other rod back along the other margin and set up the Bivvy in anticipation, feeling like I was in with a chance. It was a tight swim though, and I had no fear of being far away from my rods as I could literally touch them while lying on the bedchair!
The next morning the rod by the tree ripped off, the tip pulling round and the bobbin slamming into the buzzer. I held on and pulled the fish away giving the rod maximum side strain until the fish swung out and I could enjoy the fight in the safety of the open water in front. It was a cracker of a carp too! A lovely plated mirror, and after so many months of not fishing, a fantastic welcome back to angling, and a confidence booster to have a fish from a new water in January.
I was back a couple of weeks later, once again just for another single night, and after several laps and seeing nothing, I poled out my bait again under the snag tree I fished the first trip.
That evening I caught a 25lb mirror, and the following morning a 22lb fish! Another excellent result. I was delighted with my presentation, and the measure of a good rig is the hook hold, and all these fish were absolutely nailed on the size 4 Incisors.
The following weekend was our annual winter social trip, and I was really looking forward to it, especially as we had booked the Advanced Angling Blue Pool, I love going to somewhere I’ve never been before.
The forecast looked kind too, and after a breakfast load up at the local café, and navigating our way through several gates, we were in and taking our first look at the pool. It was a lovely looking lake, and we walked several laps in the sunshine; each lap making me feel more at ease with it, maybe even confident!
On one of these, as we peered into a bit of quiet margin in one of the corners, we saw at least 3 fish slowly cruise past, deep down and hugging the bottom. It was unmistakable that they were up and awake, and more than active enough for a little feed.
It was no surprise that this was on the south facing bank, that got the benefit of the warm sun all day, and with no swims on that bank, it was clear why the fish were there. The nearest swim was on the adjacent bank, but I knew immediately how I was going to fish it.
Once again, the trusty baiting pole came out, but this time I could extend it from that bank, cast over it, and with my friends helping place the rig into the scoop and then drop it perfectly in the margin where we had already seen the fish. I could have cast it, but with the overhanging trees it wouldn’t have been easy, and the pole method was easily the best option, guaranteeing perfect precision every time. This rod had the Ronnie rig on, mounted with an overweighed pink pop up. It also had Mirage fluorocarbon main line all the way through to ensure the line was hard on the deck. It looked absolutely perfect in the crystal-clear water. The other two rods were cast out onto nice firm silty spots at the back of a couple of gravel areas that I found at about 30 yards range.
That night I had a 24lb mirror from the margin spot, and a 23lb’er from one of the open water areas. The following morning dawned cold and foggy, and the brolly had a thin layer of frost over it. The lake was flat calm and appeared slightly dead, but out of the blue I was battling another fish from the margin spot. This was a result as between us we had repositioned this one in the dark the night before with the pole, which hadn’t been an easy task!
This fish felt better and fought long and hard under the rod tip. On the first roll I could see the golden scales of a decent common. At 31lbs I was absolutely delighted with the capture and it was nailed on my favourite rig (The Ronnie) primed with the Essential Pink Salami pop up.
That afternoon we sat round with the tablet balanced on a couple of buckets, to watch the Wales v England rugby, and having a Welsh wife it was certainly a good weekend to be away from home!
That was it for me in the way of action, but Wayne also had 3 and that capped off a great weekend, and we are looking forward to a return next year.
It was now March, and with my main ticket not starting until April, I did a couple of nights on another lake on the local club ticket. In 4 nights angling I had 5 more fish; nothing massive, but with the best being 27lb’s it was great to get a bend in the rod and test out some new rig components.
Most importantly it was a major boost for the old confidence. Nothing beats banking a few, and with my sights set on a really tricky water holding just a handful of fish, it was especially important, as I think there may well be some hard times ahead. With some decent results already, I can’t wait to see what the spring and summer holds in store there.