The older I get, the more I loathe the winter months, with the last winter being no exception. I hadn’t a plan as to what I was going to do come November, so my only option was to have a couple of sessions on Dinton over during the following months but I knew I wasn’t going to be in a position to work on any campaign nor, truth be told, did I have the desire to either.
I knew of a couple of really dedicated guys that were fishing hard over there throughout the winter and I just thought ‘fair play to them’ and genuinely hoped they got their just rewards for their endeavours. As I wasn’t there I didn’t ask if they did or not, but I had a hunch it was a bit hard going.
My first trip of the year was around the latter part of February. A number of anglers were already present on the lake and I could clearly see that the popular method deployed last year by a good number of anglers was clearly evident again. You couldn’t miss it, with big bobbins sitting against the alarms indicating tight lines, remarkably reminiscent of fishing with zigs. Zigs had accounted for a number of fish during the spring last year. However, I really didn’t want to use them having just joined the syndicate and instead persisted with fishing on the deck, which proved utterly pointless!
This year, I knew I had to have a go, so I consulted with our Lewis as he had done far better than I have using this method, and to be honest I needed convincing! Armed with a couple of packets of size 10 Muggas, some 10lb Zig Link and oodles of multi coloured Zig Rig Foam, I set about tying them up.
I was joining up black/yellow and black/red pieces of the foam by means of Rig Glue in order to create a little slither of colour against the larger black foam. I was not sure whether this was going to catch me more than the carp but after trimming my weird looking hookbaits down, which I liked a lot, I then positioned them closely to the back of the Mugga with a really short hair… it looked the part.
Towards the back-end of February, word on the grape-vine was that a couple of fish had been out, and unsurprisingly the ever-vigilant anglers were immediately all over their whereabouts eager to nick a bite.
I had a night ahead of me and was looking forward to a bit of ‘fluff chucking’! Upon arrival there was a concentration of anglers towards the car park end, which was where the most recent fish had come out. After I had a good look around, I decided to go in the Social swim, which sits on the edge of the car park bay. I was really hoping that I could nick a bite off one on the way out of the car park bay end as I suspected that due to the angler pressure that was there the fish would do the off. After all the Dinton fish don’t always hang about when this is the case.
Three rods were positioned at depths of between 6 and 8 feet at different ranges, positioned in areas where I had often seen fish show in the past. It was the night of the big football derby game between Chelsea and Tottenham, so I decided to stream it, with the volume down low just in case one carp did decide to show. I wanted to hear it!
I was trying to enjoy the game, until stupidly Kieran Trippier decided to score in his own net, which was followed by more than one expletive from me directed at my iPhone screen – until I was interrupted by a drop back on the middle rod!
The previously tight line was now slack and the heavy Bug indicator firmly on the floor. I wound down instantly, still cursing the stupid own goal, whilst pulling into the rod. The strike met no resistance, so I had to rapidly retrieve more line before eventually connecting with a fast kiting fish that was determined to go around a nearby marginal tree! By now, I realised I was in a spot of bother and connected to a carp that was determined to get away. In my panic I desperately tried to get my waders on without great success and then had to pull the Mirage fluorocarbon out of the tree to my left! For some reason for which I’ll always be thankful, I got away with it and a very strong, hard fighting mirror succumbed to the waiting net. Peering in, I could see it was another typical stunner of a carp that was of good proportions too.
After safely retaining the fish and whilst assembling all the essentials needed to safely deal with her on the bank, I then galloped up the bank to the ardent Chelsea fan, Micky, who was fast asleep (?!). Remarkably, I managed to wake him up and get him to do the honours with the camera. With me trying to understand quite how a black piece of foam nailed the magnificent fish, we both admired a stunning 33lb 8oz broken linear. The night pictures can never do it justice, but we knew that we were looking at a really lovely carp.
That next week the lake really turned on, with a number of fish coming out up and down the lake, and I was also privileged to see the mighty ‘Son of Triple Row’ cradled in Knotty’s arms, who I have to say, thoroughly deserved that capture as he had worked his socks off over the winter.
A few weeks passed and with the buds on the trees letting us know winter would soon to be behind us, I had another night out. This time I was accompanied by my daughter, Livvy, which seemed the best way to appease her Mum and for me to actually get out the house!
The wind was savage albeit, not that cold, but with the heavy rain also due that evening, a lot of the other lads down there thought I was mad to plump for swim 18, which was exposed and taking the brunt of the storm. This swim is bang in the middle of the lake and is in the widest section. It also has some of the deepest water in front of it.
Utilising the same approach as before, I fanned 3 rods into the deeper areas of the swim, not too far out with the hookbaits set over 7 foot off the bottom. Livvy was content with her iPad, oblivious to the rain and my constant cursing of the overwrap for allowing the heavy rain to enter with such ease! By 9PM, she was sound asleep but was quickly woken up to some commotion signalled by the loud ATT sounder, which had me doing battle. With the weather as it was it felt like trying to fight a fish in a severe current! Thankfully, the two other rods weren’t wiped out and I coaxed a 25lb common into the awaiting net! I couldn’t believe my luck as the conditions were horrendous – but 2 fish over 2 nights was good enough for me!
Making sure all zigs were now set at the correct depth my luck wasn’t about to run out, when early that morning I netted another cracker of a mahogany common (only this time, her little highness wasn’t waking up). It’s always great sharing your captures with your kids, although I don’t quite think she was really all that bothered! At 28lb 2oz I was having a fantastic start the season!
With the weather warming up and practically everyone on zigs, myself and a few others were experimenting fishing the old-fashioned way with baits on the bottom. This year, the fish were coming out to a number of different methods but one in particular absolutely dominating the catches. With all due respect to that angler, it wouldn’t be right for me to go into detail as to what and how, but what I saw was an incredible bit of angling it taught me one thing, it was that if you give them what they want, what they really, really want (as the Spice Girls would say) you will catch them as my good friend Ian did, when he banked the awesome Darren’s Linear at 48lb 2oz!
Unfortunately I didn’t catch anymore so I knew that I would have to ring the changes but that would have to wait until the new season started. With the spawning break imminent, it was time to have a go and hopefully catch one the remaining fish on my list at another syndicate in the Colne Valley.
I’ve written about this lake a number of times in the past. It’s one of those that you could never give your ticket up on, so catching them all would be far from ideal. That may sound strange, but it really is a little piece of paradise. One particular fish that had eluded me for years was the Half Lin. Quite why it’s called that, I don’t know, as it’s linear scaling stops at the wrist of its tail!
In reality I had a month available to angle for this old beauty, and my first return visit to the lake found me drifting out in the boat and looking deep through the crystal clear waters at all the old features, including a number of cars that are rotted beyond retrieval! When the lake is that clear, I know it is bang on as the water quality is perfect. When it colours up, the bites are hard to come by; so naturally I was very happy to be fishing it in absolutely cracking conditions.
For my first trip I opted for a swim called the Trench, which looked lovely enough; all apart from a horrible wafting smell from what we later discovered was a rotting Muntjac deer that had sadly drowned in the margins some 20 yards or so up the bank. The smell was literally unbearable, so I ended up being wined and dined by my good friend Terry in a swim not too far away to save my sanity! I had 3 rods positioned to different spots. One of them on the back of a gravel bar, another on a small sand patch and the third straight in front some 40 yards out laying over soft silt. The latter was the one I had the most confidence in. It’s certainly been my experience on the lake that the carp fed very cautiously on most of the small hard spots, whereas the soft and somewhat less visible (from the boat) silt areas were actively fed on with the carp feeding in far less guarded manner. I came to this conclusion because the hooks were usually embedded well into the mouth and too many anglers had experienced moments of ‘getting done’ on the visible hard areas.
As was quite common with this lake, it could look absolutely spot on, but you wouldn’t get a sign that you were actually getting close to getting a bite. The same thing applied the following morning, until, out of nowhere at 8:30 my middle rod, which was the one on the soft silt, was away with a one noter. This time I was pretty much in control of the fish all the way in, until I somewhat cack-handily muscled the fish into the awaiting net at full stretch due to the high marginal step in the swim. Exhaling a sigh of relief, I looked into the net and shouted at Terry that I wasn’t sure what it was, but that it was a decent fish. Only when I laid it on the mat did I realise that it was indeed the Half Lin! With the scales steadied on my shiny new (rarely used) Gardner weigh bar, there was no getting away from its official weight being 39.15!
So, that campaign was short lived, but I can’t complain really, can I?!
I returned the next week with my mate Ernie who accompanied me on a guest session – and he struck gold with an inch perfect common of 40.03! This is a PB common for him and one that doesn’t frequent the bank often, so I can totally understand his elation at the capture!
Right now I now cannot wait for the opening week of our new season to start on Dinton. Having thought long and hard I’m ready to make some changes to my approach. I can’t stand still waiting for them to come to me without at least trying to adapt, as after all, that’s what makes our hobby so enjoyable and challenging, isn’t it?
Happy Summer hauling all!
‘Nice’ Dan Chart