The 16th November saw me manage to catch a 33lb 14oz common from the House of Commons (HOC). At this point, temperatures were beginning to drop, and it was apparent that a few other angler’s enthusiasm was starting to run thin. I made the decision to keep my captures low-key and only a select few would be kept updated, so I could preserve my own angling. Just the occasional random angler would walk round and say ‘it was a waste of my time fishing here through the winter, because it was too hard’… I just agreed with them and sent them on their way, thinking that I had lost my marbles.
A week passed from the capture of the 33 and I finally had another single night at my disposal. I expected that the fish would not have moved far from the zone that I had caught from, and I ended up dropping back into that area, after completing a couple of laps with nothing else to go on. Around 10pm I had a bite and landed an upper double heavily scaled mirror. After a quick photo of the fish on the mat on my phone before the fish was returned. The rest of the night passed quietly and before I knew it, I was on my way to work, pleased to have nicked a bite though.
On my next trip I managed a two-night session, which turned out to be uneventful for me fish wise. Unfortunately, my first night was written off by two inconsiderate anglers that turned up at bite time (6AM) and then they proceeded to cast over me. I was pissed off to say the least, as the zone I was in felt good for an early morning bite and was the only piece of unpressured water on the lake. I wound in at 7AM and put my gear on the barrow and moved swim. Sometimes when things go wrong you feel they set the tone for the rest of the trip, and in this case that’s what happened; I was going home with my tail between my legs.
The last weekend of November saw me arrive at the lake first light on the Friday morning, and to my surprise there was no one there! Hoorah, no one to contend with and I was free to angle properly. For once I didn’t need to do a full lap of the lake to see where they were as I was standing in a swim that was to become very productive for me, and bosh. That will do me! I hot footed it back to the van to get my gear, then swiftly barrowed back round to the swim. As I pulled into the swim with the barrow there was another show, I didn’t see it, but I saw the aftermath. It felt like the bite was on.
My first rod was quickly out the sleeve, hook point checked, the balanced maggot presentation baited and a MicroMesh PVA bag of maggots and crumbed DT Cold Water Mix attached and I was ready to go. A short time passed then there was another show, shortly followed by my baited rig following it back in the water. The second rod was primed ready to go, and again bosh, the second rod followed that show in. Imagine it! It’s the last weekend of November, you have the lake to yourself, the fish have given their location away and you have two rods on them. Could it get any better?
Two hours passed and no more shows… I thought I’d cooked it. I’d just sat down on my bed, having a deep and meaningful conversation with Dylan (one of my dogs) when the first rod signalled a flurry of bleeps which I thought was a liner and is I didn’t speed to the rod. When I got there the hanger had moved very little. Whilst watching the braid I could see it twitching, so I picked the rod up and wound down to the lead, to be greeted by a heavy weight on the end. I was in…
A deep protracted battle lead to me landing a long and immaculate looking common, which I suspected was mid twenty. I thought that will do. After a weigh it, and to my surprise, it went 29lb 3oz! That will more than do. The fish was sent on its way and the rod deployed back into the zone that had done that bite. My mat and sling were then placed discretely under my brolly, tucked behind my bed. A couple of anglers were walking round and asked if I’d seen any to which I answered no, it was quiet. Then as they were standing there the same rod was away. Bollox!
An erratic short battle led to an upper double mirror in the net, which was unhooked in the net and sent on its way as I did not want prying eyes. I explained to the anglers in my swim that I’d just got lucky and then they were on their way.
Darkness was upon us and there were 5 people on for the night. One was a guy I knew had been fishing this lake all year – and he was also doing the night. He had done really well here and had whet my appetite with his pictures, but the fish he wanted to complete his puzzle had eluded him. I had seen this fish caught, maybe 3 years ago by a good friend of mine at 26lb, it’s doing mid-thirty now.
After my dinner and a brew, I settled into my bag with Dylan at around 9PM. It was bloody freezing! We had had light rain during the day, followed by clear sky’s and plummeting temperatures. I drifted off and was awoken by the buzzer screaming in my ear and my clutch stripping line. I got my boots on and ventured to the rod, where the spool was still spinning, I picked it up and basically got stripped of another 40 yards of line. What a powerful fish.
I believe I had this fish on for at least half hour, and by this point I was positively Baltic. In fact, I remember thinking it was still further out than it was, then suddenly it popped up just in front of me, I reached for the net handle and slipped it straight under the wallowing carp. Having no head torch on I swiftly went to the brolly and got it. On returning to the net when I turned my light on (low) I realised I had it, the biggest mirror in the lake – the one I’d seen there years ago at 26! It looked big too; 35lb plus.
The temperature didn’t matter at this point, I was high on life. I popped out the Mugga hook and secured the net and got some layers on. Now the awkward part; I had to go and inform the guy who had been fishing here this season for that specific carp and ask for some assistance and confirmation that I had this rare bank visitor.
Not long and it was confirmed, 34lb 8oz! Many thanks for your help and assistance with getting some good pictures sir. He returned to his swim and left me to grin like a Cheshire Cat all night.
The rod was deployed again with a fresh bag of maggot and crumb, and then I laid in bed absolutely charged about that capture as I know it’s a cute fish and having seen it in the flesh a few years ago I knew then I wanted it in my big carp gallery.
First light broke and so did the lovely silence with the arrival of more anglers. It was a severely frosty morning, and everything was white. A friend had walked round and sat having a brew with me whilst I explained last nights antics. We sat chatting and I looked at my rods for some reason and my braided mainline was like a guitar string, I was fishing very slack. My hanger had not moved, and my buzzer had signalled nothing. On investigation my HydroSink braid had frozen to my roller wheel, but I wasn’t worried – all the tackle had somehow held together despite the abuse and I was in again! After a good battle I had a nice common in the net. Whilst my friend was there, we did some pictures and weighed it at 29lb 12oz. We even managed to avoid anyone seeing our antics, so all was good.
I stayed the next night with high expectations of more bites, but nothing came from those expectations. I believe this was largely due to angling pressure; these fish do not like lines that’s for sure.
Feeling a little pleased with myself over the capture of the mirror and an early prize to the winter campaign, I thought if I have no more fish, I’d still be happy with my results as they stood. It was now 6th December and I was out for a night again, I kept rolling the dice in the same swim unless I saw or heard something to give me reason not to.
I’d kind of got a reasonable idea what take time was and it was no surprise when I was awoken by a bite in that time slot. Another good battle and I soon had a 26lb 4oz common under my belt. The rod was promptly deployed again, and I went back to bed only to be awoken 2 hours later by an upper double mirror that was photographed on the mat and returned. The light was soon upon me and I packed down and headed off. Chatting to a few anglers on the way, consensus was that it had apparently shut up for the winter. Of course, I agreed, and continued to push my barrow to the van grinning.
With commitments else where (Christmas boozing) I didn’t return for another night until 20th December. My usual productive zone had been commandeered by other anglers. It was pretty busy, so I ended up doing around ten laps before I finally made my choice. In the end I dropped into a quiet zone, that was all under the rod tip work, and where no one could blow my chances.
With rods out and dinner eaten, I retired to bed with Dylan. I was awoken by what I would call a classic take for this lake, and in the bite time window too. After a good, deep scrap and a lot of side strain to keep it off my other line, I bundled another into the net. A quick flick of the head torch and I was fortunate enough to have a plump mid thirty! What a result, and just 5 days before Christmas too.
I secured the net and ventured off to get my friend, who was fishing as well, and to collect my camera from the van. We got set up and ready for the weighing and photos, I’d scooped the fish in the net into my weigh sling and zipped it up. When carrying it to the unhooking mat I thought it seemed heavy, but I had a bit of water in the sling. We opened the sling and the net, and both looked at each other and said core that’s a nice one. Then hoisted it up on the crook, and much to our amazement it was 39lb 14oz! Wow, an early Christmas present. My friend did me some great shots and we returned the fish. I sat drinking a tea thinking “this is awesome”. The only issue was once I had written about this epic adventure it was going to be even more like Piccadilly Circus. The rest of the night past with zero action, but I did not care, a December 39lb’er, and a new lake record…