Many years ago, I started to bait up a water just around the corner from my house. The water in question was Dorchester Lagoon, and it had been on my radar for a few years as it contained two fish in particular that I really wanted to catch. Both were epic looking linears and both were very tricky to catch. Unfortunately, where I previously lived it was just too far to travel, as I did not drive, and the only way to travel there was on my mighty moped. After I had moved nearer it seemed my best option, what with a new baby girls’ arrival my time was to be stretched and my fishing was necessarily to be kept to minimum. Realistically I only had time to bait up mid-week and I could only fish one work night a week. The lake, a historic venue that most carp anglers will have heard of by now, had an extremely low stock of very special fish. I was lucky enough to only work about 1/4 of a mile away as well, so on my lunch breaks I would pop in and look round the lake also visiting on my way to work each day.
I would often find the fish milling about in two areas that were located at either end of the lake, both areas very snaggy and unfishable. Luckily enough for me, at the time there were only 4 other regulars fishing the lake at the time, and all of us knew where each other were baiting, so with that in mind I picked a swim I knew as ‘The Point Over the Bridge’ that controlled a passing point between the snags. After all my observations I knew by now that the fish where traveling through this area in the evenings, as when I baited, I would often see the odd fish cruising near the surface. I planned on baiting that swim for a few weeks while also keeping my eyes on a couple of different areas.
At the time the lake was relatively weedy and there were no visible clear spots, but at around 30 yards range there was a channel in the weed, a clear sign that the carp had made whilst going from one set of pads to another that were about 3 rod lengths apart. With the area identified I baited up with lots of particles; including hemp, crushed maize and a few tigers, with some fish meal boilies that I knew had done well on there in the past.
Next came a big challenge, a problem that every one of my angling friends looked upon with great amusement. How was I going to get all my gear for a night onto a moped? Well, with a large rucksack and some ratchet straps I soon found a way to get my bed chair strapped on – then with the rods over my shoulder, hanging over the handle bars, and a small bivvy attached, I was sorted! Too the lake…
For my first night I had planned on fishing the spot that I had been baiting so diligently, as I had seen fish there clearly hovering over the spot a couple of days before. However, on arrival I noticed the fish where in a small bay that was somewhere that they would go from time to time before spawning. With a change of plan, I crept into a very tight swim at the end of the bay and flicked two chods out over the weed, hoping for a quick bite. Unfortunately, I found myself getting batted to death by Tench all night, and this in turn had no doubt spooked every carp in the lake to the other end.
It seemed ages before I next got another chance to get out angling and I was gagging to get onto the baited spot knowing I had made a big mistake the previous trip and consequently baited heavily leading up to it. It was a Monday night trip and that day my work mate had asked me to put a new ring on his rod that he was desperate to have ready for the next day, and as a nice guy I obliged. I rushed home and whipped a new eye on and started varnishing it, but it took longer than I thought and I was almost at the point where I did not go! Determined, and just before it got dark I made my way to the lake. On arrival I passed one of my good friends Matt (aka “Cat-Dick”) in the next swim, fishing into the bay I had fished the week before, and saw a fish nut out I was sure it was a carp in my swim, so I was in no rush to get the rods out, Instead I climbed up a nearby tree, to make sure I could time getting my rods out without ruining my chance.
The rods both went out with trusty German Rigs on, a brilliant presentation that I have been using for what must be 12 years now, and I still use today as my go-to bottom bait rig. Both where paired with a Heli set up. Each rod was cast either side of the baited spot and both went down with a good drop on the first cast, with one fished with a pink wafter and the other with a dark ‘match the hatch’ hook bait. I did not see anything else that evening and soon fell asleep after a very busy day until, at 4AM, I was awoken as my right-hand bobbin lifted up tight very slowly. At first, I just stared at it, thinking that it was a liner, but after a few second It did not drop back so I went out and pinged the line that was proper tight! As soon as I felt that I lifted into it and straight away I thought I was into a Tench covered in weed… I literally just pumped it in like you would a heavy ball of weed, with no kicks or any movement whatsoever, and withing seconds it was at my feet, so I flicked on the head torch to unhook what I thought was a Tench. As I turned it on I was met with the sight of a big mirror carp just sat upright under my feet with a tiny mask of weed over its head and a 15mm pink wafter hanging from its bottom lip, so I hastily grabbed my net, that happened to be caught in a bramble bush due to setting up on dark! You can imagine that panic set in at the time, but after a battle with the bush I managed to slip the net under the fish and take in what had just happened. It felt like a dream, as it happened so fast and I got myself together and had a quick look at what I had caught. Straight away I could see it was one of the linears, and at the time there where 3 of them in the lake, each one extremely special and two of them the reason I was fishing the lake to start with. Yes!
I quickly went and woke Matt up, as he was only 20 yards away, and told him I had one in the net – and as a true friend straight away he thought I was pulling his leg! Both of us then went back to my swim and proceeded to get the fish out the water. Matt immediately identified which fish it was, as he had captured it a couple of years before and I was lucky enough to do the photos it for him. It was the Cut Tail Lin, one of the big girls! We weighed her in at 39lb 5oz, and at the time she was a new PB carp for me and is still my PB mirror. Next, we placed her in a retainer sling, as first light was only an hour away, and for the next hour I sat there in disbelief stunned after catching a carp from this water on my second night was a great achievement.
As soon as there was enough light we did the photos of this incredible fish, one I look back on now as one of my favourite carp captures, and to share the moment with one of my best friends made it even more memorable. Unfortunately, I had to pack up at about 6AM to get to work, so I dropped my gear off and had a shower and swiftly got to work.
Later that day, during my lunch break, I managed to persuade my wife to let me do another night, so after work I went straight home and got my gear together and rushed back down the lake, only to find two young lads bivvied up in the swim! Obviously, I was gutted, especially after finding out that they were fishing for the whole week. What were the chances of that happening on such a quiet lake, but it is a club water at the end of the day. Instead, I dropped into the little bay again for what turned out to be another night of Tench.
I kept baiting the bay for the next couple of weeks, as I thought that the original spot that I caught from would have blown, what with all the commotion from the two young lads… On my next trip I managed to catch one of the newer commons, that weighed around mid-double and a rather big Tench at 9lb 8oz, a fish that on Tench gear would have been great.
This was the last night I fished the lake as the other linear mirror, known as The Big Lin, was caught that night off the island swim, and thinking it would not come out for a while I left it ready for the autumn. Sadly, she was found by a couple of anglers, tethered to some pads in the summer and unfortunately died a few days later. Things did not get any better for the lake that winter, as otters found the lake and pretty much whipped out most of the other old originals that were left in the there. Since them, with hard work by the club and Embryo the lake has now been fully fenced and the future for the historic venue is now looking a lot better, with new fish stocked and two originals left. Hopefully, I will find my way back in years to come…