As another winter predator season fades away for another year, I find myself in limbo, whilst I wait for the first signs of carp having come in off the river and into a 90-acre lake complex, ready to be fished for.
All the pits are connected and as they’re also joined to the river it means that the head of carp in there is unknown, simply because they can freely move in and out of all the lakes, and back into the river. Thankfully, we can fish whilst they are in the complex, and that means I can target them in the lake I can fish during what would be the close season out on the main river.
I’ll start my story when I was a kid, aged about 5 or 6 years old. My dad and I used to always walk this lake and go there looking for different wildlife. This is the place where I saw my first snake, otter, bittern and plenty of other rare creatures over the years. I always knew about the fishing on there, as my dad had fished it all his life and used to tell me about the massive pike he witnessed on the bank, when he was a kid, and the days he used to spend on the islands just to get away from it all. Back then I was more interested in pretending to be a dinosaur in the overgrown forest than thinking about fishing the place, but every fishing story that my dad told me stuck with me forever.
Throughout the years of my youth this lake was an adventure. I would head down with my friends and explore, finding old railway carriages and boats to climb about on and basically just be boys. It wasn’t until I was 14 or 15, when I was getting in trouble at school and finding life hard, that I was drawn to the lakes in a different way. It became my sanctuary; my place to relax and to get away and sit by the water just thinking about things. It was then that my dad’s stories of fishing the place came to mind and I started to look at it in a different light, but it wasn’t for a few years I would start fishing the place.
I was 21 when I started looking extremely closely at the lakes. I started off pike fishing one of the lakes and lost a big fish, but that’s not the enduring memory of that day. You see, I kept seeing swirls close into the edge, where there was a load of fry. The fry surprised me a little as this was the middle of January and if I can remember rightly, the lake was half frozen and extremely cold. After about the 3rd or 4th swirl I went to investigate what was going on, so being stealthy and staying close to the edge after 30 minutes of watching, I had witnessed carp fry-feeding! This was unthought of for these lakes, I knew they were connected to the river, but carp never really entered my mind, so I went home to really think this through. My conclusion was to fish for them in the spring, and I couldn’t wait!
The spring came and went, the summer came and went and that was really the end of my first season on there. I had caught sweet FA, apart from a few Bream. Describing it as a baptism of fire comes to mind. After that first season, having learned so much about the lake and watching the carp that I had found loitering in certain areas, I was confident that the next spring would be a little bit easier.
I’ll describe a bit about these lakes, so you understand what I was up against right from the start. The lakes are 200-years old, with snags, out of bounds areas, lily beds everywhere, shallows, deep channels, eroded islands and bays, all in a single 90-acre complex.
After all the years I have fished there now, I now realise that the fish I’m after are visitors to the lakes and they are truly special. I’ve had anglers come to me and show me pictures of carp that have travelled 30 miles along the river between captures, so these fish really are nomadic. I have also found out that some of the fish stay in the lakes all of their lives, so there are definite residents and definite visitors to the lakes. The carp can freely move in and out of the lakes and they do whatever they want.