Whilst I was fishing on the Tip lake, I got friendly with a guy called Ed who ran a small syndicate just up the track from the Tip. One evening whilst fishing with him, he was telling me a few stories about the magical little pond. After listening intently to all those stories that I had heard, I had to get my name down on the waiting list. One of things that I respected Ed for was, that in his own particular way, he was really careful about who he allowed to fish the syndicate. Essentially, all he really wanted is for the syndicate to work well; so everyone gets on and enjoys the angling. Exactly as it should be…
I guess it will help if I give you an insight into the pond. It is a lovely intimate lake, around 1 acre in size and lined with lily pads that separate each swim, ensuring that everybody has their own bit of water to fish to. It is also very weedy and gin clear, and that clarity made the carp very dark in colour. There are 2 huts, each situated on either side of the pond, both with power, and this is ideal for charging your powerpack and mobile phone, but they are also awesome for the social side, with log fires in to keep you warm on those long winter nights.
The stock is around 70 carp, with the biggest hitting 40lb at the right time of year and 2 others at around 35lb. All the fish in the pond have characters, and because of the variety of strains and the dark colour of the carp all make for an excellent photo. There was also a boat that syndicate members can use for looking around and even dropping your hook baits bang on the money; an option that was certainly a game changer in terms of what tactics I was going to be able to use whilst trying to catch these wily old carp. In fact, thinking about it, the little lake has got to be one of the prettiest ponds I have fished for years, and from the very moment I walked on I knew I was going to love it there.
I started fishing on the 1st April, but I did not use the boat at first. I just fished it like I would fish anywhere else at that time of year. I am a great believer of using a single pop-up approach in the spring, and this is how I fished it for the first few weeks. Luckily, I was fortunate to catch a nice 31lb common on my first trip, just casting single Sticky Baits Signature Pink Pop-Up to a fizzing spot that I had noticed.
Once the weed and pads started coming up, as the spring went on, I just had to get in the boat for a look. It’s amazing how things look completely different from out on the water. I started using the boat for dropping my rigs with perfect precision as I could see the spot the baited rig needed to be on. You see and learn so much when you have the opportunity to look from the boat. Then I remembered that I had a glass bottom bucket that I had made myself years ago that was at in my garage from when I was fishing a lake in the Medway Valley called “Road & Island”, and this was to come in very handy indeed over the coming months.
Being a 12-man syndicate meant it was incredibly quiet most nights, and I often had the place all to myself. You don’t get that much these days… At least that was the case, unless my mate Benny-Boy didn’t join me for the night. The one thing Ben would always ask me on arriving was “what’s for dinner Weso?”. Sometimes I think that he only come down for dinner! But I really did not mind, as Ben was damn good company, and over time I taught him how to take a good photo too.
I started baiting and concentrating on a couple of swims, one being a swim called “The Box” which was the furthest swim away from the car park. In front of The Box was the largest set of pads on the pond, and on the right-hand side of the pads was a lovely gravel slope, that I noticed was getting very clean from the carp regularly feeding on the spot.
The other swim that I concentrated on was a swim called “The Hole”. Situated to the left of the swim was a channel that runs to the old stock pond, and I noticed that the bigger fish were spending a lot of time loitering in that channel, so with this in mind, I made sure there was always bait on these spots.
Rig wise, I was using a 4ft 45lb Camflex Leadfree leader, 5 inches of 25lb Stiff Ultra Skin with a size 6 Mugga hook fished slip-D style. Snowman hookbaits were made using a trusty 16mm Manilla ‘Tough-One’ topped with a 12mm Pink Signature Pop-up, and this was fished helicopter style. With the aid of the boat and my old glass bottom bucket I was able to make sure that the presentation was perfect every time I lowered it onto the spots.
I used to love turning up after work, arriving at around 5’ish and invariably finding the car Park being empty. The first thing I would do is get the boat out and have a paddle around to see what bait had gone on which spots. This would tell exactly where to fish for the night ahead. Each morning, before I headed of for work, I would bait the spots again before packing up, knowing that they would be visiting them whilst I was away, building confidence through becoming accustomed to feeding without any lines or rigs on the spots.
Right from the off I started catching very well from these areas, sometimes catching as soon as the rigs were placed on the pre-baited spots. On one particularly memorable evening I had 2 on at once, having literally just dropped the baited rigs! It really was proper enjoyable fishing.
That year I worked my way through most of the stock, fortunately catching some of the better fish along the way. It was just really nice to be able to be able to get something going and be left alone, this doesn’t happen often these days in modern carp fishing, and it just goes to show that it’s not always about the size of the fish you are catching, it’s about enjoying the journey.
My ticket started there in the April 2019 and finished in March 2020. In the end I finished up having 60 bites and I landed 54 fish. Even using the boat, a hand-full still got away! Despite having a great year there were a few fish that I did not catch. One in particular, a fish called the “Admiral”, only gets caught once a year, which is amazing really, what with the lake being small and the use of the boat. You would have thought it would come out more often!
My final Friday night in March soon approached, and to be honest I was a little sorry to be leaving the place as I had so much fun over the past year, and as my luck would have it the Admiral came out the following evening In the swim I had just vacated. That’s fishing for you I guess.