Having spent a large part of my angling life fishing the Medway Valley; 15 years to be precise, there was always one water that I had kept my sights firmly set on but had never targeted. With a good winter track record, I thought it was about time to have a go and so, come September 2014, I set about doing the recce sessions in order to find a bit out about the water for myself.
Being known for fishing primarily short overnight sessions in between work an instant attraction to Brooklands was that anglers can drive and park behind most of the swims on the lake, and in addition to me it also attracts lots of other anglers thanks to good access and a great stock of carp. Typically, Brooklands is known as a busy water so I was hoping to beat the crowds by fishing in the winter, when a lot of anglers retire to the comfort of their living room for the winter, or more typically a spot of drop-shotting.
On my first trip in Mid-September I managed three and lost one. As you can imagine I thought this is going to be great fun and welcomed the prospect of being able to bank a few carp through the colder months, with the chance of the Big Common which was known to top 45lb.
Typically, after that first session I blanked for 18 nights until I started to catch again. As you can imagine, I began to think about targeting different areas and even went as far as trickling some bait in around the lake. But the more I thought about it, I was sure that if I stuck to my guns and persevered it was bound to pay off.
I was fishing two nights a week and baiting another two nights. In order to keep things quiet, I was parking outside the venue and cycling my push-bike around the lake after dark to bait-up just because I didn’t want the other anglers seeing what I was doing.
The bait I was using was a brand-new bait from Sticky, which is currently still on trial, and I’ve got to say I have been really impressed with it. Primarily my fishing was overnighters, arriving there at 6PM and leaving at 6AM for work, and at that time of year, it’s mentally hard work because it’s dark.
On the next session I arrived to find a busy lake, and unfortunately the area I had been targeting was already taken. So after a string of blanks I decided it was best to go into the swim known as The Woods, down to the left, and see how the night unveiled. I was fishing a spot at 120 yards range, that was predominantly clean silt but also had the odd larger stone amongst it. That night my rod signalled a take and I was soon bent into an angry carp which broke a series of blank sessions. To say I was relieved would be an understatement and at 27lb 8oz it was a very welcome mirror carp – and just the motivation boost I needed to keep me going through the ever-deteriorating winter conditions.
Later that week I arrived on a Thursday, again just after dark. With increasingly powerful gusts signalling the bad night’s weather ahead I felt doubtful of making the demanding 120-yard cast, especially with any accuracy. Thankfully as the weather wasn’t the best, the banks were a lot quieter and I managed to get back into the original area I had been targeting, which was a swim situated to the right-hand side of the ‘Woods’. The spot that I had been targeting was approximately 60 yards out, consisting of silky smooth hard spot. It was a prime substrate that I had done well fishing over in similar wintery conditions, and it’s the kind of spot that I’m very happy presenting both free-bait and an efficient rig over.
My rig choice was simple; a short six inch hooklink tied KD style to a size 6 GT Mugga hook. Mounted on this was 16mm bottom bait tipped with a half 16mm Sticky Bait White Chocolate pop-up. This is then attached to a size 12 swivel, ensuring that it fits into the lead clip arrangement but acts as a running rig due to not being a tight fit that fixes in place.
That night I managed a lovely mirror of 29lb 10oz and as I packed up for work that morning, I was very happy with my earlier decision to give it another go. I just hoped I would be able to get in the swim again at some point!
I had a little job to finish in London, so off I dashed to work, determined to get the job done so I could make it back to the lake for another night. Once back I was fortunate to find the swim vacant as I drove around and without hesitation I jumped straight back in there. With the wind driving into my face I managed the comfortable chuck and sat back to enjoy what looked like a rough night ahead.
At around 8PM I had a 25lb 4oz mirror, and shortly after I had another take, as I was playing what was definitely a carp I felt the line ping of a fin and as I tried to take up the slack it was clear it had come off. Gracious in defeat, I set about getting the rod back out on the spot as soon as I possibly could, thinking that there was definitely a shoal of fish on me.