What a tough year that will inevitably be defined by the pandemic that has tested all of our resilience. After a successful autumn and winter campaign at the back end of 2019, I was eager to go this year. I recall being on the bank mid-February and reading about Covid 19 and how it was affecting pockets of people in China. Oh how oblivious It was then to how things were to shape up for us all. With best-laid fishing plans on hold, I was no different to most and resorting to cleaning, selling or upgrading tackle in the garage. When the first lockdown lifted, I opted to purchase a ticket for The Carp Society Horseshoe Lake in the Cotswolds on the basis I knew 2020 would be a very stop/start year, priorities would inevitably be family and ensuring my job remained safe. I therefore needed a venue I could drop in to that was close to work, it would not tax the brain too much and was not too far from home.

At 62 acres with 75 swims, lots of room and carp to go for the carp in Horseshoe are very catchable and I caught plenty, but they keep you on your toes. Keeping eyes on the water for signs can lead to numerous sightings in short spells and then being mobile, it can be very productive. One morning a short move from one side of a bay to the other and I had several bites in a morning. Other trips and you had the same level of confidence from sightings and you would blank. On some days they loved the darker natural pop ups or wafters, on other days the usual bright colours. Some obvious things you learn though along the way. The coots and the carp are one big happy family. Wherever the big batches of coots are (and there are plenty), the carp are never too far away. A new wind tended to break up the pattern in more consistent areas, so watching the weather forecast very worthwhile. All good fun and it ticked a box this year.

Mentally, 2020 has been without doubt the year when fishing has not been at the forefront of my mind but I have kept my toe in. I have used it as an opportunity to also flit around a few other lakes I have not fished before which has been good fun. Sandhurst in Yateley, Reading and District’s Pingewood Lagoon and Advanced Angling Burghfield Blue Pool to name a few. All offer something different and it has been nice to check these out. The trip to the Blue Pool was for the annual Gardner Team social and that was enjoyable. A couple of cold beers and some fine BBQ dining and a spread a nice carp across the team along the way. I managed to tempt a lovely dark 38lb mirror that was taken along the edge of a heavy weed bed.

For the rest of this winter and in to next year, the plan is to angle on a club water close to home. Just using the quieter winter periods to get my bearings on the lake. Whatever you plan for 2021, stay safe and be lucky…