After fishing the previous year on the Island lake, I was keen to get back on there early. I knew this would give me an advantage as being 60 plus acres of windswept lake, with little or no winter form, I knew it would be quiet with little or no angler pressure.
Sure enough on my first few trips I had the place to myself, and as boats are allowed, I spent more time looking than actually fishing. I found the fish easily enough, as the water was especially clear, and after drifting round I generally had a pretty good idea as to where they would be.
Finding them was easy, but getting a bite proved almost impossible. I tried everything, including hand placing zigs from the boat right in the middle of a large group I found, only for me to retrieve them the next day with the fish still there, and me not having a single bleep. I knew it was too early, and that proved it to me, but my time hadn’t been wasted, as I had already located some areas and spots that would be worth trying when Spring came.
With the visibility being almost non-existent the rest of the year, those early trips were especially important. With that I decided to wait for a while, and I began fishing the crayfish pool for a few trips. Being right next door, it meant that I could keep an eye on the Island lake anyway. The first night on the Crayfish I caught a stunning fish called Ray, one of the jewels of the lake, at just over 30 lbs. This made my mind up that I’d stay on there for a while, as to get one so quickly was a great result.
Even being so early in the year, and the weather cold, the crayfish were still really active, and I had to adjust my baiting and presentation to cope with them. Getting one first night proved to be more of a result than I initially thought too, as after that the fishing proved tricky to say the least. I did manage a couple of small stockies, but the lake often appeared dead and I did several sessions throughout the rest of January without seeing anything. Throughout these sessions I felt that for the fishing to change, the weather needed to change. My prayers were answered in the second week of February, when a big low pressure was forecast, along with some strong winds. I just knew this was the one, especially after how quiet the lake had been for so long.
That session I was super confident, and knowing the crayfish were always hungry I went in with a fair hit of bait immediately. Crushed boile, mixed particle and whole baits, and I fished plastic hook baits made extra buoyant by plugging them with Gardner zig foam. That trip the pressure went into the 990’s and I had two takes, which turned out to be the two biggest in the lake! Firstly, a fish called SP’s at 42 lb plus and the other an incredibly special carp called Clover at 39lb. I was particularly happy with Clover as I had already caught it the summer before, but at the time has suffered some damage to its mouth and flank, having probably been tethered. Down in weight, and generally looking sorry for herself I must admit to being slightly worried about her. However, it was great to see this time round she looked stunning! The mouth having healed, and she was an awesome winter brown colour. I felt that to catch her at a new top weight and looking mint was a ‘thank you’ from the lake for looking after her before.