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.

The start of the new season on the island lake was a bit strange… Coming after the lockdown, and the fact the biggest fish in the lake had come out at 60 lbs plus meant the lake was rammed. The first few weeks became a lottery and I just slotted in between anglers in vacant swims that weren’t really on fish. If I am honest I struggled, but mostly as I wasn’t able to get where I really needed to be. I had been lucky that in previous years I had caught most of the known big fish in there, but the biggest, Roids had so far eluded me, and in all honesty, I hadn’t even felt close. It wasn’t until July that I had my first good one, a recapture of a common called Leeches at a spawned out 44 lbs. I was a bit disappointed as I had caught her before, but it gave me a big boost and reminded me that one bite from Roids was all I needed.

After that the lake seemed to slowly quieten down, meaning I could get some bait going in on a feature out in the pond on the public bank. INSERT PIC 4 I managed to get in a few baiting sorties after work, and it paid off as I managed a few fish from there during August. This was topped by an awesome 40lb mirror, undoubtedly one of the best-looking carp I have ever caught. At this time, I became busy at work, so I was back to fishing single over-night trips. These are challenging, getting through locked gates, then into the boat compound, before boating over to a swim, and having to repeat the procedure when leaving early for work the next morning. However, I was used to this by now and if I wanted to fish, I’d have to just get on with it. September was kind to me though, I managed another two 44lb + fish in as many weeks. One being another repeat of the big simmo, and a fish I hadn’t had before called the little redmire, an immaculate common and a rare visitor to the bank. I was really happy with the stamp of fish I had caught that season, but my target had been out, and I felt it was unlikely to do another capture before winter came.

I wasn’t too worried as I had a winter ticket on another lake which was new, and I was really looking forward to having a go on. I struggled the first few weeks, watching a friend absolutely empty it, in fact he caught the three biggest fish, in three weekends!

It wasn’t until the end of November, when I managed to book a three-night session, when things started to pick up for me. I knew how to best fish it by then, and I had an amazing trip, in mild conditions I had 11 carp, including two lake record commons. Both of which were over 30lb and looked stunning in their wintery colours. I was fishing at long range, using the distance braid, and casting right over towards far bank snags where the fish had grouped up. It was exciting, and not having done any proper chucking for a long time, great to be testing myself again. While fishing for the carp I decided to try feeder fishing for some of the monster perch that lived in the lake, and I managed a few around the pound to two mark, topped by an absolute monster of 3.15 lbs. I’d never done any serious perch fishing before, so I was delighted. December saw me hang up the carp rods completely, as by now the weather had turned poor, and I decided to concentrate just on the perch fishing.

Looking forward to 2021 I have the same target as this year, and I’ll be going back for the awesome Roids, hoping this is the year we finally meet.