I opted to start my campaign late summer and typically it was a slow start as I initially focused on understanding the lakebed contours and substrate. Being so quiet, I always flicked out the rods in the hope something might show up while I primarily focused on flicking and dragging the marker rod around. The lakebed had everything you would expect, some light weed areas. But generally, it had a really nice 50-50 spread of gravel and silt so presenting baits wasn’t going to be the problem. Being low stock, observation and location was going to be the key.
Then early that autumn, I had my first break through. Not a huge carp, but it was a carp. From the furthest right-hand jetty looking across towards the fisherman’s hut in the north easterly corner, was a gravel plateau about half way across. From different angles running off the table top, you had everything from gradual slopes to vertical faces down to the deepest part of the lakebed. I always opted to bait the table top, but always presented my hook bait on a specific gradual slope running off the front of it to mask line lay.
Despite the water being gin clear almost all year around, the carp were not always easy to locate. But there was two specific characters that made sighting them much easier. A bright orange koi and a bright white koi. No doubt someone decided they no longer wanted them in their garden pond and felt Shalford was the ideal alternative. The southerly bank did have a public footpath running along it, so no doubt the koi’s previous owners were familiar with the area. Long story short, I got tipped off about these koi by one of the long serving bailiffs and also informed neither had ever been caught. I always spotted the white one first and if the light levels were favourable, the orange one could often be spotted within the same vicinity.
Over the autumn and in to winter a few people who dropped by often asked me if I had I seen this mysterious 30lb orange koi. Nobody had a clue how big it was and to be fair it did look really long when I did spot it. But late spring, I managed to slip the landing net cord under it and what a fish. It only turned the scales to a smidge under 23lb, but it was an opportunist capture as I watched it swim up and down this margin all one Sunday afternoon. Two tigers and a small block of cork and it was mine. The only other thing I introduced was a tiny handful of really oiled up hemp seed.