Any of you even vaguely interested in the angling mags and big carp captures will recognise the name of "Darenth Big Lake" also known as "Darenth Syndicate Lake". I don't think a week goes by without at least one 40lb from Darenth entering the pages of the Magazines.

Well, also in the Darenth complex are two lakes open to day and night ticket fishing. The Long Lake and the Tree Lake. Over January 19th and 20th I decided to give Long Lake my undivided attention. This particular lake holds some real monsters! Carp to 35lbs, pike to 30lbs, catfish to 40lbs, tench to 10lbs, bream to 9lbs, perch to 3lbs and roach to 2lbs.

I arrived at about 8am on the 19th and, as is always a good idea, I spoke to one of the bailiffs as soon as I arrived. He informed me that an old, half sunken, dead tree on Long Lake was producing carp when fished from the opposite bank. So off I went to take a look - and what a great looking swim! Plenty of room to spread out all my equipment, an erect dead tree at 2 o'clock about 40 yards out, and the half sunken tree the bailiff spoke of, straight out in front. It was a fair cast of about 100 yards but it looked quite fishable.

My rods were already rigged up so I just put them together and lined up my first cast to the furthest tree. I put on a combi-link D rig made from Amnesia and Braid, with a tied pop-up Winter-8 boilie. The cast hit the water about 6 foot from the tree. Not perfect, but good enough I reasoned, so I settled with it. The second bait was two Hit 'n Run boilies put on the snowman rig. This I
placed about 4 foot from the closest tree on my right. For my third rod I put two Activ-8 boilies on a shocker rig and cast it as tight to my left hand margin as I could. Unfortunately I do not have the space to include a diagram of all the rigs I used on this session but as the shocker rig can be applied to most hook link variations I have included a diagram below.

The idea behind this rig is as follows. When you cast out and tighten up, the inline lead rests against the bottom 10mm bead. You then pay out a few inches of slack line. As the carp picks up
the bait it feels no resistance, as the lead moves smoothly up the rig tubing. As the carp moves away the lead hits the back 6mm bead, the carp feels the weight, and the first you know of it is an absolute screaming run!!

Back to Darenth

The bivvy went up eventually, equipment unpacked (including the kitchen sink) and I settled in for the expected long winter wait. I read an article about winter carp fishing in a popular magazine this month, and in it Tim Paisley puts forward the idea that we should actually look at winter carp fishing as winter camping. If we look at it like this, he writes, then any winter carp that does just happen to be feeding and is banked, is a bonus
rather than a necessity. With this thought still in the front of my mind I laid on my sleeping bag and had a light 'recovery' snooze to regain lost strength from the bivvy erection.
I awoke at about 11am and checked the rods nothing. More snoozing, numerous cups of tea and a little radio was the order of the first day, with no action from the rods at all.

Great fun this winter camping!

Just as dark was drawing in I started to get the paranoia probably experienced by every long haul carp angler in the country, if not the world. Are my rigs tangled? Are the baits still on? What if the bait is obstructed by something? My advice fight the urge!! Don't touch them, they're fine. Be confident! In my opinion, minimal swim disturbance is vital for catching carp
at this time of year. If you take the time at the start of your session to find the underwater features, there is no reason at all to move baits once placed. Instead, I retired once more to my bivvy for some light music and reading (another popular carp fishing mag!) and finally, at approximately 10pm, sleep.

I woke again at about 6:30am of my second and final day on the banks of this glorious lake. As I emerged out into the fresh morning air, I was amazed at the obvious drop in temperature over night. My rods and reels were completely white and frozen over, as was everything Jack Frost could get his hands on. Still no action but I wasn't frustrated. I was having a nice relaxing time, enjoying my
own company and generally de-stressing!

At about 10am one of the syndicate members who was fishing the Big Lake came over for a chat. He was telling me that no carp had come out of it for the last 48 hours. It didn't look good for a winter lump. But try I must and try I did. I spent hours staring at the rods, willing them to scream

Well, finally it did happen, at about 11:30am, day 2. After just over 15 hours, I had a run on the Winter 8 pop-up over by the sunken tree straight out in front. I was sitting in my bivvy, with my gas burner going, cooking a hot saucepan of something vaguely resembling curry. I also had a cup
of coffee balanced between my feet and I was buttering bread. Perfect timing, as always! The bread and butter got launched and the coffee tipped over, as did the curry. Thankfully the burner remained sturdy! I dived from the bivvy as the bite alarm continued to scream at me like some demented woman from an Alfred Hitchcock film. I locked off the free-spool and slowly leaned back. Yes, pig on!! It felt heavy was it, maybe, my long awaited 20lb carp? I can tell you now it wasn't. But it gave a good fight, taking line from me on both the first and second runs. Pictured here is the resulting 14lb leather carp.
As I have never caught a leather, it is my very first Y2K personal best!! It wasn't my long awaited 20lb carp but I was over the moon. What a great result for January!!

That was the only run I had over the entire 30 hour session but it didn't matter. I had a really enjoyable time with a nice solid fish to boot!! This winter camping really can be fun!