The only way had to be with waders and I thought there just might be a couple of swims from where this may be possible. The first session I had planned during the week was a false start because despite the lake being flooded, we had experienced the first sharp frosts of the winter and I was not optimistic of catching on the promised frosty night. Therefore I made a detour to an extremely easy lake just a mile away.

The day had been cloudless but not at all warm. When I turned up at the lake it was cold despite the sun only just being behind the trees. I drove round and parked right behind the swim I wanted to fish. Looking out across the lake I was surprised to see the pads all still up and more surprised to find the water level, if anything, down on its optimum height. It is amazing how some lakes are affected by water tables and some not.

The casts were simple, just gentle lobs into the margins by the pads using small pop-ups and small PVA bags of trout pellets. I was soon joined by the family of swans on the lake, which I had forgotten about, but fortunately they soon lost interest when it was clear I was not going to feed them and they swam off. I set up the oval shelter and got all the cold weather gear out of the car, this was going to be a cold night.

Despite the temperatures I was quite confident of getting some action. Back in May I had fished a couple of sessions on this lake and had caught a couple of nice low doubles plus some bonus bream. I figured with cold temperatures though that the bream shoals should stay at home, I hoped they would anyway.

The frost was soon on the car and the top of the shelter as I dropped off, nice and snug under the blankets. I awoke around 10:30 and shortly after a carp jumped clear of the water a few yards out. The ripples spreading far and wide in the moonlight. I reached up and found the condensation on the inside of the shelter already frozen but it was nice to see something moving. An hour later I woke again to a screaming take. The rod cast to the far side of a small set of pads in 10 foot of water had been taken. The blankets went flying and I found myself out on the bankside in a spooky scene of moonlight and heavy mist. I had no time to appreciate the scene though as the carp was fighting very hard trying to get into the pads. Unfortunately I needed to give it some stick so I could not appreciate the fight too much but soon I netted a nice looking carp.

I left it in the margins in the net and got the mat and scales ready. On the mat in the torchlight I found a nice scattered scaled mirror that spun the scales round to 13lb 4oz. A very welcome fish on such a cold night. I soon put it back after having a good look at it and was soon back in the warm. Around midnight the skies clouded over and rain fell for an hour. After this the skies cleared again and everything froze. I spent an unpleasant half-hour trying to get back into the car when I packed up in the early morning due to the solid ice.

A couple of days later we were promised rain so I put my original plan into action and went back to my usual lake. The water level hadn't dropped so I put on the waders and decided to walk round the flooded lake just to have a look, as I had never seen it that flooded before. I took the camera to record the event. Progress was fairly easy but I found the water to be knee deep most of the way including where I usually parked the car when fishing the far bank.
As I splashed into the swim that was usually the driest in times of floods I stopped in my tracks, as there in front of me was a carp. It was just lying up next to some bushes in a couple of feet of water, which was usually dry land. I was able to walk right up to the carp without spooking it and as I peered at it, only a couple of feet away, a pike of around 15lb swam out from amongst some trees and shot off into the lake proper 10 yards away. I recognised the carp quite easily and as I tried to touch it, it turned on its side and shot off.

Further round at the very back of the swim, perhaps 15 yards away from the lake proper, I found two more carp, a common and a mirror. Both were nice fish well over 20lb. This time though they heard me coming and moved off into murkier water and I lost sight of them. I waded further round and past the next swim and waded up the straight path past a couple of my stalking swims that were now no more than trees sticking out of the water. A few yards further on, as the bank went a little downwards, I found the water at the top of my waders so could go no further.

I turned to retrace my steps and as I waded past the swim before the one where the carp were, I nearly bumped into another carp. This one though showed up because it was very pale. As I got right up to it, I could see it was a long mirror that looked all the world to be a ghost carp as it was so pale. There are no ghost carp in the lake and I suspected that this carp was not at all well. I could now see its dorsal fin was the usual colour showing dark against its white back. I pushed it with my foot but it did not move. I thought the carp may be one of the 30lb carp so I got back to the car as fast as I could to get the net.

Back at the carp, fortunately it had only moved a few yards and I easily managed to get the net under it. It was indeed the long scaley mirror that weighs usually over 30lb but in the last couple of years had lost a lot of weight. I had seen it in the water a month before and had thought it looked pale then. The carp, apart from looking nearly white, was in good shape, its fins though covered in a thick 'fungussy' slime. It was still alive and I could not bring myself to do it harm despite the fact it obviously did not have long to live so I slipped it back and it swam off into the lake proper.

I returned to the swim I planned to fish but in the end gave up the effort, a little sad at what I had found.

Have fun!