At the lake this meant that the pads were slowly making an appearance and there were signs of fish everywhere. On the first session of the week the conditions were cloudy after a few hot days but with no wind there was a lovely muggy feel in the air. With no one else there I was able to stroll round and have a careful look in the edge. Though the water was far from clear, any fish should be visible. Sure enough at the far end of the lake under a few trees I found two carp moving around, one was a ghost carp of around 17lb, the other a common, a little smaller.

The nearest swim was one with a platform built out into the lake - this was the only place I could fish, so carefully I dropped some bait under the trees when the carp were not looking. Next I set up a rod with 8lb line and braid hooklink baited with a single boilie. Carefully I crept onto the platform and flicked the bait the 10 yards to the right under the trees. Taking the rod back on to the grass behind the platform I let the line lay over the side of the wood and put the rod on the ground.

Back under the trees I could see the ghost carp quite clearly and it had already found the pellets and boilies I'd dropped in just fifteen minutes before. I went back to the rod and intently watched the line. I did not have to wait long before the line twitched and then pulled tight. I picked up the rod just as the tip began to move across the boards and was connected with an angry carp. It was more powerful than I thought it would be and it soon became apparent I had underestimated the carp as well as the snags it was feeding amongst. I could see I had hooked the ghost carp but it was now positioned the other side of a large branch in the water and short of asking it nicely to swim back under the branch to my side there was little I could do but hang on. With everything at breaking point fortunately the hook hold gave and the line went slack. I say fortunately because I would rather loose it like that than from the line snapping.

Disappointed with the outcome, I was consoled by the fact I had found the carp feeding in the edge and the ease in which I had hooked one. In fact, before I moved on to my base swim for the night I wandered up the few yards to a small bay that was now covered in summer vegetation overhanging from the bank. There in the murky water I could see the shapes of two more carp, I unfortunately surprised them as much as their presence surprised me and they shot off out of the bay. However they were there of their own accord so here was another stalking position, things looked good for the next few weeks of spring.

I gathered my stuff, wandered back up the grassy banks and set up in one of my ambush swims with a large bush in the water to my left and the still invisible emergent pads out in front. A PVA bag of pellets and crushed boilies went out to the pads and handfuls of the same and a single hook bait boilie went to the bush. I almost immediately began to get line bites on both rods and as the evening progressed I received a screaming take from the rod by the bush. I was on it in seconds but the power of the fish surprised me - it powered away to get further under the bush but it was all short lived as the hook pulled. I cursed myself thinking I had possibly lost another carp but when I retrieved the rig, the slime up the hook link made the identity clear, a lost tench.

As darkness fell I lost another tench on the same rod, which left me wondering about the bait size and rig. I was reluctant to change anything or compromise on bait size due to the fact the carp were still my real targets despite, as Rod H said, smelling the hops along the way. The night was quiet as had become the norm, now spring weather was here, but at dawn again I had a flier on the bush rod. This time there was no mistake and after a really good fight I netted a big looking tench. It was lovely plump female that weighed 6lb 4oz in perfect condition and was at least a nice result on a frustrating session.
I was back a couple of days later and this time winter had returned with heavy showers and a cold wind. Surprisingly then, there were others fishing and a couple of guys were sat out on the point that covered the overhanging trees and the small bay where I had seen the carp before. So I settled for another of my ambush swims where there was an even bigger tree in the water, this time to my right. In this swim there was little to present a second rod to, so I just dropped it in around to the left, right in the edge where some Starwort weed was growing and put a load of pellets on top of it. I also baited the tree heavily with pellets and crushed boilies and sat back.

I did not have to wait long for action as the tree rod received a couple of liners. Minutes later I was sitting by the rods when the tree rod shot off. The fight was really good with the tench fighting well in the deep margins but soon it was ready for the net. I was not surprised to see a male tench but not as big as I hoped at 4lb 12oz. I quickly re-baited and flicked it back inches from the branches, feeling the lead down until it thudded on the hard clay bottom.

The other anglers walked round and were surprised that I had landed something as they had been there all day with nothing to show for their efforts. As they stood there the liners started again on the tree rod and they wandered off. As dusk fell that rod tore off again and a titanic battle commenced, not a powerful one but a dogged one. I knew the culprit was a tench but I could not get it to come off the bottom, it just thudded away. I glimpsed it at last, a broad green flank, a big tench for sure. Once more though it hugged the bottom and as I tried a little more pressure the rig sprang out of the water, the hook hold had given again.

I thought about what had happened and I think possibly it was a big male tench rather than a really big female - but who knows? Once again the night was quiet and rain began to fall again at dawn. As it eased the liners started again before, just on packing up time, the tree rod tore off . I measured the fight of this one, another tench, and it was easy compared to the lost one and soon I had a 5lb 7oz female on the bank, so the lost one for sure was a male. I imagine it holding bottom, huge fins splayed out. Oh well!

I admired the 5lber before slipping her back and packing up after what had been a couple of interesting sessions. Who knows what’s in store next time.

Have fun!