Carp fishing came first as it seemed to be the mildest and driest nights. So it turned out as I arrived in the car park on a perfect cloudy mild day wind, a nice southwesterly wind blowing down the lake. After the capture of the 15lb fully scaled mirror the week before I hoped that more of the original old carp would still be around in front of the island.

The swim still looked unfished from my last visit so I quickly unclipped the rods and cast out. The trouble with a wind though means that when casting light leads with relatively light line, the casts can go off line. Unfortunately that is exactly what happened, I looked out for the splash of the lead landing on the end of the island or just beyond, but nothing. Looking at the line I could see I had hit the end of the island. The rig would not come free so I had to pull for a straight break, crack, the line snapped at the swivel knot. Just what I needed as the light began to fade, quickly I set up again and second time I got the distance and direction right allowing for the wind and I got it right on the end of the island. Then I clipped up the line and wound in for the real cast. Six bait stringers of assorted fishy type boilies landed just right, one on the end of the island and one just on the edge of the dead pads straight out. With the rods right, I set up the oval shelter for the wait, that I guessed might not be too long.

As it turned out it was about an hour, a short take on the rod straight out. I connected with something that thudded gently back. I guessed it was a small carp but in the bottom of the net I found a male tench of around 3lb. It amazes me the amount of December and January tench I have caught over the years whilst carp fishing. Tench, like carp, are just as easy to catch in winter on the right water. This estate lake, although holding a good head of tench, is notoriously difficult in summer for those intentionally fishing for tench, but here was a nice perfect January tench. I slipped it back and quickly recast with another stringer and set the indicator again. Half-hour later the rod by the island gave a similar take. I connected with a definite carp though this time as it fought for the old pads. Out in open water in front of the island I was on though, it fought well and it was a couple of minutes before I folded the net around as nice plump common. It was not quite as big as I hoped falling short of 10lb but it was like a newly minted coin, all yellows and golds, a pretty fish on a dark winter night.

With that rod recast, without incident, I thought I might have a bit of a wait for more action but only half-hour as it turned out. The straight out rod again - and this time the carp did feel like a bit of a better one. I took it carefully and guided it gently from old lily stem to old lily stem before I saw it roll out in front. Then right in front of me it led a merry dance as it surged off to the left under an old willow. All went well though and I was happy to see its head kiss the spreader block. I was surprised again to find it was nowhere near as big as I thought, a mirror this time around the same size as the common. It was quite long though so I could see why it fought so well.

There were no carp showing but I expected more action. An hour later the straight out rod produced a gorgeous linear mirror of around 5 or 6lb. These carp are stockies put in a couple of years ago, the same size fish were put into another of the clubs water at the same time, the ones in there are now between 12 and 15lb, just shows what effect stocking densities have on carp growths in different waters. This little carp was pretty though and nice to see. The feeding spree ended at that, though I did lose another carp an hour later, the rest of the session quiet, cloudy and very mild.
Two days later I was off pike fishing with my friend Gary on the Thames. He had found a nice spot just upstream to the inlet to the small stream that had produced the biggest pike we have caught from the Thames, three 30lbers. The day was very mild, the river had a nice colour and some fish were topping - it looked good. Gary had caught some roach livebaits a couple of days before from the Thames and before long we had four of these under float paternoster rigs in various places.

Despite the ideal conditions it was well into the afternoon before the first take, that fell to Gary’s bait fished by an old concrete stanchion that reached out in to the river creating a slack. The float just disappeared and line was taken steadily. Gary wound down and pulled into the pike. By the bend in the rod and the screeching clutch I could see he had caught more than just a double. The fight was very dogged as the pike used the river to its advantage getting out in to the current. However under steady pressure there was only going to be one winner. After around ten minutes the pike surfaced pointing away from me where I crouched with the net, the width of its back was impressive and I heard Gary exclaim that it would not be a good idea if I mucked the netting up. There was no worry of that though as I scooped up the long deep fish.

It indeed was an impressive fish, very long with depth to match. The hooks were in the scissors nice and safe, in a second Gary had lifted the pikes head. I noticed how big it's head was compared to his hand, I knew then we had a big twenty. With the hooks out we put it on the scales and held our breaths. 28lb 13oz. We checked the scales and weighed it again, still that weight. A real monster of a pike and a real result once more for Gary and his relentless searching of the river. We took the photos in the fading light and had a good look at it. It was in lovely condition, in typical pale Thames colouration. Reluctantly we slipped her back and watched as she powered out up the margins and disappeared in to the murk. What chance another 30lber before 14th March!!

Have fun!