It felt really mild when I arrived late afternoon and took the gear round to the island. On my way around I noticed that the daffodils were coming up and a lot of the trees were budding, the blossom on some trees was even beginning to show; ridiculous! I just hoped the carp were responding. This is not always the case though, it seems over the years no matter how mild the weather is, the carp only begin to move at the same time each year, usually with a month to go, mid February on. There was a nice south-westerly breeze blowing down the lake so there was no reason to change my tactics, simple six bait stringers cast to the end of a small island and out to a dead set of pads. I was hoping for one of the bigger older carp which I hoped would be 15lb plus. However the first carp to take the bait cast to the island was a lot smaller, a little linear of around 5lb.

After dark things livened up and around 6:30 the rod straight out screamed off and I connected with a better carp. It hugged the far bank 40 yards away and struggled for the remains of the lily roots in the silt. I could feel the carp snag behind several on its way towards me. In open water, in front of the island I was fishing on, it charged away left and right in the shallow water. Finally I saw its back break surface and then it rolled on its side and I lifted the net around it. It felt big and when I peered in to the net I could make out a longer than average common. In the torchlight the golden scales showed, indeed it was a nice fish. On the scales it went 13lb 5oz, not quite as big as I hoped but you cannot catch them if they are not in there. For this particular lake it was a nice carp, especially in late January. I lowered it gently back in to water and watched as it drifted away out of the torchlight.

The sky had cleared and a full moon shone bright but the wind continued and it stayed very mild. An hour later the same rod produced another good run and I connected with another nice-feeling carp. This one came in a bit easier but still had a go under the rod tip, which was great fun on the light line and soft rod. In the net I found it was another common, and another bigger than average, a bit smaller than the last at 12lb 2oz, this one I recognised as it has a twisted mouth. Many years ago, Gary and I had called it Elvis, it was a very old fish and showed it. Because of this it had not grown much, in fact the first time I caught it, it was in winter from the same swim, it was around the same weight too. It was nice to see it again though and soon it was back home. Surprisingly, the rest of the night was very quiet and no more carp came my way.

At the end of the week I was off pike fishing in the Thames again with Gary. After his 28lber the week before he had gone back twice to the same spot on his own and had blanked once but on the second trip he had taken two nice pike, one of 18lb and a second of 22lb 4oz, both on perch livebaits. We do not usually rate perch livebaits in the river, as they do not show up much but it's not easy catching livebait in January so beggars can't be choosers, the pike obviously didn't care. We naturally went to the same spot on the river where the main feature is a half sunken concrete pier thing that stretches out 10 yards, half of it submerged. As it was Garyís find, he fished next to this with a perch livebait. His 22lber had come from by a tree that I fished this day with the only roach he had caught the day before. The other two rods we fished as rovers with perch and gudgeon livebaits.

The day was very windy but mild; the livebaits were very lively, constantly dipping the floats but an hour after starting my roach went and after letting it go for a bit I wound down into the pike. I met with good resistance but not the feeling of a really big fish, even so it fought well in mid river in the quite strong flow. The water level was up and the river dirty but the pike were feeding, this one was at least. In the net it was a short chunky one of 16lb 2oz. It was very welcome but a bit flooky as it was hooked on just one point of the lower treble right on the end of the pikes lower jaw.

The day was then quiet until dusk when Garyís float by the concrete sunk away. Dusk often produces the biggest Thames pike so we were expectant but as soon as Gary struck we knew this was not the case and within a minute a cheeky 8lber was in the net. Gary had to laugh but you canít win them all!

Have fun!