There are four main waters here, three low stocked un-pressured large waters and one better stocked, pressured lake. Firstly, The Ash Tree Pit that I had fished heavily the previous season, and a water I'll be detailing in the final part of this series. A very large, untapped, broken-up lake of massive potential for big fish we called the Asylum, and another similar lake of a more manageable size. The better stocked water, the Working Pit, contained a good head of known fish up to 40 , including some stunning big thirty pound linears of classic ARC lines.
It was this lake that I'd spent some time on last year and had some success with, taking a handful of good looking carp up to mid-twenty's. The lake had about ten regular anglers and was of about thirty acres in size. Most of the regulars fished the lake very statically, albeit quite effectively. The fish were often visible and during the previous summer I'd often seen some of the lakes largest residents. They'd spent a lot of time during the warmest periods holed up in a large weed-bed. Large backs would stick out of the surface betraying the presence of these obviously very large fish. I had taken all of my fish from a relatively ignored corner after keeping the area regularly baited with large quantities of particles.
This year I had hardly looked at the lake, spending virtually all my time on the complex fishing Ash Tree. I had though, stayed in touch with the lake all through the spring paying regular social visits to a few friends who were on the water.
Towards the end of May, I had a week off work and loaded the car to the gunwales with enough bait and tackle to cover every eventuality and keep me supplied for a mammoth nine day session. Arriving on a Saturday lunchtime, I took a long leisurely stroll around the complex. Well, that was the intention, but quickly found myself running back to car to collect the rods after spotting a few fish in The Ash Tree. The weather quickly fouled my stalking attempts, it promptly rained heavily for the next two days! This time was spent fishing statically on the end of a good southerly wind on the largest pit on the complex.
When the sunshine finally returned, I was raring to get out and about, searching for fish to angle for. With it now being Tuesday, I thought that the Working Pit would be worth a good look round, what with there being no-one fishing now the weekend had past. The first thing that struck me when I saw the lake that morning was its level. The rain had raised the local river forcing a tributary to flood into the pit, putting its current level a good four feet higher than normal. As expected there was not a soul on the lake and after a complete circuit I followed the light north easterly into a quiet weedy corner. A few fish quickly revealed themselves really close in, swimming in the flooded margins over areas that were normally swims.
Quickly picking a pair of rods, net and a few baits up from the car, I returned. Positioning two single stiff rigged pop-ups on the edge of the normally high and dry reeds. I hid the rods up the bank on a couple of buzzers and had a quick wander around the area, spotting a number of good fish again really close in, up to my left. Sitting back down close to the rods, two fish came through the underwater vegetation and into the clear area containing my two hookbaits. The fish, both 20 mirrors, briefly browsed the spot and moved back out of the area, along the margins to the right.
The carp were very active and obviously intrigued by the new flooded margins. A few minutes later a double figure common came into the swim and upended literally inches from the bank, sticking half of its back and tail out of the water in the process. The flooded grass must have been littered with worms and other food items, and these fish were obviously feeding. After the common had left the area, I dragged one of the hookbaits in and positioned it on this spot, moving the rods further up the bank so that nothing could give away my presence.
Again the two mirrors passed through the swim, closely followed by the same small common. Just as the mirrors had moved out again, the common swam straight towards the newly positioned pop-up. I watched with great interest as it picked up the bait, pulling the hooklink tight to the 3oz lead. Upon hooking itself the common went mental and instead of charging out of the area, into open water as I'd hoped, he went in completely the opposite direction, charging into and almost over the bank-side. I grabbed for the rod as the fish proceeded to tail-walk on the spot, and as the line tightened up, everything fell slack as the hook fell out. Need it!
Obviously I was disappointed at the lost fish, but not overly concerned as it was not one of the lakes larger residents. All that afternoon fish continued to wander up and down the margin, and try as I might, I could not get another fish to pick up a bait. After a couple of hours I reeled the rods in, with the intention of having a better look around the swims to my left and right.
I saw fish both sides of me, mainly 20-pound mirrors, with the odd smaller common amongst them. Then I spotted what I was looking for. A very large fish came into the swim to the right of where the rods were. Her linear scaling and immense length held my gaze as I peered through the branches of the bush I was hiding in. This was what I'd come for. She slowly moved out further to the right, following the margin down towards the corner. There were a few fish like this in the lake and although I couldn't be specific with its identification, I was positive it was one of the group of linears that all weighed around the mid-thirty mark. The rods were quickly re-positioned in this new swim, and despite seeing fish all afternoon and evening no further takes developed. At about 11pm, the wind dropped and the fish drifted off out of the area.
The next morning dawned warm and bright, but the wind had swung round back to a southerly and the fish did not return as I'd hoped. By mid morning it was obvious that nothing was going to happen in this area, and the fish must have followed the wind down to the other end of the pit. A quick trip to the shops for something to eat, and I was once again ready to walk the banks in search of carp. I felt sure that the fish in The Working Pit would once again be frequenting the flooded margins, on the end of this new wind. However with the whole day ahead of me, and the lake to myself I was in no rush to get back, so decided on a little walk around some of the other pits on the complex.
Having seen the big linear the day before, I thought it would be a little while before I saw another fish of such proportions. However a few minutes later I was staring through some over hanging branches at a fish that looked even bigger than the margin whopper. A totally unknown dark mirror lay motionless, sunning itself a few metres out from the bank. With it was a smaller common that seemed very active, swimming around and on several occasions coming very close in through the margins. Neither fish looked likely to feed, and after watching them for about half an hour, they both slowly drifted out of the area into some near by islands.
I was now in a dilemma. Should I stay here and fish for the unknown mirror, or go back for a look around The Working Lake. Eventually I decided to bait a couple of spots close to where I'd seen the dark mirror, and check on them later after a trip to the Works. Running back to the car I fetched some hemp and a few boilies and baited up as planned. During this time I kept a close lookout for any fish in the area, but failed to spot a single one. The pit had returned to its old self.
On my return to the Works Pit an hour later, I was on my second search along the windward margin when, from up a tree, I finally saw carp. The sky had begun to cloud over a little now and the wind increased considerably. The poorer light levels and larger waves had reduced visibility considerably, and had moved the fish lower down in the water, making them much harder to spot than the day before. But carp they were. During a rare burst of bright sunlight from behind the ever-gathering large fluffy clouds, three good fish were spied. They were cruising along the front of a large reed-bed, right over the gravel that was normally only a couple of inches underwater, down in the corner that had hosted last year's particle barrage.
Confident that I'd find some fish I had a couple of rods with me, so walking round to the other side of the corner I quietly waded out to the edge of the reeds. Setting the rods well back from the water, I gently lowered a couple of baits off the rod tips at the edge of the reeds. The weather continued to deteriorate over the next couple of hours, and no further signs of fish were seen.
It was clear that stalking was out the window for the rest of the day, so reeling the rods in I quickly hid them under a bush before wandering back to the car for the rest of the gear. I was confident fish were in the area and wanted to get set up for the night.
Back at the spot, I was a little unsure where to place my hookbaits. Knowing the area very well only confused matters as I was immediately drawn to the spots I'd fished the year before, instead of where I'd seen the fish. Compromising, one went down to the bottom of the shelf on last years favourite gravel area, one went right next to the reeds, and the other somewhere in-between. All three rods where slack-lined and backleaded right to the rod tip and surrounded by just a few broken baits. The rods were set up away from the waters-edge and the brolly hidden behind a local bush. All sorted and hidden-away, radio on quietly and sit back to watch the grebes dive, mistaking them for carp rolling when caught out of the corner of the eye!
Just before dark the close-in bait gets picked up and a large swirl emanates from the reeds just as a pair of swans pass over the spot. A few seconds of confusion as the swans are declared innocent and the rod is in my hand. The initial run is fast and powerful. A long drawn out struggle results in a long common sliding into the folds of the net. Not a bad start. A really nice fish weighing 22lb 6oz, flash photos quickly taken by the local EA bailiff, and back she goes.
The next morning I was up early, keen as ever. Kettle on, watch the sunrise and lookout for any signs of fish. Nothing. Later, after finishing off the last of the sugar and milk, the pair of lucky swans entered the swim again just as they had the evening before. Keeping an eye on them, making sure they didn't come too close to the baits, I was fishing in very shallow water remember, the delkim shrieked.
This time there was a problem. Instead of tearing off into open water, the rod tip is bent round and the reeds part as the unseen fish heads a full twenty metres into the middle of the reedbed and sticks fast. Now I don't mess around tackle wise (as the ladies will tell you!) and the 18 pound nylon and 45 pound leadcore leader were in no chance of parting, as I tightened up to the dead weight in the reeds. Walking straight out into the lake I soon had a direct line to the fish and slowly got it moving right back the way it had gone in. Seconds later the fish was at my feet. I saw an enormous fish with large linear scales and I promptly wet myself. It saw me and followed suit. With an huge swirl, it headed off out into open water on an unstoppable run taking 30, 40, 50, 60 yards of line against a hard clutch. To say I was worried during the fight was an understatement. Normally I like to play fish hard, but I have to admit that this time I took it very gently. Concerned the hook might fall out at any minute; I slowly got her back in to the edge. Standing up to my waist in the water I stretched with the net and scooped up the fish.
Back at the shore, I broke the net down and checking all her fins were out of harms way folded into her body, I picked her up into my arms and walked up the bank to the unhooking mat. Opening the net and removing a few stands of weed, I followed the line then the leader down to the hooklink. The safety clip had done its job, and the lead was absent, coming unstuck during the battle with the reedbed I guessed. The size 4 continental boilie hook was well placed in the bottom lip. With the fish safely sacked up in the margins, out came the phone. Sam and Adam were duly summoned from the other side of the road, and the tea-cup was replaced by Stella can.
Up on the scales she went 36lb 14oz, truly a massive fish, one of the old warriors. The rest of the week was spent over the road happily blanking away and wandering around in search of the dark mirror. I never did see her again, but one day
With half the years holiday used up, I was now resigned to strictly weekends, wanting to save the remaining few 'days off' for the autumn. But where to fish? Two big fish under my belt, already a successful and enjoyable season. I decided to not make any fixed plans and just play it by ear, carping around to see what interesting opportunities came about.
For all your carp fishing needs, www.fishing.co.uk recommends visiting www.carp1.com