Being in the Armed Forces I don’t get to spend as much time on the bank as I would like to. Therefore, I like to make the most of every opportunity. So when I realised there was the potential to slip away from my place of duty on a couple of occasions this week I didn’t hesitate to throw my 9ft ESP stalking rods, shelter, chair and essential tackle (including brew kit) in to the boot of the car.
Monday dawned clear and frosty and as luck would have it I managed to slip away nice and early. The venue was to be River Farm Fishery in Titchfield. The lake is small (approx. 3 acres) and set in the back garden of the farmer that owns it. There are 7 30’s (up to 36lb) and more 20’s than you can shake a stick at. The lake is very popular and with 12 swims, there is not a lot of water per angler when they are full.
Arriving at 1130 I found that there were 6 anglers already fishing and had the Western deeper end and the majority of the open water areas sewn up. With this I elected to fish the Eastern end of the lake. This gave access to the shallower water that was under less angler pressure and was on the back of the chilly North Easterly wind. Indeed in the now strong midday sun it felt noticeably warmer.
The right hand rod was fished to the marginal reeds with a Essential Baits salami cream bottom bait tipped with a bit of Enterprise Yellow corn. A couple of handfuls of corn and a few boilies completed the trap. The left was fished with a bright pink Sticky Baits Buchu Berry pop up as a single.
Well the minutes turned in to hours and the mug of tea turned in to a gallon and only one small carp had been caught on the lake. I decided nothing was happening in my swim so moved up to my left in order to target some open water for the final pair of hours. First a fish rolled out to my left and then another in the margin pretty much under my rod tip. With that the sunset and it was time to leave. Both spots were treated to half a tin of Green Giant and a few boilies in anticipation of a return.
Monday night saw the wind shift to the South West and increase in intensity. It rained through the night and for most of the morning. When I woke up it felt a lot warmer than the previous day and I knew I had to get away early again. It felt……CARPY!!
To cut a long story short I was at the lake by 1200. The shift in the wind had certainly stirred up the fish with several coming out overnight and through the morning. The first angler I spoke to had managed to catch from my first baited margin spot and pointed out an area where the Carp had been poking their heads out through the morning. This just happened to be in front of the swim I ended up in yesterday and had baited with corn and boilies.
It was still raining and fairly hard. The area around this lake has always had relatively poor drainage and at this point I was struggling to work out if I was on a bank or in a swamp. Up went the D-Ploy and out went the rods. Right hand on the same bottom bait rig in the margin and the left to the area pointed out to me with a Mainline Pineapple Pop Up.
Again the minutes turned to hours and no one was catching. I feared another blank was looming and began considering a change of tactics or a reposition of the rods when a good common boshed out twice in quick succession. This was to my left, in an area of water in front of a vacant swim and was potentially fishable by myself and another 2 anglers. Well, one had his door shut and the other was on the phone. The left rod was reeled in sharpish and sent out in to the rings left by the carp.
No sooner had I sat down and the Neville let out a few sharp bleeps and the bobbin twitched up. I slowly crossed the quagmire to the rod where the tip was gently rattling. Just as I was cursing my luck the bream bite developed in to a full blooded run and the Neville screamed. A short fight ensued and I was rewarded with a pristine 19lb 4oz Common Carp.
The hook point and rig were checked and the same pop up was sent back to the spot. The rod was placed on the alarm and I decided to pay out fluorocarbon in order to get it to settle on the bottom so as not to spook any more fish that may be in the area. I elected to pop the kettle on while the line sank and would put the bobbin and alarm on in a few minutes. Just as I was adding milk a sound caught my ear. It took a few seconds before I clicked on to what it was. It was my Bait-runner, a good scrap and another perfect common carp. This one stopping the Reuben’s at 16lb 1oz.
Again the hook and rig were checked and again the same yellow pop up was sent out. The right hand rod was also repositioned. Things were quiet for about 15 mins before the left hand rod was off again, this time my reward was a beautiful orange Common of 18lb 2oz. The fish was unhooked in the net, rig checked and the same pop up was sent out to the spot again and the rod placed on the alarm.
As I was on my hands and knees in the thick mud returning the fish the left Neville was again singing its song. This left me in a predicament. I had one fish in my collapsed net and a screaming run. I elected to leave the fish in the margin and hit the run. Luckily I managed to get the attention of a neighbouring angler who kindly returned my fish, reassembled my net and netted the other fish. The culprit was a small 5lb Common that was unhooked in the net and released.
The same ritual ensued. Rig was checked and for a fifth time the same pineapple pop up was dispatched. My swim now resembled The Somme and I needed to begin the muddy pack down and restore some organisation.
Again the left rod was away. This fish fought much harder and continually bored down the left margin in a bid to reach the lake overflow outlet. Eventually he was subdued, rolled over the net cord and was mine. Surely after a fight like that it had to be a 20lber. No, the scales stopped at 18lb 13oz.
That was the final fish of the session. I had managed to catch 5 fish in a short hour and a half feeding spell. Finding the fish, creating minimal disturbance and presenting baits the way they wanted. To me it highlighted the importance of watching the water, casting to showing fish and that singles (that I had always been reluctant to use) DO work. There is no need to use masses of bait during the colder months.
Successful rig was 3ft of 45lb ESP leadcore to a Fox leadclip, 1.5oz bomb and Fox quick change swivel. Hooklink was 5 inches of 20lb ESP Tungsten Loaded semi-stiff in weedy green. This hooklink is brilliant. It sinks like a brick and stiffness means you can manipulate a slight curve into it, negating the need for shrink tubing. The hooklink was attached to the quick change swivel via a figure of eight loop knot and small anti-tangle sleeve. I like to keep the figure of eight loop fairly large as the doubled section gives additional stiffness helping to kick the hookbait away from the lead system. Business end was a size 7 ESP Stiff Rigger attached knotless knot style with a subtle hair. The coating is kept intact through the knot to the hair with just a little break to act as a hinge and set depth. Final addition is a BB shot to counter balance the pop up.