Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Pit..........

The diary entries from the begining of last year........

9th Jan 2011

It was just another winter’s day on the pit, but for me it was all so new. Just a few nights into my journey it was a new set of rules, new and unfamiliar surroundings and a new group of very wise old Carp. The venue had a reputation of being a little more than tricky, but I felt ready for the challenge and in the days leading up to the start of the campaign I could think of nothing else. The previous trips had been fruitless, a few nights squeezed in between Christmas and New Year, but all helped towards the learning curve, bit by bit I would need to piece together a plan of how to tempt these wonderful fish to the bank.


The morning had been a success, one in that I’d managed my first bite, albeit a Tench but it proved that the bait and tactics weren’t far wrong, and a Tench in winter isn’t very common. The previous night brought wind, strong winds, the kind that rip bivvies out of the ground. Along with it came rain, heavy rain, things were a little hard going that’s for sure. But if the Carp living in that cold winter water were to feed then it would need such conditions. Early morning the wind’s ferocity eased somewhat and soon after blue skies appeared. Although it was short lived, the sky darkened once more and a band of rain, heavy at times, reappeared.


Waterfowl was rife, more so than on any other water I’d fished and with the arctic conditions and empty bellies an aerial battle over the baited spots took place, yet another obstacle to overcome. But I think it were these challenges, the many things going against you that made the challenge all the more appealing, when a carp finally did succumb it would be extra special, a victory like no other. The battle had commenced.

The rig…………

As morning faded into afternoon I watched the surface of the lake for a sign, a signal that the lake wasn’t completely baron. The sign came in the shape of a carp leaping close to an island some 100 yards away to my right. It surfaced again and once more as I wound frantically to get the rod on the spot. The cast was superb and the lead and rig landed bang on, I sat back to await events. Just then Alex came past on his way home; he had been fishing further along. He stopped and we chatted a while, he was just showing me some pictures on his camera when we heard 4 or 5 bleeps, we looked round and the bobbin on that right hand rod was trying to climb through the alarm, I looked up and the tip was ever so slightly bent round so I picked up the rod and felt my first Pit Carp. The slow, dogged fight was one filled with anxiety, praying all the time for the hook not to fall out. The fish kited to my left, luckily Alex had reeled my other two rods in out of the way. As it kited left and into a bay along the margin the mainline became caught on a tree branch, there was nothing else to do but to go in and free it. Up to my waist and the wintry water was, as to be expected, freezing. But I soon had the fish back out into open water and soon into Alex’s awaiting net.


The feeling that came over me was, indeed, that of tremendous victory, a Carp after only 4 nights on the water and in the midst of winter. The fish, although not huge, was a true stunner, big scales, dark colouration, it epitomised the lake and why so many spend so long in the pursuit of its inhabitants. The weight was 16lb 4oz and the pictures were expertly taken by Tony. He and Dave both came round for the photo shoot and congratulated my getting off the mark and off to a flying start. Alex also took a few snaps on his camera for his own records.


Once the fish was returned to the icy water my fists were thrown in the air and a big “Come On!!” echoed around the lake.


I sat inside the bivvy for the next hour almost starkers with the stove on to try to get some feeling back into my legs and feet. Once I’d warmed up and drunk a few cups of tea I was ready to go again. I slipped into my sallopettes and returned the three rigs back to their original positions, and with a massive smile on my face I might add.

Throughout the afternoon the wind swung round from behind me to blowing from left to right. The sky cleared and the sun poked through but funnily enough it felt colder. Most of the latter part of the day was spent inside the shelter keeping warm and watching the lake through the small gap in the bivvy door for signs of activity. The day’s events must have taken their toll as at somewhere around 8:30pm I drifted off to sleep and didn’t surface until 4:30am. Then I made a hot drink and listened out for any loud sploshing.

Evening magic………….

Sunday was to be my last day of the session, the best chance for a bite seemed to be from breakfast time until around noon so the plan was to get packed away somewhere around midday. The morning was chilly, a quick walk up the bank confirmed a frost was present. At first a few clouds began to stack up in the west but they soon cleared and a bright sunny day was looking likely.

The things you do when time is plentiful………….

Sunny it was and although I scanned the surface all morning I didn’t see anything apart from Coots, Tufties and Gulls. Midday came and I said farewell to the new love in my life. I wound in the rods, collapsed the house and trudged off to the car.

15th Jan

Night 6 of the campaign, rain fell all morning and all I could think of was getting back to the pit. Although the quest had only just begun, already the lake was well and truly under my skin. Everyday I found myself looking at maps, checking wind directions, weather forecasts and, of course, studying pictures of those marvellous fish.

I finished work at midday and, although it was forecast to subside, the rain continued to fall. After a quick stop home I made my way to the lake and arrived somewhere around 2pm. Light drizzle was still falling as I pulled into the car park. I walked along the south bank and watched as high winds battered the north. The first few swims, the ones I wanted, were already taken; these were the ones I thought the fish may be held up in. I carried on and came to a swim called The Willows, I can imagine this swim being really pretty during the warmer months. The swim commanded a large open expanse of water, plenty of ripple and, hopefully, a few hungry carp.

After setting up the house and sheltering everything from the rain, which by then had almost ceased, I set to work with the marker rod and to find out what secrets this swim held. The left hand rod was fished towards a pinnacle that almost cuts the lake in two. There was a nice 6 feet deep silt channel that ran through, an obvious patrol route. The other two rods were fished either side of a bar which ran parallel at around 55 yards. A snowman was dropped either side of this bar where the silt began. I felt I had a good enough chance if anything was to swim through and was confident in where I had my baits placed.

It was 3pm, with the rods out and the sky starting to turn blue I sat to watch the lake for any movement, all was quiet apart from the Coots who had, unfortunately, found my baits and were diving al around them. Under tow was something I noticed, more here than anywhere else I’d fished. It was almost as if the tide was flowing, there was no chance of fishing slack lines, a method I’d used for so long and was totally confident in. If I paid off any line it just drifted off to the left and tightened up, there was no way round it, I would just have to fish tight lines, although I’d be giving this some serious thought over the coming weeks. Maybe this only occurred when there were strong winds, only time would tell.

It eventually got too dark to see what was happening on the lake surface, it was time to make a meal, settle back and tune my ears in to the sounds of the evening. Hopefully, if anything did leap clear of the water I could work out its location. I sat, optimistic, listening to the wind blowing through the naked Willow and in the distance the waves crashing into the pebble covered beach behind me. It was all very soothing and fairly early I drifted off to a land of big Carp and pretty little pools.

At three in the morning I zipped the door down half way and sat with a cup of tea watching the lake in a kind of strange orangy twilight for any indications of life. If a fish moved I had to know about it, location being key in such conditions. I just had to be on the fish to be in with a chance with connecting with them. An hour or so later the rain returned and with heavy eyelids I zipped the door back to almost closed and returned to sleep.

At 7:30 I woke once more, the rain had stopped but the wind had strengthened. Twenty Tufties noisily returned from their night time roost and the world began to transform into the surroundings that were starting to become familiar. Breakfast was made with one eye always on the water, soon after I freshened up the hook baits and sat back to see out the final couple of hours of my stay. Another night fished and another swim investigated. At midday it was time to start packing away for I was to meet up with Rob for a night at Headlands farm, a good social and, hopefully, a few fish to boot.

15th March

The first of the midweek overnighters began last night, a mild night was forecast and it was now bright enough at 6am to pack away. I arrived at the pit at around 5pm found a swim to set up in a central location with plenty of water to cover. There was a gentle ripple on the surface with a slight breeze blowing from left to right. I cast the first two rods to a silt channel around 50 yards and the third slightly to the right in front of an island. Bird life was as busy as ever and Bats had already started their journey into the night. With the rods fishing and the brolly up I relaxed after a days work with one eye on the lake and my ears alert to every sound.

I drifted of sometime around midnight and woke to the sound of my phone alarm at 6am. The rods remained still but I cared not, I was back at the place I felt I belonged. I started to pack things away and, before long, headed off for work, happy and confident that this season could produce the goods if I made the effort, and I’ll definitely be doing that……………………..

19th march
Six am and everything was covered in thick frost, the brolly, sleeping bag, net and matt. Unlike mild previous mornings I didn't have to leave right away, it was the weekend, time to wait for two things, the sunrise and a carp. The far bank, once just silhouettes without detail was now dense scrubland, gorse and holly. Small silver fish skipped among the rising mist happily although every so often trying to evade the jaws of some thrashing pike. Hot tea brought warm relief to cold fingers, minus one degree but my shelter did its job well. I picked at the ice on my pillow and realised the extent of the drop in temperature. The evening before was that of great beauty, starting off with rain, all day actually, then easing off with a velvet blanket sky full of diamond sparkles and a wonderful crimson end. Today was to be a much different story, clear and bright and much warmer.

As it turned out, the sun climbed high mid morning, melted the frost and started to dry everything out, this caused very annoying drips from the inside of the brolly which was swiftly dismantled. The steady breeze returned but with a lot more east thrown in making what should have been a warm day feel decidedly chilly. The margins were interesting, thick candy floss type blanket weed was very prominent, in some areas rising up to six inches from the gravel and debris, and it was the same story out further as I was to realise when I wound in to freshen the hookbaits.

It was to be yet another one night trip with errands to be tended to throughout the remainder of the weekend. Reluctantly I started to put break down camp and made my way to the car park and onto the busy and very noisy outside world.

This set of pictures are from a sunset I have been waiting to witness all winter, finally I found it and it made the trip well worth while………..

Friday Sunset……

ImageSame Sunset through the trees………..

ImageThe colours were amazing………….

ImageTwilight and a swan stole the show……………


23rd March
I arrived at the pit yesterday at around 5pm, unloaded the car and suddenly realised I’d left the shelter home, done that before so it was no real shock…Luckily it was forecast to be a dry night, maybe a little cold and possibly a heavy dew but I was just happy to be back at the pit and angling at my favourite place. As soon as camp was set up, which didn’t take very long at all, I cast the first of the rods out, the middle rod between an island and the marginal bank. It was then I heard a shout from the far bank, “I mate, I got a rod there!!” Liberty as It was blatantly my water and he was casting into it. But, he’d been there for a while and I’m not one to kick up a fuss so I wound in and placed it closer towards my bank. The left hand rod was cast to the left of the island and the right hand one just along the right hand margin where the shelf drops off to 6 feet quite close in. With the rods fishing and my neighbour happy I made a brew, ate my tea and watched on as the sun retired.


Not long after dark the temperature started to drop and the light breeze felt cold. I climbed into the sleeping bag and soon dozed off to sleep. I woke at 01:15 to the sound of an ATTs singing in the night, I was pleased to see that it was, indeed, one of mine……The Middle Rod!!! I got to my feet, picked up the rod and felt something I’ve not felt for a good while, a Carp!! Mainly it just wallowed around on the surface until it was a few rod lengths out, then I picked it up in the headlamp beam and saw it was one of the stockies and not an original. I didn’t mind too much, it was a Carp on the bank and over 20lbs. I weighed it at 21lb 4oz and took a quick self take. Released the fish and wondered if I’d have had that take if matey hadn’t called across for me to move it?

With the rod back out I returned to my bag, smiling, yet cold. Once I’d warmed up I fell back to sleep and woke at 6am to pack away and get to work.


27th March

The transformation had begun, bumblebees buzzed busily among Pussy Willow, the previous night brought great numbers of bats feasting upon the hoards of Chronimids and warm winds make the long wait a pleasant one. Young reeds break through around the margins, Gorse is covered with yellow flowers, Mallards begin what appears to be courtship and with the suns intensity it was quite possible to close your eyes and imagine yourself some where exotic. But I wished not to be somewhere else, I was at the place I wanted to, at the place my heart belonged and the place of my every dream.


The wind blew steadily into my corner of the lake and with it, I hoped, so to would the great fish, I felt confident, with two days ahead of me I felt sure I would find success. The methods I used had served me well in the past, it was just down to the fish being there and willing to feed, not much to ask but seldom easy. The great thing is that it could happen at any time, granted, it could not happen at all, but there is always a chance and if you learn to enjoy your time whilst waiting you have what's important. It usually happens when you least expect it, out of the blue like a thunderbolt dragging you to your feet and waking you from even the deepest sleep or the most wonderful dream. There is also the chance that your whole world could be torn apart, the loss of a big fish can feel like a knife through the heart, repairing quickly but still sore sometime after.

Afternoon was hottest, layers were removed and suddenly I remembered what summer felt like. The time before dusk was spent, as much of the day, enjoying the time off work, relaxing and watching the lake for signs. Coots were busy feeding on anything and everything they could find and Morehens weaved in and out of twisted roots and branches. Seagulls were noisy, often causing me to jump if I had drifted off and lost concentration momentarily. The rods remained still whilst all around was busy, on the sticks they sat, temporarily redundant until they are called into action, that's when they are my greatest asset but until that time they grow into the landscape and become just like the trees, the banks and the water.


Day became night once again, and a much cooler one, welcome relief from the daytime heat wave. A Tench was the only thing to cause any stirrings in the dark, swiftly returned without too much fuss. Sunday brought a very much similar day, slightly breezier with a little more south thrown in meaning it faced me more. Old friends visited, drank tea and wished me well before they left, off to pursue their own dreams. Whilst watching the surface, daring not to blink, it soon became dusk once more, although nothing I saw after compared to that first night sky. I quite often closed me eyes and remembered that wonderful sky and how I captured it’s amazing colours from soon after the sun had set until perhaps an hour later when it appeared that the deeper the sun set, the deeper the red tinge to the clouds….


Sunday morning saw a little drizzle early on; another Tench was all, again, that decided to feast on my bait. No Carp but it mattered not, I saw some amazing sights ad got to send a few days in paradise. As I packed away my things and made my way to the car I heard a victorious shout. I followed the sound and was greeted by a friend grinning from ear to ear; he’d just banked one of the lakes bigger residents, a truly stunning specimen. I looked down and muttered under my breath “I’ll see you again real soon”, shook the triumphant captors hand and bid him a fond farewell.

11th April

What a difference a week makes at this time of year, the previous weekend was spent fishing a different venue and when I arrived at the pit this Friday afternoon it painted a much different picture. The most noticeable feature was the sheer amount of green present, shoots had become leaves, small spears barely penetrating the surface had become reeds and the lake bed, formally covered in dark, decaying matter now had signs of weed growth. It was certainly pleasing on the eye, but I never judge a book by its cover, those unseen creatures, the ones that bring us all together were still just the same, unaccommodating, inhospitable and generally quite unfriendly. The lake in its full spring bloom is a lovely place to be, although this only makes the long wait for a fish a little more enjoyable and pleasant.

I arrived with one swim on my mind, not a good idea on a busy water at this time of year but we all do it, it was the lonely swim on the south bank. It is close to the car park making it a great swim for the quick overnighters, is the one swim that is a good few hundred yards from another swim, has islands out in front to fish to but most importantly it has a small finger bay at around thirty yards along the right hand margin that acts as a sun trap throughout the day that the fish liked to frequent, sunning themselves and, on occasion, feeding. It reminded me a lot of the Jungle area on The Match Lake, only a bit more accessible. I walked into the swim only to find a bucket in position, at first I felt anguish, It would seem I’d just missed out. Then I heard a rustling in the bushes down near the entrance of the finger bay. I crept along as quietly as possible and found my friend Jon stalking, he’d seen a few fish cruising in and out but had yet to receive a take. He told me he’d be leaving in hour or so and that I was welcome to get set up in the swim, just the words I wanted to hear.


I unloaded the car, made camp and by then Jon had returned to say his goodbyes and have a natter. After he’d gone I scaled the big tree to the right of my swim and I couldn’t believe my eyes, suddenly I could see. Now that may sound silly but you have to remember I’d been fishing blind since just after Christmas, no fish showing (or very little), no fish cruising, sessions consisting of just finding the features, casting to them with single baits or with small sticks and waiting it out until it was time to leave whilst doing my utmost to keep myself occupied as best I could. But now it was a different story altogether, I could actually see things, not only the fish that were patrolling along the island, through the lilies continuing on into finger bay, but I could also see the make up of the lake bed. It’s not a particularly deep pit so, with the clearer water, sun shining and my vantage point high in the tree I wad a wonderful of everything, bars, gullies, weed and Carp.

Before Jon left he lent me his chest waders, nice chap that he is, so the plan was to wait until dusk when the bird life had finished diving on everything I cast out, wade along the right hand margin and drop a bait into the entrance of the bay, this way I could choose the spot, have a prod around and make sure the rig way laid out correctly, well that was the plan anyway. Until dusk I fished a rod either side of the island, one on a zig in the hope of intercepting any fish cruising mid water and the other fishing a critical and a small stick. At around 6pm I received a take on the critical rod, struck and was happy to feel resistance. At first I thought it was a Carp swimming towards me but soon I realised it was a Tench, a nice Tench mind of around 6lbs which was unhooked in the water. I recast the rod and prepared tea. Soon after the same rod bleeped, then again, I crouched over the rod and as the bobbin hit the alarm I picked it up, only this time I felt no resistance. I wound in, inspected the rig and found the small section of silicone had been pushed up to the eye of the hook, I’d been done up!

Just before dusk, at around 7:30pm I decided to don the waders and make a recce trip along the margin to check for depth and find a nice spot to lay my trap. As I approached the bay the make up of the bottom changed from hard crunchy gravel to deep soft silt. A few times the water reached to within inches of the top of the waders but I got to the mouth of the bay dry. There was a nice area just inside the entrance on a downward slope which looked nice and clean which appeared to have been fed upon and also there was a strong likelihood that they’d have to pass this spot when entering and exiting the bay, I felt the best chance of a take from here would be early to mid morning. Happy with what I’d found I returned to the swim to fetch the baited rod, it was all going so well until on the way back my right foot found a slightly deeper silt patch and water began to enter the waders, it rushed in as I struggled to find higher ground, which only took a few seconds but was plenty long enough to completely wipe out my plans. Back on dry land I removed the waders, emptied the water out and looked down at my drenched clothes cursing my bad luck. With my work clothes back on (commando style I might add!) and camo crocs I looked a mess, my wet clothes were hanging in the tree to dry and the waders hung upside down in the hope they’d miraculously dry out in ten minutes. But it wasn’t to be, there was no way I was getting that rod on that spot, darkness had almost fallen by now and I didn’t much fancy trying it again at this point. With dry clothes on and a chilly night a head I felt the best and most sensible option was to cast the rods elsewhere. All was not lost though, the plan was that the following day with the clothes and waders dried out I could stalk the bay entrance from where Jon was. The temperature dropped that night and I sat inside the bivvy, contemplating, chuckling at my misfortune and looking forward to tomorrow full of optimism.


I woke to a bright and beautiful spring day, it was 6:30am and already the birds sang and the sun was peering through the trees and bushes behind me. My first thoughts were not of making tea or breakfast but weather or not the Carp had begun visiting the bay. I knew that bite time was anytime between now and mid morning so I resisted the urge wind in and left the rods out for at least another hour or so. At 10am in came the rods and a quick shimmy up the tree confirmed that they were, indeed, where I thought they’d be. On went my now dry fishing clothes and off I wandered to the bay stalking spot with one rod, a net, a pocketful of bait and a heartbeat going off the scale. From the bay tree I could see a few stockies swimming into the bay, they were coming across the gravel bar just outside the entrance, through the channel and into the bay. This channel was I wanted to drop my trap into the night before and was where I decided to lay it that morning. I waded out a little, lowered the rig and crept back amongst the cover of the marginal growth. First to visit were two stockies and an old scaly mirror I put in the 20 – 25lb bracket, but these fish turned away at the entrance and swam off the wrong way, talk about a sixth sense! Next was a good common which swam through not stopping and shortly after another stockie who saw something it liked. It upended over the rig and I watched as it’s gills flared, it appeared to be chewing on the boilie chops and pellets that my PVA bag contained. It dipped again for another mouthful but this time I could make out the rig and popup hanging from its mouth, I watched the line and waited for a twitch but it didn’t happen, I looked back up to see the fish swim off which left me wondering how I’d just been done up at such close quarters! I trickled a little bait on the spot and returned to the swim for a drink and a snack whilst leaving the swim alone for half an hour. When I got back I climbed the tree and waited to see what appeared. Ten minutes passed and two large commons left the bay and headed out into the main lake, another ten minutes and it was clear that the change in wind direction had pushed most of the fish up to the opposite end of the lake and nothing at all visited the bay. Back in the swim I cast the two rods back out and scratched my head thinking that it just wasn’t my day. The afternoon was hot, the wind blew stronger from the south east and I peered out over the bay entrance every so often hoping the fish would return, but they didn’t. Something was telling me to move swims, but the possibility of the wind changing through the night and the stalking opportunities for Sunday morning made me stay put. Gradually the sun dipped lower and lower as I scanned the water and tried my best to invent the next wonder rig. Eventually the sun retired and I hoped the fish would return under cover of darkness, with the wind blowing down the other end of the lake it was far from ideal, only time would tell.


I slept soundly and woke early (5:15am) to a strange sensation; it felt as if someone was blowing cool air across my face. I peered outside and saw ripples coming towards me, although just a breeze and it did take me a while to register what had happened but it was just what I was praying for, the wind had swung a full 180 degrees and was now blowing north westerly heading straight for me. I had to be away early but still had morning bite time at my disposal. I sat and watched the world materialise out of the dark with less time on my hands but a little more optimism that the previous day. At around 10am my right hand rod let out a single bleep, I looked up to see if a Coot had caused it but there were no birds in the area, then the tip bend hard round and I heard line coming from the reel, I jumped up, slipped on my crocs and got to the rod just as the tip sprung back and the bobbin hit the floor. I struck but there was nothing there, done again! With just two hours to go I recast the rod and sat with my head in my hands wondering what I was doing wrong. After a while of sulking and questioning myself I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, the methods were tried and tested to a degree, I just didn’t have luck on my side and that can make all the difference. It happens, happens to the best of them, it certainly wouldn’t be the last chance I would have go begging. Although in the back of your mind you’re wondering what one it was, especially on a water like this. I knew that in time I’ll no longer curse the misfortune of that loss, it would be locked away in the vault named “The ones that got away” remembered occasionally but no longer painful. It can take good anglers 4, 5 or more seasons to connect with and land one of the A Team, the 5 Carp everyone hopes to capture, fish of a lifetime, so with just a few months under my belt I was under no disillusion.

The suns warmth was strong; it could well have been August that day. Just before midday I started to tidy things, put items of tackle back into their bags and broke camp for another weekend. I left the car park happy, obviously not at the missed chances but at another piece of the puzzle put in place. Whether or not this season will be fruitful I don’t know, do I really mind either way? No. This is where I plan to spend most of my Carp fishing time, yes I have a few other little waters I intend to dabble with and some nice looking fish to try for but the mainstay will be on the pit. This catch report will be far less attractive than previous ones, it may seem a little drab, I may even struggle to find the words as the sessions go by but I can promise you one thing, I’ll keep on keeping on until it does happen, and when it does, you’ll know about it…………

18th April

Unfortnatley I didn’t take my pad along with me this weekend, but, to be honest, inspiration was a little thin on the ground……’s a brief little rendition of what occurred.

The best I could do with the sunset due to the swim location....

So, another weekend spent on the pit and my quest to become a bonafide Tench fisher is reaching dizzy heights. I arrived a little earlier this weekend and found that the lonely swim I fished last weekend was available. I placed a bucket there and continued to walk around the lake. It became apparent that a few fish had come from the south bank so, after some contemplation, I decided upon fishing halfway along that bank and not in the lonely swim.

The mornings were misty and very atmospheric.....

The weekend was delightful in as much as I enjoyed my time there, saw some great weather and took some fairly nice pictures. Action wise it was abysmal, one Tench at midnight on Saturday which wiped out all three rods somehow.

Sunday morning was sublime and presented me with some great photo opportunities...........

Another session ending in a blank, another lesson learnt and another swim fished. This season will be all about tuning into the lake in preparation for an all out onslaught next season,………well, that’s what I keep telling myself!!!!

PS...A 30lb Common came from the lonely swim this weekend!!!



  1. Not exactly up to date but good reading :-) Is this a little taster? Have you cracked it?

  2. Dave

    Never returned, really doesn't fit in with my style of angling now. That's not to say I won't go back for a little stalk someday, all waters can be stalked after all. But for now I'll concentrate on the quieter, more quaint type of pools.