Friday night was frosty, very frosty, I arrived at the work party at 8am on Saturday and was met with a white ground, white trees and cold finger tips. The car thermometer read minus five and twelve of us began work clearing the path for the new otter fences. We were scheduled to work until midday and get to the lake for an overnighter, six of us were to fish a local park lake but with temperatures the way they were we were prepared for a rough ride and a lack of action.
The lake, around 12 acres, used to be a thriving match water, but the carp have almost wised up to anglers and big bags are not as common as they once were. Having said that, I still went with an approach aimed at holding fish in the swim if they arrive and trying to capitalise on any window of opportunity that may arise. With this in mind, 2 x 5 litre buckets of particles from the freezer the night previous mixed with my boilie base mix to create a sloppy soup mix that would waft around and, hopefully, draw the fish in. My own popups, the dual coloured peach and scopex baits I’d prepared earlier were to get a trial run, mainly due to the fact that the last big hit I had from the venue came to bright, highly flavoured popups.
We arrived at the lake at two pm, unloaded the cars and made our way to the swims, it was apparent that everybody would be using different tactics and with a vast array of baits at my disposal I felt confident that if a certain type of bait worked, I could jump on the bandwagon and maximise my chances. It was also clear that these were a great bunch of lads where banter and having a good time were top of the list, so with no pressure to catch we all set about setting up camp, baiting up and casting. I was really hoping to try a different bait on each rod but with a one rod rule on the water I would have to keep chopping and changing every half hour of so in the hope of stumbling across what they were after.
John cast out a maggot rig whilst setting up his bivvy and laid the rod on the floor, soon after his spool started to revolve and the first carp, a 12lb mirror was brought to the bank. As you can imagine, this perked everyone up no end, just what was needed, an early fish. The next rod away was mine, the popup over a dozen spods worked quite quickly and within an hour of setting up I had a nice mirror of around 10lbs on the mat. With the two fish safely returned and the hoses built, the kettle started and the banter continued. Dean was next into a fish followed closely by another, these fish were commons around 5-6lbs but were welcome considering the conditions. There was a stiff breeze blowing across to us from the opposite bank and the sky was overcast. As unpleasant as it was, I felt that with things the way they were, if they stayed that way, we could avoid the frosts.
Daz was next to catch, he was on the end of the line and the next angler to my right, in fact, before it got dark Daz caught four on the bounce including a lovely mirror of 13lbs. It was as though the fish were swimming through in waves during the day but towards dusk were sat in a deep bowl just to the right of Daz and away from the rest of us where he could pick up the odd fish that strayed onto his baited patch. I did think about moving to his left but with it being cold and being a social I didn’t bother, and I didn’t need to. At 11pm, just as everyone decided to turn in for the night, I was awaken to a run and landed my second of the session. Soon after recasting the rod I settled into the bag, regained warmth and started to drift off. As soon as my eyelids closed I was away again and felt myself attached to something much bigger, it hugged the deep margins and just plodded around for a good five minutes, I really did think this was one of the better fish, until it finally showed itself and one very strong and angry 12lb common was doing a great impression of a forty!!!!
By 4am, I’d had another five fish and dropped one, to say I was tired would be an understatement and I really did feel like winding the rod in and getting some sleep a few times, but the window of opportunity was here and I didn’t really want to miss it. The swim went quiet for me after that and Daz continued to pick up the odd fish through the morning. We were to pack away by midday so at eleven, with no fish, Dave had a cast with one of my popups in the swim to Daz’s right and was rewarded with a common soon after followed by another before we packed down.
So with the barrows loaded we reflected on a great winter session, a good laugh and we didn’t freeze to death in the process. Daz ended on 9 fish, I had 7, Dean had three, Dave had two, John just the early one and Chris didn’t manage a fish. 22 fish between us was a result at this time of year and as we loaded the cars we were busy making arrangements for the next one, and it can’t come soon enough!!!!