Friday, 22 August 2014

Estate Lake Capers

Julian kindly offered to arrange a day at a private Estate Lake he often fishes, I’d missed out on the previous outing so wasn’t about to let this next opportunity go begging. The details of this paradise of his were passed to me via the private message system, suddenly I started to realise that this could well be something very special indeed. Preparations were made; the car was loaded the evening previous and with the alarm clock ringing at 4am I left at a little after quarter past.

As I left the main roads and started the final leg of the journey through country lanes, I watched a faint orange glow transform into the most wonderful sunrise, so much so that I had to pull over a mile or so from my destination to capture it on camera. The photo doesn’t do it justice, but you can start to realise just how special a morning it was. Five or so minutes later I was pulling into the car park and greeting my companions for the day.

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A chat with Julian, an exchanging of tickets and money and soon I was standing on the edge of what can only be described as the perfect lake. It was misty, the early sun was just beginning to appear through the trees, there were pads, reed lined bays, lots of weed and islands with fallen trees, this should be the template all carp pools are modelled on. The right hand bank was the one in the sunshine, so it was here I decided to stroll first.

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Zoom in (real dimensions: 799 x 535)Image

Most of the chaps settled into their swims and began tench fishing, the lake is said to have a healthy population of most species of coarse fish, but the tench are believed to be particularly good with classically proportioned 5 and 6lb fish common place. But it was the carp population I was interested in, it’s not every day I get to fish private secluded estate lakes, and if one thing is sure they pretty much all contain wonderful carp. The water was clear, so the fish just had to be dark backed lean fighting machines.

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Zoom in (real dimensions: 799 x 535)Image

Zoom in (real dimensions: 799 x 535)Image

Zoom in (real dimensions: 799 x 535)Image

A stroll with Matthew revealed that a few fish were milling around, not loads of them, but we saw enough to make us dash back to the cars, set up rods in double quick time and return quietly into position. A few swims from the end of the pool I spotted some movement amongst some pads a few rod lengths from the bank. As I knelt down and watched, trying to work out when best to cast, something closer to the bank caught my eye. Just under the overhanging bush immediately to my right I saw a swirl and a displacement of water; it was a carp and was practically right under my nose.

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I gently opened the bail arm, swung my mixer hook-bait and cast a few feet past the fish with the gentlest plop. Inch by inch I drew the bait back in slow motion until it was above the fish. Adrenaline was pumping, as was my heart, I knew it would happen, it had to. And it did. Down went the mixers and up went the rod followed by a massive spray of water, it chugged out into the pads, thrashed about some and almost got stuck in a weed bed, but by keeping the rod moving throughout the battle I kept the fish moving and soon enough slipped the net under fish number one.

It was a peach of a common, somewhere around 12lbs, in great shape and without so much as a single blemish on its perfect flanks. Matthew was fishing a handful of swims down from me and I didn’t want to disturb him so I set up the tripod and took a few self takes before releasing my prize back into those crystal clear margins. It was an awesome start, and it just made me want more, so after sharing the tale of my early success with Matthew I was off and looking for another opportunity.

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Soon after my capture I heard some commotion coming from Matthew’s swim, I met him on the path where he asked if I’d be some kind as to take a photograph for him, I duly obliged and was soon snapping away at the lovely mirror carp he was proudly holding up. It was a great result, two fish out in the first half an hour or so. My next port of call was a swim to the left of Matthew’s, it faced a channel between the weed, a set of pads just before a large dead fallen tree with the island just to the left of it. Dangerous territory, but it had to hold fish. It was to be my main base for the day.

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Zoom in (real dimensions: 799 x 535)Image

I must mention the line I was using that day, my stripped back Mitchell 300 had some fairly old 8lb Sensor wound on, it was beginning to get springy and the thought of casting light baits out for wary estate lake carp didn’t exactly fill me with much confidence. Then I remembered the line I got free with this week’s Angling Times, 6lb bs and after a quick pull with the line wrapped around both sleeves I came to the conclusion that it was very strong 6lb line. So I wound 70 or so metres of it onto the reel and decided to give it a whirl.

I made a cast just shy of the pads; it was around 30 yards so needed to attach some Babybell wax to aid casting. The water rippled in and around the pads and fish cruised past my hook-bait. I couldn’t fathom out how big these fish were, but by the amount of water being shifted, I had a rough idea which ones were the better ones. I kept my eyes peeled on my hook-bait, fish approached and shied away, and then it happened. I watched a hump appear inches from the bait, then the mouth opened and down went the mixers, I struck and prepared myself for what was always destined to be an epic battle.

At first the fish tried to head for the pads, but with my hand clamped on the spool and me being extremely tight with the amount of line I gave, I managed to avoid danger. It turned left and headed for the weed when it realised it wouldn’t make the snags, but instead of getting stuck fast I kept the pressure, kept it moving and kept it from getting stuck. I pumped for all I was worth, each lunge saw a few feet of line being stripped from the reel, but I always had the upper hand turning the fish and gaining the line back quickly, that free spool of line was proving to be a real winner.

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With a few friends by now alongside me I reached out with the net and engulfed my prize, shouted for joy and peered into the net to find an absolute gem of a common carp. It was long, lean and very dark, just how I imagined the big ones to look. Everyone patted me on the back and congratulated me, and as I held aloft my prize multiple cameras snapped away and the marvellous creature. Although not important I weighed the fish just to see if it was a twenty, it turned out to be 17lb 6oz which I was more than happy with. I released the fish and when everyone had vacated the swim I lay on the grass and just smiled for a while.

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A while after I was on my way back to the car and spotted line leaving Fennel’s swim at a tight angle and some splashing near the pads, he was in. When I got to him the fish was stuck solid. Off went his boots and trousers and bit by bit he waded the whole 30 yards to the stuck fish. By then he was up to his neck and treading water, but when he finally felt down to see if the fish was still there it wasn’t. True to form he wasn’t angry or upset; he just smiled for all those standing on the bank snapping away and clambered back to shore dripping wet through. Once he’d sorted himself out we shared a pot of tea and some biscuits, soon after we were ready to get back amongst the fish.

Passing Julian I noticed he was getting some attention from carp among the thick weed of the bottom bay. So, I found a similar spot opposite him but far enough away not to encroach and began trickling a few mixers in to see if I could get similar results. Whilst doing so, Bernie popped round for a chat. In the meantime there were one or two fish trying to suck the free baits through the weed, but I couldn’t seem to get them to touch the hook-bait. As we were nattering we spotted a carp swim through a channel a few rod lengths out to my right. I made a cast into the channel and we waited for the fish to return. I wasn’t entirely sure it would, but after a few minutes we saw a ripple followed by the same fish coming back through, which never hesitated in swallowing down my bait which after striking had me winding frantically in an effort to keep the fish moving and out of the weed.

Although the fish was moving at first, it was slowing down, I was mindful of the 6 lb line I was using, and the soft action of the rod eventually had no effect whatsoever. The fish appeared to be grounded and from my angle I couldn’t do anything with it, there was only one thing to do. The different between Fennel’s dip and mine was that all I did before taking the plunge was empty my pockets, then it was gently into the margin and out to where the fish was.

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Zoom in (real dimensions: 799 x 450)Image

I grabbed hold of the line and pulled, the weed moved and bulged and feeling down I moved a patch of weed revealing a dark head and a brassy scale clad flank, it was a lovely old common. As I turned to reach for the net I felt a lunge, looked up and felt the line part whilst still in my hand. I was so close, I actually touched the fish, but in over my waist I was wet, without fish and fairly dejected. I waded back to shore, sulked for a minute or two then retackled the rod and resumed the search for carp.

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Zoom in (real dimensions: 799 x 450)

Unfortunately I lost the next carp I hooked too, it tore off through the snags and the line parted. Mathew had caught another fish, a lovely common of low double figures and with a strengthening wind pushing towards the shallows I though perhaps the fish might be down that way. Paul and I headed off and as we approached we soon learnt that Fennel had beaten us to it. He was sat as still as stone with a group of fish in front of him. It looked good. At first I fished along the bank from him, and missed a take near the small island. Paul leapfrogged me and fished just the other side of the big oak.

Eventually I left them to it and revisited the opposite side where a small lily filled bay at the head of the lake looked worthy of a cast. I did see one fish briefly as I approached, so made a cast and watched the water. After ten or so minutes I glanced up just in time to see a red kite fly low over Fennels position, only he wasn’t there. There were still fish milling around just out past the reeds so without any hesitation I gathered my things and swiftly made my way round to where he previously was.

There was a thick reed bed to the left, then a couple of smaller tufts further out. Between these tufts was a carp moving a fair amount of water, I tried a cast with just two free-lined mixers and couldn’t believe it when on only the second cast it landed bang on the money. I only waited a few seconds until those big lips engulfed my bait, I struck and half expected the fish to charge through the thick reeds, but instead it went the other way. There was a load of commotion, weed and water flew everywhere and as Paul came to assist I was beginning to think I had the situation under control, I was wrong.

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Zoom in (real dimensions: 800 x 533)Image

Zoom in (real dimensions: 800 x 533)Image

Zoom in (real dimensions: 800 x 533)Image

Zoom in (real dimensions: 800 x 533)Image

Zoom in (real dimensions: 800 x 533)Image

The problem I had was that the water directly in front of me was shallow, and the fish I was attached to was quite big, so at around 5 yards the fish became beached. There was only one thing for it, in the water I went once more, only this time just to my knees. Every time the net cord touched its belly it tore off on another run, this happened a good half dozen heartbreaking times until after a lot of dancing about and jostling for position I finally managed to bundle the carp into the mesh. I had emerged victorious.

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On the bank Paul shook my hand, we looked into the net, cleared the weed away and marvelled at a beautiful dark estate lake common, it was fairly big too, certainly bigger than the last fish I’d caught. We weighed it at 20lb 12oz and Paul did the honours with the camera. I was shaking the whole way through, the whole thing from start to finish was awesome, I wanted that moment to last forever. Along the bank I found some deeper water off a wooden platform, leant over and watched the fabulous fish swim slowly back to the deeps. It was a capture that will stay with me for a very long time.

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Before all that I had just about got dry after my previous soaking, so with yet again squelchy shoes I walked back to my original pitch the long way round telling everyone along the way all about the perfect carp I’d just caught, including Fennel, who called me a poacher, but I knew he was only jesting. Back in the swim I was soon joined by Fennel, who helped me polish off a crusty loaf, chunk of St Agur cheese and a pot of tea. With a full belly it was time once more to resume the angling; there were less than a handful of hours left and possibly the best time of the day was still to come. We were certainly optimistic of more action coming our way.

I fired out a few mixers near the pads before the snag three in an attempt to get them feeding closer to me, hoping I could hit the strike and hold the run before they could reach their safe haven. It worked too; a couple of smaller carp came out from the pads and set about scoffing everything in their path. The hook-bait was taken, the fish was hooked and without too much hassle a gorgeous little mirror of around 5lbs was soon posing for the camera.

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More chances came but no more fish were landed, more tea was consumed and as the sun began its descent into the horizon we reluctantly left our swims and headed back to the cars with bats weaving in and out of the bankside trees. It was a truly unforgettable day, one that will remain with me forever, and for that I have to thank Julian and all my other companions from the bottom of my heart.

4 comments:

  1. fantastic pics and write up mate.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Steve, glad you enjoyed it mate.

      Stu

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  2. A great read as usual SK and that Mirror is a proper looker - imagine that in 10 years, well in with the other Carp too, it looks a picturesque fishery, pretty envious it has to be said. Tight Lines.

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    Replies
    1. A wonderful fishery James, so pleased I got invited. Been asked back next year too!!

      Stu

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