“I have only fished a handful of times this past year and with the dreaded close season only a couple of weeks away I have decided to give it one last push. The goal being to catch a special winter carp, maybe even a personal best. I will only have a few short sessions at my disposal, so it will be a challenge… game on!”
February 20th marked the return to a local park lake and the first session in this mini blog series. With less than a month until the end of the season and only a few short sessions at my disposal it would be a challenge to catch something special.
Having not fished this particular lake for about five years I was slightly out of touch and not entirely sure of what to expect. This first session would be a bit of an introduction back into the swing of things and the aim of the game was to find their winter hideout.
The previous few days was spent with an eye on the weather forecast, with the weather conditions for my Saturday session due to be perfect; overcast, warm and a strong SW wind present. Despite my rustiness I was pretty confident and looked forward to getting the rods out in the hopes of catching a winter whacker.
13:15PM and I finally arrive at the lake after a good thirty minute walk, with cardio done for the day I put down my gear and soaked in the scenery, the weather forecast was bang on and all looked great for a bite. There was only one other person fishing, a friend of mine, Ross. As we talked I made sure to have my eyes firmly fixed on the water in the hopes of catching a glimpse of some carpy activity. Forty five minutes passed by and with nothing to go on I decided to set up in a central position of the lake, named the gravels.
Both rods were fished with single bottom bait hookbaits, a nut mix boilie that had been thawed out in some added extras. With only about four hours of fishing time available and with the birds looking rampant I decided not to chuck any freebies out. There is a reason why I decided to fish with just single bottom baits and didn’t use a PVA bag or a bright pop up; hardly anyone uses single bottom baits, this is precisely why I did. The carp in this lake have been pressured for the last twenty or so years, the majority of anglers use either a bright pop up or a golfball sized PVA bag of crushed boilie; carp learn by association and I believe will treat frequently used baiting patterns with caution. I hear many people say that the carp are clever enough to know what a lead or hook is, but if this was even half true then surely they know that a fluoro yellow pop up is dangerous. I wanted to try something different; singles on short stiff hooklinks were to be the order of the day.
14:15 and we’re fishing! Both rods are setup and the heavens open, soaking me in the process. Having fished this water previous winters I know that the last few hours of light is usually the best time for a bite. After finishing off a cuppa I got back out into the rain and tried to find some carp, or at the very least see some kind of activity to go on.
In the corner of my eye I see a small splash down to my left, near the dam wall at the end of the lake. I watched the spot for a few more minutes fully expecting to see a coot arise to the surface, but nothing. It was now 15:00 and feeling pretty sure I had just seen a fish bosh I was getting ready to move swims when suddenly my alarm let out a few bleeps. I quickly looked up just as the tip on my left hand rod bent down and line started to peel off the reel, FISH ON!
Lifting into the fish I will admit that I was slightly shocked to be hooked into one already. This is a fairly tricky lake and in winter blanks are the order of the day. I picked up the rod and started a nervous battle with the angry fish, wondering just what was on the other end. After a short battle the carp was in the back of the net. Not one of the A-team that I was after, but a very welcome common carp of around 12lb.
The rod hadn’t been in the water for an hour and one was already on the bank, it was only a small one but my confidence in my tactics had been given a boost and it started of my ‘end of season campaign’ nicely. I quickly tied on another hookbait and got the rod back out onto the spot.
The next two hours passed by uneventful and after a few more cups of tea and a good catch up with my mate I decided to call it a day, just as it got dark at around 18:00 . By now my swim looked like the Somme and it was a challenge not to fall flat on my face while packing up in the darkness. As I successfully navigated my way through the trenches I was feeling happy with my short session return and as I type this am eager to get back out there.
Until next time…