Posts Tagged ‘Dave Lane’
Here we are then, April has finally arrived, the official first day of spring has been and gone and the clocks have gone back to provide us with a glorious extra hour of evening light. Of course the next line should read “The sun is blazing down on the lakes, the daffodils are all out in bloom, and nature is resplendent in all her glory” but the reality is that it’s still snowing!
Never mind though, let’s just ignore that fact because the time has come to get out there with your carp fishing tackle and catch some fish, who cares what the weather man says, it’s April and the fish must be starving by now. I have had two more trips to the Estate Lake, possibly my last two for a while because it is nearly time to move onto pastures new.
One of the two visits doesn’t really require much in the way of a blow by blow reportage as I just cowered away in my Hard-core Bivvy, sheltering from a bitter North-Easterly wind and snow flurries, but we are not going to mention that again are we?
The other trip was far more productive, the air temperature rose a couple of degrees, the fish decided that it was in fact spring after all, and I caught not one, not two, but four carp in a frantic twenty four hour period.
Not only were the bites forthcoming but, for the first time this winter I managed to get two of the pick-up’s from a new area, rather than just out in the middle in the silt.
There is an island out to the left of the swim I have been concentrating on and it has a hard gravel shelf that runs around its perimeter. There are various trees and bushes that overhang the margins out there and these provide the perfect haven for carp. By clipping up and adding a yard at a time I managed to place a bait tight between two of these snaggy overhangs and present, for once, on firm and clear lake bed, a perfect trap for any island margin patrollers.
I have obviously tried this ploy a few times over the last couple of months but always without success so I was over the moon when this was the first rod to rip off. More than just another capture this was a sign that the fish were finally on the move and willing to leave the sanctuary of the deep silt in search of food and sunlight.
Over the next twenty four hours I managed another island bite and two more fish from the old spots in the middle. Although none of them were monsters I was still well happy with four carp to mid-twenties after the previous week’s non-entity of a trip.
It really does take such a little change in the elements at this time of year to kick start the chain reaction that results in a successful session, a few hours of sunlight or a swap in the wind direction can be all it takes.
Talking of which, look out for the weather this coming weekend as they are forecasting the first bit of South based wind for months, on the strength of this I am predicting some big catches all over the country so make sure you are out there to cash in, remember where you heard it first!
I will be out filming the new TF Gear DVD all next week, we have some exciting new products to showcase and, hopefully, there will plenty of action on the rods as well, I can’t wait!
Well that was that then, the second coming of the ice age soon put paid to my little run of catching carp.
I turned up last Monday full of confidence of finally achieving my lifetime ambition, a big carp in the snow. The white stuff was falling out of the sky in flakes the size of white sugar mice and an even crisp coating covered the banks, but not enough to put a damper of my carp fishing enthusiasm.
The drive through the Estate was pretty hairy as, half an hour before light; mine were unsurprisingly the first set of tyre tracks on the lane. Even in four wheel drive it was more than a little slippery but I arrived in one piece and with no dents or scrapes.
Pushing the barrow was easier than normal though as the sloppy mud on the paths had frozen solid and I trudged straight up to the swim I had been so successful ion the previous two visits.
Surely this would be the week that I returned victorious with a camera full of images a big golden carp against a Christmas card background?
I knew I was up against it though as the forecast was for a rapid deterioration in the conditions and hideously cold temperatures during Tuesday night, this combined with a swing in the wind to the East meant there was a very real chance of the lake freezing over.
To start though it looked perfect, the snow kept falling and the baits all went out in the right spots first time. I put the bivvy up to shield my kit from the snow and settled in for the duration.
The first bite time came and went, shortly followed by the afternoon chance without as much as a sniff.
As soon as grew dark I knew I was in for the long haul as I have only had the one take in darkness and the nights seem so interminably long at this time of year but a film on the mini DVD player and a good book helped to pass the time.
Once again the morning feeding spell came and went and I busied myself by making a snowman for company, it was looking really good until Paddy decided to eat both his stick arms!
Once I had re-cast all the rods with fresh baits there really was very little to do apart from sit and wait some more and consider the sanity of doing another night as they were predicting temperatures of minus eight that night.
Luckily I had come well prepared and the layers of thermal fishing clothing I had on kept me nice and warm despite the biting easterly winds.
Once again darkness fell only this time the forecast came good and by midnight I knew that my chances of that magical snow photo were as far below zero as the thermometer was.
I snuggled down for the night and, as I awoke on Wednesday morning, I was actually surprised just how nice and warm I felt, I had my trusty Hard-core Sleeping bag tucked up around my chin and the fleece lined cover keeping in all that lovely warm air, it was quite a shock when I peered out of the bivvy doorway and saw fifty ducks all walking in single file across the middle of the lake, my quest for a carp had failed but I suppose my testing of the new winter range of clothes and sleeping bags had been a roaring success. I was tempted to just stay in bed and pretend I was still fishing but, eventually, I had climb out and start the long and arduous task of packing away a frozen bivvy and breaking the ice to retrieve my lines with fingers that felt like frozen sausages.
As they say though, you have to be in it to win it and there is still plenty of winter left to try again, and plenty more snow on the way.
Well it’s all back to normal again, the tinsel is keeping the mice warm in the loft and the tree is all folded up in its box again. I had a bit of a lay off from fishing over the holiday period but I was breaking my neck to get back out there at the beginning of this week, especially with the mild weather we have been having.
I set off on the Monday morning for Northampton and a return to the Estate Lake, arriving just as it was getting light. Apparently nobody had even thought about carp fishing the place for two weeks and I wondered if the carp would still be holed up where I caught my last three fish from?
Obviously this was going to be my starting point and it didn’t take long to get three rigs out there on the spots.
I was sticking to my successful method of a standard hair rig with a bottom bait and the addition of a small PVA bag of 10mm baits, just to give the carp something to home in on through the thick silt.
With the fishing rods out I quickly set up the Hard-core Bivvy and then stuck the kettle on for a brew but something seemed different, quieter than usual, and then I realised there were no sheep. Usually there are woolly Ovines wandering around everywhere, sneaking up behind your bivvy and startling the hell out of you with a sudden loud bleat but, for some reason, they had all disappeared today; maybe Lamb had been on the menu at a big New Year’s Eve dinner at the manor house!
I didn’t have to wait long to find out if I was in the right spot, sheep or no sheep, the carp were definitely still there as I had my first take about ten o’clock in the morning. After a bit of a tussle in the silt where the fish sent up huge sheets of bubbles as he tried to bury himself under the mud, I managed to steer him into the margins where he just plodded up and down for a few minutes before waving the white flag and rolling up into the net.
This was a nice welcome back present and a great way to start the New Year but I couldn’t help but wonder what I might have missed out on over the previous few weeks. On the scales he registered twenty eight and a half pounds and, after a couple of pictures, I slipped him back into the cloudy water.
With such a quick result I had high hopes for the rest of the session; especially when the next rod ripped off at three in the afternoon. This fish fought far harder than the previous one and I really did think I had hooked one of the really big commons for a while but, as he eventually came over the net cord, I could see he was another mirror. Incredibly pale in colour, probably due to the lack of light getting through the muddy water, he weighed in at just over thirty and a half pounds.
Now I really was confident and I could see a session to remember stretching out ahead of me but, as is the way with carp fishing, the lake had other ideas. It was as if that last fish had pressed a panic button and all the carp retreated to the bunker for the next two days as, apart from two bream, the alarms remained silent.
The weather just got better and better and I still find it hard to believe that nothing else fed although I certainly am not complaining at two big fish in the first week of January.
I hope the rest of the month goes as well, although they are forecasting some horribly cold conditions over the next few days so let’s just hope the lake doesn’t freeze over as that’s about the only thing that will stop me being out there again next week!
Happy New Year to you all, 2013 is here and once again we have survived through another ‘end of the world’ scenario.
This time it was the Mayan calendar coming to its last page on 21st December but, despite the lunatics sitting on a hilltop waiting to be rescued by aliens as the world crumbles around the disbelievers, we are all still here and live to fish another day. I reckon this must be at least the fifth such event I can remember, what with George Orwell’s ninety eighty four, the millennium bug, Nostradamus predictions and the lining up of various planets to ensure we all perish in a ball of fire. It does make me chuckle but I suppose it gives Yahoo news something to write about eh?
Personally I had a great end of the world party down at the Estate Lake, having struggled for a few weeks prior to this trip it was as if the fish had decided to have a last supper as well, just in case.
The last capture from the Estate had been my twenty two pound mirror over a month before but on the Tuesday morning, after my first night of the session, I received my second ever bite from the lake. I was wandering up and down the bank looking for signs of fish when the Sounder box from my Mag-runner bite alarms screamed out in my pocket as something made off across the lake with the bait.
There was no pre-amble or hesitation, it was just a full on take as line was ripped from the clutch. The following fight was not quite as impressive as the run however, and before long a chunky mirror with a big floppy tail rolled into the net, a chunky mirror that looked incredibly familiar as it happens. I’d only gone and caught the same fish again, two carp in five weeks and it was the same fish both times!
I was pleased to have had another bite but a bit disappointed with the result and, after weighing him a full pound lighter than the last time, realised that even he had probably not fed for a while so the others must have been on a strict diet.
Later that evening though, about seven o’clock and in total darkness, I had another pick up and this fish felt a lot heavier, plodding about in the shallow water and silt in front of me. As it rolled into the net I caught a glimpse of golden scales and realised I’d got a common, and quite a big one at that.
On the mat I could see he was way over thirty pounds and, on the scales, I was proved right when he spun the needle around to thirty six and a half pounds.
Thirty six pounds plus is still a huge size for a common in my book, I think I have only ever had three or four bigger in my life so I was well chuffed. I popped him into a hard-core safety retainer for ten minutes while I sorted out the camera equipment and then took a few shots before sliding him back into the lake.
Nothing further happened that evening and, after a nice warm night’s sleep, I woke up quite surprised to find that I hadn’t had another bite as the conditions were perfect, mild and overcast with a light wind, about as un December like as you could imagine.
I had to be off the lake by one that afternoon and I was all packed up on the barrow and hovering behind the rods as my time ran out. In fact I waited until about ten past before walking towards the first rod, just as the line lifted and started kiting around from the tip, the alarm sounded and I was in again, talk about last second!
This fish fought a lot harder than the other two, repeatedly tearing off across the lake and refusing to be netted. Eventually though, the rod wore him down and I brought him up and over the net cord. Because I am fishing a smaller venue than usual I have recently swapped over to a set of three pound Nan-Tec rods, lighter than my usual distance versions and a pleasure to play fish on, I do like to see that tip cranked right over and feel every twist and turn from the carp, it makes it all so much more fun.
In the net I could see that I had landed something special, the biggest mirror in the lake weighing in at thirty five pounds and twelve ounces, what a lovely Christmas present and, if the world really was going to end in three days’ time, I was going to perish a happy man.
Well it looks like winter has finally arrived, the flooding and wild winds have been replaced by freezing temperatures and half the lakes in the country have a lid on them already.
I have managed to find myself a water at last having spent a couple of months in the wastelands, so to speak, a nice little Estate lake in Northampton. The setting is about as stereotypical for an English estate as you can get, like a film location for a period drama. There is a huge manor house atop a small hill and rolling lawns meandering down into a six acre lake, dammed at one end with a small stone bridge and inlet stream at the other. Sheep wander freely over the entire area and often straight up to the bivvy door at first light, their sudden Bleating can almost send you through the bivvy roof in shock!
I have even had a take from one when he decided, out of curiosity, to turn my reel handle with his nose to see what would happen, what happened was me and the dog came flying out the bivvy and fifty sheep went charging off up the hill in panic.
Over the years the lake has seen the passing of millions of gallons of water fed from the stream and the fields and then pushed over the outlet onto the lower ground of the valley below but what it has left in its passing is silt, I wouldn’t like to even guess how deep but I know for a fact it has gone from 14 feet deep to 5 over the last couple of decades, and that’s the deep end!
Most of the six acres are between three and four feet deep and hold around sixty fish including one very big common of around forty six pounds, so how after nine nights spread over five weeks have I not even seen one single fish roll or jump?
It always amazes me on these little shallow lakes, just how elusive the carp can actually be, although I am not sure that the middle of winter is the best time to start looking really.
I have managed to catch one though and it’s always nice to open your account on a new water; I had a lovely fish of twenty two pounds one oz mirror on my second trip, fooling me into thinking that I had sussed the place and I would have a hat-full by now!
My last two visits have coincided with the arrival of a new ice age and I am actually now at home writing this when I would normally still be fishing but yesterday half the lake froze over and by midday I still had ice coated lines and freezing fog masked the far bank. The forecast last night was for minus four degrees and, looking out of the window, I can see they were right and there is no way the lake could survive that.
One thing I will say though, having just fished in such bitter conditions, is how warm and comfortable I managed to stay while I was there, I was genuinely amazed when I woke up to find the lake, my bivvy and everything all around encased in ice. The lid was frozen onto my water bottle and yet I was snug as a bug in my sleeping bag and oblivious to it all.
Thermal carp fishing gear has come on in leaps and bound over the last few years and I look back in horror at just how unprepared we all used to be, in Argos sleeping bags with an old blanket over the top. I now use the Hard-core sleeping bag with the Comfort Zone Peach-skin cover and, to be totally honest, I wouldn’t actually like to be any warmer for that would mean stripping off layers of clothing which is all well and good until you get a run in the night dressed in just a T-shirt and your Sponge Bob Square pants, pants!
The beauty of this system, for me, is that it still crushes down into the bed-chair when I pack up and, as long as you un-clip the cover and tuck it inside the frame, you can fold the bed totally flat so that it goes back on the barrow nicely.
As for actual winter clothing I am now spoilt for choice, being in the fantastic position of having to test the new ranges of kit I have so much warm gear to choose from that I couldn’t catch a chill in the Arctic.
My personal choice at the moment though is the big Force Ten jacket for in the daytime when I am out and about in the elements and the Thermo-Tex survivor for dossing about in the bivvy in the long hours of freezing darkness, this thing is like a portable sleeping bag and so comfortable and warm it’s incredible.
Anyway, I gotta be off now, I have a load of cold wet gear in the back of the truck to dry out and I’ve just spotted a low pressure system moving across the XC-Weather site, apparently it’s going to be eight degrees by the weekend so get your warm jackets on and get out there while you can.
With still no winter tickets on the horizon I decided to continue my tour of various waters, I even tried a few hours on the river at one stage but to no avail.
At one stage I had burnt about fifty quid in diesel and not even wet a line, looking at, and then rejecting, three waters in one day. I’m not sure exactly what it is I am looking for but I am fairly sure I’ll know when I find it. After having such a nice time all summer and a water practically to myself it’s hard to drop straight back into the hustle and bustle of busy lakes so, in some respects, I suppose I have been spoilt a bit lately with my carp fishing.
With a lot of time wasted and one night left to fish I decided to pop over to a lake nearby to home, owned by another mate of mine affectionately known as ‘Delboy’ for all the normal reasons!
The lake is situated on the edge of Thetford Forest and I suppose that an ‘Estate Lake’ is probably the best description although lacking the actual estate.
It’s only a few acres in size and is long and narrow with an island running half its length. The bottom is varied, mainly silt due to the forest and years of falling leaves decaying on the lake bed but there are strips of hard ground and even a bit of gravel here and there.
I love fishing these intimate little venues where everything is up close and personal and you can actually see the carp bubbling up from the bottom and track their progress by the little ‘chufa trains’ as they break on the surface.
It didn’t take long to find a few fish, just in the open water at the end of the island, I saw four or five fish roll in quite quick succession and was soon scrabbling for a rod in the back of the truck.
Rather than fish over any bait I decided to start with just two rods on single pop-up’s and see what happened for a while.
Even though I only made three casts in total the difference in the ‘feel’ as each one landed was amazing, one was so soft that I re-cast, the second seemed like firmer silt while the third went down with a resounding thump that could only be exposed gravel.
There was only one other angler on the lake and he seemed a bit surprised when, ten minutes later, I appeared in his swim to ask if he could take a photo for me!
I acted all nonchalantly, as if happened all the time, but no-one had more surprised than me when the rod cast onto the firm ground had ripped off within about two minutes of casting out.
It was a lovely little mirror of around seventeen pounds or so and a great start.
After re-casting both rods onto the hardest ground I could find I set up the tea making equipment and a low chair and sat back to watch the water, still not sure if I might need to re-locate before nightfall but a second fish an hour later convinced me I was definitely in the right spot so up went the bivvy as well.
As darkness fell and my new neighbour cooked us both a fantastic chilli we sat and listened to the lake come alive, it seemed as if fish were jumping everywhere but the small channel at the back of the island seemed the noisiest spot by far.
I had every intention of moving there in the morning but two more fish in quick succession just after it got light kept me grounded and I ended the session with four nice carp for my efforts, not bad for a single night session and the best of was that I only had a fifteen minute drive back home for a change.
It’s nice to be out at this time of year as well, there is nothing quite like the colours of Autumn as the leaves turn to red’s and gold’s and yellow’s but I was glad of my ‘Force Ten Jacket’ as we sat out eating that chilli I can tell you, it won’t be long now until the full thermal outfit is pulled out of the bottom of the drawer and dusted down for the long winter ahead.
It’s been a bit of strange few weeks for me since catching that big leather over at Northants. I suddenly found myself without anywhere to fish, a situation I was neither familiar nor particularly happy with.
It would have been the ideal time to start on a winter water, getting a bait established and learning a bit about the fish movements etc while they were still active but as I had nowhere in mind or no tickets in hand I decided to visit a few of the places I have been meaning to try some carp fishing for ages.
The first one of these was my old mate Alan Taylors place over at Ecton, also in Northants.
The Ecton complex is an extremely pretty chain of lakes comprising of three syndicate and one private lake all of which are well established and have many islands and peninsula splitting them up and making them seem smaller than they actually are. As a result of this my first walk around the complex on the Monday morning ended up taking me five hours, mind you I was looking for signs of fish feeding and somewhere to actually angle so I was taking my time.
Eventually though I spotted a couple of fish rolling on the biggest of the lakes, in a channel between a shallow bar and long island, and I decided to load up the carp barrow and make my around to there.
The swim looked hardly fished, probably due to the fact that it was the opposite side of the lake to the track and the swims on the track side could be fished practically from the car.
The bar in front of the swim almost reached the bank and it ran parallel to the bank, a bit like a road going through the swim, the water on top was very shallow so anything hooked would probably have to be netted by wading out to the drop off.
I set up all three rods with yellow pop-ups and fanned them out over the thirty yard gulley between the end of the bar and the long island that made a backdrop to the swim, scattering a fair spread of boilies over the entire area.
Any fish moving through would come across bait and hopefully stay around long enough to find a hook-bait as well.
I waded the landing net out and propped it up on a long bankstick, just on the drop off where the gully started as I was sure this was where I would end up netting the fish but, just to be sure, I set up a second net on the bank as a fail-safe. I always carry at least two nets with me and quite often three, I think they are such an inexpensive item compared to a lot of the kit we carry and having the option to split your rods up in adjacent swims or either side of some bushes etc, improves your chances of multiple catches no end. I love to have one rod on its own waded along the margins with its own net and fishing far more effectively with a short line between the rod tip and the bait.
Anglers who don’t use bivvys or any kind of shelter, regardless of how short the session could be caught out with this temperamental British weather… Kit and clothing will take the brunt if not kept safe and dry. With everything set and the bivvy erected I sat back to wait but as soon as I did the first rod was away. A lively scarp, a bit of well-planned wading and I was soon waddling back with a common of around eighteen pounds in the net, perfect!
Later that evening I had to repeat the whole affair again, only this time it was a mirror of similar size. I was glad I’d had the little bit of practise in the daylight though because I could have easily come unstuck as I stepped off the bar into the slightly deeper margins close to the bank.
The swim died a death after this second fish but I suppose all the paddling about couldn’t have helped much still, two fish from a new water in a one night session wasn’t a bad result and I drove home a happy man.
Well, I said last week it was prime time to grab the rods and get out there on the banks and it looks like I have proven myself right.
Luckily nobody else on the syndicate took my advice though because the lake was deserted as I pulled into the car park at first light on Monday morning. I knew exactly where I was headed; back out on to the peninsula where I had landed the six fish from the previous session, the only thing I couldn’t decide was which of the three swims to fish. There is one off the end and one on each side, fishing into totally separate bays. As it turned out I ended up fishing all of them and I’d taken three of the new landing nets with me in case this was the outcome. I started out just fishing off the barrow for the day, spending half an hour looking across one bay and then half an hour in the other. Even though there is only a few yards between the swims I’d made a note of the colour of the carp bite alarms and kept the sounder box in my hand, ready to run in whichever direction I needed should a take occur, which it did and pretty quickly too.
The single rod fished off the end of the point was the first one away, a spot that has been very productive for me over the last few sessions.
I knew it was a big fish straight away as it kept deep and very slowly plodded along bottom of the gully that runs around the point. The water on the near side of the gully is exceptionally shallow so I stripped down to my pants and waded out a few yards until I had enough depth for the net. With the pressure now right above the fish it didn’t take long to coax him up through the water and into the net. As soon as I set eyes on him I knew which one he was, the big Italian, third biggest fish in the lake but, unfortunately, a re-capture for me. That’s the problem though with fishing for only one or two target fish, you are bound to have a few repeats along the way but I was sure I must be getting closer to my goal. This was my thirtieth capture from the lake this year and, with only fifty fish in there, it could only be a matter of time before that big old leather carp rolled into my net.
After weighing him in at thirty seven pounds, I decided to take a couple of quick snaps of him and, just as I was sliding him back into the lake, the blue light lit up and sounder box started howling away. This was the rod I’d placed in the middle bay, an area I’d yet to catch from but somewhere I’d baited and was convinced the fish had started using over the last week or so. Whatever I’d hooked in there decided that it wanted to put as much distance between himself and me as was possible in a short space of time and the rod was almost wrenched from my hands as he tore off through the weed. Eventually he came to a halt as he locked solid in a huge bed of Canadian Pondweed and nothing I tried would persuade to come out again. Eventually the only option was to tighten right up and slowly walk backwards, ripping the entire weed bed free and bringing it slowly across the surface towards the bank. It seemed to take an eternity to get it to within netting range and, just as it was drawing close, the fish bolted out of the side of it and buried in the weed at my feet. I’d got a good look as he went past and I was fairly sure it was a fish known as the ‘Bullet Hole’ common, the second biggest carp in the lake and one I dearly wanted to catch. Although he was only a few yards out it was a full half an hour before I eventually landed him, having had to go in up to my neck in the water and free him using my feet in the weed!
On the bank though it all became worth the effort as I hoisted him up for the camera, also thirty seven pounds in weight but, unlike the Italian, perfectly proportioned and covered in big golden scales.
This was turning into quite a session and with the common ticked off the list, realistically, it now only left the big leather for me to catch.
I was amazed not to get a bite throughout the hours of darkness as there were obviously a few fish about but I did see a very big fish show right over my second middle bay rod, the swim I had eventually decided to set up camp in.
Both the other fish had come in the morning so I was practically hovering over the rods as soon as became light. Typically though, it wasn’t until I was busy re-casting one of the other rods in the margins to my right that the first bite came, and what a bite it was. Total meltdown is about the only description that fits and the spool was a complete blur. Unlike the common though, the fight was a dour affair and, barring the odd roll on the surface, the fish came straight in to the bank like a dog on a lead. It was only at the last moment, as he rose up over a bank of weed, that I realised exactly what I had hooked. There on the surface, not ten yards in front of me, was the most enormous chunk of leathery back just rocking on the surface. Whether I hesitated or whether he just realised what was happening I don’t know but he chose that moment to wake up and he dived straight down into the same weed bed I had had all the trouble with the previous day. Not wanting a repeat performance of that fiasco I just piled on the pressure and lifted him straight back out again, before he could get too entwined. Up he came, out of the weed and, as he hit the surface in bewilderment, I just slid the net straight under him before he could plan his next move.
Wading back out cradling a net full of carp was such a mad feeling, all those nights wondering when and how and, sometimes, if, that big old beast would be mine and now here he was. It was as if I had been working to a script, first the common and now him, all forty five pounds and twelve ounces of him.
My Northants campaign had come to an end and what a way to finish with the three biggest in the lake one after another. Not wanting to break the spell or ruin the story with a little common as well, I wound in the remaining rods and, after a mammoth photo shoot, packed slowly away for the last time, sporting a grin so wide that it almost joined up at the back of my head.
All I have to do know is find somewhere else to setup the carp fishing tackle and target some other large carp!
It seems that everyone I speak to lately is either just back from France or just going there. Every summer carp anglers flock across the channel in their thousands for a week of uninterrupted hauling, eating, drinking and relaxing in the French sunshine.
I have recently returned myself from just such a week and, although we didn’t get much of the sunshine part, the other elements were plentiful.
Every year a small group of us book up a lake for a week, pack the motors high with bait, fishing tackle and supplies and set off on a ferry. Traditionally we have visited a new lake every year, figuring that there are so many to try we will never get around them all anyway but, this year, we decided on our first ever return trip. Of all the lakes we have fished in the past we’d decided that Sky Lakes was probably the most memorable and worth another go, especially as the bigger were spawning on our last trip and we fancied putting the record straight with a few big French lumps.
Because we all had been before we had a rough idea of where we fancied starting out but all our plans were instantly scrapped when we rolled into the gates and found a big wind had condensed most of the stock onto one long bank of the lake, just big enough to house the five of us. I knew where I wanted to start, in a small bay at the top of the windward bank as I could see fish after fish topping in the margins. We usually have a draw to start with, just to keep it all fair and, luckily, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be, for the first night at least.
On all these French venues the fish tend to learn fairly quickly and I think it can be a real mistake to just plot up for the entire week in one swim. Obviously there are lakes where you do not have a choice but Sky has plenty of little corners and tucked away bits where stalking is always possible. Of course there were only five of us there this week which is a big bonus and I intended to make the most of the extra room.
The first night however was better than I could have hoped, the fish were only twenty yards out into the bay and, even in the dark, I could accurately cast and bait up after each fish. By the first morning I had caught an incredible eight fish, including a real clonker of fifty four pounds!
The temptation to stay put and just catch as many as I could from the bay was obviously huge but, by lunchtime, I could tell that most of the fish had moved off so I began a week of mobile angling that was to see me fish ten different swims during my six night stay.
Once I had figured out which areas the fish visited at different times of the day and night it all fell into place and I managed to catch from all ten swims, sometimes re-visiting the same one for a few hours each day.
The carp in Sky Lakes seem to respond well to bait and I was baiting quite heavily over each rod, topping it up after each fish and pre-baiting the areas I would be fishing later each evening.
As well as some fantastic fishing we were well looked after by Andy and his wife Bernie; the food was excellent and plenty of it and, on the Wednesday we went into town for a Chinese to celebrate Andy’s fiftieth birthday.
Although the trip is more of a holiday for me than an exercise in catching as much as possible I still couldn’t resist fishing as hard as I could, just to see exactly what the lake is capable of and to make up for the last trip when the bigger fish were too busy spawning to feed properly.
By the end of the week I’d managed to bank 32 carp with at least seven over forty pounds, including the fifty.
The whole trip had been a roaring success for all of us and our grand total was over one hundred fish between the five of us with three of them over fifty pounds, which is pretty good angling by any standards and a testament to just how prolific the lake really can be.
The highlight of the trip for me though, was when I decided to spread my wings a little further and fish the lake next door for a few hours.
I had seen a few fish showing at range on a big and wild gravel pit that backs onto Sky Lakes, a lake that hardly gets fished and contains an unknown small head of carp. After a bit of reconnaissance in a rowing boat I managed to find a nice clean gravel hump surrounded by forests of weed and during the heat of the afternoon my efforts were rewarded with a mid thirty pound mirror. The fish was not big by the standards of the Sky carp but he was a truly wild one, unknown, un-named and fought like a tiger, the icing on the cake as far as I was concerned.
I did see a much larger fish cruise under the boat at one stage, and there are rumours of some real monsters that have been spotted over the years. Who knows, maybe I’ll return one day and fish the whole week on this lake, in fact the more I think about it, the more appealing it sounds.
TF Gear has recently released a FREE carp fishing DVD hosted by our resident carp and fishing tackle expert Dave Lane.
The DVD was free with the front cover of the June/July issue of Total Carp Fishing magazine, If you haven’t already seen it, check out the short sample clip below.
Daves comments just after filming the TFGear carp fishing DVD.
The filming was booked for the end of the bank holiday weekend which, in reality, could have been a big problem as the lakes were packed but, luckily, we had managed to book an area in advance and there were signs of fish out there right from the off.
Catching fish for the camera is always a fraught affair, if it doesn’t go right on the day or the fish are just not playing the game then a lot of time and money can be wasted so it always starts off as a bit of a pressure situation. Not only that but there is a lot of behind the scenes action going on so it can be tricky to concentrate on the lake which is something I like to do totally; I find that just watching the water can give you all the answers you need. Luckily for me I had a good crew there and most of the time I was free to ‘do my own thing’ and, once I had found the right range and a rig that worked the fish started to come.