Ben has a right result as the carp wake up in a Cambridgeshire lake.
As I sit here and begin to write this, the reality of the past weekend’s session still hasn’t really sunk in. How the gruelling long, cold winter nights punished me for so long. The constant questioning going through my head as I sat there looking out at a motionless lake. I had racked up well into double figures of blank sessions and something had to give.
Well it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that a sudden climate change brought in a bit of hope. The odd fish started to slip up in the lake and my confidence level grew. The lake I fish in Cambridgeshire is around 25 acres, 15 acres being a large, pretty barren bowl which channels into around eight acres of islands, snags and lilybeds which then, via a tiny channel, goes into the last two acres of a small area known as Reed Lake. The name gives it away really as this small section of the lake is around 75% covered with rather dense Norfolk reedbeds. This area and the snags were where I was concentrating on the most, as past knowledge said this was where they turned up at this time of year.
The weekend before this session I decided to pitch up and do a couple of nights in a swim in the island area very close to Reed Lake, so I could keep an eye and ear on it. The first night brought me my first fish of the year, a 20lb common. Needless to say, the relief I felt was amazing! On the Sunday morning a friend of mine Ian chose to come down to do a morning session. He flicked a couple of single Signatures out and it didn’t take him long to hook into an amazing low-twenty mirror. After doing the pictures we stood there and watched a couple more fish show. They were the first fish I had seen give themselves away since November – they had moved in! Ian is an angler with very limited time and, knowing he wouldn’t be down the following Friday, I took full advantage of seeing these fish.
The following Wednesday I managed to get a day off work so, using the day wisely, I chose to head down the lake and do some prebaiting. Armed with a five-kilo bag of 16mm Manilla I started to scatter quite a few baits at around 50 yards range with the stick. If they were moving about I suspected they would be grubbing through the low-lying weed. With the catapult I then spread around two kilos up against the Norfolk reedbed very close in. Then all I could do was wait until Friday.
Once down the lake and all set up I flicked two rods out on the zones. I opted to fish 16mm Yellow Ones pop-ups on both rods, as for me personally yellow can be deadly in this lake. The pop-ups were fished on hinged stiff rigs incorporating Fox’s razor sharp SR hooks and Rigidity hooklink – there are a few thick lily roots and the odd sunken branch, so strong end tackle is a must. I decided to fish them on helicopter setups using Korda Heli-Safe Beads, so I’d still be able to present a bait well over the few bits of low weed.
As the evening sun began to set a single bleep on the long rod signalled a bite. Diving out the brolly, I was playing a fish – and burning my dinner. After a few lunges through the pad roots he was in the net, a lovely thickset mirror of 25½lb. With the rod cast back out I settled in for the night. It was around 10pm when the long rod was away again, this time a small stocky mirror of around 12lb. Quickly unhooked in the net and released, the rod was back out on the money.
The night passed by quietly until around 5.30am when my short rod let off a single bleep. Straight away I could feel this fish was a better one, as the dead weight going left to right indicated. Without too much of a fight I managed to slip the net underneath a brute of a common which swung the scales around to 33¼lb. It was a new personal best common for me, so I was made up. With the fish safely resting in the margin I got the rod back out on the spot, but no sooner had I sat down than I was away again. This fish did not want to give up and bullied me all over the place. Eventually with a few panic lunges I had him, and straight away I knew it was the big ’un. What a mirror, weighing in at 36¼lb and yet another PB. Sitting on the edge of my bedchair in disbelief, I waited for a bit of light so we could photograph these two epic fish.
I managed a high double mirror on the final night and lost two more, one being a 20lb-plus linear right at the net, but this didn’t take away the happiness of what I had achieved. A 30lb mirror/common brace, both being personal bests, will truly stick in my memory as one of the greatest red-letter days I’ve ever had.