Windows of Opportunity

This 20½lb mirror was just reward for Luke

Kodex angler Luke Vardy explains why it is important to make the most of the better weather during the winter, as brief as it may be.

During the course of the winter, I’ve been faced with all manner of conditions throughout my weekend sessions. Working away from home all week, the amount of rod time I get throughout the week is very minimal, to say the least, not helped by the conditions we’ve had since the festive break. On three occasions since Christmas, I’ve been unfortunate enough to arrive to a frozen lake and the surrounding bank layered in frost.

Last week, I stumbled across a weather forecast that suggested we were due some consistent double-figure temperatures throughout the day that wouldn’t drop below five degrees at night. The pressure was set to hold around the 990-995 mark, which was a considerable drop compared to what we had witnessed in previous weeks. The wind direction throughout the day was going to be south-westerly, with fairly heavy gusts, so I just knew I had to get the rods out!

I then had to set about trying to find a venue not too far from work which offered a fairly positive chance of a bite, and a sizeable fish to boot. The venue I selected was Q Lake at Pool Bridge Farm, near York. As I was working nights, this meant I had a very fine eight-hour window between shifts to head down there and try my luck.

I arrived at the venue for the gates opening at 8am. As a first-timer at this venue, I didn’t have much background knowledge of recent catches or where the fish tended to hold up during the winter period. However, as I walked over the bridge on to the main island, I saw a carp roll straight away along the far margin adjacent to peg 13 – that was my choice made straight away! I quickly ran back to the car, grabbed my gear and headed straight to the swim, brimming with confidence.

The conditions were perfect, as promised, and I’d located what seemed to be active fish. Because my session was short in duration, I opted to fish three rods on low-lying multi-rigs with 16mm white pop-ups (a favourite tactic of mine) as singles. The multi-rig components consisted of the new 15lb Kodex Micro-Strip coated hooklink, accompanied by a razor-sharp size 4 Genomic MGP Wide Gape hook with a healthy application of Graviton Putty. I always balance this rig so it descends slowly on to the lakebed, ensuring perfect presentation every time.

The general idea was to cast past the fish I had seen, retrieve the lead as it hit the surface and draw it into the area of activity. Luck was in my favour, as I was greeted by a positive thud on the rod tip as the lead hit the lakebed. It was apparent there was an abundance of low-lying weed throughout the lake with plenty of clear spots to fish to. Both the other rods were also positioned on clear spots.

Once I was happy with the spots, I set about trying to get a couple of hours’ sleep, as I had been working all night. An hour into a deep sleep, I was awoken by the left-hand alarm. A 10-minute battle ensued, before I successfully slipped my net under a nice mirror. The fish tipped the scales round to 20½lb – a great start!

I spent the rest of the day monitoring the water, specifically looking for areas of activity. No other fish were caught during the session, but I did lose one a few hours later, much to my disappointment. It just goes to show, if you’re prepared to make the most of a good window of opportunity in the conditions and fish effectively, the rewards are most certainly there to be had.

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