Red house lake, pride of Derby, Derbyshire Red house is maybe one of the most mystical pits in Derbyshire, full of rumours of big black uncaught fish that live amongst the deep water of this 30 acre gravel pit, it was stocked way back in the 70s with a handful of old English fish, commons and mirrors with a handful leather carp were introduced, the stock these days is more of an unknown quantity as it would be hard to put a finger on what’s swam in or even swam out over the last 25 year or so, id maybe say there’s 100 fish to upper 30 with maybe 60 or so fish that people have slipped in over the year from the Trent and other local lake.
This was not the wisest move for whoever did it, but the venue has come on a treat since so in my opinion its maybe done the lake a favour.
Although it’s not a lake with a big head of 30 plus fish, from what I’ve seen and caught myself I’d say there could be 5-6 known 30s at the right time of year, these are all commons with the exception of the big black myth people talk about (apparently a mirror) but i think most big unknown waters have these rumours hovering above them.
The pit its self is a gravel pit, as are the others on the complex but red house is a little bit special in how the contour of the lake is, the main bar runs straight through the middle of the pit, right the way to the opposite bank then runs parallel with the far bank (the shallows). It can be easily seen in the summer months and the fish do tend to use it as a main patrol route.
With the bar running so shallow it almost splits the lake into two with a channel connecting the two together, we call this ambush ally. Obviously due to the fish having to move through this to get to either side of the bar and being the perfect “ambush” point to intercept fish that move through.
Depths run to just over 23ft with an average depth of 12ft, its full of snags and this is one of the problems with the lake. Up until about 8 year ago there were trees under water all up the Trent bank, divers went in and cut the tops off but left the stumps and roots in so these are a bit of a hazard.
It’s quite tricky its self to get a run but once you’ve hooked a fish in these areas it’s a 50/50 landing it so i generally stayed away as i might of only got one chance with the big girl and if i did i wanted her on the mat.
I fished the lake on and off, just doing bits really previous years landing fish to 31lb 4oz which happened to be on my first night on there but it’s a good 7 years ago now, it’s been a lake I have plucked away at every spring days since.
These fish were under a lot of pressure , some weekends there were over 30 bivvies on so i found to stay mobile and be ready to move at any time of the night or day was the way forward.
I had set my alarm on my phone to the time my phone app said the wind would change and be sitting in the swim waiting for the fish to arrive, this was my biggest edge i had on the lake as i could kind of predict were the fish would turn up and be there waiting with the traps set, these fish really don’t like you casting on their heads.
River fish are the same, its like they are programed different to commercial fish that are little used to living under pressure.
A fish of this calibre will get out of the area on the sound of a 1oz lead hitting the surface so it was sniper mode all the way, even keeping my bivvy as far away as i could get away with without causing problems.
Off to a flyer
It was mid-April and the weather was still very cold with temperature’s at 3 to 6 degree still at night, with its depths it takes a little while to warm up and the fish to switch on, as such I was waiting for my main lake ticket to start, but it wasn’t until June, so my plan was to fish red house until i got the ticket.
Things kicked off on my first night resulting in three fish, fish to 29 lb, but i knew what i was doing was working so stuck to my plan.
Things just got better over the next four weeks and i just couldn’t go wrong landing some really nice fish to upper 20s.
I was fishing every Monday/Tuesday then one quick night in between to get some bait in and stay on top of where the fish were. I work it around my other job, being self-employed gives me the chance to juggle things to get my fishing in so it helps a lot as the weekend lads have gone its generally fairly quiet.
It was quite crazy, the fish in the lake don’t sit still so i was moving left right and centre all over the lake to stay on top of them. I just keep the pressure on the fish and thought it will come right at some point!!
My baiting strategy was simple, I would find were the fish feed and stick in straight on the money.
The pit was gin clear so i used it to my advantage, i had decided to bait certain areas of the lake on a little and often basis, the lake was full of naturals so i didn’t need to fill it in as such and never really fed more than a kilo of bait at once. I feed CC Moore‘s xxx odyssey boilies in various sizes from 10mm to 18mm to keep them guessing a little.
The boilies are absolutely packed full of green lipped mussel, an instant attractor that carp have found irresistible from day one, in my opinion it’s the best bait I’ve ever used. My hook bait is something I’ve been doing really well on now for some while, i use a cork ball xxx odyssey pop up glugged in a little Feedstim XP liquid, i then let the liquid soak in before i coat them with bait catalyst dust, then a little rock salt from the super market.
These little babies have caught me a few nice kippers lately and give my hook bait a bit of dimension and a little something extra to pull the fish to the hook bait area, i didn’t bait whilst fishing, only on leaving a swim or pre baiting a few days a week so every spot was getting a few kilo of xxx a week.
I knew the fish were eating it as the spots got clearer and clearer over time,.
The big common.
It was just getting into mid-May and the spring was well and truly here, i was standing in a swim tucked away right in the far corner of the lake watching the water when i decided to have a butchers at the weather app on my phone, the wind was due to completely swing round and change direction to a south easterly, so i made my way to that end of the lake, i knew the swim fairly well so crawled up to the waters edge and climbed the tree as the fish get right in the edge here.
By this time the wind was blowing gently into the corner, as i got higher up the tree i started to see the odd dark shadow about four feet under the surface then from now where a big black common swam into the swim, i almost fell out the tree with excitement.
I gently crawled out of the swim and made my way to my car so i could go get my gear from home and get back down the lake, on the way out the gate i saw a friend and shouted “the big girls getting a sore lip tonight!!” Obviously he laughed as red house was no push over to catch anything, 5 fish a year is good going on this lake and i was already up to 11 fish in 9 nights with 4 fish lost, so things were going well.
Anyway back to the fishing…
On my arrival back to the lake i managed to get in the swim i found the common, preying the whole time nobody else saw her before i got back, i didn’t risk having another look from up the tree and couldn’t see the point putting three rods out, one on the money will do.
The swim was quite tight but my biggest concern was scaring the fish, one rod was fished about 15 yards out on my pre baited spot in about 6ft of water, all went quite in the swim and i didn’t see anything else over the next few hours so decided to flick the other rod just off a reed bed to my left, well out the way of the other rod.
Nothing happened up until the wind started to pick up a little, then i received a series of bleeps on the right rod telling me fish have moved in, i went to sleep more than confident and found it hard to dose off.
About 4 pm in the morning i had the take from hell, line was ripping off the spool at a rate of knots, i jumped up and grabbed the rod only to have the biggest pins and needles in my left arm I’ve ever had!!!
I couldn’t stop the fish tearing off, it was quite a palaver trying to get control and even stop the clutch on my reel, but after the fish taking 60 yards off me it eased, in the end i managed to get control of the situation. For a minute i thought I’d had it and it was all over for me, after a hefty 15 minute scrap under the rod tip i landed one of the best looking commons I’ve ever seen in my life.
The fish was nailed straight in the bottom lip and inch and a half inside its mouth, it wanted that xxx pop up there was no doubt about it.
I slipped her up on my 90 degree rig, there she was in all her glory laying on the mat and at 37lb i wasn’t complaining.
The weight meant nothing to me at all, the fish was stunning, there was xxx coming out of its rear!! She was troughing there’s no doubt about it, it was and still is the best common I’ve had the pleasure to catch in my life!
I landed 2 more fish that night, a 24lb common and a real old male fish called “nelson” around a mid-double in weight.
I ended up with 14 fish from red house in quite a short time at the beginning of the session, not bad for a pit that don’t give up its residents to easily. A stunning venue with some really willy old fish in and available to anybody to fish, this was turning into a session i wasn’t going to forget!!
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