The start of the year really was a bit of a right-off for me; piles of work and other commitments dictating that my late-winter river angling was not to be. To be honest, I didn’t really have time to sit around and dwell on my misfortune, and before I knew it, spring was around the corner. I had three weeks out from my studies over April and even though my dissertation was due at the end of the month, I was getting itchy feet and knew I had to get out, even if it was only for a few days. We started to get some real warm weather around early April, and it was obvious everything was starting to wake up, the trees were getting slightly greener as the days passed by and the wildlife was becoming much more active.
It was surely only a matter of time before the carp were to become more active again, getting into their spring feeding patterns and sure enough, I’d started to hear of a few coming out on a lake I spend some time on during early spring. I’d managed to buy myself some time with work, and after chatting to my bro and good mate; a four-day session was planned for the following week. It’s rare that I get out for any longer that two nights nowadays, with commitments elsewhere, and come the summer my fishing revolves around short overnighters on the river. So as you could imagine, I was pretty enthusiastic about this prospect and spent the forthcoming days dusting my tackle off that had been lying dormant for the duration of winter.
The weather was due to be good, with consistent day temps rising to over 16 degrees and warmer S/SW wind, couldn’t have timed it any better. The lake is fairly small and does see a fair bit of pressure as soon as the weather picks up, but after talking to the owner, the lake had been reasonably quiet, other than the busy bank holiday weekend two weeks before. We had four days ahead, so the chances of getting a few bites were likely, but I’ve always found them quite picky early season on here, spending most of their time darting about the lake as the natural starts to flourish, so I was going in open minded. I arrived with my brother, Sam, around 7pm Monday morning to see that my good friend Ollie had already set up at one end of the lake. It looked good where he was, with the wind gently trickling into the corner he was commanding, an area where the lake shallows up and they spend time basking in the warm spring sun. Funnily enough, he’d already managed to fall in, a twenty- foot drop out of a big old tree whilst attempting to catch sight of any fish moving in the area. There certainly wasn’t any about after that, so I set about walking round with my bro. After spending some time watching the water in the central part of the lake, I saw a few show out in front. That was good enough for me, so I settled on fishing the middle area of the lake. The wind was still fresh, and I had a gut feeling they wouldn’t be moving on it properly for another day or so. The middle of the lake was a safe bet for starters, giving me a good scope of the water out in front and to both sides, so if I felt like it was right I could make a quick move.
The first afternoon/evening was slow, the wind was still quite brisk and despite it being a renowned warm wind, the air temperature was still quite cool. Endless cups of tea were drunk before we all set about having an early night. I was up pretty early the next day and they were showing like crazy out in front, they always do on this lake at first light, but like usual, all was quiet till about 11 am when I had the first take of the session. My brother came round to tell me that Lee, who was fishing further up the lake from me was in as well. Unbelievably, he had landed his fish and then had a take on his second rod, and to my amazement, my other rod was away as well. Four fish within ten minutes of each other; occurrences like this are strange and by no means can it just be a ‘coincidence’. I find it fascinating how the fish were all triggered to feed in that mad ten minutes, it must be due to the ph. balance in the water, or the specific temperature at that given time. Anyway, I landed both my fish and left them in the net while myself and Sam went up to give Lee a hand with the photos. He’d had a corking great common and a small mirror, a dark stocky by the looks of it. We got them done and headed back to my swim to get some shots of the two fish that were resting in the edge. They turned out to be a chunky stocked fish and a long, dark common, one of the real nice ones; dark browny black scales across its upper half and a creamy bronze colour across its lower. It had some real red colouring to its skin just under its mouth, which was quite unusual; I’ve never seen them like this before.
We slipped them both back after some quick photos and I set about getting my rods back out, as like I previously said, bites on here seemed to come in short hectic periods during the day. I’d decided to move my rods round a bit, and fish just one rod over where I had one of the fish from earlier in the day and opt for a zig in the shallower water to my right. I didn’t want too many lines out over the area I had chosen to fish, as not to cause too much pressure in one area. This area is also one of the main patrol routes and an area where they spend a lot of time when the water starts to warm up, so I think it pays to rest areas like this whenever possible and trickle bait in regularly throughout the day. The lake didn’t do a bite again that day if I remember, not even my banker rod which was snidely positioned tight to the far reed- lined marginal on a nice, firm, clay-type spot. This spot I had been baiting regularly through the day with a mix of chopped XXX and mushy Betaine pellet, regularly checking it. This was the rod that produced the chunky mirror, so I was happy with the positioning of it.
The second morning produced the next bite, a beautiful, long common to my bro, who had moved up the far end into a peg Lee had been fishing the previous night. This swim commands a snaggy area on the far margin, with intriguing little areas the have been cleaned off by the carp over the years. It must have been around 6am when I had a call from my bro to say he had one on, although, problem was it was caught up on someone else’s mainline snagged on the far treeline which hindered him gaining any more of his line. I dashed over to hold the rod and keep the tension in the line, while he nipped round with the waders on to free the line from the tree. Eventually, we managed to land it, and it turned out to be a real nice, dark common, similar to the one I had the day before. The day continued to be fairly quiet, although come evening time I had a funny occurrence on my banker rod, which I initially thought may have been a Tench, anyway it turned out to be a nice dark, solid framed mirror, so much for a Tench eh? The evening we got a bit of a social going, a ‘few’ cold desperados, a take away and all were good. I’d chosen to re-position my right hand rod slightly further round to the right, into a bay, which had seen no disturbance all week. I pulted out a few handfuls of bait in the area earlier in the day, and topped it up come the evening when I was doing the rod. Around 3am, I had a belting take on that rod, which took me a good twenty minutes to land. It turned out to be a corking common, so I sacked it up till first light to get my bro to give me a hand with the shots. The morning came round and we lifted her up onto the mat and after doing a few pictures, we slipped her back and enjoyed a morning brew together. That rounded off the end of the session, but it really has fired me up to get out again, so I will have to see what next month brings.