You will be pleasantly surprised at to what your local park lake may hold, as Cambridgeshire based angler, Dan Stacey finds out when he ventures down to discover his local for himself.
I have never been one to fish park lakes, the draw of the big fish waters has always been there for me, but after a brief chat with one of the local lads, it had me rearing with excitement as to what my local lake may hold. After an early start, aiming to be at the lake for first light, I made the short journey to the local council ran park lake. This was to be an altogether different experience for myself, but one I was looking forward to, having endured an unproductive winter of cold, ice laden lakes. I arrived at the lake gates for first light, with the bright blue sky and sun slowly starting to make an appearance from behind the trees on the far bank. After having a short walk round, I decided to settle in an area close to the largest island on the back of the cold Easterly wind. My plan for the day ahead was to stay mobile, fishing from the barrow in the hope of seeing fish and making a resulting move. Having spoke to one of the local lads, he informed me that the lake contained plenty of fish, including some great looking ones too. The opportunity to fish for a good number of carp on a day session had me filled with confidence! The lake was completely different to what I had fished before, nestled at the end of the village surrounded by houses and overhanging trees, the place certainly had an urban feel to it. A path circled the small park lake, which made travelling via the barrow an easy task; except for the fact my barrow had somehow gained a flat tyre following my previous outing.
I managed to get a couple of rods sorted after having a quick lead around in front of the swim I had chosen. It became clear how shallow the lake was, meaning it was often difficult to get a drop at times. Because of this I slightly lightened my lead which meant the time it took for the lead to travel through the water was shortened, giving me a better indication of the lakebed, as I could now get a successful drop. It was obvious that most of the lake was soft silt, so I spent the next ten minutes casting about in the attempt to find a slightly deeper and firmer area of the lakebed. With the morning still early and the temperature on the chilly side, I was hesitant to fish the really shallow water until at least the sun had made an appearance. Having found a suitable area, I went about getting a couple of rods ready; opting to fish fairly long, supple hooklengths with leadclips in order to combat the light silty areas. I coupled the long links with a slow- sinking snowman rig, tipped with a small bright pop-up, in order to create a balanced bait that would sit proud of the soft bottom. To be extra sure, I threaded a small PVA stick down the hooklink to protect the hook itself; I wanted to ensure that any leaf debris that littered the lakebed didn’t mask the hookpoint.
Having got a few rigs baited and ready to cast into the lake, I sat back and put the kettle on for another half an hour, closely watching the water before making a cast. With the water temperature still being on the cold side, I had a good feeling that the carp would still be tightly shoaled together. After having closely watched the water for half an hour, a few faint bubbles started to appear in open water between two islands. I closely watched for a little longer, before making no hesitation to get the rod precisely in that area. Only a few moments later, the rod I had literally just positioned burst into life! The moment was electric and not knowing what might have been on the end really got the heart pumping! Moments later, it became clear what I was playing and after managing to turn the fish towards the waiting net, it went in first time. After lifting my first park lake carp from the water, it became apparent what I had caught was a lovely looking ghosty common and a quick weigh confirmed it to be just over 17lbs.
With the kit still on the barrow, I was ready for a move round to a position where I felt would give me better access to the area I had just caught the ghosty. The sun was now well above the trees and it was warming the back end of the area I had just caught the fish from. This particular park lake is quite overgrown in places with the trees dictating where you can cast and reach from certain pegs. As a result, I decided to up sticks and move into the slightly more open pegs along the wind sheltered bank. After arriving at the new peg, I quickly unloaded the rods and tackle box from the barrow and got about tying some fresh Tuna sticks ready to cast out. Like before, I sat back briefly to watch the water before casting out, in order to spot any clear giveaways from the carp. One area I could access from this bank was a extruding set of snags that came clear of an island to my right, so I was more than keen to get a rod fishing as tight as I felt comfortable to these. My left hand rod was to be positioned in a similar area to where I had caught the ghosty, in an area sheltered by the main island. I was confident going down the small bright hookbait route, as the water clarity was fairly turbid and I wanted to replicate and free food such as bread that might have been thrown into the lake on a regular basis by bird feeders.
After chatting to a few local dog walkers as the sun beat down over the water, I was beginning to think a freshly cast bag could be on the cards. Not moments later and the left hand rod into the open water was away, with the bobbin pulling up tight to the alarm head. I quickly bent into the fish, which turned out to be a lovely dark mirror of around 8lbs. I was more than chuffed to have caught my second from the lake and before lifting the fish out for photos, I quickly unclipped the rig and got the same rod straight back out to the area with a freshly tied stick. I had a hunch that the feeding spells could be over quickly, so getting that rod straight back on the money was of key interest to me while the fish laid safely in the bottom of the net. Upon bringing the fish ashore, the same rod that had literally just been recast was away too, in less than five minutes fishing. After guiding the fish towards the waiting net, it appeared to be another small ghosty, a great little surprise on such a short day session.
After having sorted some photographs for the two fish, the swim seemed to have lost a bit of life. The cold wind was still hacking into the corner away from the area, but I was convinced that the fish had begun to push back from the spot. The far margin was put of bounds to anglers, so I had a good feeling the fish may be present along this bank where the sun had been warming for the entirety of the day. Afternoon was slowly looming and after having caught three fish from the ‘going area’ out in front, I couldn’t help but think a quick move in order to give me access to the out of bounds bank would pay beneficial. After a quick tea, I bundled the brew kit and rods back onto the barrow and headed for the last remaining bank of the lake that I hadn’t fished yet. I had already got ahead of myself and tied some fresh Tuna sticks ready for a move. The final move of the day was to be to an area near a pontoon where local walkers feed the birds; the spot obviously saw regular disturbance from birdlife, but had to be an area where the carp often visited for a free feed of leftover bread. A couple of stinky stinks went out lovely in the area, of which was slightly deeper and firmer.
I was chatting away when one of the rods pulled up tight; I quickly ran down to the rod and was welcomed by a solid resistance on the other end. I knew this had to be a better fish, hopefully one of the real gems I had been told about. A tense battle ensued before the fish finally tired before lying in the bottom of my landing net. On closer inspection, it appeared to be a truly stunning linear mirror, a real perfect character of a fish and I was elated with the result in the late afternoon. After rattling off a few lovely photos of the park lake linear, I watched her swim back to her shallow home. What a day the park had been and I am in no doubt a return will be on the cards. The research had paid off with a couple of lovely fish to show for my efforts, the park lake sure had a few surprises to show!