After his recent success on his better known syndicate water, Darrell opts to spend some time on a much quieter venue that he’s held a ticket for but not fished for some time
After his recent success on a syndicate water, Darrell fancies a move to an old haunt
SSo, of all the places, I sit here typing this while sitting on a plane destined for Perugia! I probably should have typed this piece during my last session, but the cold beers were more than I could resist during this incredible heatwave and World Cup run. Having had most of May and at least half of June free from any work commitments it’s high time I did some work... I’m flying over to meet the Italian Korda team to learn a bit about their fishing whilst offering up any pointers and advice. A tough job I am sure you will agree, but more about that next month. I’ll pick up from where I left off, which is what I have been up to since the capture of the Coconut Common. The following week I decided to have one last trip to Bayeswater to see if I could catch Buggies mirror. This fish was extremely due, having not been out in over a year and was said to be massive, having been captured during a winter netting. This plan fell at the first hurdle as, after arriving at 4am for this session, they began to spawn almost immediately. Realistically, this was a blessing in disguise as I knew I should have made the effort to make the two hour drive to a snag-infested venue I have a ticket for. So that’s what I did, I turned the van round and off I went.
For those of you that haven’t read my previous diaries on this venue I’ll give you a really short brief. The lake is roughly 30-40 acres in size and holds around 80 fish, give or take, I guess. A guess is all it is though, as information is sparse at best and without an otter fence the numbers are continuously reducing. In the main, the stock seems to be mainly long, lean 15-25lb fish, or the ‘otter dodgers’ as I like to refer to them. On top of these though there are potentially a handful of big fish that could be 40s at the right time. I’d had a trip the previous April and a more sustained summer campaign, but I hadn’t fished it since the previous September when the 15-man syndicate had first started.
On arrival at around 8am, only Lewis Porter was fishing, and he was in the process of packing up. The first swim I came to is
a particular favourite of mine and a fresh north-easterly was absolutely piling in there. I stood watching for 15 minutes or so but nothing showed, so I started having a slow walk round. At the other end the temperature difference was considerable, and suddenly out of the wind the sun felt warm. So warm in fact, that I felt the morning had passed and that seeing something show was probably unlikely now. As these thoughts were simmering through my mind I came across an area of flat calm water, covered in bubbles. Initially dismissive, I was making excuses for them being caused by squabbling coots or similar but something was telling me different. The bubbles were still rising here and there but I was still struggling to believe that carp were responsible. Then wallop – out one came, crashing back in leaving much bigger bubbles popping away on the surface in its wake. Without a second thought I found myself jogging back to my van at the opposite end, super keen to get some rigs readied. Unfortunately, the immediate action I was anticipating didn’t materialise and in hindsight I think was just a little too late.
I spent that afternoon re-spooling with heavy 20lb Carp Line and tying fresh rigs for the night ahead. The first two rods were positioned quite far out. I took to the boat, gently creeping out towards where I had seen a few shows, whilst on the lookout for any likely spots. This went pretty smoothly, other than spooking a couple of small fish en route. Both these rods were dropped in bivvy-sized spots with roughly ½kg of 10mm Mainline prototype free offerings over each hookbait. The third rod was towed down into the corner where the bubbling had been and although it was a little deeper here, I could just about make out a clear spot the size of a dinner plate. It took a few attempts to lower my rig directly onto this spot but once I’d scored the bullseye, I sprinkled a few more 10mms before the short tow back to base. On the whole I was pretty smug with the day’s efforts – there’s something particularly satisfying about seeing your rig come to rest on the lake bed knowing without question you are fishing efficiently.
It was around 3am when the first alarm dragged me from my slumber and it was the shorter rod into the corner. It’s funny writing this but generally the smaller fish here fight like maniacs and within a few seconds I knew I was hooked into something bigger. It wasn’t fighting at all, just wallowing towards me. The fight though was familiar, in that it felt exactly like the 40-pounder I had caught the previous April and, on closer inspection in the net, that’s what it was. The exact same fish! Not wanting to go lamping for that dinner plate-sized clear spot in the dark, I repositioned the rod with a lighter lead, out into the general area, settling for a decent drop at the first time of asking. It was just about to get light by this point and I sat down with a coffee to watch the day break.
I heard the clutch on the reel slip and I immediately knew the tension on the line was going to be absolutely outrageous. Grabbing the rod and reel I just walked backwards and hoped for the best
Conditions were absolutely perfect, the sky was filled with dark clouds and it was raining intermittently. At 4am and just after the light had turned, one of the long rods burst into life. There was no way I would be landing this from the bank due to the weed between us, so I hopped straight in the boat to collect an upper double. At this point it still wasn’t possible to see the bottom and rather than replace the rig, I chose to just get out of the zone quickly, knowing I still had one rig fishing at range, not too far away. This was a good decision as the remaining rod was away before 6am, resulting in a repeat capture of a scraper 30lb mirror. Not a bad opening night really, all the rods went and I even managed another 24lb common on my recast rod into the corner. By the end of the morning though I had the feeling that my boating activities had probably caused quite a few carp to leave the zone. I decided to sit it out anyway as there were still a few about and during the second and final night I had another common of 26lb.
This session certainly re-lit the passion for the Snag Lake and being that they hadn’t spawned yet, it seemed the best option for me to have a couple more trips. The following week I set up centrally in the main peg after seeing a few shows at first light, but 24-hours later I realised I’d made a mistake. The wind had now turned cold and the water in this zone was shallow! Without the continued activity I just wasn’t feeling it here anymore. The wind was strong enough to cause wind lanes and after looking in the windward corner for all of ten minutes, I saw one rattle out. Time for a quick move! Once I’d dragged my kit round there I set about getting my rods out towards the spots that had produced the goods for me last summer. Unfortunately, without the baiting they had received back then, I was now struggling for decent drops. Going out in the boat to hand-place them wasn’t really an option because of the wind strength, so I just pushed my top bead six inches further up the leader and settled for the best drops possible. Catapulting about a kilo of 15mm Link over the two rods, I was confident I would get a take at some point in the night and because of this I slept in my waders. I was about 12 feet short of the snags and locked up tight, or so I thought. Again, it was about 3am when shit suddenly got real. I was absolutely dead to the world when the sounder box went, immediately blinding me with the lights on the top. In my dazed state, I just couldn’t seem to find the zip to my mosquito front. In reality it was just a couple of seconds delay but as I managed to get out I heard the clutch on the reel slip and I immediately knew the tension on the line was going to be absolutely outrageous. Grabbing
the rod and reel I just walked backwards and hoped for the best. The fish turned after a couple of hefty lunges and on shining the torch into the net, I was greeted by the sight of what looked a 30lb-plus mirror. Once it was retained, I recast as quick as possible and not long after, at 5am, I had another take! Unfortunately, it came adrift. Later that morning I saw a few showing opposite and despite having caught, I thought a move was probably best for the following night.
Once I had packed and driven round to the swim opposite, called the Roller, I was immediately greeted by fish topping in the bay to the right and also an upper 20lb common gliding right into the edge, almost brushing past my waders! Clearly there were a few about but I still wanted to make a few subtle, exploratory casts towards a set of snags opposite. I knew there was a bit of gravel extending from the end of these and my plan was to fish as far away from the snags as possible whilst still remaining just on the gravel. I guess this left me about four metres short of the snags, and hopefully far enough away to buy me the time to escape the mosquito mesh in the middle of the night. A simple 30-yard lob resulted in the most lovely thump down. I then followed that in with five or six pouches of 10mm baits. Trap set! For most of that day, I had just the single cast into the bay where I had seen some bubbling, and that was it. Nothing materialised though, so, in the evening, I gently paddled up the right-hand edge until I had found a lovely yellow patch to lower onto.
As the light dropped the fish started to show with merry abandon all over this half of the lake, but worryingly they weren’t really close to me. I was a little anxious initially, almost making a last minute move. In the end I convinced myself I would get traffic here and settled down for a night of extremely broken sleep. Or to be precise, no sleep at all!
During the hours of darkness I had six takes, losing one, landing five. The biggest was just over 30lb and the others all doubles.
I have been back twice more catching a few on each occasion but just more doubles unfortunately, and because of this I’m now torn as to just what’s best for the coming months? These are lovely old fish, don’t get me wrong, and I have loved getting a few bites. At the same time though, I can’t help but ask myself is it really the best use of my time? For the next few weeks I am quite busy with more of these foreign-coaching sessions, but after these I will want to get properly stuck into something this autumn. Nothing is set in stone yet but I have a completely free calendar from September onwards...
The truth is there is so much fishing on mainland Europe that I want to do and I can’t help but ask myself why would I fish somewhere where the best possible outcome is a handful of 40s, albeit very nice ones, when I could travel just a couple of hours further and sample some amazing lakes where unknown 40s, 50s and 60s are not beyond the realms of possibility?
Until next time, tight lines. Pecky.
The fight felt very similar to one that I’d had with a carp the previous April. On closer inspection, it was the exact same fish! One towed down to the corner where I’d seen the bubbling I ended up staying put and had a 26lb common A scraper 30 from my first session back after the best part of a year away On the recast into the corner! TOP MIDDLE ABOVE TOP RIGHT LEFT ABOVE LEFT
FAR LEFT TOP I was greeted by the sight of what looked like another 30lb-plus mirror FAR LEFT MIDDLE One of five from the ‘Roller’ and again, just over 30lb FAR LEFT BOTTOM Part of a five-fish catch after a quick move LEFT The ‘Roller’ – snags, snags everywhere! ABOVE Long barbs! Another of the haul after dropping into the Roller on a hunch TOP RIGHT Although they’re stunning, they’re small and I can’t help but feel the urge to wander back across to the mainland...