The F-word

Dar­enth Tip Lake – The case of Lady Luck, the com­mons and some elu­sive mir­rors

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Paul For­ward

We visit the fa­mous Dar­enth Tip Lake with Paul this month, to learn about Lady Luck, com­mons and some rather elu­sive mir­rors

Af­ter be­ing for­tu­nate enough to have caught the big com­mon from Dar­enth Tip Lake so early in my cam­paign on the his­toric wa­ter, I was ob­vi­ously keen to get up close and per­sonal with some of the other stun­ning carp that the venue holds. Be­fore any of that sort of thing could hap­pen though Mrs F and I were off on our hol­i­days to our favourite des­ti­na­tion, the Greek is­lands. Although it is dur­ing prime fish­ing time in late May, we find Greece is not only much qui­eter tourist-wise but the tem­per­a­tures are more com­fort­able and it is also con­sid­er­ably cheaper too.

The hol­i­day was truly fab­u­lous, every­thing we’d hoped for and more, mean­ing we were sad to come home – me not quite as sad as the wife. Any­how, once back home, as al­ways there was a moun­tain of roof­ing work to catch up with and so, sadly, my fish­ing would have to go on the back burner un­til the next bank hol­i­day which was frus­trat­ing to say the least. Es­pe­cially when I knew that the carp would be right up for it!

When I fi­nally got out on the Sun­day morn­ing, all sorts of ran­dom thoughts were run­ning through my head af­ter two whole weeks away. My main fear though, was that it would be busy. Although I do nor­mally like to choose a swim on merit and then only af­ter a good look around, for some rea­son I’d de­cided en route that I rather fan­cied get­ting back in a swim called The Pal­lets. Choos­ing a swim be­fore even ar­riv­ing at the wa­ter is, I know, a re­ally silly thing to do, and can and usu­ally does lead to dis­ap­point­ment when we find the cho­sen swim is taken. But for some strange rea­son dur­ing the hour-long jour­ney it

just kept pop­ping up in my head. Upon ar­rival I was pleas­antly sur­prised to find only half a dozen ve­hi­cles in the car park – imag­ine then, the deep joy and re­lief when I walked around the path to see that said Pal­lets was still free. So with­out so much as a sec­ond thought, I sat a bucket down in there – most un­like me too.

With my swim se­cured, I set of to see what else was oc­cur­ring and to have a catch up on what I’d missed whilst I’d been away. The swim is a nar­row spit of land fac­ing up the lake, with a back chan­nel or bay on the left-hand side. In fact, the bay is ex­actly where I’d caught the big com­mon from last month, so with­out fur­ther ado, I set about rig­ging up the ten footer for that very same job. The back bay/chan­nel is be­tween 10 and 20 feet wide and about 50 yards in length and can only be fished with an un­der­arm swing from the left-hand side. Oth­er­wise it is deemed ‘out of bounds’ – the tree canopy is also very low, there­fore ne­ces­si­tat­ing the shorter rod and un­der­arm swing.

The carp do ven­ture in there... that much I al­ready knew, so although I couldn’t see any signs in there at the time, I thought it was well worth a gam­ble – as with any spot there are no guar­an­tees. Yet again, tac­tics were a cou­ple of grains of sweet­corn on the rig, fished over a few hand­fuls of fresh hemp and corn which I’d top up ev­ery hour due to the vast shoals of roach and rudd. Job done.

I set up two other rods to fish the open wa­ter in front of the swim, where I’d yet to find a spot where I could get a bite. The lake bot­tom is weedy, in ac­tual fact, there is hardly any clean bot­tom on the whole venue. Even­tu­ally, I did man­age to find a cou­ple of spots where, although there was weed, both sparse eel grass and blan­ket weed, it was low and short enough to make it fish­able. On one such area, a shal­low plateau to my right, I’d al­ready seen a cou­ple of long, grey shad­ows swim over! Here I chose to fish a white pop-up on a he­li­copter setup with a light-ish lead. The top bead was pushed up a foot or so, just to be sure of pre­sent­ing prop­erly. Af­ter scat­ter­ing a dozen boilies around the rig I felt I’d give it a cou­ple of hours and see what hap­pened. Then, af­ter a good deal of flick­ing around with a light lead, I found an­other spot a lit­tle fur­ther out at about 30 yards. Again not clean, but pre­sentable. For some strange rea­son this new spot just felt right – so much so, that I put 50 free­bies over ex­actly the same set up as be­fore.

With every­thing sorted now, I sat down for a well-earned brew. To be hon­est I wasn’t re­ally ex­pect­ing that much to hap­pen un­til the tem­per­a­ture cooled down a tad in the evening but feel­ing con­tent with my spots, I could think of noth­ing finer than hav­ing an­other brew, chill­ing out and watch­ing the lake. Much to my sur­prise the lit­tle rod in the back bay burst into life be­fore I’d even fin­ished my cuppa, the rod tip lurch­ing round vi­o­lently on such a tight clutch! I was on

What a re­sult I thought whilst se­cretly smil­ing to my­self. I’d only been there an hour or so. Maybe, just maybe, there was more to come?

it in a flash and clamp­ing down on the spool, I turned the fish away from the treach­er­ous tree roots and snags that lurk deeper in the bay. Now, with the dan­ger over I could re­lax and take it easy and soon enough had my first fish of the day – a crack­ing low 20lb com­mon, like a bar of gold, in the net. What a re­sult I thought whilst se­cretly smil­ing to my­self. I’d only been there an hour or so. Maybe, just maybe, there was more to come?

When the sun broke through early in the af­ter­noon mak­ing it feel un­pleas­antly hot ‘n’ sticky, I sort of knew that the chances of an­other fish had gone for the mo­ment. But, then, grad­u­ally carp of all shapes and sizes started pop­ping up like corks and could now be seen bask­ing in the warm sun­shine on the shal­low plateaus, both to my right and straight out near the first is­land. There were some good fish about too, which was not only en­cour­ag­ing for later on but tempted me into hav­ing a go with a the floaters – which turned out to be a waste of time.

As evening ap­proached and the sun dipped be­hind the trees, so the carp be­gan to liven up and for­age in the weed – small patches of bub­bling giv­ing the game away. As the time passed and the light be­gan to fade so the bub­bling in­ten­si­fied. I couldn’t help but no­tice a fair bit of it oc­cur­ring around the mid­dle rod to the point where I was poised, ex­pect­ing it to go at any time. When it did fi­nally rip off just be­fore dark, it re­ally flew off,

The first of three com­mons As the sun burnt through, so grey shad­ows ap­peared

al­most pulling the rod from the rests. It fought like an ab­so­lute de­mon, tak­ing me through vir­tu­ally ev­ery weed bed. Con­fi­dence in my tackle, plus a bit of brute strength, helped win an epic bat­tle which saw me scoop­ing up a moun­tain of weed and yet an­other fab­u­lous com­mon, con­sid­er­ably big­ger than my first.

Dar­ren, the bailiff, who was fish­ing the op­po­site bank had wit­nessed the whole drama un­fold so popped around. He im­me­di­ately recog­nised the deep-flanked fish as the Ter­rapin Com­mon which nor­mally goes around the 33lb mark. To be hon­est, it was such a fab­u­lous-look­ing carp that I didn’t re­ally care what it weighed and so slipped it straight back af­ter Dar­ren had taken a few pic­tures. What pleased me most about the cap­ture was that I’d found an­other spot where I could present a bait well enough to get a pick up, mean­ing I now had two rods in which I felt con­fi­dent... which, in my book, is much bet­ter than one and in­fin­itely bet­ter than none at all!

Af­ter bait­ing up again on all rods and en­joy­ing a few cel­e­bra­tory chilled ales I turned in around mid­night. I was fast asleep when the alarm sig­nalled an­other cus­tomer on the lit­tle bay rod. Again I was on it in sec­onds, though bare­footed and wear­ing just my pants. This one felt like a good fish from the off – never at any point did I feel like the fish was tir­ing or I was in con­trol. It stayed deep, mak­ing pow­er­ful runs in and out of the en­trance to the bay test­ing my nerves to the max­i­mum. Even­tu­ally though, thank­fully, it did roll over the net cord, where in the moon­light I could make out it was yet an­other big golden com­mon. Re­al­is­ing that day­break was nearly upon us, I put her in a re­tainer, made sure she was com­fort­able and fired up the stove for a brew. Again Dar­ren, bless him, did the pic­tures in­form­ing me that yet again I’d been a lucky so-and-so to have caught this rare and stun­ningly beau­ti­ful com­mon called The Heart­tailed Com­mon – def­i­nitely one on the most wanted list.

It is cer­tainly one of the most stun­ninglook­ing com­mons I’ve ever wit­nessed and at just over 34lb you can no doubt imag­ine how I felt, ob­vi­ously chuffed to bits and priv­i­leged to have en­coun­tered such an amaz­ing brace, nay trio, of stun­ning com­mon carp from the lit­tle bay.

Rather spook­ily it had been a full moon too – just what is it with big com­mons and the lu­nar cy­cle? I re­ally have no idea but there’s def­i­nitely some­thing in it. Just in case, I did stay on for a while, but by mid-morn­ing it was clearly all over. The sun was up high again and they’d melted away. I packed and did like­wise, know­ing I’d be back asap – es­pe­cially now I was re­ally starting to get a feel for the place. And per­haps more im­por­tantly, en­joy­ing my fish­ing on this in­ti­mate venue.

My next visit to the Tip Lake was the fol­low­ing week, on Wed­nes­day 6th June to be pre­cise. I’d man­aged to fin­ish the slate roof I’d been work­ing on the day be­fore, got my stuff packed and ready

for an early start. Whilst driv­ing there I re­alised that so far this year I’d man­aged six fish from the venue which, con­sid­er­ing how lit­tle time I’d ac­tu­ally done and how tricky the venue can be, I was more than happy with, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing they’d all been stun­ning fish in­clud­ing the big girl at 53lb 12oz a few weeks back. So, no com­plaints there, but rather strangely, all six had been com­mon carp which is hardly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the lake’s stock. Mir­ror carp, I de­cided, is what was needed. Tak­ing my mind away from the te­dium of driv­ing, I be­gan flick­ing through a photo al­bum that lives in­side my head of the Tip’s most de­sir­able mir­rors, most of which I’d dearly love to hold. By the time I swung through the gate, I’d de­cided that the largest mir­ror called The Box, which is a mid-40, and an­other real stun­ner of a carp called Satan’s Lin­ear, a low-40, were my new tar­gets. In re­al­ity, ev­ery sin­gle one of the mir­rors were dark, al­most black and fab­u­lous-look­ing carp to boot, so I wasn’t go­ing to be to be too fussy... but... and this was very clear in my mind, I was def­i­nitely due a mir­ror carp!

Yet again my favourite swim, The Pal­lets, was free. In fact the whole venue was very quiet an­gler-wise, with only two oth­ers on, so the same as the last trip – I dropped a bucket in there and then went for a good look round. As ever, the fish, at least the few I saw, were spread all over. I saw a cou­ple in the Point, three or four in the Rushes and then the odd one all over – but then, back at base, I could also see the odd one or two. An­other scorcher was forecast and bear­ing in mind that the fish here def­i­nitely like this mainly shal­low area when it’s hot, I de­cided to give it a few hours at least and so set up with just my day gear.

It was the same sketch as the last trip re­ally – same spots, one in the back bay, one straight out,

then my third out to my right on the plateau. The first fish, a double-fig­ure mir­ror, came about an hour or so af­ter cast­ing out and sur­pris­ingly, off the plateau – my first from there. By mid­day it was bak­ing hot, with lit­tle in the way of a breeze but, on the plus side, there were still a few carp milling around, es­pe­cially to my left. I’d been feed­ing a few cat bis­cuits ev­ery so of­ten and now and then a group of five or six carp were show­ing in­ter­est, even slurp­ing the odd one down.

With noth­ing to lose I rigged up a floater rod with a small con­troller, 10lb line, a size 10 hook and a cut down pop-up as a hook­bait. The carp seemed un­in­ter­ested and a bit cagey but even­tu­ally I did man­age a take which re­sulted in an­other mir­ror, this time slightly big­ger and a won­der­ful dark, chest­nut colour. On the light gear it ran me ragged from weedbed to weedbed and, to be hon­est, I felt lucky to land it. What hap­pened next was quite bizarre. Whilst floater fish­ing I no­ticed a piece of weed mov­ing along the sur­face a fair way down the lake. As it came closer I re­alised it must be a fish, more specif­i­cally, a carp tow­ing tackle! Af­ter watch­ing for a few mo­ments more, I de­cided a plan was needed to free the fish which was ob­vi­ously get­ting stressed. Dar­ren was again on the op­po­site bank, so I told him what was oc­cur­ring and that I was go­ing to do my best to catch hold of the trail­ing line with my spare rod. Some­how I achieved this on the sec­ond cast and then, very care­fully and pa­tiently, I teased the whole bun­dle of line and weed to the bank, where Dar­ren even­tu­ally man­aged to scoop the lot into the net. Peel­ing back the weed we dis­cov­ered the huge frame of the Box mir­ror, the venue’s largest mir­ror! With the ut­most care, I un­hooked it and slipped it back let­ting it know that some­time in the near fu­ture it def­i­nitely owed me a favour!

By this time, mid-af­ter­noon, the carp that had been tak­ing the odd floater were well spooky and, to be hon­est, I was ready for a sit down with a cool beer. I got the rods back on the spots and re-baited with a few more free­bies. I sup­pose it was about 7pm when the sun dipped be­hind the trees and the heat even­tu­ally sub­sided. Once more a few bits of bub­bling started to ap­pear, then a few more around the first is­land, not too far from my mid­dle rod. Soon the odd one could be seen pok­ing its head and shoul­ders out – the more time went by, the more likely it looked. And then, amid a jacuzzi of bub­bling the mid­dle rod ab­so­lutely roared off, re­sult­ing in a breeze block of a mir­ror around 28lb, that didn’t put up much of a strug­gle at all. ABOVE A drag­on­fly, lay­ing her eggs in the Tip Lake

ABOVE The view from The Pal­lets swim

LEFT When your luck’s in. ONE ON A FLOATER

ABOVE Long over­due (in my EYES). THE FIRST OF THE mir­rors

BE­LOW With deep-chest­nut flanks

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