Between December and mid January the weather was very patchy with the odd day or two of milder weather, but generally the pressure was high and temperatures were cold –not great carp catching conditions in the winter.
Spurred on by my short session success at the very start of December I put a series of trips together on my syndicate lake in the Cotswolds. To give an indication of the changeable weather, during this period the lake froze and defrosted twice. My trips were all single night trips, two work nights of arriving and packing up in the dark and three trips comprising of a night and day session. To cut a long story short, it was five blanks. I did see a fish or two in December, but during the two trips I fished in January the lake looked dead.
With the weather forecast still poor I decided to make better use of my time, getting a few jobs done at home and if it suited, nipping out for the odd shorter day trip. The third Saturday of January saw me deciding on one of these short trips. The weather was still cold but with 4 degrees overnight and 5 degrees in the day for 3 days, temperatures were stable and above freezing – so I opted to get out fishing.
I went to a club water half an hours drive from home that has reasonable winter form. There are no monsters to fish for, with mainly doubles and a handful of 20’s up to about 25lb. I arrived just after 8am and was pleasantly surprised to see the lake empty. I had a walk around making sure to look for any signs of fish, as I had noticed in the past that if anything were to show it was likely to be within the first hour of daylight, and would probably be a subtle head pushing out of the water.
I got to the furthest point from the car park and caught sight of a disturbance back at the carp park end. No ducks surfaced where the disturbance was so I was pretty sure it was a carp. I continued my lap but saw no further signs so set up near to where I had seen the fish.
My broken bait stringers with pop up hookbaits mounted on multi rigs.
I set up both rods with Essential Cell pop ups on multi rigs, and fished 3 bait stringers of mixed Essential Cell and Cell. The baits were broken in half on the stingers to improve flavour leakage and my plan was to fish for liners and if no action had occurred after 2 hours, to move the rods around searching for liners.
Mixed Cell and Essential Cell were used with Essential Cell pop up hook baits dipped in the matching glug.
I dropped the left hand rod under a marginal bush and the right hand rod was cast 30 yards or so to where I guessed the earlier show had been. By 10:45 I had not had a single bleep so wound in the right hand rod to cast further to the left. I dipped the pop up in glug whilst I tied on a fresh stringer, and just as I was lining up to cast a carps head silently poked out of the water 40 yards in front of me – perfect timing or what! Out went the rig, right into the rings left from the disturbance. I decided to leave the left hand rod under the bush for now.
I have cast to showing carp on this venue before and it is very rare to get a quick take. Today was no exception and at midday I decided to wind in the left hand rod and try something else. Fish tend to group up in the winter so having seen one show I was sure there were more fish about. I was wondering whether they were not visiting the bottom so decided to try a zig rig. I tied up a simple mono rig about 2 ft long and fished a pop up straight off the lead. The water was around 4 or 5ft deep so I would be in a mid-water zone. I cast the rig alongside the other rod.
About 20 minutes later I had a single bleep drop back and then the line pulled up to the rod, out of the clip and a steady take ensued. I initially thought it was the zig rod, but it wasn’t – it was the bottom rod. After a short fight I netted a low double common of 12lb 12oz.
A welcome 12lb 12oz Common.
I quickly secured the fish in the retaining sling and got the rod back out to the same area. After doing a quick picture of the fish I sat back down. I was looking at the water and noticed a lighter patch of water about a foot in diameter – was it coloured water? I got up and took a closer look. Something had definitely disturbed the bottom about 10 yards to the right of where I had just caught from so I wound in the zig rod, put my multi rig pop up back on and tied on a 3 bait stringer. The colour had now faded but I had previously lined up the area with a tree on the far bank and I flicked the rig out to the area and sat back down.
Less than an hour passed before that rod was away. This was clearly a much better fish and as it wallowed on the surface for netting it looked 20lb all day long; a big fish for the venue. It registered 23lb 2oz on the scales which was a right result. I adopted the same procedure of securing the fish in the retainer whilst I got the rod back out. Feeding times in the winter can be very short so I needed to make the most of it. Pictures were then done and the fish returned.
The 23lb 2oz Common, a really good fish for the venue.
I was receiving the odd liner on both rods and within an hour the right hand rod was away again. Most of the fish in the lake were commons, but the few mirrors that were present were generally nice scaly ones and it was soon apparent that I was attached to one of them. The fish was safely netted and weighed in at 17lb 8oz.
A lovely scaly mirror of 17lb 8oz.
I got the rig back in just after 2:30pm but after that the bobbins were lifeless with no more liners. It seemed as though the fish had fed for a 2 or 3 hour window and I was lucky enough to be able to capitalise on this. I had promised not to be late home so wrapped up at 3:30pm after a thoroughly enjoyable day.