After an outstanding overnighter at the end of January that resulted in the first thirty of the year, it was going to be tough to follow that with the forecast weather changes coming for the month of February. Not to be put off by the cold and wind I set out to do a 3 night session on the first weekend of the month.
I arrived at the lake when it was dark and decided to pitch up in the same swim as I had the weekend before, this time I opted to fish it slightly differently and introduced a small but reasonable amount of bait in the hope the fish would move in. I opted for some particle, low oil pellet and a mix of different sized boilies. The baited spot was to be the focus for two rods with the third one fished at range, the baited area didn't produce a bite in all three nights, but I did have some success with the rod fished at range. The tactic for this rod was a brighter bait with a small amount of the same and some low oil pellet.
The first night drew a complete blank with only a couple of liners to report, the second night the range rod produced the goods in the shape of a 16lb 80z scaley mirror, a stunning fish and quite rare as most of the fish are quite plain with very few scales.
The third evening approached and I had decided to move one of the two rods from the baited spot and fish that at range, but in a different direction to the other, again applying the same tactics as the other range rod. A few hours into darkness and I had my second take of the trip, this time it was one of the fish with very few scales and a smaller one at 15lb 07oz.
The trip was a bit a disappointing, as I ended up losing a fish on the second range rod in the early hours of the final morning, and of course it felt like a bigger fish, sods law.
My next trip was a quick overnighter, again arriving in the hours of darkness and away by 9am the following morning. Taking note of the takes from the last trip I decided to apply the same tactics from the range rods, this time however it was a blank. We've all had them and we will all have them again, they don’t make us any less of an angler and we should all try and learn from them to help achieve more next time.
After the three nighter and the overnight trips on my syndicate I felt it was time to revisit my winter water, a smaller lake of around two and a half acres that holds a good head of doubles and around twenty twenties. I still had a target to hit, three Island Lake winter twenties and with two down it only needed one more bite from a larger resident.
By now the temperatures were right down and there was a chance the lakes could freeze, I decided to go for something visual, Sweetcorn, a great bait that is also reasonably priced at Aldi, doing it at less than a quid a kilo, other brands are available.
This time I was doing two nights with a mate who was getting down the lake before me. I had a good idea about where I wanted to go, not something that I would advise as a standard approach but I did have very good reasons. I was keeping a close eye on the weather through the week and although it wasn't a significant increase in temperature that was coming in, it was a noticeable one bringing with it a change in the wind direction and stronger winds at that.
The swim was in the corner of the lake and I was setting up in the teeth of the forthcoming wind, again setting up in the dark but with the added bonus of knowing the lay of the land it made life a little easier for the two rods to go out. I baited my spot with about 3kg of corn for the first night with the intention of topping up in the morning and then again the following night.
An early hours wake up call produced what was to be the best fish of session in the shape of a common of 17lb 11oz, well chuffed with that as there aren’t that many in there and the biggest common is only a few pounds bigger at 21lb.
Nothing else for the rest of the hours of darkness got me scratching my head somewhat, the wind hadn’t picked up just yet so I decided to reel in and take a wonder with a single rod, I spotted some fish in the far margin and stood out in the rain hoping for one of these fish to get their heads down but they were quite happy just plodding around without a care in the world. Frustrating when you can see them but you can’t catch them.
I was starting to think about the night ahead so returned to my swim and continued to put a bed of corn out ready for the hours of darkness. I was up to about 11kg of the yellow stuff by this point and had a good feeling about the potential results for the night. Two takes through the night saw me take a small mirror of around 11lb and a second mirror of 15lb 12oz.
I decided to adopt very similar tactics the following weekend and baited up an area that had seen me take quite a few fish from earlier in my winter campaign, two nights again but this time the tactic failed. The weather was colder than the weekend before and the fish weren't on the same page as me, the first night drew a blank so I decided to go for a stroll up the bank.
A few swims up from where I had pitched up was a carp right in the margin, probably about a foot to a foot and a half deep and he was having a good mooch around, an opportunity to snag one. I went back and got a rod and some freebies and snuck back to where I had seen my target. I slipped the rod in quietly and stood back to see what would happen, and, nothing. A few fish were cruising up and down just like they were the week before, not a care in the world. If I had any hair I would have pulled it out.
Back in the swim where I had pitched up and the rods were out on the baited spot again, nothing to show for about 18 hours. The fish were there and the one had his head down, getting a bit annoyed that I hadn't nailed one I continued to keep an eye on the area that I had seen them in. A couple of hours of walking up and down the lake and seeing a few fish again I decided to reel in and go back to the area I had seen them in, but this time I was going to apply some skretting pellets and a few more freebies.
Ten minutes later and I had one on, it looked like a pretty good fish for the lake, maybe a twenty? I have to say that it was one of the best battles I have had for a long time, a good ten minute scrap and finally she was done, slipping the net under a nice looking winter carp.
I watched the whole fight through my polaroids in the crystal clear water,with the sun shining down on me and what a fantastic sight it was, hard to put into words. It then became apparent to me that it didn't matter if it was a twenty or not, what I had witnessed was more special than achieving my target.
After letting her rest in the net for a while I got her out and done the necessary weighing and photos, the needle settled on 19lb 1oz so the target remains for the first few weeks of March.