As I scraped the frost off the windscreen of the car, I wondered whether or not I was mad. The overnight temperatures had plummeted and the heavy frost, although making everyday object looks a little more special, would have most certainly made catching carp hard. And yes, I was heading for a days session after carp. To make matters worse, I was heading to a venue I had never fished before. All of a sudden trotting a stick float down a river for some grayling seemed the better option, but I do like a challenge, so I loaded up the car and set off just as dawn began its cycle.
I arrived at the water to find it empty except for one hardy overnight angler. He was having a warming cup of tea so I asked him how he had faired. Just two fish caught during the night and he said the chances of a daytime fish would be slim. It wasn’t the most comforting news I had ever heard. But I was here now and I was going to give it my all. I had a walk around the lake, which was dug as a commercial snake type lake, but has since become taken over by my fishing club who have made it into a specimen carp water with fish to over twenty pound present. My lap of the lake turned out to be very rewarding as I spotted a few carp rolling on the far side in the south east corner. I made my way back to the car and headed for that area. My plan was to present a visual but small bait tight to the far bank. I would use PVA bags about the size of a walnut filled with 4mm pellets as my only feed. I didn’t think the fish would be really feeding but I could get curiosity takes as any moving fish swam by. I planned to fish one rod to the far bank and with my other rod fish at the bottom of the near side slope using a similar method.
I cast my first rod out and went about setting up my margin rod. I took my time, enjoying the sun break through the mist and its rays starting to thaw out the frost, making water drip off tree branches and tall grass. I violent take just 45 minutes after casting out brought me back to focus and I went about playing a lively carp. After a near miss as I nearly knocked the fish off with the landing net, I netted the above mirror carp. The fish clearly starting to get their winter colours. It was a stunningly marked fish and it made me one very happy angler. My confidence was now boosted. My tactics although very simple were obviously working. I got the rod back out, casted my margin rod for the first time, and sat back and surveyed the water looking for signs of moving carp.
The rig I used is pictured above, a simple bolt rig with a 10mm bright pop up fished KD style. I used a fluorocarbon leader back from the lead and used some olivettes to pin it down. Although not in the picture I did put some tiny ‘mouse dropping’ bits of putty along the hooklength just to make sure everything was pinned down and inconspicuous.
Since the first fish I noticed a drop in the amount of fish I could see moving so I decided to cast around a single hookbait every 20 minutes to see if I could get any liners or signs of fish. After a few casts I had a pronounced line bite. Nothing developed so it was a case of reeling in, on with a small PVA bag and back to the same area. A wait of five minutes and the alarm was sounding and I played and netted a small common carp of an estimated 8lb. I like to be as active as I can when fishing, but especially so when the conditions are against me. During the early afternoon, there was a definite lull in any fish activity. In this situation I simply recast to my main area and waited for a take. At least I knew there was some feed there, although I wasn’t fully convinced the fish wanted much bait at all, it seemed the better of two evils.
Just before dusk I noticed an area to my left that the carp had started to roll in again. A cast to this area ended up producing my third fish of the day and the biggest of the session too. The delicate drop back bite gave way to a solid, lumbering weight and I knew I had hooked a slightly better fish. Almost a leather carp (the fish had three scales on the other flank), I settled for it being the last bit of action and packed up just as darkness fell. I probably should have stayed another hour but in all honesty I was satisfied with how the session had panned out. I shall certainly be back to this water during the next few months but maybe next time I will wait for milder days and frost free nights.
Until next time,