Harley Doughty, A Spring in your Step
Posted on 21st April 2019 at 11:58
We are in the first few weeks of April now and with some glimpses of milder weather you can't help but start to get excited as a fisherman. The leaves are starting to return on the trees, the days get longer and the nights get lighter but, most importantly, the carp begin to wake up. With this in mind I knew I had to get my Farm Lake campaign really moving but, before that, I had some things planned.
A few weeks ago now I had a trip away with some family up to Lake Windermere, needless to say I snuck a lure rod and a bag of soft plastics and lures into the car and we headed off on the 300+ mile trip. We all clubbed together and rented a huge house not too far from the lake itself but as it was a family holiday I could only really dedicate a day to try get down to the lake. After doing a bit of research on the fishing I realised that it was by no means an easy lake at around 10 miles long and with a surface area of around 6 miles squared, the fish really could be miles away from you. We gave it a very good go, walking through 2 or 3 villages, trying different spots along the way but unfortunately it still resulted in a blank. But, what a place to visit and spend a day walking about.
Moving on from that to the last 2 weeks of March now and me and a friend had a trip planned at Tanyards Fishery near Uckfield, just to do a bit of a species hunt and I thought, what better way to try out some different baits and test some new products that may be introduced into our UK stock.
I decided to use a quiver tip and do a bit of feeder fishing, using the Scoberry stick mix, and see what came along. We got off to a great start landing some nice Tench and big Rudd, but it wasn't long before the urge to get a carp rod out was there so I headed back to the car and got a rig tied up and baited a couple of spots.
My hook bait of choice was some Fruit Paste that I wanted to test, topped with a couple of maggots. We managed to find some carp feeding a couple of rod lengths from the bank so as it was only a short underarm cast there was no risk of the paste coming off on the cast.
As usual the day flew by sharing many fish between us along with some laughs to. As the light faded I managed to hook into something that was a bit special and this species was the reason my friend and I had picked Tanyards as the venue with the hope of catching one. It came to the surface and with minimal light by this time I saw the moonlight reflecting off a big spiny dorsal fin and in a panicky rush to grab the net by my friend this beautiful perch was mine.
A week or so later I found myself with a few hours free one day and with the weather being a bit better than it had been I was eager to get fishing, so I bundled some kit into the van nothing much, just 1 rod and a few essentials, and I headed off to a little syndicate water close to my house situated in the middle of a golf course.
Now there is nothing massive in the lake but it holds some of the nicest looking and conditioned carp I have ever caught. It's not massively pressured and gets seriously under fished in my eyes as everyone is too busy chasing giants, but for me that makes the place all that more special.
When using or testing a new bait the ideal result is to have loads of fish and quick reactions to it and true to Successful Baits form this did exactly that. I cast to some the feeding fish and within about 15 minutes it was away. After a great little fight on a really light set up I slipped the net under a lovely little common of around 6 or 7 pounds. A couple of hours of using the same tactics and I was up to around 5 or 6 carp, so I decided to re-cast with just the maggots and see how that went. 10 minutes passed, then 15 minutes, then 20 and then half an hour and I hadn't had a touch, so I reeled in and added the paste back onto my rig and put it back out, 15 minutes later and I was playing another little carp. This was really interesting and very exciting because this showed me that the paste really was making the all important difference to get a fish on the bank. Already I hope that the paste will be available to order in the UK market as it will definitely be something that I have in my armoury at all times.
On arrival to the lake I found myself in a very familiar situation down there as I was the only angler there. With no time to waste I lapped the roughly 2 acre lake with the hope of seeing a fish or two.
This is a lake that I have fished for a few years now, dropping in for the odd session in between my main carp fishing, so I have a good understanding of how the carp react to certain weather conditions and their habits and routine. Although it was a cloudy morning by around 10 o'clock the sun was out and going on past sessions I knew they would be down the deeper end of the lake. This would usually not be the case at most venues as the shallower waters will be the first areas to get up in temperature, but the shallows at this lake are very sheltered by trees whereas the deeper end has the sun hitting it all pretty much all day.
As I slowly made my way down the lake with my Polaroids on looking for any cruising fish, I soon saw some dark shapes all grouped up down the end that I had suspected they would be. Now, even though it's a small lake, the numbers of carp aren't as prolific as they have been in the past due to some hot summers and what I can only imagine resulted in a slight lack of oxygen meaning that there were a few carp that we lost, that paired with poachers taking some a few years back, I would take a guess and say that the stock is around a third less than it was about 10 years ago, but it has made the ones left less competitive for food and as a result a bit more of a challenge to catch, but when you do get it right the fish are immaculate and all put up an amazing account for themselves.
As I arrived along the back bank, making a path through all the overgrown lakeside bushes, I peered over the top and must have seen around 10 or 15 carp all sunning themselves, real backs out the water sort of stuff. Needless to say that was enough of a clue as to where they were and how I was going to fish for them, my favourite and most simplistic way, on the surface. Just your mainline straight through to a hook with a trimmed down VNX+ pop up that I had boosted in the matching liquids through the back end of winter.
I took my time setting up which is really important in these sorts of situations. These are by no means monster size carp but it doesn't seem to matter when you see them on the top and look so easy to catch. I see quite a few people rushing to get set up and get a bait in the water but as I learnt the hard way when I was younger, that's when you make mistakes and you also risk spooking the fish. The chances are that in these sorts of situations the carp are not planning on leaving unless they are disturbed so set up properly, check those knots are strong and take some time to observe the behaviour of the fish.
I watched on with a 6ft rod in hand waiting for a good moment to get a bait out causing minimal disturbance, it took 10 or 15 minutes but eventually the fish slowly drifted a few metres down so I quickly flicked out about 10 mixas no more than a rod length out and watched on in anticipation of seeing a pair of old rubbery lips break the surface and slurp one down.
It really didn't take too long and there were 2 or 3 fish taking in a small area so I flicked out a couple more mixas and then my hook bait followed. The fish where pretty confident to my surprise and within 5 minutes I was battling an angry common. It took me into a newly sprung set of lilly pads which luckily hadn't bedded themselves fully and they lifted out leaving me in contact with the fish once again. Then it rose to the top, took a couple of gulps of air and I quickly slid the net underneath. A big adrenaline buzz thanks to a great battle and as I had a little look into the net I was met by a proper dark backed, golden bellied common. It was only a mid-double but when they look like this I don’t care one bit.
So that was how my end to winter went. It has been a good year for me this year, plenty of fish on the bank but spring seems to finally be getting going now with leaves returning to the trees and most importantly carp coming out from the depths where they have laid dormant thought most of the colder months. They will be in search of some food so make sure you have what they will be looking for and keep it successful.
Tagged as: Harley Doughty
Share this post: