Mark Jordan, Old Mill Lakes, 23/24 March
Posted on 12th April 2018 at 20:29
What does the O in O’ clock stand for? O my god its early… 4 am I was up and just leaving London for my monster road trip to the first team social event we had had since swelling the rank and file of Successful Baits UK. Destination was the Old Mill Lakes in Market Rasen, namely the Oak lake, the newest lake on the complex with the other lakes being Willow and Birch. Both willow and Birch are known for some absolute bangers.
I arrived at Sawtry at around 6:30am just in time to catch Uwe, the Boss Man and Derek, his chauffeur for the trip. We left in convoy and headed towards our meeting point, Ten Acre Café, which is just about a mile away from Old Mill lakes. We arrived and were met by Jack and Nick. The others, Liam, Shaun, Kev, Nathan and Calum would be meeting us at the lake a little later.
Breakfast demolished and back in our cars, we headed off for the lake. If you do what we did and follow the sat nav, it will take you to a road that is opposite the lakes. We turned around and carried on further up the road and saw the orange sign ‘Old Mill Lakes’ on our right. We bounced down the track, avoiding as many holes as we could, especially Jack in his Fiesta RS (Kids eh! Never think about practicality do they). On arrival we were met by Chris Marler, the lake owner. He took our nets, and slings and dipped them for the obligatory 15mins as stated in the lake rules. We then made our way to Oak Lake.
At around 8 acres, it was a very uniformed, oblong, featureless, sparse, hole in the ground that was full of water and apparently 800 fish up to 29lb. We walked the lake and decided on how the swims would be laid out and then proceeded to pick swims out of a hat. I got swim 8 which was on the protected side of the lake and out of the wind (for now), so at least I was going to stand a chance at staying warm for the night. It was a fairly long walk around the lake, especially with a barrow, but there is a stone path, so that does help to a degree. I stumbled into my swim, arms burning like I’d just taken part in the car lift for the worlds strongest man. Why do I take all this gear when I go fishing? Comfort was the answer that I came up with looking at my big bed chair, puffy sleeping bag and pillow.
I had a lead about and according to the contour map for the lake on the website I would find 7ft of water in front of me with a couple of shallower spots and a deeper spot of around 9ft about 20 wraps out. 5ft is what I found and that was everywhere. Not a single change in level, nothing. This wasn’t going to be easy and it wasn’t my style of fishing as I really prefer features to fish to rather than having to build your own feature and attract the fish to it. Still, we were all in the same boat and after all, it was a social event.
On my side of the bank we had pegs 6,7,8,9,10. Nathan had 6, Jack had 7, I had 8, new team member Derek had 9, which was a big swim and just as well because he brought his 3 story holiday home, complete with west wing and en suite showering facilities. It took 3 trips with the biggest barrow I’ve ever seen to get it all around to his peg. At least I got the benefit from his central heating (toasty, niiiice). Finally in swim 10 was one of the new members of the team, Kev Montadon. He hadn’t had far to travel as he lives in deepest, darkest Scunthorpe along with Shaun Dennis. On the far side of the lake we had swims 1 -5 (obviously), swim 1 was Boss man Uwe, in 2 was Nick a new team member, 3 was Liam again another new member, 4 was Calum, and 5 was Shaun.
We all set up camp and throughout the day the wind did its best to confuse everyone by changing directions a couple of times. It was a bit like a ‘chuckle brothers wind’, to me, to you, to me, to you... First to get his traps set was Kev. Having an end swim he had double the amount of water to work with. I was next in after finding nothing to cast to whilst leading, I put one straight out in front at about 40 yds. and the other at 80 yds. My traps for this outing were the awesome Traveller baits. These are a salt pickled bait which is effectively a freezer bait without the need for a freezer. After use if you’ve not used them all just place them back into the kilo of salt they come with in the bag and they keep as fresh as the
day they were opened. I was using VNX+ and Mussel Insect. I had crumbed up a batch of each to use in the spod mix along with a little stick mix and pellets. I also had a little sweetcorn in there too. Both rigs were a multi rig and I was using a shirt rig about 4 inch long and a 3oz lead.Throughout the day we were getting liners along our bank and on one occasion my bobbin smashed to the top and then my other rod did exactly the same literally a split second later. We began to think that a fish was trailing a long piece of line which was giving us false indications of a bite.
The day drew in and we gathered in my swim due to it being the middle swim and not far from anyone’s rods. The chatter and banter was flowing and the team were getting to know each other, which is just what this was all about. Suddenly there was a ‘bleep’ from Kev’s alarms, followed by another ‘bleep’ so he made his way down to his rods and then it tore off at a pace suggesting it was racing for the middle of the lake. Kev struck into it and put a bend in his rod. ‘I think it's come off’ he said, ‘no hold on a minute, it's swimming straight at me now’. He proceeded to wind in as fast as he could, still feeling the occasional bump and letting us know that it was still there. It broke the surface and the poor thing looked absolutely knackered. It looked like it had been put through a spin cycle. It was greeted by the loudest laugh I’ve heard on a lake as Kev blurted out ‘that is the smallest fish I’ve ever caught’, to which Nathan replied, ‘I’m refusing to net that’… the laughter was contagious as we all fell about holding our sides.
I reminded Kev that this fish was worth £100 due to the pot that we had accumulated for the biggest fish and the most fish, £50 each. Only fish caught so far made it a winner for both categories. What a lump! The fish was tiny though.
We all settled down for the night and as we were making our way back to our respective bivvies, we could see lights around Boss man Uwe’s bivvy. He was into a fish which turned out to be a nice 9lb common. Not a monster but it put him in the lead for the biggest fish and gave him a share of the ‘most fish’ category too.
The rest of the night passed without incident, except Nick decided to get up at 3am and ponder the meaning of life while supping on a coffee and try to decipher the ‘carp code’ that continues to fool so many of us in the winter months.
7am came and the morning saw it slightly overcast, but slightly warmer than when we turned in for the night. This was welcome and brought a positive vibe around the lake as we were beginning to think that the fish may start to feed on the back of the warmer wind. Uwe and myself reeled in our rods and went for breakfast at the 10 Acre Café again. This turned out to be a good move if Kev’s take on the breakfast at the social was anything to go by.
After breakfast we were back on the lake and set our traps. I had decided to move my 40yd rod closer and my 80 yd rod further away. The 40 yd rod I brought right in to 7 wraps and the other rod I set at 22 wraps, which was almost halfway across the lake. The wind was changing every couple of hours and at one point it was blowing straight into our faces. I didn’t mind this as I just zipped up my bivvy and lay on my bed drifting off for a couple of hours. As I opened my eyes I could hear the largest bee inside my bivvy. I thought ‘its still too cold for bees surely’. I unzipped and stepped out sharpish because I couldn’t see it but it sounded angry. There, in front of my bivvy door, just above head height, was a drone! Derek had brought his toy to use over the lake. This, together with his armoured bait boat fitted with fish finder, sonar, radar, mine finder, torpedo launcher and navigation system completed his arsenal of weaponry. In all fairness it was a good tool because it give us an indication of where the fish were hiding.
6 o clock came and our bank pulled in their rods and we made our way round to the great sausage off that was about to take place on the BBQ. Dinggg Dinggg , ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, in the blue corner we have Uwe and his magnificent German sausage, and in the red corner we have Nick and his short little stubby peppered sausage’. I could see the winner straight away. Great banter was had around the BBQ while we eagerly anticipated whose sausage was going to triumph. Uwe was up first and he passed round several portions including Bratwurst and Bockwurst. There was also one that contained cheese, it was delicious. Up next was Nick, he handed out his stubby peppered sausage and admitted defeat before a morsel had passed our lips. They had a great taste but German sausage takes it every time and the decision was unanimous. More banter and a few beers later Shaun decides he needs to be nearer the floor and his chair just collapses beneath him. Drink everywhere, mustard all down his top, what a mess.
Back to the swims and rods set. I decided to change it up a little and put on a Red Spice Fish 16mm pop up. Kev nicked a couple from me too. Just a single over a few free Mussel Insect 14mm Travellers and a couple of Spombs of crumb. The other rod a VNX+ Wafter topped with a small cut down yellow Calafrutti 12mm pop up. I didn’t put any stick mix out with these rigs this time. I just thought I’d have a change.
The Red Spice Fish went out the 22 wraps and was sat on the back of the area that Liam had been baiting up. He had just had a little mirror as well. It was beauty, not very big but a stunning fish non the less and certainly one for the future.
We sat gathered in my swim again ready for the last night of the social. We were all looking forward to a lump being landed but it hadn’t graced the bank before we all turned in.
I woke up at 7am, again to glorious sunshine. Cold wind but still nice and bright. As the bivvy wasn’t wet I decided to get straight onto it and pack it away. I was all packed and loaded by 9am. Coffee and a chat with Derek and then Kev. Watching my bobbin on the rod that was 22 wraps out, I noticed that it was moving up and down about 5mm. It then rose up and didn’t do anything else. It didn’t drop down or roar off, it just sat there. I decided to take it anyway and wound down, tightened the QDS and then lifted into it. Something was there I could feel it thumping, not very big but it was something. I got it about half way in and then the rod just bent right over like it had got caught on the bottom. It eased off and then I gently started to retrieve more line. I was definitely in but couldn’t tell if it was a decent fish or not as it felt very strange. The rig tubing broke the surface and Nathan pointed out that I had a line running across my rig tubing. It was tight like a crossbow, suddenly it pinged off and was gone. It was the fish that had been trailing line. It must have been a very long piece of line it was towing about with it. I cast out a couple more times to see if I could hook the line again but to no avail. I reset the rod knowing that it was last chance saloon as time was pushing on and we had to be off the lake by 11.
With 30 mins to go I had exactly the same take as I had previously with the trailer. I lifted in and this time I knew that I was into a fish. Again I could tell it wasn’t big but it was a fish. Only 3 people had caught up till that point so I was delighted when I slipped the net under a common weighing around the 4lb mark. Small but at least I have started 2018 with a fish.
All packed away, and back in the car park we took the obligatory team photo and I presented Boss Man with his trophy for the biggest carp of the social and £50 for the biggest fish.
Kev Montadon had banked 4 fish and I don’t think their combined weight would have beaten Uwe for the biggest fish, however he still earned himself £50 for most banked.
A great time was had by all and new friendships were formed. It’s a new era for Successful Baits UK and its started with a bang. I can’t wait to get the next social organised so we can all get together again.
Successful Baits UK…… Successful by name Successful by nature.
Tagged as: Mark Jordan
Share this post: