A little bit about our winter fishing this year…
For those who don’t know how we fish, we do everything as a team, so we always alternate captures. (That way Danny doesn’t get upset when Donna out fishes him!).
With the country going into lockdown again on Boxing Day and no night fishing allowed we had to re-evaluate our plans for how we would combat our lake as we would be restricted to day sessions only. Unfortunately like a lot of lakes, ours got flooded out at Christmas and was closed for a couple of weeks, so we didn’t manage to get back down until mid-January. Our first planned day session saw us waking up to a blanket of snow on the ground, so we decided we would target one of the other lakes rather than our main lake in hope of a snow carp. After a little walk around, we managed to find a group of carp and decided to try our luck for them. We were very lucky to tempt 7 carp onto the bank in just 5 hours fishing, including 2 braces, both playing a carp at the same time at one point! All in all a very enjoyable, if somewhat hectic first day back after the floods.
We returned to the lakes a fortnight later and headed back to our main lake. With an unusually warm day forecast we had decided to take the Friday off work as we knew the weekend was going to be much colder with the lakes potentially freezing and thought there would be more chance of a bite. Although we managed to find a few fish we had to wait all day to hear the alarms sing and Danny was welcomed by a lovely low 20lb common. The following day it was unfortunately a blank for us, which in all honesty was to be expected this time of the year. We headed back down on the Sunday to an empty lake as most of the sane people checked the weather and knew how cold it was going to be! When we got down to the lake, we discovered most of the lake was frozen over so with not much choice in the way of swims we settled in a swim near the middle that was fishable and hoped it would defrost as the day went on and the temperature increased slightly. Within a couple of hours of getting the rods out Donna had a savage drop back. Once connected to the fish she had a very anxious battle as the lake was freezing over in front of us and could feel the line grating through the ice with each lunge the carp was taking. Fortunately, it wasn’t a long battle and she had netted a lovely upper 20lb mirror.
A couple of hours later with the lake starting to thaw, we had a very breamy take. Even lifting the rod and reeling in it was all very bream like. That was until it woke up around 4 rod lengths out and decided to have a break for freedom. After a short battle it started to come back in very easily and at this point, Danny noticed a couple of marks on the carp and recognised the fish instantly, he knew this fish should he get it in the net would be his first 30 from the venue. Fortunately, it slipped over the net cord with no fuss whatsoever. Leaving him an extremely happy angler and a January 30 in the net. Goes to show no matter the conditions if you’re willing to put the effort in the rewards are there to be had.
The following weekend saw us back down the lake for another day session. Again, with nothing to go on we decided to target the same area knowing the fish wouldn’t be moving around too much in the cold water. The morning was very slow so Danny went for a couple of laps of the lake to see if he could find anything to go on. Whilst he was round the back of the lake checking a few known spots the alarm had burst into life. After a very hard fight Donna was extremely happy to see a very nice upper 20lb mirror slip into the net. This was to be the start of a crazy few hours as Danny followed it up shortly with a mid-double common. Then Donna was called back into action less than an hour later. Another dogged battle ensued, and Donna managed to land a very hard fighting common, her second 20lber of the day. Leaving Danny on pest control he managed another low double common a while later.
We decided to have a weekend off and recharge the following weekend as the early starts were starting to take their toll. The following weekend, we headed to another one of the lakes on the complex as we had seen a few carp in the far margin whilst walking around. The day was an action packed one and we ended up with another 7 carp throughout the day with Danny managing the biggest at just over 20lb.
The following weekend saw us back on the main lake wanting to get back into some of the larger residents on the complex. After walking around we managed to spot a couple of very subtle signs that there was fish in an area. With this we set up and got the rods out and it wasn’t long before receiving a very violent take and Donna being involved in yet another good scrap. As we slid the net underneath another large fish we once again recognised and knew that it was a fish Donna had already had back in July tipping the scales at a very honest 29.15, leaving her just short of her first UK 30 and at the time being her current UK pb. However, this time she was not to be disappointed with the scales settling on 31.5. This left us both extremely happy as we had now already achieved our yearly goals of a 30 each from the complex. Danny also managed an upper double in that session.
The end of February saw the sun come out to play and the members who would not be renewing came down for their last session so a busy lake. With us doing a bit of a walk around the night before we had an idea where to head and we were fortunate that the swims we had our eyes on had not been taken when we got down. With the lake being very quiet on the fish activity Danny decided to put a zig out, feeling that the carp where not feeding on the bottom and was rewarded very shortly afterwards with a stunning mirror and the only fish out of the lake that day.
The start of March saw Donna take a day off work to go have the morning fishing whilst Danny was stuck at work (it is usually the other way round!) This also coincided with the lake allowing day ticketers back on the complex. With this in mind, Donna got down nice and early and set up in an area we had previously done well and by the time the day tickets came walking around was already bent into a carp. Much to the dismay of one lad who didn’t realise women can fish! He was left even more disgruntled as by the time he came back with his barrow Donna had landed that common and was playing another. With this he decided to put himself next door and get as close as he could to her spots within his swim. Although that seemed to have killed the swim Donna did manage to tempt a small mirror. With this, the lad decided to pack up and go. Don’t think he enjoyed blanking whilst a woman was catching!
The next day we were back on the main lake and after a very slow morning we pulled the rods in and went for a couple of laps of the lake. With nothing still to go on we went on the gut feeling and was rewarded with a stunning low 20lb mirror for Daniel.
The next week when we got down the lake again it was very busy and swims were few and far between. We slotted in a couple of spare swims but kept our eyes on another that had been bucketed that we really fancied could do a bite. A few hours passed by with no action for us and the angler hadn’t turned up in the bucketed swim so we spoke to his friend who had bucketed it for him and it turned out he wasn’t coming down so we made the move and within 40 minutes of getting the rods out the bobbin had pinned against the rod blank and Donna was in. This turned out to be one of the hardest fighting fish she had been in a battle with and was really beating her up. Eventually, after a 20 minute battle we saw a large yellow lump wallowing to the surface and we knew this was going to be her second PB in 3 weeks as it was the large ghostie resident of the lake. With it being a busy lake everybody had gathered around by the time we were ready to weigh and do the pictures. The scales settled on 32.5 and Donna’s PB was beaten by a pound. Unfortunately, it was a cold day and not ideal for a soaking but with everybody gathered round Danny would not disappoint them and let her get away with it like she did the first time round… and a traditional pb bucket in the cold was delivered! The moment was made extra special as we got to share it with some great friends we have made on the complex.
We had one more day session on the lake before night fishing was allowed again. With this in mind, we decided to get down just before first light, like we had done all winter. To our surprise, as we pulled in the car park there was already 3 vans parked up in the car park and as we walked around the lake they were already setting up their bivvies in where they assumed we had done so well through the winter… After a quick walk around, we settled up the other end of the lake to the other anglers after seeing a small bit of fizzing towards the far margin. This was to be another productive days fishing for us as we each landed a mid 20lbr in the day session whilst others doing much longer stints blanked.
Our time and effort spent over the winter period paying off as we knew the signs and location of the fish. We have been asked numerous times what our secret is, having caught a large stock of the lake over our winter campaign as it is by no means an easy lake but it is just the age old time and effort. All those winter mornings getting up at the crack of dawn and getting to the lake while still dark, time spent locating the fish, getting the bait right, both hook baits and free offerings, fishing through all kinds of weather, rain, snow, string winds, all to piece the puzzle together to get the best out of our fishing in the limited time we have when work doesn’t get in the way!
We would have to say this was a fantastic winter period for us as we managed to land over 30 carp in just three months, fishing days only, including 3x30s and countless 20s. A very enjoyable winter with fishing getting us through the current climate and situation that the UK and world is currently facing, immersing ourselves in our fishing life and embracing our passion. Let’s hope the rest of the year is just as good…