Under The Radar | Jonny Fletcher
I’d been hearing about this place for a while, but never really thought I would fish it. The lake is known for its troubles, limitation with parking, trouble with the public, all sorts of negativity. The lake was big with a fairly low stock of fish. I didn’t know too much about the stock, other than the presence of a few good thirties and some nice-looking twenties. It was to be a challenge and test my patience, but it was something that I wanted to take on, and embrace. I walked the pit a couple of times in the winter, and it looked as I imagined it would. The banks were covered in litter and old fires, with cars and trolleys in the water. When I came on in March, I had an idea in my head that I would fish the corner that received the south-westerly winds.
It wasn’t easy getting the gear to the lake with no designated parking, and I really didn’t want to leave my van unattended. I had to come up with a plan of how I was going to do it. I knew someone who lived nearby, so I would stash the gear somewhere and drop the van off to his house, then run back to the gear. For one night’s fishing it was hard work, but I was hoping it would all be worth it.
After a couple of single-night trips, I could see that the fish were spending a lot of time out long. There was a swim on one of the islands, so I decided to get a boat, which would make my life much easier.
I was enjoying my fishing, and being able to get on the fish was great. Only a few other anglers were willing to fish the place. There were a few instances where anglers spinning would come over my lines, with groups of Polish men having beers while trying to catch some pike. I had to just smile and not confront them; I had accepted it was part of being there.
It was slow starting and it wasn’t until the middle of April that things started to warm up. I was baiting regularly with glugged-up Krill boilies. The boat opened up the lake to me and I began to introduce it into a few areas. I picked the shallow, raised areas so that I could check them and see if it had been eaten.
My first take came at the back end of April. The conditions were bang on for the south-west-corner and everything went perfectly. The bait had been getting cleaned off and around 1.00 a.m. I had the bite. Unfortunately, I lost it, which was a gut-wrenching feeling, but nice to know that the spot was somewhere the fish visited. The boat really opened my eyes to all the shallow bars and huge weedbeds. I started fishing the islands, baiting small holes in the weed. I was fishing most Friday nights, and occasionally Saturdays.
It wasn’t until the end of May that I actually caught my first carp. It was only small, maybe mid-double, but it was such a rush to catch a carp from the lake. I then pulled another night and moved over to another swim on one of the islands. The fish were held up in the weed, with the odd one bulldozing its way through and giving its location away. On the Sunday morning, the fish were really active and the sun was blazing down. They seemed to favour the warmer weather and everything felt perfect for a bite. I was up a tree and saw a few clean, sandy holes in the weed that the fish were visiting. I watched them and tried to work out their patrol routes. I waded the rods out and lowered the rigs in. Each was on a Krill Tuff one, as the birds were an absolute nightmare. I dropped a handful of bait over each and the traps were set.
I was up the tree watching the fish and I could see a good-looking mirror drift in to the spot and drop down. I could see its tail waving, then it lifted its head and bolted off. I thought it had done me, but my alarm was beeping. I scuttled down the tree to the see the rod bent down, and it was on. I waded straight out after it weeded itself. She went through another weedbed and took me out into deep water. I then got her back and she was solid. I walked along one of the bars, which allowed me to get above her and net the carp and the ball of weed.
I was buzzing: it was a proper one and looked fairly big too. It was 33lb on the nose and what an amazing-looking carp. It made all the hard work worthwhile, all those nights with little sleep and feeling on edge, it had all come good.
I loaded the boat and was about to go home, when the other rod melted off. Again, it was a powerful fish and my knees were trembling. The same procedure followed, walking out onto one of the shallow bars and getting above the
It was a long common of 25lb, a perfect way to end a very successful trip. I put the rest of my bait that I had across the spots and couldn’t wait for the following weekend. The next trip was quiet; I didn’t so much as see a carp. It was like they didn’t like the carpy fishing conditions and they were really hard to find.
The following trip the weather was meant to be very still and really hot. It was perfect for the lake and I knew I would at least be able to find them. I drifted to the area that I thought they would be and sure enough, I could see rings coming up from the huge weedbeds.
I anchored the boat off one of the islands, got up a tree and had a look. There were a few fish in the area, but one looked a lot bigger than the others. It was a big common, sitting there in the weed, relaxing. I got everything ready and then watched the fish ghost around the weedbeds, while I was trying to decide where to position the rig. I positioned the rods, placing the baits in very shallow water. I woke the following morning and as it got warmer, more fish seemed to arrive. Then, the middle rod smashed up tight. The carp was thrashing on the surface, and then charged in to a large weedbed. I had to jump in the boat and as I got above it, I could see it was the big common.
I shuffled it all in to the net and punched the air: I had caught it. I got back to the bank, secured the fish and rang my friend to come and give me a hand with the pictures. We got her up in the scales at over 39lb, a big fish and from such a demanding venue too, I was totally blown away.
We got all the shots done and after behaving so well, she went back powerfully, soaking me in the process.