Loz East | Stanwick Lakes Fishery

Loz is treading on hallowed ground this month– almost. The Stanwick complex rubs shoulders with an illustrious neighbour or two, and part of it will be very well-known to those of us approaching or just passing middle age, as one of the waters on site used to be run by none other than Duncan Kay...

IMAGE 2 - Mallard Lake.jpg

The fishery is situated on the A45 between Wellingborough and Thrapston and can be found using the following address: Stanwick Lakes, Wellingborough NN9 6GD. The complex is home to six lakes in total, comprising of both open-access, day-ticket lakes and a solitary syndicate venue. The day-ticket lakes are Swan, Coot, Mallard, Car Park and Elsons, with Roman being the syndicate water. I have to say that I was immediately taken aback by the scenery at this complex and my visit was during the winter. I can only imagine how beautiful it will look during the warmer months of the year.

Pay close attention!

Pay close attention!

The layout of the complex

The layout of the complex

The gates to the complex open at 7am and close at 7pm, and if you want to find out more about the venues, they have a great website, full of information. You can check it out at: www.stanwicklakesfisheries.com. The venue keep current and regular catch reports on their social media platforms which are as follows: stanwicklakes_fisheries on Instagram and Stanwick Lakes Fishery for their Facebook page. If you would like to contact the fishery by telephone you can call: 07974 300015, or alternatively, email them via: enquiries@stanwicklakesfisheries.com

The complex offers free off-road parking in two on-site car parks along with toilet facilities. If you should get hungry whilst fishing, there is a local takeaway, which is more than happy to deliver to the complex as well. Stanwick also have a small on-site tackle shop, should you require any basic essentials. They holds stocks of bait, small tackle items and some refreshments. The is also a full list of rules on site which I would urge you to read before starting your session.

Elsons is around six acres in size and steeped in carp fishing history. It is a venue once far better known to some as the Mid Northants Carp Fishery controlled by Duncan Kay, back in the 80s. The biggest recorded carp now is just over 40lb and was caught in 2015, and there are currently 15 other known 30lb-lus fish. A maximum of 12 anglers are allowed on the lake at any given time and, due to the demand, booking is necessary before your session. If you want to fish Elsons it will cost £14 for a day session or £23 for 24-hours’ fishing. You will be asked to pay a small deposit on booking – £5 per angler per night, which will be deducted from the cost of your ticket.

John was there to greet me upon my arrival

John was there to greet me upon my arrival

Mallard has 25 swims on the lake and is now the second specimen lake, as the quality of fish being caught will testify. Numerous twenties are caught regularly and at least two thirties are present in the lake. A 24-hour session will cost you £20 but there are concessions for juniors or senior citizens of £12 for 24-hours’ fishing.

Swan is around three acres in size and has 30 swims. This lake is popular for carp fishing and due to the stocked fish which have now grown on this can be considered a ‘runs’ water. The average size expected would be between 8lb and 16lb, although mid-20s have been caught, and there is also a known 30 residing in the lake. A 24-hour session will cost you £20 but there are concessions for juniors or senior citizens of £12 for 24-hours’ fishing.

Coot is the smallest lake with around 12 pegs. It has carp, tench, roach, rudd, and crucians all residing in it and recently a good stocking of bream to over 10lb has taken place. A 24-hour session will cost you £20 but again there are concessions for juniors or senior citizens of £12 for 24-hours’ fishing.

Car Park Lake has 16 pegs, and as the name suggests, is located next to the main car park, giving easy access. It has a large stocking of small carp, and is an ideal venue for pleasure fishing. A 24-hour session will cost you £20 but there are concessions for juniors or senior citizens of £12 for 24-hours fishing.

Roman lake is the syndicate lake on the complex and is around nine acres in size. An area known as The Arm, which is about two acres, is shut for the close-season (December 1st till February 28th) which still leaves about seven acres open all-year. Since taking over the complex, the stock in this lake is now approaching 200 carp, there are doubles, numerous 20s and 30s, right up to the current record for the lake, which is a 50lb common!

As I mentioned last month, I love a natural in the winter. It was maggots and more maggots this month too – and they’d all had a soak in Meta Mino for good measure

As I mentioned last month, I love a natural in the winter. It was maggots and more maggots this month too – and they’d all had a soak in Meta Mino for good measure

My session at Stanwick was going to take place over 48 hours running from Friday to Sunday. Basically, my reason behind this was that the majority of carp anglers fish at the weekend, so I wanted to make it as realistic as possible. I remember on the journey down from Nottingham the weather was incredibly mild and the thermometer in my car was reading into double-figures!

I arrived at the complex literally as John was opening the gate and I was pleasantly surprised to see no other cars in front of me. When I parked up in the car park I was even more surprised to see not a single angler on the complex. What on earth was going on? Prime winter conditions and not a angler fishing – I couldn’t believe my luck... After finding out a little bit of information from John, he advised me to maybe fish Mallard Lake as it holds a good stock of fish with a great head of 20lb carp. I wasn’t about to go against this advice, so I made my way around to the car park.

Peg 6 was to be my home for the weekend

Peg 6 was to be my home for the weekend

When I arrived at the lake itself, the first thing I did was grab my water butt and bait bucket, get suited and booted in my winter clothes and go for a wander to see if I could locate any fish. You have to remember at this point it was still dark so, although I couldn’t see all the lake, first light in my opinion is still the best time for seeing and hearing fish. As I made my way around to peg 6 I quietly stood out on the platform listening for any signs of disturbance, when one showed just to the left of the peg around 40 yards out. That was enough evidence for me and I placed my bucket and butt in the swim to reserve it and ran back to the car! By this point the excitement level and my adrenaline had gone through the roof. I’ve turned up to a venue with great winter form, that holds plenty of decent carp, to find absolutely no other anglers on the lake, with unbelievable weather conditions – and, I’ve also managed to find them.

Once I’d loaded the barrow and made my way around the peg 6 I decided to chill out and take my time setting up. The hard work was done, which was getting on the fish – it was now down to me to catch them. By the time I had the house in order, the light levels had risen a little and I could see exactly what was in front of me. By this point there was also a slight drizzle in the air which I knew had been predicted. I just smiled to myself as I stood looking out into the lake thinking I’d rather it be wet and mild than clear and cold.

It was now time to think about how best to approach the swim. The first thing I did was have a cast with a bare lead on my spod rod to have a feel around, where I’d seen the fish a few hours earlier. The lead hit a soft bottom in around eight feet of water. It was pretty clear so I knew I could present a bait there, however, for the way I wanted to fish I needed to find something a little bit harder. I cast my lead back out a little further straight in front of the swim when the lead hit a nice firm, clear area – just what I was looking for. I had another couple of casts to the left and the right of the spot and found the more I went left the clearer the spot got and if I went a rod length to the right there was a big bed of silk weed. After wrapping it around my distance sticks I ascertained the spot was just over 50 yards out, which was a nice comfortable distance as I was going to be using a lot of maggots.

Before putting any bait out onto the spot I wrapped my three fishing rods up to 13½ lengths. I guessed the depth to be around 10-11 feet which, personally, if I fish in water that is over ten feet deep I like to give myself half a rod length’s grace to whatever my Spomb is wrapped up to. I’ll explain more later in the article about exactly what rig presentation I was planning on using, but, for now, I cast all three rigs onto the spot as tight as I could possibly get them, as I wanted to try and concentrate all my bait onto one area. Once they were all settled it was time to get some bait in. I’d bought three gallons of red and white maggots with me, which I’d killed over the previous 48 hours by freezing them. Whenever I use maggots I always like to kill the large quantity that I’ll be spodding and to give them another element of attraction. Before I kill them I allow them a little time to absorb some Meta Mino Oil that I coat them with. Once you take the maggots out of the freezer the night before your session, if you burst one, you’ll literally be able to smell the oil that they’ve taken on and I’m sure it gives the maggots another edge. It is important to mention that you must defrost them thoroughly before your session because if they’re still frozen, they will float – and you certainly don’t want that!

Solid bags... I really don’t know why I don’t use them more often?

Solid bags... I really don’t know why I don’t use them more often?

So back to the session and to start with I went about putting out 12 Spomb loads onto the spot. When I do use natural baits such as chopped worm, maggots or casters I like to feed the swim little and often, so every hour I’ll set the alarm on my phone to put out another two Spombs. By keeping the bait consistently falling through the water you are creating a constant trail of attraction to your spot.

The first few hours of daylight passed without so much as a bleep.

Over the past few months I’ve started to use solid bags a lot, which was something I’d not done a lot of in the past. Why this is, I’ll never know, as my results have seemed to go through the roof as every single lake I’ve taken them to, I’ve caught well. To set up my presentation I use the following components: 18lb Supernatural Braid, solid bag tail rubbers, 3oz square pair inline leads, size 8 swivels, medium Kicker size 4 Widegape X Hooks and a small piece of silicon tubing. There was no reason on this particular lake to drop the lead, as the weed wasn’t that severe, so I made the insert to the inline lead larger with a pair of scissors just so it would release quicker from the swivel. What this means was as soon as the fish hooks itself, the lead ejects from the swivel, which means you now having a running lead system so the carp can’t use the weight to shake the hook free.

Hookbait-wise I pretty much use bright wafters for 95% of my solid bag fishing, as I believe having a bright fleck of colour is almost like having the cherry on top of the cake. I started the session with one rod on a 12mm yellow IB Wafter, while the other two rods were fitted with 12mm Salty Squid Wafters. I’ve had these two particular baits glugging in the matching enhancement system for a while now, which means they leak off attraction constantly.

Going into the first evening I was quietly confident, the weather conditions were cock on and there still was not another angler in sight. As daylight finally went and the drizzle of rain continued to fall it was time to shut the door down, put the stove on and have something to eat. I’m guessing you already know what I’m going to say next as I’d literally just started to cook my favourite steak dinner, when the middle rod was away – typical! The fish was a 21lb mirror and was a lovely way to start the session. What I did next was quite important. I left the fish safely recovering in the landing net and put out another six Spombs of maggots onto my area before getting another solid bag cast back out to my spot. This is crucially important at any time of the year but more so in winter when the feeding spells are shorter. You need to maximise your fishing time to its full capacity and this can be the difference between catching one fish, or maybe three.

Once everything was sorted and I’d returned the fish it was time to get back to the steak, and boy was it overdue. The next few hours passed quietly by when, at around 9pm, my right-hand rod signalled another take. After a decent battle under the rod tip, I landed a mid-double common which was unhooked and let go to fight another day. Although it was another fish there were carp to almost double its size in the lake and that’s what I was there for. Again, I went through the same process of another six Spombs and a fresh solid bag onto the area. By now the temperatures had dropped slightly and the thought of a nice warm sleeping bag got the better of me, so I hopped straight back into bed. I must have fallen into a deep sleep fairly quickly because the next thing I knew, my middle rod was screaming off and I was struggling to get my bearings. It transpired that it was already 3am, with another common around the 15lb mark being responsible for my rude awakening.

This 21-pounder was a nice way to get off the mark

This 21-pounder was a nice way to get off the mark

As first light approached, I was up and hoping to see any signs of carp – as it was roughly the same time I saw a couple when I arrived the previous day on my walk around the lake. Watching the water had to wait though because no sooner had I flicked the kettle on, than my middle rod was away once again. This time it was a totally different fish, an awesome mirror which weighed in at 23lb. However, it had colours and scale patterns that were to die for. I didn’t have too much time to admire it though because as I turned around to get my spod rod, the left-hand rod was away – almost double-take style! This time an 18lb half-linear was the culprit, leaving me with a cracking brace of winter mirrors – I couldn’t have asked for more than that.

This upper-double followed closely behind

This upper-double followed closely behind

Solid bags and solid hookholds!

Solid bags and solid hookholds!

At around 10am I made the decision to set my alarm clock on my phone for every hour, when I’d up the baiting plan and cast three Spombs of maggots onto the area. This would mean there was a regular stream of bait falling through the water column. I also decided to leave my rods out of the water for a few hours. That might seem daft to some people, however, resting the swim can sometimes be more beneficial than actually fishing, giving the fish a free feed with no pressure. As 3pm approached it was now time to get the rods back in position for the evening, I’d already clipped them up and made the solid bags in advance, so it was just a case of casting them onto the area. It was like clockwork really because, almost identically to the first bite the previous evening, my middle rod signalled a take. After a spirited fight it turned out to be a mid-double mirror, which again was sent straight back, none the worse for its ordeal. The next few hours were quiet and I was starting to see a pattern develop. Basically, throughout the evening and night the bites were coming a few hours apart, however in the morning at first light there was a mad, half-hour feeding spell. At around 10pm I had another small mirror before waking up at first light to absolute carnage. Between 6am and 7am, I had three takes where literally one rod went after the other which took my tally to 10 fish as I landed two mirrors of 19lb and 22lb, alongside a common just over the 20lb mark. It was unbelievable really, especially for my first visit to the venue and during the winter as well.

The largest of the weekend was this lovely, scaly 23-pounder

The largest of the weekend was this lovely, scaly 23-pounder

If you time it correctly and things get hectic, this can happen – even in winter

If you time it correctly and things get hectic, this can happen – even in winter

This 22lb mirror was my second largest of the session

This 22lb mirror was my second largest of the session

After that burst of action, it was time to have an early pack up and head back up north to Nottingham. As I’ve mentioned, by now I knew when the bite times were developing and with only having two nights at my disposal, realistically my job was done. Stanwick Lakes is a really picturesque complex holding a ridiculous number of big, open-access carp – one thing is for certain I will be visiting the complex in the future.

All the best, Loz.

What a nice way to finish...

What a nice way to finish...

This clean 20lb common was the final part of a triple-take on the last morning

This clean 20lb common was the final part of a triple-take on the last morning

Another upper-double, so typical of the stamp you’ll find in Mallard Lake

Another upper-double, so typical of the stamp you’ll find in Mallard Lake

Mick Clifford