When Jake Wildbore fished with a group of old friends on a social at the famous Stanwick Lakes, little did they know what was to come...
Turning up to any new water is always an exciting, fresh experience, but when you turn up with only a few hours of light to spare and hardly any swims to choose from, it's a whole new ball game. Recently I went to Stanwick Lakes on a social. We exclusively booked Elson's Lake, which I have to say is a picture-perfect venue and one I will certainly be revisiting in the near future.
Upon arrival, it was clear where the fish were. I quickly did a lap, said my hellos and ran to an area where I had seen a few fish top. It appeared they were on a fresh south-westerly, which came as no surprise. I slotted in between my two friends exactly where the fish were showing.
With the carp being active in one particular area, the last thing I wanted to do was cast a marker float on their heads and risk spooking them off, cutting my chances down with only the night ahead. Looking into the gin-clear margins, it was clear that with its rich environment it would be weedy. I tied a tiny 1oz pear lead on one of my fishing rods and flicked it roughly into the area where they were showing. Feeling the lead down and gently pulling back, I reeled in what can only be described a paradise: silkweed. This very fine weed grows along the bottom and is normally packed full of naturals. These were sure signs why the carp were showing in that particular area: natural food and no line pressure - perfect.
In this particular situation I opted to fish a naked chod rig. There are a few reasons for this: it enables me to fish very light leads, causing minimal disturbance, and it will gently settle on top of the weed. That way, as long as I feel the lead down, I know my rigs are fishing 100% effectively.
This brings me on to my choice of hookbaits. Through the colder months and moving into spring is really when bright, in-your-face hookbaits come into their own. As the water temperature warms up, the carp will start actively looking for food, so with an eye-catching little pop-up in an area where they're willing to feed, matched with a sharp hook and effective rig, and you're on to a winner. This has certainly become apparent in my new role at Sticky; we are constantly receiving catches from anglers across the UK, and of late the number of anglers catching on Krill White Ones, Pinks or Signatures has been amazing. It really speaks for itself.
To start with on this particular session, I opted to fish two single Signature pop-ups in the rough area where they were showing. Then as night fell, I could introduce a small amount of freebies, and if I was fortunate enough to catch, introduce further small amounts as the session progressed.
Once my rigs were ready for action, I waited patiently for another carp to show itself and then flicked my hookbaits into position. I didn't have to wait long before my left-hand rod was away - unfortunately the hook pulled as it surged into a weedbed.
As night fell and the sky became seagull free, I scattered some 16mm Vor-Tex Plus around a small area. An hour later I received a sure sign that they clearly enjoyed the bait because my right-hand rod pulled up tight and I was in. After a nervy battle guiding the hard fighting fish between weedbeds and other anglers' lines, I finally netted my first Elson's carp. In the head torch, it looked like a nice start to the session too. First things first, though; whilst the carp was resting safely in the net, I made up a fresh rig and got the rod straight back out there. Once the rod was back in position with a few handfuls of Vor-Tex out in the swim, my traps were set for the night ahead. We got the fish out; it was no monster at 26lb, but it was a solid 'breezeblock' common and I was chuffed to say the least.
The night brought no further action for myself or anyone around the lake. The majority of anglers packed up early the following morning to get back to their busy lives and it was at this point when we heard a yelp from Daniel Hype around the corner. There were only three of us on by then, so Kev and I walked round to see what was occurring; sure enough, Dan was bent into a fish. On closer inspection, it wasn't just any fish, but the queen of the pond, the Scar Common, and it looked big! We got everything together and lifted her on the scales and they spun round to 40lb 14oz. It was a new PB common for Dan, a new lake record, and just a mega fish. Well done, Dan.
Just when we thought this topped off a truly awesome session, my right-hand-rod ripped off and I netted a lovely clean 24lb mirror. What an enjoyable session - I cannot wait to go back!