Winter On The Railway

Fatty at 31lb 14oz

Tom Denton made the most of a mild winter up in Lincolnshire.

Winter arrived and my intention was to concentrate on my fishing closer to home, so I could apply bait regularly and walk the banks daily with my dog to keep an eye out for signs of fish.

Three days before the ticket started, I managed to secure a position on a gorgeous venue called the Railway, situated near Lincoln. The lake itself is set in woodland and is around 10 acres. Stock wise, it has nine thirties, the biggest two of which go to around 32-34lb at the right time of year. There is also a very good stock of twenties, and 30 new stockies including some stunning scaly ones; definite fish for the future.

On Friday 27th November I made my way down to the lake in the afternoon. After a couple of laps, I couldn’t locate the fish, so I opted for a swim known as the Point, which covers a good central part of the lake and also some far-margin snags. I fished two nights in there, but left with my tail between my legs. I chose to bait the area the following week, knowing it was a good passing point for the fish to get to either end of the lake.

Location is the key at this time of the year
The lovely mirror with the big apple slice scale

Friday rolled around and I was back at the lake. Rods clipped up to the spots, I fuzzed them out. At 2.30 in the morning the left-hand rod to the far margin signalled a take, the bobbin pulled up tight. I lifted the rod and was attached to my first Railway carp. She slid into the net and weighed 23¾lb. I went on to a catch a scaly mid-double stockie.

The middle of the following week saw five guys do two nights to no avail, but I knew the disturbance of leads and noise would move the fish out of their comfort zone and into the far-margin snags for safety. That week I kept finding the fish up and down the far margin. They seemed to be bouncing backwards and forwards between three different areas, depending on the weather. I chose to bait these areas with a healthy offering of chopped and whole Key Bait Solutions All Season Mix boilies.

I arrived the next weekend and set off on a lap of the lake to see where the fish were situated. I found them opposite a swim called the Kingfisher, in the snags again, and an area I had been baiting for the past week. I applied around a kilo of chopped and whole boilie over spots where I could spread the rods, and the fish quickly started to tip up and have a munch. That was enough for me and I quickly made my way around to the fishing bank with my carp dog Beau in tow, her little legs racing to keep up.

Heart pounding and hands shaking, I managed to tie on the hookbaits and ping them out to the areas I had seen the fish. Some 30 minutes later, just into dark, my right-hand rod burst into life, stripping line. After a good account of itself a 22lb mirror hit the spreader block. I fired off a couple of snaps and back she went. I then received some savage liners on the middle then the left-hand rod, which told me the group of fish was moving out of the swim. I had an idea where they would be heading, right to the far end of the lake; again an area I had been baiting over the past week or so. I decided to pack up in the dark and make my way down there to keep a lookout.

First blood was this nice 23¾lb common
A dark old original of 29¾lb

In the light from a nearby supermarket I saw a carp head and shoulder over the baited spot 20 minutes later. I rebaited the rods and flicked them out to the clips. Everything sorted, I set up camp and sat back with a brew in hand. Morning rolled around and I was surprised I’d not had one. Suddenly the middle rod finally let out a single bleep (I was fishing locked up to a big set of snags) and I ended that trip with a mid-double common. Before I left I spread five kilos of bait around the area.

I was able to fish the Wednesday and Thursday, so I was soon back down. After a lap, I found the fish in the zone where I had caught the last one and baited before I left. With the rods rocking on the spot, I sat back and shared some carpy talk with my friend Lee Howard, who had dropped in two swims to my right. As the light was starting to fade, I received two quick bites on my left-hand rod. The first was a dark, old original of 29¾lb, which had me buzzing. No sooner than I had put the rod back out, the alarm let out another scream as the bobbin smashed against the blank. I lifted the rod and was met with a slow, plodding fight, so I knew this was one of the better ones. The line sang a note in the howling wind and after a hairy battle, getting taken through two weedbeds, I finally slid the net under a healthy looking, dark, plump mirror known as Fatty. Lee and I weighed and photographed her at 31lb 14oz then off she glided into the depths to fight another day.

The Wood Carving – what a fish!
Watching the water for signs of fish
The components I use to tie my Withy Pool rigs

Over the next couple of weeks, I racked up quite a few mid- to high doubles from various areas of the lake after finding fish. I was slightly unlucky to catch the smaller specimens out of the bunches of fish I kept finding, but still happy to be getting so much action in January.

Over the next week or so, the weather took a turn for the worse, resulting in some hard frosts and the lake freezing up. I still walked the lake regularly over that time and put in bait where and when I could. A close eye on the weather forecast showed some mild weather moving in and in no time the lake thawed. The day after that was a Friday – happy days! I was back down to find the fish in the snags opposite the Point. A healthy offering of boilies and three kilos of Hull Particle’s Hemp with Water Snails made for a great session ahead.

First of the trip came that evening, a stunning mid-double with a big apple-slice scale on one side, a sure stunner. Through the night I had two more commons of 17lb and 18lb, and just as it started to get light, my left-hand rod pulled up and the fish started to kite on a tight line. Lee had messaged me the previous night saying I would have a fish called the Wood Carving by morning; Little did I know, but I was playing that fish! A tussle here and there saw this absolute stunner, one of the main target fish, sulking in the mesh of my landing net. I fired a quick text to my mate Martin Langtry, who kindly came and photographed us having a cuddle.

The second thirty of the last session – Blue Spot at 30lb 2oz

The weather took another turn for the worse, with cold winds gusting up to 50mph. I decided to call it a day and loaded the van up ready for heading home. Before leaving, I baited two swims with 5kg of boilies ready for my return later in the week.

Two days later and I was back. Polarising glasses at the ready, off I went searching. I found them in a swim known as the Polo, where I had caught Fatty. Out went the rigs and I scattered 100 baits over each one. It wasn’t long before I was commencing battle with an angry carp. Eventually, after surges of line being torn from the spool, I won the war and in the net it went. A fish called Lucky and another target ticked off the list at a healthy 30¼lb. I went on to catch five fish over the next two nights including another lump called Blue Spot at 30lb 2oz. Kieran was kind enough to capture the moment with the camera.

That’s the adventure up to current times. There are two more target fish to go, the Big Mirror and the common called Arnie, and I’m hoping to meet them very shortly. I’m heading in the right direction, slowly ticking them off the list. With 23 fish in 18 nights I’m doing something right, as there have only been six other fish caught to other anglers in two months. All my fish have been caught on Withy Pool rigs tied with components from the Fox Edges range, incorporating a size 6 SSBP hook and a main boom section four inches long. I’ve kept mobile, willing to move on to any signs of fish. Location and bait application have played a huge part; location being number one, as you can’t catch what isn’t in front of you. I’ve got one month to catch those two fish, then it’s back to Peterborough, chasing that 50lb common called Kitch.

May your next bite be your target fish.

Lucky at 30¼lb

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