Craig Mortimer gets a ticket he’s been waiting for.
After four years fishing the awesome West Stow Country Park on the Norfolk & Suffolk Fisheries ticket, I finally got my chance to move on to Nunnery D Lake. NS Fisheries has a number of lakes within its complexes, and believe me, they are all as special as each other, but D Lake was the one to take me on my next adventure.
The Lake itself is around seven or eight acres with a stock of around 70 or 80 fish. I really can’t explain how amazing this place is in writing, but it’s certainly a sight to behold. The fish aren’t just your standard, everyday carp either. The originals in D Lake are around 40 to 50 years old, and epic and wary in equal measure!
The Lake has a traditional close season in place, so 16th June couldn’t come quickly enough, though I couldn’t make the opening night or even the next two weeks due to busy work commitments. Finally my first free night arrived at the end of June. I was buzzing to get down there and, wanting to try and get on fish, opted for a Sunday night. When turning up at around 4pm, the place was empty, which made my mind up that I would stay away from the weekends and manage my work schedule around getting down on a Sunday and leaving for work on a Monday, then come back during the week for another overnighter.
After a good walk about, I decided to set up in a swim called the Bench, which had a lot of open water, an island straight in front and a no-fishing area down to the left. I spotted a few fish cruising along the marginal shelf of the island in about 2ft of water. Waiting for the fish to pass, I managed to stick two rods tight up against the island on the patrol routes they were taking. With trusty Sticky Signature pop-ups in place and a light scattering of Manilla freebies over the top, I was feeling very confident. Just before dark I saw a fish come out of the water right over the top of the right-hand rod. What a confidence boost that was before settling down for the night.
At 12.30am I was awoken by a couple of bleeps on the right-hand alarm. I was fishing locked up so was straight on the rod to have a look. The bobbin was practically chewing the alarm, which meant I was in! The fight wasn’t all that, to be honest; a few plods and a shake of the head later and it was soon in the net, but what a fish to start my account, a lovely 34½lb mirror.
I was fishing that shallow I got picked up by ducks on two occasions, which made me redo the rods. I had to be off the lake by 8am to get to work, so I hung it out as much as I could, and at 7.50am the right-hand rod was away again, this time with a really angry mirror on the end. The fish tried to do me in every snag possible, but after a good 10 minutes it was finally beaten and lying in the bottom of my net. What an incredible carp, one of the best looking fish I have ever caught, and a 40-year-old original mirror to boot, all 36lb 2oz of it.
The next session came after a few days away from the Lake, and I turned up this time for a midweek overnighter. As I opened the gate and walked to the first swim, I spotted around 20 fish on the surface cruising about. The wind was a bit too strong for floaters and I didn’t want the birdlife to ruin my chances, so I opted to fish a couple of adjustable zigs. I didn’t know what the depths were in the swim and I didn’t want to risk spooking them with a marker float, so the adjustables seemed the best option. After watching the fish for a good 20 minutes and working out their patrol routes, I flicked out a couple of zigs in their path. I set the zigs around 1ft and 2ft under the surface. Hookbaits were trimmed down Krill pop-ups, a nice subtle approach that also mimicked a floater.
It really didn’t take long at all; the zigs were only in the water for 30 minutes before the right-hand rod pulled round and a fish was on! After a mental 10-minute battle spent praying the hook held, the fish finally succumbed to the net. What another awesome fish it was, and another original at 36lb. What a place! With the pictures done and the fish slipped back, the swim just seemed empty; they had moved off me already. These fish certainly weren’t stupid, so I decided to pack up and go in pursuit.
I eventually found some more fish to angle for. Nothing happened all night, but on first light the left-hand rod was away. Unfortunately, I lost that one when it managed to shake the hook in the snags. I was gutted; you don’t want to lose a fish from this water!
With the rod back on the spot and a feeling of deflation engulfing my soul, I really thought I had messed up my chances, but an hour later the rod was away again – I wasn’t going to lose this one! Another hard battle ensued, with the fish twisting and turning and trying to get me in the snags, but I soon managed to slip the net under another stunner, which hit the scales at 26lb.
I couldn’t get down to the Lake for another few days as work was busy again, so I opted for a weekend session and a little social with a good friend who also has a ticket. It was a weird one because the water clarity had really changed, making it difficult to find fish. I opted for a swim called the Goose, which faced the side of an island. I had loads of areas to pick from and some lovely overhangs I knew could hold the odd carp or two, well away from the pressure of other anglers.
With white Signature hookbaits over a bed of the trusty Krill, which I had begun to use, I went to bed feeling confident, but again nothing happened through the night. First light came and I saw a fish show over the left-hand rod – and I mean right over it! I just sat there watching and hoping for a bite, but after an hour still nothing had happened. As I was starting to think they had done the off, the rod was away. Soon another awesome mirror lay in the folds of the net, weighing in at 28½lb.