Michael Poulter looks back at what turned out to be a tough year
After a slow spring at the syndicate we were all expecting a summer full of carp action. The fish had been acting a bit weird coming out of winter with only the one or two fish coming out here and there, so surely summer time was going to trigger them to feed and eventually slip up?
How wrong we were! In early June, the lake was rightly closed for three weeks whilst the Carp got their spawning out the way, so it was decided that there was to be a draw a week before reopening and unbelievably I drew out first! I already decided upon my 3 top swim choices, all of which were easy to pre-bait and therefore I chose the one that I knew had a record of producing the bigger fish. All was looking great, the weather was bang on and every day that week I baited with half a bucket of hemp, corn and a few boilies, plus I was seeing fish in the area regularly. One of which was Enoch the biggest in the lake.
The day arrived and we all turned up at the lake full of enthusiasm. The bailiffs had even put reserved signs on each of our swims. The sun was blazing and the air pressure had gone sky high, so it was no surprise that 48 hours later I found myself doing the long walk of shame with not even a bleep, in fact, only 2 of us out of the 20 actually caught. Then two weeks later disaster struck! Following a couple of the A team dying the lake was closed for a further 5 weeks for tests. As you can imagine, it was a great relief to us all when the tests came back ok and the cause of death was looking like old age. It was a sad time on the lake made even worse after I found the Lumpy half lin belly up in the margin during the closure. Lumpy was a special fish to me as I caught him last year and was my first English 40 pounder and remains my PB today.
One of the other two losses was a stunning carp called the Long fish and one I would have loved to have caught but obviously, it was not meant to be. The last person to catch the long fish was my friend Scooba who had her at 42lb+ and a finer healthier carp I have never seen, which made her passing even harder for us all to understand. I told Scooba that she probably died from shame after he caught her! I can’t print his reply but those of you that know him will probably have a good idea what he called me.
So once the lake was given the all clear I was back there for my usual Friday overnighter. On this particular evening I was sat drinking tea with my wife and son who had popped over to see me when the rod with the solid bag that I had put out only 20 minutes earlier tore off! Tea went everywhere in my haste to get to the rod and after paying a visit to every weed bed in the area, I was soon netting a very long overdue carp. My wife laughed at my nervousness throughout the fight saying that I wasn’t that bad on our wedding day, to which I replied that I knew she wouldn’t get away!
I got the camera set up and lifted out my prize, at 21lbs it certainly wasn’t the biggest in the lake but it was certainly one of the most sought after, the beautiful fully scaled. I took a few snaps in the rain and slipped her back into the surprisingly cold water. After that, the fish started to show more frequently and I started to get more and more frustrated with the lack of action, I knew my tactics were sound as I had already caught one, but they just seemed to be throwing themselves around for fun. Across the bay from me another member, Ian Lewis was having the same issues and we spent the evening watching a fine aerial display with no further action to either of us. This was not a one-off experience either, to myself or a large majority of the members. The fish just seemed to be taking the mick out of us all, with many evenings spent watching very large fish crash right over our spots but no bites were forthcoming. It was becoming clear that they had found another source of food and it wasn’t boilies…….
The summer plodded on and the blanks started building up for most of us anglers, with mainly the weekday members catching, probably due to the lack of angling pressure. One thing that was very obvious this year was the lack of weed and the tea coloured water, as opposed to the normal heavy weed and gin clear water. I found myself popping over to local park lake for short 4 hour sessions for a bit of light relief from the blanking and managed to get a bend in the rod which always feels good, no matter how big they are.
September soon came round and I actually had a rare 48 hour session, rather than my usual Friday night overnighter. The lake was quite empty so it was a bit of a bold decision to fish one the swims that hardly ever gets fished, with the thinking being that it had received less angling pressure than the others although it did share some of its water with another swim. I baited a Ronnie rig with a Code Red 15mm pop up and cast it close to the far bank and left it there whilst I got the rest of my gear sorted. 5 minutes later, it was away!
I was so taken aback that for a moment my hands and brain lost all co-ordination and by the time I had regained control the line fell limp, cut off on an underwater snag. I slumped down onto my Bedchair, took a deep breath and re-addressed the rod, putting it slightly further left to avoid any re-occurrence of the cut-off. But as we all know, no matter how much off a brave face you put on, a fish loss hurts like hell, especially when the lake had not been fishing that well either. I stayed in that swim for 24 hours before I decided to have a walk around the lake to find where the fish were, as my swim was now looking very quiet and it did not seem to be holding any carp at all. I found a large group of carp a 100 yards down the bank and they seemed to be looking for food, rolling and jumping at about 30 yards out. I moved all the gear into the swim and felt the lead down on all three spots with a satisfy thud. Each rod received half a kilo of krill hemp and chopped 15mm Code red before I sat back to eat my pizza that my lovely wife had delivered to me (she is a legend).
No action was had in the night but at first light, the right-hand rod signalled a take, which was followed by an absolutely mental scrap of 10 minutes or so from a possessed looking 20lb mirror. A few of the members recognised the fish and they all said that it did the same to them, tearing around like a lunatic and testing their gear to the maximum. I slipped it back and even then, it gave me a right soaking with a flick of its tail, “Maybe we should name it Diablo” I joked.
An hour later the fish started showing further out in front of one of the adjacent swims and as no-one was fishing there, I cast a single pink Code red pop up at them on a slightly tweaked version of my usual rig. Twenty minutes later it tore off and I was latched in to something that felt a bit bigger, just plodding around using its weight to hold water. But eventually I put the net under a lovely 32lb 3oz common. A sense of relief came over me and even the lost fish some 40 hours earlier didn’t seem to hurt as much. I packed away a much happier angler. Needless to say, that session was a one off as the blanks have started racking up again. Winter is fast approaching, where I will be going off to pastures new for a couple of months before I’m back onto the syndicate for what I hope with be a better season. It always amazes me how a water can change so much over 12 months and I suppose it’s what keeps me going back where many give up, you never know when that purple patch will happen, please god make it soon!!