Michael Poulter bags a 40 as his first fish of the year!
It was mid-February and with winter almost out of the way I thought that I would chance my arm back on the syndicate. I hadn’t done a night there since Christmas and the lake had only done 3 bites since the end of October to my knowledge, as it is not the greatest of winter waters, hence my flitting around on day tickets for the previous 6 weeks. I had been walking around regularly though and although the fish were showing very rarely, the ones that I had seen were always in the same area, which could be fished from one of any of three swims. I had, however, been trickling bait into the snags all winter in the hope that they would get a taste for it and on my walk around the previous day there were a few fish milling around that area in the upper layers. That was good enough for me so I went straight home and knocked up 5 kilos of Krilled up 15mm code red and set up all 3 rods on Ronnie rigs with a supple Pindown boom section.
It was a long day at work that Friday, so I got to the lake later than planned, already fearing that my intended swim would be taken and somebody was about to catch every large fish in the lake over my “secret” spot. On arrival though there was only 3 vans in the car park and as I walk around the lake it was clear that there were no anglers anywhere near the area that I wanted to fish. I dropped by water bucket off to claim the swim and scattered a kilo of baits up and down the tree line to work its magic whilst I went off to get my gear from the van. A light drizzle had started and a gentle south westerly blew across the lake over my shoulder making me question my swim choice and wonder whether they would be on the end of the wind. I decided to stick with the plan but remain prepared to move should the carp show in any other areas and set about positioning 2 rods along the tree line and one in open water on a spot where I had caught from on previous sessions. The hookbaits were the soon the be released Squid and Krill originals pop ups, which gently sank under the weight of a size 4 Ronnie rig and I opted for a 25lb outline leader over my usual Pindown leader as the water was quite clear.
The night remained quiet but I did hear a couple of fish crash at about 10 o clock but I couldn’t make out whereabouts they were, certainly not in my water that’s for sure! In the morning I had a good lead around the swim before I left to see if there was any area that had less debris on them and after a few chucks I found a nice spot twelve feet from the snags which I wrapped round the yardsticks and logged. As I walked past the snags with my barrow I made the decision to empty my bait bucket of boilies, depositing about 4 kilos along the tree line as I knew the weather was to remain mild for the next week.
As promised by the weatherman the weather did stay nice and mild all week at about 10 degrees, so as you can imagine the week at work went very slowly. As I drove to the lake I passed “Magpie corner” where my son Thomas and I always joke that if you see 1 magpie you will catch a double, 2 magpies for twenty, 3 for a thirty and so on. Now on this particular day I saw 4 lovely magpies all sitting on the corner, “surely not” I said to myself laughing. The car park was very empty when I arrived, so I wasted no time in throwing everything on the barrow and legged it round to the snaggy corner swim, only stopping to throw a kilo of boilies around the tree line as I passed. There was also a slight change to my krilled-up code red as I had replaced the sinking krill oil with a new sinking squid oil that Ian Day had kindly sent me from Sonubaits HQ to try out. The great thing about this oil is that is does not freeze or thicken in cold temperatures, so I have no concerns about using it in the winter, but be warned, it stinks!
Once again I cast out two baits on the tree line and one out in open water but this time I fished them all on stiff hinged rigs consisting of size six Avid CRV hooks and a 25lb Captive coated boom section all baited with a 15mm Squid and Krill Ian Russell original popups coated in the new squid oil. I had also replaced my usual lead-clip with a helicopter set up using some of the new Avid outline heli beads as it didn’t seem to be that clear and with the beads set six inches apart I knew that I was fishing on top of whatever winter debris was still out there. I felt each 1.5oz lead down with an acceptable donk before placing them locked up in the rests and retired to my bivvy to make some dinner. Almost straight away the left rod signalled a huge liner which nearly made me spill my food on the floor but nothing else materialised as the bobbin settled back to its original position. Full up and tired from another busy week at work it wasn’t much after 10 o clock when I got into the bag and fell asleep.
At 4:30 in the morning a couple of sharp bleeps from the Delkim had me sat bolt upright on my bedchair. In the beam from the headtorch the bobbin twitched a couple of times just before it smacked into the rod butt. I quickly lifted into the fish which amazingly had already swam away from the snags and a very heavy, slow and deliberate tussle followed which lasted about 5 minutes or so with the fish rolling into the net first time. I knew it was a good fish and my mind started wandering back to magpie corner and the prophecy of a forty pounder “Surely not” I said to myself again.
On lifting the fish out of the water I knew for sure it was a good one! I zeroed the scales with the sling and then transferred my capture into the sling and put it on the scales which settled on 42lbs and 5ozs. With the fish secured in the retainer in the margin I made myself a coffee to try and get my head straight as I had just beaten my PB by 2lbs! Once calmed, I set about sorting out the camera and stuff and lifted the carp out of the water onto the mat. I re-weighed the fish first, just in case my eyes had deceived me the first time but sure enough the digi-scales showed 42lbs 3ozs and I managed a couple of night shots before my dodgy shoulder gave up on me (hence the rubbish pics!). I climbed in the lake with the fish and gave it a kiss before letting her go on her way, following her in the beam of my headtorch until she disappeared into the depths.
Obviously after all that I was too wired to go back to sleep and as soon as it was light, I had my barrow packed and I was off home to see my family, giving a wry smile as I passed a now birdless Magpie corner…. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.