One more sleep until the Nash Mega Social weekend, an angling experience organised in order to support research into KHV to help protect future the generations of angling. The money used to purchase the tickets for the weekend was put towards funding research into the genetics of KHV, taking the first step towards breeding carp which are resistant to the virus. Preparation is critical prior to any session, especially when you face a new challenge on a new water. Hours of tying rigs ready for all situations it was essential to find some more information on the water; catch reports and photos of the lake were reviewed and I even managed to get my hands on information regarding water depths for each swim. It is amazing how accessible information like this is, a confidence boost by the touch of a button.
A day of hard slog at work and Thursday evening had come around, it was time to start my journey to the Nash Lakes in Royston. If you were looking at a trail of my path to the Nash Lakes you’d be wondering what on earth I’d been doing; two hours north before travelling back down through the centre of England to the final destination. My brother Jamie Kennard had also been lucky enough to have a place at the Nash Mega Social, so what better way to start the 48 hour trip than a quick trip up to Birmingham to finish our final preparations together. I can’t imagine two people more excited for 48 hours of chunk chasing with some of the biggest names in angling. Whilst my brother finished tying up his final rigs we shared ideas and discussed our approaches for the challenge ahead in hopes of taming some of the scaly beasts known to the lakes in Royston. With my brother living in Birmingham, he is fortunate to have a wealth of waters which surround him, with fishing on our mind we decided to take a trip out to his new local syndicate. With the Dwarfs in the car boot, a short session was on the horizon. Despite Jamie having had some recent successes on the syndicate, this session fell uneventful with the bobbins remaining motionless. Still on a massive high, Jamie and I made our way back home to put the finishing touches to our preparation before beginning our awesome experience at the Nash Lakes. Lay in bed, eagerly anticipating what was ahead it was difficult to get any sleep whatsoever, I was like a child on Christmas day. With the alarm seemingly going off in what felt like 10 minutes after closing my eyes, it was time for the two of us to start our two-hour journey to Royston.
On arrival at the gates to the lake, we were welcomed by the majority of the Nash Team. Arriving slightly early we used our time wisely and wandered the banks, observing the water to look for any signs of fish. Once the other anglers had arrived it was time to complete the draw for the pegs; Jamie and I managed to bag the centre peg, a double swim on the Kingfisher Lake. With the rods already prepped it was time to get a bait in the water in hope of stealing a quick bite. However, the fishing proved to be difficult on the first day with the afternoon and evening passing completely uneventful for both Jamie and I. It was early Saturday morning and rather than crawl to the depths of our sleeping bags, Jamie and I decided to take advantage of the time we had and positioned ourselves out on the foot of our peg to take the best vantage point for observing the water from our peg. With the conditions as they were it made it difficult to see across to the far bank, hoping the sun would come through and burn the clouds away we could only just make out what looked to be another angler on the opposite bank who must have had the same idea. That angler didn’t turn out to be just any angler though, it happened to be Nash’s very own Alan Blair who was taking the opportunity to look for signs of fish whilst walking his dogs. We managed to catch eye contact with Alan and a few moments later he appeared at the top of our peg with a smile on his face and a welcoming handshake. Alan stayed and spoke with Jamie and me for an hour, offering hints and tips on how to approach the water as well as answering all the questions we could throw at him. Following an hour-long chat with Alan, we instantly felt the urge to try and make something happen, we weren’t happy to just sit down behind the buzzers and wait. We wanted to create a chance; Dwarfs, landing nets, bait buckets and unhooking mats in hand, we set off in search of some of Royston’s best-looking residents. On this occasion, our efforts did not produce a reward and it was time to turn to plan B, pre-baiting. On route round the lake, Jamie and I had noted down some likely looking spots in which the fish might have been holding up. Knocking up a quick mix of maggots, corn, hemp and two handfuls of the Nash Key Cray, I took the bucket and my baiting spoon and scattered some freebies around the margin spots in hope of inducing a bite later on that day after enjoying the BBQ with the other anglers and the Nash Team. Jamie and I took the opportunity to kick back and relax with some of the Nash Team who had put on a mini social on the social. A few beers and some lovely food before a game of football concluded what had been an awesome afternoon.
Later that evening I decided to take one last walk around the lake, visiting the pre-baited spots before settling behind the rods for the night. Earlier I had located a small, overgrown bay with no accessible means to fishing it. Observing from the top of the bank above it was evident that the carp were on the feed in this discrete area of the lake. I ran back and spoke with Alan Blair, enquiring whether this area was accessible or not, I got the all clear to fish it from the overgrown, dense bush to the side. I quickly made my way back to the spot with just a single Dwarf in hand, rigged up with a Key Cray Cultured hookbait, I waited to see the latest sign of feeding fish before lowering the rig slowly into position. With the rod on the floor, I sat positioned myself out of sight in the bushes filled with thorns and nettles, looking over the edge in hope of a viscous take; a few liners here and there but nothing materialised into a bite. I returned back to my swim empty handed and scratched to pieces but determined not to be beaten. A quick rig change for a sharper hook and a fresh bait and the rods were back on the spot for what I was hoping was going to be a sleepless, fish filled night.
The night passed and not even as much as a line bite occurred, with a good night of sleep under my belt I got out of my bedchair and went off in search of the fish again; checking all of the little spots in every nook and cranny but the fish were still eluding me. I was determined that today was going to be the day, I got back to the peg, put the kettle on for Jamie and I and discussed the plan of action for our final day at Royston. After two uneventful nights sat behind the rods my gut instinct told me to go and find the fish; with the 9ft Dwarfs in hand, armed with a size 6 Nash Fang Twister I squeezed as many maggots as I could around the shank of the hook. The idea was to walk around with the polaroids on and try to induce a bite by flicking the maggots in front of the fish and the slow sinking nature of them to act as an irresistible parcel of food. You’d think after 48 hours of trying that I’d have been able to locate the fish on a more consistent basis but this simply wasn’t the case. In a last ditch attempt with only a couple of hours left Jamie and I decided to change over to the zigs, adding a boost of Citruz spray to enhance the attraction of the hookbait I felt more confident that before. With half an hour to go there were three shows over the top of our zigs, head and shoulders out of the water, these were big fish. The confidence levels were as high as ever but in 25ft of water, it was always going to be difficult to identify the level in the water column in which the carp were situated and on this occasion, it was a shame to have to reel in fishless. The time had come to pack our kit away; with the kit in the car and a few words of thanks to the Nash Team, it was time to get the playlist back on and get back to Birmingham. A tricky trip which resulted in a blank but it’s all part of the learning curve.
48 hours of fishing and Jamie and I couldn’t help but take a quick diversion to spend a couple of hours on Jamie’s local park lake. Cap and polaroids on, we took to the path on foot around the lake to see if we could track them down as quick as possible. We spoke to a couple of anglers who had managed to sneak a few bites early morning but no action since. Moving on around the corner into the next swim we came across what would have appeared to be the majority of the stock basking in the sun. Not wanting to waste time, we jogged back to the car, grabbed our stalking kit and set off back to where we’d seen them in hope of a quick bite. With the fish in the upper layers, I decided to have a go for them on the top; dog biscuits soaked in oil were the bait of choice. Nash Bolt Machines cast over the top and drawn back slowly into the feeding fish, it was only a matter of minutes before Jamie’s rod ripped over. An hour of fishing and we both managed to nick a couple of bites from what can be a tricky little park lake, just the confidence boost we needed after a tricky couple of days. With the night drawing in, it was time go our separate ways and head back to South Wales and Birmingham respectively.
With a notebook full of answers from the questions I posed to Alan Blair and the Nash Team I couldn’t sit on my hands for long when I arrived home, I was desperate to get back out and put these tips into action. A few days later with a few spare hours, I decided to go and view a new water very early in the morning; I headed off to an intimate park lake not too far from home. From an outside perspective, the lake is situated right in the middle of a very rough housing estate with a bit of a reputation. Rather than turning the water down based on word of mouth I thought it was best to check it out for myself. 45 minutes in the car and the sat nav sounded to say that I had reached my destination. A quick glance out of the window, I was certain I was in the right place. Ensuring I had left nothing on show in the car, I locked the doors, slid through an alley and made my way to the water’s edge. Straight away I was greeted with youths on the far side shouting and drinking, this didn’t surprise me due to what I have heard previously, they were definitely living up to expectations. With my polaroids on I snuck around this intimate, overgrown park lake, peering into the depths looking for any signs of fish. I’d heard the lake contained vast quantities of weed and had a reputation for producing some extremely special fish, this being the exact reason for my visit, old scaly brutes. I lapped and lapped for a couple of hours with no signs of fish when just as I was about to leave I decided to have one last lap. There had been a small bay which looked like it would be a great holding spot for the fish but the weed was making life very difficult in spotting them. I made my way round and decided to climb the tall overhanging tree to try and get a better vantage point. Well, a better view and the fact it would keep me safe from some of the locals wandering the banks! I positioned myself at the top of the tree, watching the water below I caught a glimpse of a tail hanging out of the weed, it was the first fish I had seen. I stayed as still and as quiet as I could in hope that this fish would creep out of the weed for me to have a better look. A few minutes late and what I can only describe as a huge, scaly, old warrior emerged from the dense weed, positioning itself in the upper layers of the watering, mouthing the scum on the surface in search for food. That was all I needed to see, my mind was made up, I wasn’t going to let the surroundings and community around this lake deter me. I’d seen a few likely looking spots and some very clear patches where fish had obviously been feeding, with another day off round the corner I’d definitely be returning to put some bait. Unfortunately, my time at the park lake was cut short due to work commitments but it wouldn’t be long before I paid another visit. A tough day at work and it was straight back home to write down my plans for the park lake, preparation is key...