Like the majority of other anglers out there, I seem to work most of my life and fish very little, usually once or twice a month when work or family dictates. I run a large and hectic tackle shop – Total Angling, in Shrewsbury – which takes up many hours of my day.
Talking about fishing on a daily basis doesn’t help with my limited time, but when I do manage to get out for my session I certainly do my best to put a fish on the bank. This year, I have chosen to fish waters within a short distance of my house; this means that when I do have the limited time to get out and fish I’m not spending the majority of my day travelling to the lake and back. After a little research, I stumbled across a beautiful Shropshire mere within a short drive from my home and work. It was the perfect location for my fishing in the coming year and the quiet, peaceful settings were a bonus after a long day in the shop.
It was a beautiful sunny Shropshire day when I had planned to get down to the lake. I somehow found myself at work in the morning, having to complete some urgent admin stuff, but no sooner than that was completed the van was loaded and I was off for my overnight session. A short journey across the winding country lanes eventually found me opening the gate, greeted by the view of the lake between the trees.
The drive parallel to the lake revealed that there were no other anglers on the lake, so after pulling into the car park I was more than keen to get out and have a look around. The lake itself is situated in the foothills of the Welsh borders, nestled between farmer’s fields and old towering trees. In general, the lake is extremely silty, having collected years of falling autumn leaves. Lily beds are scattered round the marginal shelves, and this is often where you can find the majority of the carp, as most of the lake is quite deep with thick, smelly silt.
I opened the van door, reached for my polarising sunglasses and headed off down one end of the lake for a look about. This end usually sees the sun early in the morning and the carp can often be found milling about just beyond the lily beds and marginal tree line this swim commands. After sitting in the swim for 15 minutes, I began to see some fizzing and fish activity along the marginal tree line. With the water clarity being extremely clear here, it makes seeing the fish reasonably easy with the polarised sunglasses.
With limited time it is wise to walk and observe; you don’t want to set up in the wrong place.
As I kept very still and quiet, trying not to make any sudden movements, four lovely carp drifted straight past where I was standing, swimming on down the other side of the lake. I was happy that I had seen some fish already, but was sure that by the looks of it these fish were not here to stay. With the sun moving around and warming up other areas of the lake, I decided to walk back up the lake towards the car and have a look down the other side.
I walked back towards the van, over the small wooden footbridge where the carp I had spotted were heading. Just down the bank from where the van was parked are a few dot type islands, where the trees have grown in the water to form small patches of firm ground. I hopped from the bank over to one of these, which was only a stride away over shallow water, and then up a sturdy climbable tree on it. There were the fish I had just seen, grazing over some shallow silt patch enjoying the sun.
I hopped back down and carried on along the bank to an area of the lake I had done well in previously. Despite knowing certain areas where fish enjoy spending time each day, and where I have had success from in the past, I still like to have a good look round the lake at the start of my overnight sessions. I feel it gets me motivated and more in tune with what’s going on around the lake in the short time I am there. I can think of many times where I have moved after a quick look round, only to turn my session round and catch a number of fish before having to leave.
I looked up and down the entire marginal slope, right up to where the lake reaches its end, with no sightings of fish. As I made my way down the old track through the trees, I noticed a good amount of fish fizzing close to a bed of lilies at the end of the lake. Peering under the overhanging trees, I could see a few fish with their heads down, waving their tails, creating swirls and vortices on the surface. I wasn’t quite sure what they were feeding on, but the lake is rich in naturals within the silt.
I quickly headed the short distance back to the van, grabbed my session bucket and was soon back watching the fish. By this point they looked like they had stopped, so I went about scattering a few handfuls of Live System boilies and pellets along the reed line. I walked round the end of the lake into the last swim, which commands the area of lilies the fish were feeding on. After sitting in the swim for five minutes I could clearly see there were numbers of fish here, as the stems and pads were knocking as fish moved through.
That was my decision made, so I nipped back to the van to grab the few overnight essentials and made my way round to the swim, ready to get a couple of rods set up. I sat right back in the swim, ensuring I made no sudden movements or unnecessary noises as this may have spooked the fish off and ruined my only chance on the short period I had out on the bank.
As I rigged a few rods up, one on a Live System Air Ball Pop-Up, the other a trusty Tiger In Talin, a fish stuck its head out right next to the lily bed. I scattered another good few handfuls of Live System around the pads, hoping to move the fish out slightly before getting a rod in position. Having fished the swim before, I knew there was a slight ledge to one side of the lily bed, which the fish tend to patrol when moving in and out of the vegetation. The ledge is also a perfect area for the collection of naturals, creating a feeding trough at the edge of the feature.
Nice and simple, but long enough to deal with any silt.
Getting the drop right to ensure the rig is presented perfectly in the silt at the bottom of the ledge is crucial; too far up the ledge the rig will have a tendency to slide down and possibly tangle. I knew the ledge levelled out around a rod length off the lilies, so the Live System bait went straight out first time to the desired spot, with a minimum of disturbance. This area is a great ambush point and allows the fish to move freely around the lilies with no lines, with the chance of getting a bite as they move out throughout the day or night.
The other rods were positioned in a quiet bay to the left of the swim, an area where the marginal tree line created shelter for carp moving up and down the ledge during the day. These rods were on my very own fruit and nut stick mix blend that I have done well on in the past; the visual appearance and distinct sweet, creamy smell helps combat the silt that collects in the marginal areas.
As the afternoon drifted by, I started to notice some fizzing just off the lily bed around which I had position the Live System rod. A few sips on the cuppa I had just made and the right-hand rod pulled tight as the fish kited into the lilies. I tightened down to the carp and slowly teased it back through the dense lily bed and out into open water in front. A huge plume of silt exploded on the surface out in front as the fish tried to bury itself into deeper water. Eventually, I managed to guide it closer to the net in the beautiful afternoon sun. It went in first time and looked to be a lovely fish, I set about securing it in the buoyant sling giving me time to quickly redo that rod and introduce another few handfuls of Live System after the disturbance in the water.
The first fight is tense, as the carp tries to find sanctuary among the pads.
Repositioning the rod while the water is still coloured up from the silt is a great way of slightly disguising the cast and baiting; as the water is normally gin clear the fish are very acute to their surroundings, so the silt certainly helps with this.
After lifting the fish out and on to the mat, the dials registered a lovely 23lb-plus mirror and an eventful start to my first day’s fishing of my overnight session. The fish looked lovely in the afternoon light and after snapping a few photographs it was slipped back carefully to its watery home. I was over the moon to get a fish in the bag so early on in the session, and spending that bit of time when I got there having a look around certainly helped in doing so.
Cracking. This lovely old mirror demonstrates the importance of spending your time watching and walking.
As the afternoon drew quickly to a close, I was more than confident of another bite going into the night. I was certainly around the area the fish had felt happy spending time in the day and the baits were positioned perfectly in areas where I felt a bite would materialise from.
As darkness swept in, I began to receive a few liners on the rod positioned to the marginal slope with the fruit and nut bag mix and tiger nut hook bait. Half an hour passed and the liners kept coming, before eventually the middle rod was away. A fast powerful take saw the fish kite out from the marginal area into open water. The surge of the carp clearly indicated that it was a good fish, moving lots of water on the powerful runs out in front. It slowly began to give up, wallowing slowly into the shallower margin in front before being scooped up first time by the net. Get in!
I was more than happy to have caught one earlier in the afternoon, but another was such a bonus on the overnighter. It looked a chunk fish too! I left it secured in the net while I got the scales and other bits ready, before lifting it out carefully on to the mat behind.
Upon removing the net, it clearly was a bit bigger than the one I had early, with a thick set of shoulders and good width across its back. On the scales it went 26lb plus and I was overwhelmed, a great success in such a short period of fishing. Some photographs were done in the darkness before watching it waddle away under the light of the headtorch into the night.
I decided to leave that rod in for the night, having one rod fishing to a similar area, as the cast could have caused problems during the darkness. Before long, the light of morning came round and the gentle rolling mist was soon burning off the water’s surface in the dappled morning light. I was up at the crack of dawn, watching the water with tea in hand, one happy man!
A successful night’s fishing meant that I could pack away for work, buzzing for the rest of the day ahead. Until the next overnighter, be lucky.
A great end to the session, a beautifully scaled 26-pounder that came during the night.
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