It was a bit of an impromptu day session organised at the last minute, so with frosty mornings an all too common occurrence, we bandied about a few ideas of where we could go to get a bite in the cold. With Berners Hall situated between the two of us, it seemed a fair bet; I’d done well on a short session the previous winter when temperatures were seriously sub-zero, so I knew the lake should have good form. Being just over an acre and a half and generally quite shallow, finding the fish is never too difficult no matter how localised they are. Only time would tell…

6am: With short daytime hours we both decided to make the most of it and get there nice and early, a little before first light with the hope of seeing some morning activity to get things going. Harry dropped into the first peg through the gate, which is the swim I had fished that previous session, looking straight up the lake as it runs behind the island. I then headed a couple of swims up, giving me the other side of the island, and the main open water to my left.

Harry likes to keep things simple on short day sessions.

A PVA bag of maggots is nicked on before casting.

We both went in with largely similar tactics; small pop-ups and wafter hook baits with little PVA bags of maggots nicked on to the hook or bunged in a solid bag. This would allow us to fish quickly and effectively with minimal disturbance. It also makes roving rods around really easy when trying to pin those fish down, be that a take or activity in the form of liners.

Choosing where to fish was simply a case of fanning the rods out, and if the drop felt good then that’s where the rod stayed. We each fished a couple of rods at various points around the island and Harry fished a rod up the no-fishing margin to his right. I then I put my third out into open water on a short zig – it was a bright blue sky and if they weren’t feeding on the bottom, hopefully they’d pick something up mid water.

It was a simple case of casting bags to likely looking areas.

8.30am: The rods had been out for a couple of hours without so much as a sniff and I’d just popped round to Harry’s swim for a fancy cappuccino (frothy instant coffee) and my Maryland cookie breakfast, which I’d picked up en route that morning! Just as the kettle boiled Harry caught sight of a small mirror clearing the water, further up the lake and just past the island. As we watched, a small stream of bubbles followed as the culprit navigated his way back to what was hopefully the rest of his mates.

The show wasn’t too far from my middle rod, which was currently positioned just off the end of the island. However, you can’t be too accurate when it comes to winter carp, so I took the opportunity to rechuck that rod a little further left and past the island. Harry did the same, bringing in his short rod and firing it long up the channel behind the island. We were effectively pinning the fish from both sides in the hope that should they move they would pass one of us on their way.

Just as the kettle boiled, one showed.

9.30am: The fish had shown another two times again in a similar area and so Harry fired another bag out staggered further right. Then, probably 15 minutes after getting the rod out, his alarm signalled a slow take as the bobbin steadily pulled up tight. As he lifted the rod we were surprised to see the line cutting right under his other rod as if the fish had kited really fast, but it just didn’t seem quite right! Then the line fell slack and a bow wave exited the swim, leaving the line trailing back in the original direction. A fish had clearly picked up his line and swum some distance before eventually spooking once Harry had picked up the rod – that was a serious liner!

Unbelievably, just 10 minutes later the exact same thing happened to me too! The bobbin pulled up tight, but as I lifted the rod a huge bow wave pushed through the middle of my swim from under my line. It was no doubt the exact same fish that had done the exact same thing on his route from Harry’s swim to mine!

10.40am: Another hour had passed since the strange incident, when Harry’s bobbin whacked against the blank before churning away in a face-melting take! There was no doubting it this time round – FISH ON! It was the right-hand rod up against the margin that had been picked up and with little more than a few flaps in the margin, a nice little mirror was scooped up. At 15lb it was a very welcome bite on a chilly day session.

Harry is off the mark.

At 15lb it was a great result on a short session.

11am: With the fish returned, Harry didn’t waste any time getting a rod straight back to the zone. However, what he hadn’t accounted for was his skyline marker disappearing! That morning he’d lined up with a bloke’s bivvy up on the high bank of the Res, making the only real marker along that entire skyline. However, at some point during the morning the fella had upped sticks and done the off, leaving Harry with a long featureless piece of hill to aim at!

Thankfully It wasn’t too much of an issue as he wasn’t fishing to a baited spot, so it was simply a case of chucking the rig in the rough area before topping up with a handful of maggots thrown over the area.

Back on the money... hopefully.

2pm: After the flurry of morning activity, we’d hoped it would kick off a bit, leading to a couple more bites between us. However, other than one more show shortly after getting that fish back, that was the last sign of fish we saw for the rest of the day!

3pm: With Harry due to be in the RidgeMonkey HQ the following morning, he decided that he would fish the night up on the Res with the hope of catching a whacker before heading into work. As things were looking decidedly dead on Meadow we called it a day, leaving Harry the last of the daylight to get set up for the night ahead.

Come morning I messaged Harry to see how he got on and I was happy to hear he’d caught a couple. However, it turned out the size of the fish he’d caught was far smaller than he’d been expecting, in fact smaller than the carp he’d caught on Meadow. In a lake full of twenties and thirties, Harry had managed to nab two of the smallest fish in the lake! As the saying goes – you can’t pick ’em!

Harry fished the big lake after the feature and caught two…

… but they were the smallest in there!