Friday 8th May 2015 saw our long awaited return to Cromwell Lake for the PAAS Annual forum social. Last Year was a tricky affair but I managed to trip up a mid double on the zig rig and a low 30 to more conventional boilie tactics. This year we were hoping to find the fish in a more obliging mood as half the lads blanked last time.
I rolled into the Cromwell car park a little after 10.00am and as it turned out most of the lads were already there and by the time I’d done a lap of the lake everyone was present. Another quick walk around and we did the draw at 11.00am. I stood and watched as everyone took their turn to take a golf ball from the draw bag, it didn’t matter when you picked your ball, it was the number on the front that made all the difference, number 1 got first choice of swim and number 12 would be last. If you have read this blog before you may be aware of my stunning consistency in coming out with number 11 or 12!. I thought I’d broken the routine last year when I got ball number 6 but I was stunned and quite honestly gutted when I reached into the bag and pulled out number 12!, I was getting last choice of peg again.
I watched as all the pegs I’d made a mental note of disappeared, fortunately we keep our socials to 12 people when we hire a lake so there was a few areas left that might be worthwhile. One half of the double swim 12/13 was free and as it was a social I decided to join ‘Barry the pike’ at the other end of the lake. Apart from it being a social the wind was forecast to swing round to a strong south westerly of 30mph so it would be hacking up to my end of the lake at some point over the weekend.
A slow walk round the lake with a fully laden Carp Porter saw me arrive at peg 12. I set about sorting my gear out straight away and once the bivvy was sorted I got to work on the rods, the new Distance Sticks came out as well as the Marker Rod and I examined a depth map of the water and pinned down a few spots. One thing that became apparent straight away was that I had the deepest water in the lake in front of me and picking out areas to put baits wasn’t that easy.
With the rods sorted out I settled down to watch the water, the wind did turn strong south westerly but unfortunately it lashed down with rain too so fish spotting was almost impossible. I did see one fish roll as it was getting dark so I quickly covered it with a single but the first night passed uneventfully, not just for me but for everyone else too!. Saturday brought a change of fortune for one of the lads as he banked a mirror known as ‘Arthur’ at 37lb 2oz, a right result from peg 11 which was a little bay on my left. As the morning wore on it became clear the carp were up at my end of the lake in numbers, it was also clear they weren’t feeding on the bottom at all. There was a massive fly hatch going on and the carp were pre-occupied with the hatch. The amount of swallows and swifts dipping and diving across the water was amazing, there were literally hundreds of them all enjoying nature’s bounty along with the carp.
I made the decision to switch to the Zig Rig, with bottom fishing a complete waste of time it would be the best chance of getting a fish. I thought a small piece of black foam would best match the fly hatch that was going on so I set up a black Fox Zig Aligna with black foam for bait, this was fished on a 12ft zig rig in 14ft of water at a range of about 80-90 yards out were the carp were turning over on the surface. The black foam produced nothing during the main part of the day so I started to think of making my bait stand out rather than try to imitate the fly hatch and I decided to switch to Yellow foam during the late afternoon.
The change to yellow foam eventually paid off as later in the evening my middle Delkim let out a few bleeps and my monkey climber signalled a drop back. I wound down quickly and sure enough my Torrix Rod whooped over and it was carp on!. The fish was slow and ponderous, you never know what the hook hold is like when you’re fishing the zig rig so I played this carp in carefully. I managed to negotiate a few sharp looking bars close in on the left by keeping the rod tip high and pressuring the fish up in the water. There were a few short runs to deal with when the fish came close in but apart from that the carp didn’t have much to offer and 10 minutes after I’d hooked it, Barry slipped the net under what looked like a twenty plus mirror.
Cromwell lake provide nice big unhooking mats, weigh slings and landing nets which is handy, I set up the mat and sling then lifted my carp from the water. It definitely felt like a twenty plus and after quickly unhooking the fish we weighed it in at 22lb 12oz, I was well happy with that one, not only had I escaped a blank for the weekend, it was also my biggest zig rig caught carp topping a 22lb+ fish from Sandhurst a few years ago.
The carp was nice and clean and with two good mates Barry and Kirt on hand to assist we had the pictures done in no time and I carefully zipped up the sling, carried my fish back to the water and released it with the Go Pro Video Camera in my other hand filming the occasion.
The pressure was off for me now, with just the night and Sunday morning left before our trip ended I opted to go all out on the zigs for the rest of the trip but not before we sent out for pizza for the Saturday evening meal. A good laugh was had by all and as time wore on eventually we all headed back to our swims to cast out for the night. Late in the evening the fish started showing in front of the house at the other end of the lake so I wasn’t very hopeful but I covered the areas I’d seen fish in front of me with zigs anyway.
The second night stayed quiet for me but a few fish did come off pegs 14 and 15, nothing big though, just doubles up to 17lb. I stayed right until midday in the hope of picking another off on the zig rig but it didn’t happen and after a slow pack up during the morning I pushed my overloaded Carp Porter back to the car park and headed for home.
For the record, 12 of us fished, only 4 anglers caught, one of us had 4 doubles to 17lb, another had Arthur at 37lb 2oz plus a 21 and a low double of 11lb. I caught just the one but it turned out to be the second biggest of the trip at 22lb 12oz and one had a 17lb mirror. It was a tough trip, worse for virtually all of us compared to last year. This is no reflection on Cromwell Lake, it’s a nice lake, very well run with quite a few big fish in, we just happened to be there when the carp were heavily on a fly hatch and there’s not a lot you can do about that. What makes Cromwell lake tricky for most is the depth of water and the time the carp spend off the bottom, it makes conventional boilie fishing quite difficult at times and you really need to be plugged into that fact if you decide to pay a visit. For our socials, we like to see as many people catch as possible so we probably won’t book Cromwell lake again, next year I’ve a feeling we’ll be going back to that old favourite of ours Sandhurst so roll on next year!.