Red letter days are those brilliant days in carp fishing when everything seems to fall into place and you get a good result, sometimes its just one carp, other times it can be a big hit of fish, either way these kind of days don’t come along very often and when they do, you remember them for years to come. My first instalment of red letter days is about my first ever carp fishing session on famous Yorkshire carp water selby 3 lakes.
I’d been travelling to linear in April/May time for a few years and fancied a change of venue. At the time, April 2001, selby 3 lakes had not long changed from syndicate to day ticket and after a chat with my mate barney we decided to have a 2 day trip to this famous Yorkshire carp water rather than our usual trip to Oxford.
Little did I know just how packed out selby 3 lakes gets, even though we’d booked a place on the lake I wasn’t expecting every single swim to be taken!. On top of it being packed, the two anglers due to leave were pulling off two dud swims on lake one which meant me and barney were going to be fishing a poor swim regardless of where we actually wanted to be.
I wasn’t happy, being herded in like sheep and having no room to move was not my idea of a fishing trip. I like to angle for my fish, I like to go looking for my carp then watch them and work out the best way to catch them, its simple fishing and the only thing that really spoils my chances of catching is other anglers occupying swims and blocking me from getting my baits on the fish. Selby 3 lakes was looking like my worst nightmare and having set up camp half way up the right hand bank from the bungalow on lake one, I had no choice but to live with it for two nights.
Once I was set up and cast out the complaining started, I had itchy feet and I wanted to move out of my dud swim to try and give myself a chance of catching. My baits were out for roughly two hours when I decided on a plan of action. I wound the rods in and did a couple of laps of the lake to try and pin down the carp. They were stacked up in lake 3 and one particular bar had fish cruising up and down it constantly. There looked to be some right lumps in lake 3 and with only two nights fishing I figured I had to get a swim in there as soon as possible. Unfortunately, nobody was going home the first day so I spent my first night about as far away from the fish as I could possibly be.
Needless to say I blanked that first night and in the morning I went for the first of several walks round the lake. I think it was on my 4th journey round that I noticed an angler on one of the cut throughs had just started to put some of his gear outside his bivvy. I stopped and enquired what he was doing and it turned out he was starting a slow pack up. That was enough for me, I virtually ran back to my swim to start moving but instead of packing up I grabbed a gas bottle and went straight back to lake 3 to lay claim to the swim. I don’t know why I did that but I was so glad I did as two anglers arrived just after I’d claimed the swim!. I went back for the rest of my gear and a couple of hours later, I was set up in a flier of a peg watching lumps cruising along a bar to my left and the odd fish in the cut through to my right. Unfortunately the new arrivals had to take the only peg left and that was my old peg!
Over half of our trip was gone but at least my persistence had got me onto some fish, a few hours later the guy on my left began to pack up too so I was straight round to barney and by nightfall we were both fishing lake 3 and on the carp.
I’d watched the fish for a few hours and decided the best plan of action was to cast one rod to the bar where the carp were cruising and the other tight to the far side of the cut though where I thought carp might pass if they decided to move from lake 3 into lake 2 or vice versa. Being a day ticket water and seeing how busy it was I opted for single hookbaits. I figured there was more than enough bait going in already and that I was probably fishing over someone else’s freebies anyway so single hookbaits seemed the logical choice.
I woke up on the last morning with nothing to show for my efforts. Looking around I noticed most anglers were recasting first thing in the morning so I left my rods alone. I was due off late afternoon anyway so it was all or nothing for me.
I’d dozed off for a while early afternoon and was awoken by a full on screamer from the rod fished in the cut through. I was on the rod straight away as instinct kicked in but it took me a few more seconds to clear my head and get focused on what I was doing. The carp ran away from the cut through and went into deep water in front of me. It felt like a solid lump and it took me quite a while to get the upper hand, once it was in front of me boring up and down the margins I knew it was a matter of time before it came to the net. The water in selby 3 lakes was quite clear and I could see the fish deep down in the margins. This made me nervous because it looked to be a decent fish. Several more minutes passed and the fish began to tire and come up in the water, by this time barney was at my side with the net and a few minutes later my first selby carp went into the net first time.
I was delighted, when I’d arrived I couldn’t see anything but doom and gloom with so many carp anglers on the lake. With just an hour or so to packing up time, my hard work and tenacity in getting onto the carp had paid off. The carp was unhooked and weighed in at 25lb 8oz, a proper 3 lakes lump. The pictures followed and my mate barney did a cracking job as a small crowd of anglers looked on. Once the pictures were completed I released the fish back to lake 3 and watched it slowly disappear into the depths with a big smile on my face.
I recast my rod back to the cut through again in the hope of picking up another carp but none were forthcoming. I only fished for another hour, most of which I spent packing my gear away. I wasn’t sure about selby 3 lakes as a venue, there were some big carp in there for sure but the sheer number of anglers fishing there made it a nightmare. Despite this, the drive home was made so much easier with the thought that I’d actually won this time.