I have actually managed to get one short fishing session in. I hadn’t seen my winter runs water for 2 years thanks to last years freeze and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded up the car and selected the lake from the favourites on my sat nav. On the journey to the lake nothing seemed to have changed and when I pulled into the car park at the lake I sat in the car for 5 minutes and watched the water for signs of fish. It was flat calm, ideal conditions for spotting any subtle disturbances made by a carp and it didn’t take long before I picked up on swirl out in open water.
In previous winters I’d chosen to bait an open water area out in the middle of the lake and just keep the bait going in so I decided my old spot would be a good place to start, I was on the edge of the slight movements I’d seen but for once I wasn’t alone on the water and I didn’t want to encroach on my fellow angler. I had no particular plan in mind for this winter so I was just going to fish with my usual bog standard carp rig but instead of going down the pellet and particle route I’d used in previous years, this time I was sticking with the mainline cell boilies I’d been using all year.
Day sessions are all I fish in winter so I quickly got to work setting up my pod and putting the rods together. A quick root through my tackle box to find a boilie needle and a few hair stops and I quickly had 2 mainline cell pop ups set up. I left them in the lake for 5 minutes then balanced them out with kryston heavy metal putty so they just sank. I set the putty 2 inches back from the hook on each rig and folded half of a foam nugget over each hook to trap the hair and prevent any kind of tangle when casting. With both rigs ready I punched out both pop ups to the old area I’d baited up in previous winters. One rod went right on the old hot spot and the other went slightly to the left as near as I dare the area I’d seen movement.
Once I’d got the rods sorted out I had a tidy up to make sure I knew where all my gear was then I settled down to wait for a run. It’s funny how some lakes just seem to be timeless, even though it had been 2 years the place looked exactly the same as I remember, the only difference I could see was the water level had risen slightly. I was hoping for one of those red letter days but sadly it didn’t materialise, the bright conditions and lack of wind meant I was going to struggle so there was no sign of the early run I’d hoped for. As I sat and watched I began to work out exactly where the bulk of the fish were, they were indeed off to the left of me but the odd fish crashed out in front and to the right during the late morning and early afternoon.
It was gone 2pm when the right hand delkim suddenly bleeped once then went into a nice steady take, the line was peeling off the spool nicely when I swept the rod back and made contact with my first cold water carp of the winter. It felt like a decent lump on the other end and despite hooking the fish around 80-90 yards out it still took some line off the clutch before kiting to the right. I began to pump the fish back to the bank once it had kited and I quickly gained line until the carp was in the margins. It put up a pretty good fight close in and it took a good 10 minutes of steady pressure before the fish popped up ready for the landing net. Everything went smoothly and I bagged my first fish from the lake in 2 years. I put the unhooking mat down, got the scales and camera ready before lifting my prize out to be unhooked and weighed. At the moment of truth I got 17lb 12oz on the scales, a slightly bigger than average carp for the water and a very decent result for an afternoons winter fishing in less than perfect conditions.
After returning the fish I left the same cell boilie on and re-balanced the rig with another piece of heavy metal putty. I didn’t have a lot of time left and I’m always quite happy to re-use the same hook bait, specially if time is at a premium. Despite getting my single hook bait out to the same spot I never managed to pick up another carp. I stayed until it was near enough pitch black before I finally packed my new aqua rucksack and headed for home. I was happy enough to have caught a cold water carp on my first session of the winter and on the way home I was already making plans for my next session a week later. I had intended to take more boilies next time, I made a mental note to make sure I had my throwing stick with me next time as well. Sadly this session was a good 4 weeks ago and I haven’t been fishing since. The continual cold temperatures and snow are once again wrecking mine and everyone else’s winter carping and all I can do at the moment is hope there’s enough of a thaw to rescue some fishing between Christmas and New Year. Although, at the moment that looks in severe doubt too.
It will be 2011 before I publish my next ‘cold water carping’ instalment. I'll have to go fishing and catch something first!. Until then, I’ll just wish you all ‘all the best’ for Christmas and the New Year and I hope the lakes unfreeze real soon!.