After a successful summer on his local syndicate, the resident carp had shut up shop, so Jake Lund decided to join a new water for the winter.
Knowing I wasn’t going to have much time due to work, Christmas and other commitments, I wanted somewhere with a good head of fish. Luckily Daryn Hennesy and I managed to get a two-month winter ticket on Swan Valley, an amazing venue with an extremely good head of carp to target. I had fished two 12-hour sessions on there in the past as a guest, and both times I was fortunate enough to catch one which went 37lb!
Our first session on the new ticket was to be a 48-hour trip. Daryn and I headed down early on the Friday and to our amazement the lake was empty. We had a good few walks around but didn’t see any signs of fish so we set up in the middle of the main lake where we could cover a lot of water. The spot on the island bank also gave us a good view over two bays behind us; perfect for fish spotting. We didn’t see or hear any carp all day, though; in fact, it wasn’t until 9.30pm when we heard one bosh out to our left. We tried to see where it was, quickly running down the bank, but sadly it was too foggy to work out. We heard a couple more that night but still couldn’t work out where they were showing.
At 7.30am we spotted a fish leap right out of the water in the area they were boshing the previous evening. I knew Daryn wanted to move on to it, and he knew I did as well. What I did next was rather cheeky… Instead of flipping a coin like normal, I said, “If it lumps out again, we’ll move round there.” Ten minutes later I had sneaked round and jumped in the swim where the fish had shown! Daryn soon noticed and called me. The conversation went something like, “You sneaky *#@/>$%£!” Luckily we’re mates and he saw the funny side… well I hope so anyway!
The day was uneventful. It wasn’t until midnight that my left-hand rod pulled round out of the blue. It was weeded up from the off, and shortly afterwards I had a massive bundle of weed in my net. I doubted there was a carp inside but, after digging through the weed, I found a nice little character sulking in the bottom. She went 24lb – happy days, I was off the mark! I got a bit more light-hearted stick from Daryn after I’d woke him up to tell him about it.
It was a couple of weeks before we could both get down to the lake for another session, due to work commitments and the lake freezing over. Daryn had done a quick overnighter in between, but had nothing but a good night’s sleep.
We were down for another 48 hours on the Friday and couldn’t wait to get started. Daryn turned up Thursday night at 11pm, made a few trips round the lake and came across a few fish in the back bay. He spotted two whales lump out the water, so got round to the swim ready to cast out at first light. From 1am right through to 6am it was chucking it down with rain and the temperature turned pretty warm.
I aimed to get down the lake at 2pm but got stuck in a horrible traffic jam. Three hours later I was at the lake and stressing out, as I had about 10 minutes of daylight left. Luckily I got where I wanted to be and I knew where I wanted to cast. My medium Ci4 Baitrunners were clipped up and my rigs were all tied ready to go; in fact, I don’t think I have ever got my rods out so quickly in all my life!
I was feeling confident, but I wasn’t expecting what happened next: just 20 minutes after getting the rods out, my right-hand rod pulled tight. Fish on, and all the stress of sitting in traffic for three hours was soon forgotten! After a spirited battle, Daryn came round and kindly slipped the net under a nice mirror! She went 26¾lb – a right result.
Daryn’s rods were cast to hard spots in the middle of the weed, which was still up to the surface. Hinge stiffs with 15mm pop-ups – the traps were set! He could see a lot of fizzing in front of him, sitting there making cups of tea, waiting for a rod to pull tight. As it got dark we could hear a couple of fish lumping out in the bay, so Daryn was very confident of getting a take. The weather had turned really cold and Daryn had walked to the water’s edge to check the temperature when he heard his alarm give a couple of bleeps. With that I shouted, “Fish on!”
After a spirited 20-minute battle through weedbed after weedbed it was in the net, though it was hard to tell what size it was as there was a net full of weed! Peeling back the weed it looked a reasonable sized common. She pulled the pin round to 31½lb – get in there! It was Daryn’s first take from a new venue in temperatures just reaching 0ºC. Landing a 31½lb common was well worth being cold for. The hinged stiff rig with the coated braid section had really nailed the fish in the bottom lip. It has caught us both so many big fish this year, without a single hook pull.
Whilst preparing the rod for the recast, a fish popped its head out over the spot he had just received the take from. The rod went back out nicely with 20 washed-out 15mm boilies and we sat back for the 100th cup of tea but nothing happened.
A couple of weeks later and a south-westerly was blowing straight into a swim they call Weedy Corner. Daryn arrived around 9pm, and with gusts blowing up to 60mph, bringing only a brolly seemed like a bad move, but all seemed to hold out. I was confident the fish would be on the munch so I had baited up with three kilo of 15mm Monster Tiger Nut boilies throughout the week. Both my Supressas were clipped up tight to a weedbed, ready to go. We’d both opted for 15mm Red Amo pop-ups on hinged stiff rigs with a scattering of Monster Tiger Nut, as this approach seemed to be producing most of our bites. Just 30 minutes after casting in, I was battling a fish away from the weedbed. After another hectic battle I had another 25-pounder in the net.
The rods had only been out for an hour, but the wind had blown a raft of weed the size of a car bonnet over my rods, which forced me to recast. With the rods back out I decided to get some sleep. The rods were bleeping throughout the night and at 2am another raft of weed had blown in.
Daryn was woken at 3.30am by a one toner! Due to the mass of weed accumulated he had to play the fish with his rod tip underwater. As the fish came closer to the raft of weed he lifted the rod high, but it wasn’t moving and the fish was still underneath it somewhere, too far out to net! The fish took another surge and the line came free, which meant he could gain full control over it. Eventually he guided a 25lb mirror over the net, not the prettiest fish but a welcome one. It was 4am when he got the rod back out.
Unfortunately there were no more fish for either of us, but it had been worth setting up in the dark!