Long-time carper Mark Ayliff outlines a memorable winter capture of a special carp from a tricky lake.
I am not a huge fan of fishing in the winter and in my 35 years of angling I can only remember a handful of occasions that would inspire me to change this feeling. I don’t mind going down to places like Linear Fisheries to get a few bites, but my big-fish angling doesn’t feature heavily in these months. I hate sitting in bivvies, much preferring to walk around and stalk carp, which is something that lends itself to the summer months.
The weather was cold, with northerly winds blowing and -1ºC during the day, and the idea of going fishing was simply non-existent. The lake that I have been fishing generally stops fishing around January and February, and I wasn’t too interested in fishing it. However, I received a phone call from a friend to inform me of a few fish he had just spotted in the edge on my local syndicate. I had seen the fish there a few weeks before, but I was surprised to hear they were still there, especially given the awful conditions. I had a think and decided to just go fishing. I threw all the tackle in the back of my four by four and headed straight for the lake.
Pulling up at the gate, I could see the lake was quiet and the swim I needed to be in was free. I quickly loaded the barrow and headed around to the swim. The wind was blowing into the swim and I wasn’t sure if the fish would still be there. I had seen them close in before, but that was in the slack water. Still, it was worth a try and I had already made the effort to get there.
I tied up a few small PVA bags of Bloodworm Pellets to mask the hook, then balanced out a 16mm pop-up by trimming it down so it just sat up off the bottom. The fish in here absolutely adore the Krill, and it’s been a few years since I have seen such a reaction to a boilie from a carp. My confidence in this bait is through the roof and I knew that if the fish were feeding I would get a bite. I flicked just two rods out close in and slackened the line right off.
Because of the wind I clipped my bobbin on the other side of the alarm. This meant that I could keep the line slack, but the line between the reel and the alarm would be tight, eliminating any false bleeps.
As darkness fell the temperature plummeted to -5ºC – it was absolutely freezing cold. I received a couple of beeps on the right-hand rod, so I went out to check what was going on. The line was still slack, but I backed off some more line and retreated to the Coleman-heated bivvy. Around two minutes later it beeped again, and this time I could see the line lifting up. I picked the rod up and it was solid; I couldn’t do anything with it, so I slackened off and went back to the bivvy to make a cup of tea. Before the kettle had even boiled it began to take line, so I picked up the rod again. Whatever was on the end had picked up a large weedbed, meaning that I was playing the weed not the fish. Thankfully I had on a strong size 4 hook, otherwise I think I would have lost it. It was a nightmare, but thankfully a good friend was there to give me a hand and he netted a decent looking carp. It turned out to be a fish known as Scale on the Shoulder at 41¼lb, one of the older and larger carp in the lake. It was a proper winter capture and when I held her up to the camera it was like holding a block of ice.
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