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The Island Lake Report by Connor Johnson - 22-23/04/2011

Friday morning was spent readying the gear and a quick trip to the local tackle shop had me ready for the night ahead. I had beans on toast before we left at mid-afternoon, and by 3 o’clock I was at the lake. I grabbed a bucket from the back of the truck and set of at a high paced walk around the lake, it was a bank holiday weekend and I expected the lake to be chocca. However after passing stumps, the first swim that was occupied, I could see no more bivvies, after passing a few more empty swims I met one of the bailiffs John. He informed me that 8 of the regulars (mostly bailiffs as everyone seems to be one) had left the night before for a trip to France and the lake was going to remain relatively quiet … Great.

I passed a few more swims that were unoccupied and then reached the weedy bay; a few carp were cruising just below the willow tree but not any of the fish I fancy. I unlocked the gate to the back path and continued my walk around passing a few occupied swims, and then I arrived at my favourite swim, Granddad’s 2. I couldn’t believe my eyes, all of the recent stockies were cruising about on the surface and within 10 minutes I had seen at least 50-60 carp, I stood watching the stockies cruise about 10 yards from the bank, some lovely little commons and mirrors all following each other about. That’ll do for me and the bucket was left in the swim as I made the long walk back for the gear.

The Island Lake
The Noisey Island Lake Geese

There was no room in the truck for my barrow so I ended up taking two trips to the car to lug everything round to the swim. The sun was high in the sky and with a temperature of about 26 degrees by the time I was finished I was roasting. The rods were both set up first, one on a 5 foot zig placed straight up the channel in between two islands and the other was a 1 foot zig that was placed on the gravel beach that went from my swim to about 10 yards into the lake where fish were following the gravel into a snaggy bay to my left. I was happy with the rods both fished on trimmed down brown pop ups. I set up camp and looking at the forecast for the night I left the bivvy down and under the bedchair and I decided to sleep under the stars.

I was expecting a take on one of the zigs as the stockies are fairly new and haven’t seen too much pressure but it was not to be with the zigs, and to this day zig fishing has not produced a fish for me. I decided to prepare for the night at about 6 o’clock. I decided to investigate the fishes patrol route around the gravel beach a bit further. With a light lead I discovered at the bottom of the beach was eight foot of water and the lake bed consisted of low lying weed that had just started to grow and a little bit of silt. So the left hand rod was fished at the bottom of the gravel in the silt and weed, I fished a running chod rig on a 3.5 feet long length of esp leadcore, the bait on the chod rig was a 16mm Heathrow baits perfect pop up which is supposedly scentless. I dropped the rig from the rod tip onto the spot, feeling the lead down which gave me perfect placement, I slackened right off and over this rod I scattered around 50 16mm skunk oil boilies.

The other rod was fished in the usual spot in the channel between two islands, this one was the same set up as the other rod but this one had a pineapple pop up over the same amount of bait, again the channel was reasonably weedy but I felt confident. The sun remained in the sky for ages and the temperature never seemed to drop, however the cruising fish had all disappeared and I was just hoping it wouldn’t be long for a bite. I sat watching the water in anticipation, I also noticed loads of honey bees dancing about by the water’s edge right by my rods, quite entertaining and they all left when the temperature eventually dropped.

The geese continued their noise well into darkness and the bird song never ceased, at around 9 o’clock I got off the phone to my girlfriend and realised what a lovely night it was, it wasn’t cold at all, the distant noise of the A-road was drowned out by the geese, their noise level seemed to continuously rise. I sat making a cup of tea as my dad walked into the swim (that man has ears like a bat as he seemed to arrive just as I put the kettle on every time.) He left the swim just before 10 o’clock and bang on ten I received a take on the right hand rod fished between the islands, I was fishing with a very tight clutch and as I lifted into the fish I felt the fish kick three times and then it was gone, everything went slack and I was stood their thinking this was how I started last season, I was praying that I would not lose the same amount as last year. I checked the hook point and that was fine it didn’t scrape across my nail and it even drew blood from my palm, this left me puzzled. Not wanting to risk it I changed the rig and curved the hooklink a bit more, I also swapped the 1.5oz square pear lead to a 2oz flat pear lead with a fancy coating (silt). I flicked the rod 20yards out and back to its spot hoping that was not all the action I was going to receive.

The Swim Of Choice
The Chod Rig

Throughout the night I saw an amazing display of shooting stars, I saw more in one night then I have ever seen in my entire life, the colour of their trails as they blaze through the sky is absolutely wonderful. Also the bats were out in numbers dancing about in the moonlight, chasing the moths and getting dangerously close to me just before they changed direction. Seeing all these things made me realise what I have been missing for 5 months, and I started to wonder why I have never slept without the bivvy before. I remained awake watching all these beautiful things with the odd cup of tea to go with it. And before I knew it at just before 3 o’clock in the morning I received a take on the left hand rod, which was fished in the silt channel which I assumed was the fishes patrol route into the snaggy bay. The rod took on a curve as the fish nearly pulled it off the buzzer, I must point out that the way the swim is positioned I had to wade out onto the gravel beach to drop the rig almost behind me and that any fish was going to pull the rod off the rest as I had no snag ears or spare banksticks. As I lifted into the rod the fish was weeded up but with gentle pressure I soon had a big ball of weed heading towards the net. It went straight into the net and I didn’t know whether there was a fish there or not, I got it on the mat and parted all the weed only to find a rather large bream of around 7lb, the chod rig had absolutely nailed the bream in the bottom lip and it took some time to get it out with some forceps. I let the bream go straight away, changed the rig and waded out to drop the rig on the spot again.

View From The Swim
Looking Into The Snags

At this point I realised my session was heading the same way it did a couple of years ago on an overnighter, I lost one early in the night, then I landed a big bream and afterwards I landed the lake record. Fingers crossed for another biggun. I managed to get my head down for an hour and when I woke at 4 o’clock I was a little shocked at how quiet everything was, the geese had stopped their racket, the bird song had stopped and the squawking heron had gone. I sat in the silence thinking I was in heaven, for the brief period of 10 minutes until one goose decided to start it all again. My dad came round and told me he had a lovely little mirror in the net and he wanted me to take a picture, I went round to see a lovely mirror of 18lb bang on with a few scales near the tail and a little burst of four scales in a diamond like shape on both flanks, what a lovely looking fish. Photo’s done and my dad returned the fish to the depths with a big grin on his face, he had also informed me that my brother had also lost one in the snags of an island. So we all could of have a carp by now.

I returned to my swim, fired up the kettle and tied up a few more choddies under the light of my headtorch. The carp were not giving themselves up easily, but I felt the chod rig was going to be the one; I just had to hope the fish were going to feed. Come early morning the sun started to rise behind my swim and I stood with my back to it trying to warm up a little, I had another brew whilst stood at the back of my swim and one of the bailiffs Figgy came round for a chat, he had recently snagged an island on the cast and whilst pulling for a break his lead came back and knocked on of his teeth out, so we had a little talk about that, and then he informed me o nice fish called the flathead common coming out of the leather lake last night. Once he left I phoned my dad to see if he wanted a cuppa and within seconds the kettle was on again and he was stood in front of me cup in hand. Just as I’d poured both cups my left hand rod fished in the silt gulley was away and once again the rod was wrenched around on the buzzer but the delkim’s kept the rod in place (who said you need snag ears!), as I lifted into the fish I had to cup the spool to stop it taking more line as it was close to the snags, the rod continued to bend and the fish felt a powerful one, I waded out a little to get a better angle to play the fish, which only wanted to make the snags or swim down into the deeper water and the weed bed, after three or four small runs and a rather prolonged fight I slipped the net under a gorgeous common that was punching well above its weight in the fight. She was absolutely nailed on the bottom lip about half an inch back, and again I needed forceps to remove the hook. I put her into the sling and hoisted up the scales, the needle bounced round to over 20lb, but then I realised I hadn’t zeroed the scales. After returning the fish to the crystal clear water I weighed the sling and took of the weight, this left the fish weighing a nice weight of 18lb on the dot. I was over the moon; I’d started my fishing with a much better session than last year. However the hook holds had me questioning why I lost the first fish early in the night??? And at 11 when I brought both rods in to put fresh baits on I had no pineapple pop up on the right hand rod … damn crayfish!

18lb
18lb

The rest of the morning was filled with high temperatures and ducks constantly diving on my spot out by the islands, until a kind goose came along and scared them off the spot. That morning I saw loads of geese and ducks with their new-borns and the lake seemed full of life compared to when I was last here, I spent ages trying to get a few snaps of a few butterflies but they kept moving at the last minute. Also the moon rose as the sun rose, it was rather strange, and at 10 o’clock the moon was at its highest point and the suns warmth was getting through to the carp as they started to cruise in between the islands. The five foot zig was put back out in between the islands in a water depth of about 6 foot. I left the rod to my left hoping any passing carp would drop down for a feed. But come two in the afternoon and I had received no more action. I started to pack away happy with my efforts and happy with a fish although I could’ve had more. I was especially happy with the spot that produced the fish as it was something I had figured out for myself, no one else fishes it as it is ignored due to the islands being a main area of focus.


I left the lake with a smile on my face, and hopefully come summer after my exams I’ll be back down to catch on of these mysterious monsters that keep being seen.

Connor Johnson

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