A New Adventure - Craig Runham

This year has been an extremely exciting one for me, with a new challenge and one I have truly relished. I joined a new syndicate in July and from the off I was looking forward to getting to grips it. On the day I received the ticket I walked the banks for the first time and what I discovered was a place that truly overwhelmed me; the sheer beauty of the place brought a smile to my face.

I had heard a rumour that the lake contained an upper-forty common and the curiosity had got the better of me. The lake in question has always previously been shrouded in secrecy. I had heard very little about the stock to say the least. I was told five fish a year was good. This didn't bother me, as I would hopefully find out for myself over the coming months. Something I was however hopeful of was that the big common did indeed exist.

The lake is oval in shape and reed fringed. Old wooden stages reach out into the shallow gravel margins. These add to the special feeling the lake has. One of the first things I noticed was the incredible abundance of naturals in the clear margins. One thing for sure is the carp wouldn't go hungry, even without the anglers bait. The margins around the perimeter of the lake gradually sloped away into deep water, in places over 24ft. I could see the depth would play a massive part in fishing the lake.

I started off baiting a nice quiet corner where I had seen fish on a couple of my walks with plenty of boilies. The first night fishing over the area I was full of hope, only to have my hopes crushed as nothing happened. I continued to bait the area but all to no avail. The depth here was fourteen feet so relatively shallow compared to elsewhere. After another blank night on the area I decided that it wasn't going to work and I had to try something different. There was another area at the other end of the lake that took my fancy. I decided to bait the area again, but this time I would bait with hemp and chopped Mainline Cell. Also, I was convinced that I needed to fish shallower water. I felt the spot I had previously baited was too deep for the heat of July. The new area I decided to target was around eight feet deep; I felt this was a much better depth.

I once again, I baited the area fairly heavily, introducing the chopped boilie and hemp every two days for two weeks. I was due a week off work due to a shutdown period. This was to be perfect timing, as I felt the spot would be prime. The spot was noticeably cleaner when I dragged the marker over the area the morning I arrived for my five-day stint. The first two nights on the spot produced a cracking 27lb common. I also suffered four losses one of which felt like a very heavy fish. I felt the line angle to the spot needed improving, as I had issues raising the line off the deck when lifting the rod. The silkweed was horrendous and also a weed bed short of the spot wasn't helping. I could fish the spot from another angle from a swim next door and I felt this would improve my line lay. I also lengthened my rigs by around two inches.

The next morning after moving swims, I received three bites and landed all three fish, including a stunning fully scaled mirror. Clearly my adjustments and decisions had made all the difference. Rig wise, I was using the Korda Fake Food dumbbells as the lake contained crayfish and I have had previous problems with baits being taken off the hair. I was using a N-Trap Semi Stiff hook link, with my favourite size-six Wide Gape hook. I had utmost confidence in my rig choice and I knew it would be up to the job in hand. After the capture of the three fish that morning the spot died a death and once more I was on the move. I had seen fish showing in an area known as Gate 1. This swim commanded the most water on the lake so I thought it would be a good move for the last two nights of the trip. The rigs were flicked out onto firm silt areas followed by a few handfuls of chopped Cell and hemp.
The fish continued to show not too far from the rigs and I felt so confident of a bite. I fell asleep that night brimming with confidence. I awoke at first light with that horrible feeling. The bobbins lay motionless, the lines hung limp from the tips; nothing had happened and the lake appeared lifeless. At this point I really was worried that I had made the wrong choice by moving. As I swung my legs out of the bed the right-hand rod absolutely ripped off, the culprit being a stunning orange koi of over 27lb. Later I was told this was only the second capture of this fish ever. It was a mind-blowing fish that's for sure and very different to the norm. The action didn't stop there, and a further five takes over the two nights came to my rods, including my first thirty from the lake in the shape of a cracking-looking common. Obviously, I was amazed at how good a start I was having to my new challenge. The fish I was catching were of a very high quality; some were scaley and had a really old feel to them. Truly special fish for sure. I unlocked the gate after a very successful session and I felt a massive grin spread across my face. Things were starting to come together. The bait and rigs I was using were working perfectly.

The following weekend I opted to go back into the same swim, confident of more action, as the conditions were very much the same. Conditions seemed and felt perfect with a light drizzle coming down onto the brolly during the first night. It was 3am when I was dragged from my sleeping bag by a screaming Delkim. Another stunning fish was soon within the folds of the net, a line of scales being illuminated by the light from the head torch. The linear went 25lb and was another very special fish. I slipped it into the floatation sling 'till first light and retired back to the comfort of the sleeping bag. I had just drifted off back to sleep when my middle rod was away, line pouring from the clutch. A mid-twenty common was soon being slipped into another floatation sling to join its friend in the deep margins.

I stayed up till first light after the common, expecting another bite but the morning passed by quietly. I wasn't complaining that's for sure. The rods were re-done in the evening and another couple of kilos of chops were scattered over the area with the use of the Katapult. An early night was on the cards after the previous night's antics. Nothing occurred that night and I was beginning to worry they had sussed the area out. Around 7am a large fish crashed over my right-hand rod. I was looking elsewhere so didn't actually see the fish, but by the noise it made, it sounded a good-sized fish. I sat on the edge of my bedchair waiting for more signs of fish. It was 8am when the right rod tip pulled around and line began pouring from the spool. I was on the rod in a flash, instantly realising I was into a good fish. The fish felt heavy and slow from the off and I prayed it would stay on. It wasn't 'till I got the fish into the margins that it woke up, almost pulling the rod from my hands, as it powered off taking thirty yards of line with ease.
After a few nerve-wracking moments a 30lb mirror lay beaten in the bottom of the mesh. Instantly, I noticed it was a fish known as Meg. I had seen photos of a friend with her previously. She was a really old fish from the original stocking. At almost 33lb I was over the moon. She looked superb in the early morning sunshine. Once again, I couldn't believe my luck. Dan Chappell came down to do the photos of the ancient carp and did a superb job indeed. The spot dried up after I landed my seventeenth carp from the swim. The spots had certainly taken a battering over the last four weekends or so.
I managed a further four bites from a swim that had not done a bite all year. The bait and rigs were working seriously well to say the least. Since losing the four fish that horrible morning I have not lost a single fish. The lake now seems to have shut down, currently leaving me on 25 fish from 29 bites. Meg has been the biggest fish caught this season so far from the lake. The closest angler to myself is on ten fish this season, clearly showing the rigs and bait is doing the job. I am planning on persevering through the winter but have been warned it's a proper headbanger through the colder months. Time will tell!

Bag a big 'un

Craig Runham