James Salmons enjoys an amazing estate lake session!

A chance meeting with a friend secured James Salmons the opportunity to fish on a very special estate lake, and resulted in the capture of this magnificent old 40lb 6oz common, plus another of 35lb 12oz, and three other fish over 20lb.

The lake that James was concentrating on was proving to be a nightmare with the bird life and numerous tench, so a quick call to his mate saw him getting an Autumn campaign underway at the estate lake, which no one else was fishing at the time.

He tempted all of his fish on Trent Baits Freshwater Shrimp pop-ups fished on spinner rigs constructed from size 4 Kamakura Krank hooks to 20lb IQ2, and fished helicopter style on a Naked Chod Safety System with a Heli-Safe.

James explained: “The next week was a massive buzz as I prepared everything ready for a mini Autumn campaign and before long I was meeting him near to the lake for him to take me down and let me through the gates. First impressions are everything when it comes to a lake and I was taken aback by the stunning scenery and the intimacy it offered. Thoughts of the boring fishing on the big windswept pit were soon forgotten about as my mate offered to take me on a lap in the boat in the warm October sunshine to show me a few likely spots.

“When I was told I could fish the lake I have to admit that there was instantly one fish that I would have loved to get in the album. This one was a mega old common carp that’s as old as the hills with the added bonus of it also being the largest in the lake. It was on the very first lap in the boat where a huge framed fish pushed through the weed in the shallows and up to the boat. My mate straight away pointed it out as being the one! I couldn’t get back to the bank to sort the rods quick enough after that!

“All three rods were dropped off using the boat, which is a huge advantage at times, knowing everything is spot on and the line lay to the spot as good as it can be as I used the oar to push it down in to the weed. Although the first night drew a blank I was confident going into the second night, especially as I’d seen the big girl again in the same area looking rather active. I managed to get a rig on a little silty hole in the weed and was pretty confident this would do a bite.

“In the early hours it was this one that was away, the fish just pulling the indicator to the top and holding everything tight as it tried to bury itself in the weed at the back of the spot. A little pressure had it moving back and after a fairly uneventful fight my first estate lake carp hit the spreader block. Although I felt that the big girl would be the one to spring the trap I wasn’t too upset with a lovely old 27lb common that was soon sitting in deeper water waiting for first light pictures. Not long after one of the other spots produced a lovely 18lb common to cap off a great start to the campaign.

“The next trip coincided with storm Callum hitting the country and I arrived to a pretty savage wind which was sweeping across the lake and in to the swim. Although pretty severe, the wind wasn’t really managing to have much effect on the small and sheltered sheet of surface water but I still knew that there was no way I’d be able to drop the rigs with the aid of the boat. Instead I went out to locate the spots and drop markers before casting out from the bank. I got sorted just as darkness fell and sat bat knowing the spots were primed and the conditions were perfect.

“In the early hours the rod placed on to the spot that had produced my first fish from the lake was away. At first the fish put up a really good account of itself and I thought it was going to be much larger than the 21lb mirror that it turned out to be! Interestingly, my friend has photos of this one from 1979 when it weighed 17lb! After getting some photos just in to daylight I returned the fish in the next swim down. I picked up my mat and sling and carried it back to my swim, it was then that I noticed a fish in the margins which I assumed to be the mirror I’d just slipped back. I stepped in to the swim and stood watching, as my eyes adjusted I realised that the fish wasn’t the mirror at all, it was the unmistakeable bulk of the big un and what’s more she was upended feeding in the silkweed in a few feet of water!

“I watched for a couple of minutes before the fish headed out into the lake. Knowing it would probably be back I grabbed the rod that I’d had the fish on the evening before and quickly cut everything off before tying on a hook. A decent sized bit of bread was pinched around the shank and I crept back down to the front of the swim. I spotted the fish just a little further along to the right and it was coming my way, so I took the opportunity to flick the flake out in its path. The flake hit the surface and floating momentarily before slowly wafting its way down to settle among the weed. The fish seemed to know all about it and made its way over but with a few feet to go it veered away and slowly mooched out in to open water for another lap. With this I wound in and crept back out of the swim and before long I was back with a naked choddy set up. I made sure all was clear before dropping it in close, watching the hookbait sink slowly and perfectly on the area, I then quickly sank the line and placed the rod on the deck.

“What happened next was all a bit surreal. As I stood back up one of the buzzers next to me let of a few bleeps. Looking down the indicator was jammed up tight accompanied by the rod cranked round in the rest! I quickly pulled in to the fish, not giving it an inch as I didn’t want it to go too far over the back of the spot where I’d left the marker the day before. The fish came to the surface and rolled in front of it before heading right and away from danger. Although happy to hook a fish, I knew that the big ‘un would probably be around the margins and not likely to be happy to have a fish played in over its head. Thinking my chance was blown I gained more control and soon had the fish in close, the first sight of it showed that it was a common and moments later a second glance had me rushing forward in my waders to net what was clearly the big un!! She went in first time and a quick look confirmed that it was her! Talk about when your name’s on a fish!

“Pretty blown away I put her up on the scales to record a pleasing 40lb 6oz. I quickly placed her in a sling before calling my friend who said he’d be down within an hour. True to his word and accompanied by the other lad who had been so kind to let me fish there we got some mega shots done before slipping her back and firing up the stove for a celebratory cuppa.

“The lads left early in the afternoon and as the wind had dropped I decided to get the rods out with the aid of the boat. Before long I was sat behind a couple of rods, leaving the third rod until just on dark as this was in shallow water and the swans were being relentless, polishing off bait within minutes of putting it out!

“Like the previous night, it was this rod that was the first to go. After an unspectacular fight I soon had another of the lakes old mirrors in the net. Weighing 26lb 12oz she’d clearly seen plenty over the years and I decided to take a couple of quick shots before letting her go.
That night the weather was so good, heavy cloud cover and a nice low pressure meant the temperatures were ridiculous for the time of year and I fell asleep under my top cover with a t-shirt on.

“I slept heavily until 6am when one of the other rods was off to a one-toner. The initial power of the fish pointed towards it being a good one and I played it heavily to keep it out of the weed. Within a few minutes it was approaching the net slowly and ponderously and my initial thoughts were soon proved correct as I engulfed another of the lakes big girls in to the landing nets mesh. A quick check and I was sure the fish was one known as the box and once transferring her in to a sling and lifting her out on to the mat the bulk of the fish became evident. At 35lbs 12oz it was the icing on top of an already unforgettable session, everything was soaked through, including me, but I couldn’t have cared less!”