Luke Vallory's Park Lake Exploits

Where to begin with this place? Well, I’m currently fishing a park lake around 60 acres and it has everything a carp angler could ask for: huge islands, marginal trees lines, scattered bars down to plateaus, deep silt gully’s, intimate weedy bays and a big sheet of open water. The lake has a firm grip on me not only for its features but it’s home to some big old grey characters each one with a story to tell. I’d say there’s around 100 carp that live in this big southern pit so to be successful/consistent you need to put in the legwork and stay in tune with the lake as much as possible.

A rare scaly 27lb mirror from an overnight session braced with a 36lb mirror

This solid 36lb mirror was the bigger part of the brace

As good as the lake sounds there are a few drawbacks… Parking is not ideal! You have to park in streets close by and I’m sure the residents are sick of the sight of me loading and unloading my barrow. A small cut through leads away from the residential street to a rather treacherous rail crossing. The need to make this transitional period as time effective as possible becomes even more relevant when short overnights make up the bulk of my trips.

Generally I will try and fish 2-3 nights a week, they could be consecutive nights but always returning to work each day. More often than not my fishing fits in and around general life and I’ll spread my nights throughout the week. I have fished this way for a few years and really enjoy it. Usually rod hours are no more than 12 each session; therefore I will not set up in any old swim for the sake of ease. Usually I risk leaving the gear in the motor and run round the lake like a mad man, shimmying up trees, checking bays, looking in every nook and cranny until I find something to fish for before it gets dark. Sometimes you see them and sometimes they’re like ghosts. When I can’t find them I can only base my decision on the weather conditions that day or plot up based on previous knowledge accumulated over my campaign.

One of my best sessions was last month and it happened to be when I was walking round one evening with no intention of fishing. The conditions looked spot on with a strong westerly creating white waves crashing into the bank. I stood there in the teeth of it, just intensely watching the water. Within 5 minutes I had seen one poke it’s head out in close, then another coming clean out, shortly followed by one more. No other angler was aware of this activity so I didn’t hesitate to go back and get my gear. That night I landed a lovely dark 29lb mirror! I packed up the following morning for work and couldn’t wait to head back down and slot back in to where I had caught.

I arrived later that evening; conditions had slightly changed to a north westerly. I stood there as I did the evening before in full anticipation in seeing something show. I waited for 45minutes without seeing anything apart from the kids jumping in on the opposite bank, the joys of fishing park lakes! I decided to go on a hunch and fish a different swim where the wind was now blowing in to. It was a good decision made as I had a hectic 3 hours spell the following morning landing 6 fish to 31lb. It just goes to show that paying attention to the conditions can sometimes lead to great results. Venues I’ve fished before always seem to allow one golden rule; the fish will always follow a new wind. Being able to capitalise on any new wind can be a huge advantage.

More recently, the elements aligned once more and I was keen to take full advantage of a new wind. I was fishing a swim that commands a big sheet of open water. The following morning I landed an old, classic looking mirror weighing over 37lb. The swim has a good reputation of doing more bites once they start to frequent the area. However conditions changed to a strong north easterly along with heavy rain as the day went on. Fortunately though, the rain also meant that my work was cancelled, so I decided to stay another night and move on to the new wind. I got soaked through from the torrential rain and during the move my brand new iPhone fell victim to a rather catastrophic deluge rendering it completely useless! I set up in an area where the wind was hacking in and it was clear the carp had arrived. Demonstrating one of the biggest shows I can recall from the lake.

The crayfish are a real problem down this particular end, but I thought with this amount of carp evident in the area I could risk real pop-ups. I launched three Chod rigs into a deep silty gully, rather than the favourable clean spots tight to the island. The swim hadn’t done a bite all year which is unusual as it’s always been a productive swim in past seasons. I put out a few kilos of The Krill to occupy to crayfish and keep them off my fruity yellow pop-ups. The next morning my middle rod ripped off and I was doing battle with an angry big-pit carp. You really can’t give these carp an inch otherwise you will lose them! Sounds a little brutal but you need to crank them in before they take you in to snags or around the islands. After a few desperate moments down the right hand margin, I managed to turn the big mirror and ease him over the net cord. My size Six Choddy once again doing its job! The move in the rain and breaking my new phone was all forgotten about, as I nestled the defeated old 35lb warrior on my mat.

Making the most of favourable weather conditions have really paid dividends in my angling over the last few years. Having the determination to locate your quarry on large pits can play such a huge part in the success of your campaign that I couldn’t emphasize it enough. You create your own luck in this game!

This 29lb mirror was the result of an opportunist bite after watching fish show on the tail end of a strong westerly

One evening I found four fish in a small intimate bay. This oil stained mid-20 common came within an hour