Rejoicing at Rainbow - Alan Taylor

Korda big carp specialist Alan Taylor has been on the trail of some European monsters…here’s how his latest Rainbow session went.

February can be a strange month, weather wise - two years ago these the lake at Rainbow was frozen and everyone was sent home. This year water levels are very high.

Eight of us are on this trip, four pairs, and we draw for swims on Saturday morning. The pegs we have are 11 - one of my favourites, having had a couple of whackers from here – and peg 12. I’ve never fished in this one, but it can be good, particularly in the winter. Peg 16 has not done a carp for six weeks now, peg 5 does some big fish but is not fishing well.

We are out third and still manage to get peg 5 - not too shabby. Two English guys are packing up - they have had two fish for their two weeks, both from the right hand side.

I am fishing with my mate Darren - he fancies the right side (big fish territory) but I am not too bothered. Sometimes it's good to be put somewhere, rather than having to choose.

The weather is fine for setting up. The swim is a bit tight due to the high water level, everything is sorted apart from the rods, but not wanting to rush and not be happy with them, we decide on a good night’s sleep and put them out Sunday.

On the right I am fishing amongst small islands, shallow bars and lots of snags with an average depth of between 7-9ft - no deeper water, which would have been nice for this time of year. I am very confident in my tackle now and seldom change anything.

I have been trying out and testing all sorts of gear over the last couple of years and have now settled on what I reckon is the ultimate gear for this extreme snag fishing where every item of tackle is tested to its limits.

I am using 50lb Apex braided mainline, a 50lb XT snag leader of about eight meters, XT Kable leadcore and a double lead system with a float.

The end tackle is something I have been working on for years and I believe I have now perfected it, after much time spent searching and testing to get the perfect components and the correct dimensions, I have a rig where once it is picked up, it cannot be ejected.

My hook bait is a small Mainline boilie tipped with an artificial banoffee dumbbell. At this time of year, the bream can be a real pain but by using the artificial dumbells they can be almost completely eliminated, as I think the bream peck at the bait and soon suss that it’s not right and leave it alone.

I am baiting each rod with two small scoops of mixed small particles (hemp, buckwheat, tares etc) and a small handful of 10 and 12mm, boilies. No nuts this time of year or heavy fishmeal boilies that they will find hard to digest.

In the first few days we had high pressure, sunny days with cold nights down to -5' c, ice in the margin and heavy frost – and no signs of any fish anywhere, yet I can still see people out in their boats pilling in the bait. I am happy to sit tight until Thursday at least, unless there is a reason to move a rod or two to fish showing.

On my right hand rod I have a cane pushed into the margin off the island so I can fish the gulley behind the island, the cane also helps if I get a take - I can pull the fish back round to my side of the island then into the boat.

Tuesday morning I am sat enjoying a nice cup of tea and the right hand rod tip pulls down. I am on it like a flash to pull it round the cane, into the boat gun the motor, winding like mad to keep a tight line. Let battle commence, it's a mid-twenty common after a short scrap he is in the net. Have a look, unhook him and let him go - no need to put him through the rigours of weighing. That has saved a chequebook and pen - never had one here yet but there is always a first time.

Anyway, the next two mornings were almost identical. Same time same place, producing a double-figure common and another mid twenty. It went wet and windy for a few days with a very cold wind, which put the kibosh on me catching and the water temp dropped to 41'F. On the Monday the weather returned to high pressure and the right hand rod was away again with a small common.

An hour later and I am in again in a very snaggy area in 7ft of water, battle commences and I have it over deep water but it keeps trying to get under the boat. It feels like quite a good one, up he comes whoosh straight in the net – a 40lb mirror, very nice.

Before I have time for a celebratory cuppa my left hand rod down the channel pulls right round, I am in the boat under the other rod winding like mad motor on full, I get near it and it's pulling hard to get in the snags so I put the motor in reverse and hold him away, otherwise he would easily tow me and the boat into the snags.

I see it roll short of the snags - it looks a good fish, whoopee, a bit more heave ho and I shake it into the net. It’s a nice fat common that turns out to weigh 58lb, only one rod fishing now the bivvy is a real bomb site, it looks like I have been burgled.

On Tuesday morning the weather has changed again and has gone back to wet and windy but the hot rod (right hand one) is away again with a nice big mirror with bug eyes of 45 lb. I ended the week with 11 fish from 11 takes - happy days.

Until the next time, which won't be long, I have a feeling, but don't tell the mrs!