Short winter session success - Justin Badman

After a hectic 2014, some time on the bank came as a welcome break to wind down. Churn Pool owner Tom Pollard had called to inform us that there was a rare free slot between bookings at this fantastic venue, tucked away in the heart of Cotswold Water Park. Needless to say, Mark and I took the opportunity to get the rods out!

Upon arrival, our good friend, and maker of (sometimes) great tea Graham had just netted a stunning 20lb mirror, which was very encouraging. Mark and I went about setting up, although a couple of hours later the lines were being clipped up and skipped in, and a group of us were going for a curry at the local Indian!

We returned to the lake accompanied by bloated stomachs and an absolute downpour, so hastily slung the rods out and got our heads down. By mid-morning none of us had any bites, so the rods were wound in as we had to do some product filming. Graham was off just after midday, leaving Mark and I to try and outwit a fish between us.

I didn't feel right where I was, especially considering the last three bites that I knew of had all come from the other end of the lake, where the wind was pushing towards, so I leapfrogged Mark and settled for the swim beyond where Graham had fished.

I try not to let winter fishing faze me as the rewards are still there, sometimes all you need is to spot one sign that can turn a run of blanks into a run of bites, and I saw just what I was hoping for when an oily patch suddenly appeared and darkened the surface. Within a minute it was gone as the rough surface took over once more. Had I gone for a pee I'd had missed it!

A single pop-up was cast out to where the slick had appeared. Within 15 minutes this rod was away and in true Churn Pool style, a really hard fighting fish was charging around angrily. In lush winter colours, a beautiful 28lb-plus mirror eventually came over the cord, and over the next couple of hours two commons, both in the twenties, followed.

Mark rounded off a great yet manic afternoon with a solid looking mirror. It was like someone had flicked a switch as all four bites had come within a two-hour window. Maybe the previous night’s downpour had stirred them? All we were sure of was that we were in the right area, and they certainly liked the bait, so the following day we worked our socks off to get away around midday and had the rods back out by 12.30pm.

Mark knew his spots from previous sessions on the lake whereas I was a newbie, so I had a cast about with a bare lead and found an area of dying silkweed. I adjusted my rigs accordingly and used a mix of pop-ups and critically balanced bottom baits.

Rig-wise, I used hinged stiff rigs made with Korda's ever reliable Mouth Trap in 25lb and size 6 Choddy hooks, and for my balanced bottom baits I used Korda's semi-stiff N-Trap in 20lb weedy green with Kaptor Kurv Shank hooks, also in size 6.

Three carp were caught between us, again all mint-conditioned fish in the upper double to mid-twenty range, one of which was a really heavily scaled old original that is probably older than I am! This came along with two up-and-coming fish - an excellent result for a short afternoon session in late December, and a real credit to the ongoing stocking program that Tom runs at Churn Pool.

There are also some stunning perch in Churn, and between catching carp and filming I took the opportunity to dropshot for a few of these to keep myself moving about and warm!

We couldn't resist one last short evening session the following day, and just as we were finishing some filming material in the fading light, my rod slowly burst into life and yet another cracking mirror was successfully landed.

With eight carp between us over three afternoon sessions, it proved that if you can find the fish, they are still catchable, even in the coldest months. It certainly helps when you are 100% confident in the bait you are armed with, and for us the Atlantic Heat and Monster Red certainly tick the boxes.

Thank you to Tom for allowing us to fish at Churn Pool, it really is a stunning venue that homes a very good number of beautiful carp, and there is even a lodge on site complete with many luxuries, including a kettle, if you get time to make a cuppa between bites that is!

Best wishes and fishes for 2015, 

Justin Badman