St Johns Haul - Jake Taylor

Each year, I try to plan one or two sessions to the famous Linear Fisheries, in Oxford, to try and target some of the pearlers that inhabit St Johns Pool. This prolific lake really does have fine spring form and when they wake up, the action can be explosive.

Linear is incredibly busy at this time of year, so I decided to take a couple of Fridays off work. That way I could arrive at the lake on the Thursday afternoon, which gives me a better chance of getting a decent swim, where I felt I had a chance of being on the fish. This is imperative because the fish are shoaled up at this time of year.

I arrived there at 3pm on the Thursday afternoon to find a swim called the Dug Out was free. This really is a rarity because it’s right in the middle of the Road Bank and where the fish like to spend a lot of time in the spring sunshine. When I arrived to my swim, it was clear as to why it was free. It looked like the battle of Somme; water was running straight through the swim, because a water pipe had burst - not the comfiest of plots, but I was prepared to put up with the mud to hopefully get amongst them.

The lake is incredibly clear, almost like tap water and with depths averaging 10ft, it really does scream out for a zig-rig, especially at this time of year. I did attempt to fish on the bottom, but after receiving several takes on the zigs on the Friday, it was clear they were up in the water. Consequently, I switched all three rods over to zigs, fishing with a tiny sliver of trimmed-down black foam, which was soaked in Hot Fish Oil for some added attraction.
The session went from strength to strength. Once I’d pinpointed the magic depth and located the exact whereabouts of the carp, the action just kept on coming. Over the weekend, I ended up with 25 fish, with the biggest going 30lb 2oz. Knowing I had the following Friday off work and another weekend free, it would be stupid to ignore the opportunity to get back up there and try to get a step closer to some of St Johns’ real gems.

Arriving mid afternoon on the Thursday again, I was lucky enough to setup in another reputable spring swim known as First Point. My good friend Tom Maker was on the Middle Point and like always, he was getting among them, but this time they were coming off the bottom.

I opted to put a bit of bait out, introducing it little and often. I was a little cautious, just in case it the fish were in the upper layers. That wasn’t the case though, as after a few fish in quick succession, it was clear they wanted some grub. I decided to bait heavily; a mixture of hemp, corn, pellets and my ever-faithful Atlantic Heat. I gave the whole concoction a good dosing of Hot Fish oil and Hemp Oil. It’s a fantastic indicator as to whether I have fish feeding on my spots or not because it produces a huge slick.

St Johns has recently received a large stocking of fish; ranging from small doubles, twenties and even some pushing the magical thirty mark, all of which have been hand-picked from one of their many stock ponds - each one incredibly unique.

As a result, they are obviously oblivious that they are being fished for and getting caught a lot. After catching a few stockies, I decided to put a 10mm Baitworks Scent From Hell pop-up just off my area, to try and pick up one of the bigger fish, as the stockies enjoy the free food.

What a session it turned out to be; it was incredible, a completely different contrast to the week before, all the fish came from the bottom. It just goes to show that when the weather drops a few degrees, so do the fish. I ended up with 27 fish this time and the biggest was a cracking 27lb 9oz mirror.
A manic few weekends fishing, 52 fish in total. I can’t wait to get back up there.

Until next time, be lucky.

Jake Taylor.