Thawing lake produces a fantastic result for Craig Runham!

Freezing temperatures prevented Craig Runham from fishing on his syndicate lake during the whole of January, but as soon as it started to thaw he made the most of it and was rewarded with this stunning old common of close to 30lb – after landing it he realized that he’d left his scales at home!

He drove to the venue for a quick recce trip to see if it was worth returning with his rods, and although part of the venue was still covered with two inches of ice, there was an area that was ice-free, and as it was starting to thaw he was back again two days later, but this time with all his kit!

Craig explained: “This winter has been one of the slowest and most frustrating years that I can remember, and even in the south-east the lakes had been frozen for weeks. Small windows of opportunity saw me trying my luck on my local canals, but without any success, and the whole of January passed without me managing to fish a single night on the syndicate lake.

“I kept praying for the weather to improve, and finally the forecast was for ten degrees and rain, so when I went for a look I was pleased to see that a large area of the lake was already ice-free.

“I was on night shift that week and didn’t finish until 4am on Saturday morning, and I headed home, grabbed my gear, and arrived at the lake around 5.30am and had a walk around it in the dark, hoping to hear one jump.

“On some lakes I’ve found that the fish can be active around first light, and I decided not to set up until I saw something to go on. After walking round the lake numerous times, around 10am I finally saw some pin-prick bubbles and that was all I had to go on, so I decided that was good enough for me to get my gear out of the car and set-up in the area. A few anglers had been on there since it started to thaw, but so far there hadn’t been a single fish out during 2017.

“As soon as I arrived in the swim, I got a rod sorted out and ready to put on the spot where I’d seen the bubbles, and as I was tying on a Key Bait Solutions washed-out pink pop-up, out of the corner of my eye I saw a disturbance right over the area, which got me really excited!

“I’d opted to fish a ‘soft’ hinged stiff rig, tied using a size 6 Choddy hook – which I spent extra time hand-sharpening – with 25lb Mouthtrap to 20lb N-Trap Semi Stiff, and within a few minutes I had it on the spot, which was around 80 yards out, silty and around 4ft deep. I’d actually fished this particular area back in the summer and had marked it up and entered it into my phone for future reference, which was about to pay off!

“Within ten minutes, and before I’d even got my second rod out, the first one buckled round in the rests – I hadn’t even got round to clipping the bobbin on – and I instantly knew that I was connected to a decent fish, as it was kiting at range and using its weight.

“After what seemed like an eternity, it was 30 yards out in front of me with large plumes of fizzing breaking the surface, and then my legs began to wobble as the Parrot is known for doing this. Then it ground to a halt as it found an old dead weedbed, and I was praying that my hookhold was good as I walked back slowly, until finally it started to move again and by now it was really close in.

“Suddenly I got a glimpse of it and it wasn’t the Parrot, as I could see the chestnut flanks of a common twisting in front of me and knew that it was still a good one. I watched every little movement as it tried to shed the hook, before I was finally able to lift the net around it and could see that it really was a stunning fish.

“I’d somehow managed to leave my scales at home but it was around the 30lb mark, and I was made-up to have caught it, especially so soon after casting out. I quickly got a rod back out hoping for another one, but it wasn’t to be and the next 24 hours passed without further action.”