Winter gold - Craig Runham

Recently I have struggled to find the time and enthusiasm to get out for a trip, with the weather doing very little to interest or light my fire! The weather the past few weeks has been very unsettled and the lake in question had frozen over on a couple of occasions, making it unfishable.

Since the 32lb common I had previously caught around five weeks ago, nothing further had visited the bank, despite a few lads braving the elements and having a go.

I had planned a Saturday night session with good friend Mike Patrick - a catch up was in order and it was time to get back in tune with the lake! After all, spring isn’t too far away and it's always an advantage to watch the lake wake up week from week.

As I pulled through the gate and peered across a bleak looking lake, it did little to raise my spirits. I could see Mike’s motor parked up in one of the first swims along the road bank, not to my surprise as this was the only area that had produced for us during the winter months.

After a short chat and a quick look around I settled into a swim that offered me a good section of water. I could also fish to the same area as I had caught the common from a few weeks prior.

With only previous form to go on, I felt very little confidence. I have not seen a single carp show on the lake since November making location extremely difficult.

It wasn't long before the rods were in position in various depths at the back of a plateaux at sixty yards range in around 17ft of water (the lake is around 20ft on average), this was the area that had been successful so far this campaign. The area off the back of the plateaux was the only area I had seen signs of fish and had caught from since the end of October.

Up until five weeks ago this was the only area I was baiting and it was producing fish. Once I had one fish in this area I knew it would produce more, and I was baiting on a Sunday when I was leaving with around 2kg of Cell. This gave the fish a whole week to eat the bait as it was being spread over a large area with the throwing stick.

I have fished other areas of the lake this winter without success or even seeing any signs. I should also add the area I am fishing to is a large bloodworm bed - several times I have retrieved bloodworm on the rigs!

I was fishing hinged stiff rigs made from 25lb Mouthtrap, a size 6 Choddy hook and a Hybrid Semi Stiff boom section. Around five Mainline Cell baits were spread around each rod to complete the traps. Until I was to see signs or activity, I wanted to keep the amount of feed down to a minimum.

A north westerly suddenly sprang up from nowhere and began blowing straight into the margins of the swim I was on. The wind was freezing and only made the chances of catching a fish even slimmer. The sun came out mid-afternoon and the wind dropped, suddenly it felt so much warmer and my confidence lifted.

Around 3pm the left-hand rod was picked up, as something took an interest in my white Cell corkball pop-up hook bait. The bobbin wedged into the alarm as I plucked the bent carbon from the rests. Instantly the rod was met with a good battle curve as the unseen fish held its weight across the plateaux.

Once it stopped, the fish started to come in really easy and there wasn't much movement. For a few moments I thought that a tench could be responsible. I made my way out onto the old wooden platform to get a better leverage just in-case it kited down my right margin.

The fish woke up as it came into shallow water and a carp was clearly responsible. After a few minutes I still hadn't seen the fish or the leadcore. All the fight was under the tip and it was just a case of letting the fish tire. After what seemed an age, a good size common was seen twisting through the cold, icy surface.

The wind was so icy I could feel my knees knocking from my position on the end of the platform. After a few more moments a golden common glided into the folds of the net. On inspection the hinge stiff rig had done its job perfect with the size 6 Choddy hook a good inch back in its lower mouth.

A great big grin came across my face as I knew this was a proper result considering how difficult the lake was currently fishing. At 28lb 8oz it was a very decent cold water common.

Bag a big ‘un,

Craig Runham