Rob Burgess' guide to: Linear Fisheries' Hardwick and Smiths
HARDWICK LAKE AND SMITHS POOL
Location: Linear Fisheries, Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire.
Number of swims: 41.
Stock: over 1,000 carp to over 40lb.
Depths: ranging from 4ft to over 30ft.
Tactics: going into winter, you should have spent a bit of time getting a good understanding of all the major features around the lake, whether that be plateaus, bars, shallow areas, deeper water, or anything else of note. This is important so that you can really tune into finding the fish instead of worrying about if you are in the right areas if a fish does show.
Rigs: for me confidence is the key, so trying a new rig for the first time when things get tricky is not going to help your confidence if you blank on it the first night, so use what you’ve been successful on in months gone by. My go-to set-up on this lake would be a Kable leadcore helicopter rig coupled with a 5-6 in. boom section of 20lb IQ2 and a spinner presentation with a size 4 Kamakura Krank hook and a Goo infused pop-up.
Hookbaits: without a doubt a 12mm yellow pop-up infused with Mystic Spice Goo has out-fished anything else that I’ve played around with in past sessions. But it would be rude not to have a pink pop-up with Squid Goo on one rod as well as it has rarely let me down, and on my latest trip it was that which did the job!
Baiting: because of the make-up of the lake, my baiting approach, apart from the quantity, doesn’t really change from summer to winter. This lake is fairly deep all over, so it is important that my spod mix is made from whole food items, which in general means whole boilies instead of crushed or crumbed ones. It is easier for crumbed baits to drift around in the water column when fishing in deep water, especially if there is undertow as well, and I’d much rather my baiting approach stays as accurate as possible.
I usually start off with 8-12 Spombs of bait and then feel my way into the strategy for the rest of the session. If I get an early bite then I’ll wait for 20 minutes just in case there is a chance of another quick one, but if nothing happens in that time, then I’ll add a further 3-5 Spombs and see what that brings. It’s all about trying to understand what the fish are wanting on a particular day and being opened minded about your baiting approach – when winter really sets in, half-a-dozen Spombs can be more than enough to get them grubbing around.
Top tip: when I’ve found it tricky to locate the fish, I’ve found that using a Deeper Sonar can be very helpful. The banks are generally quieter in the winter months, and this is a great opportunity to find features without disturbing anyone else. Every now and then you will get lucky and stumble across a big shoal of carp holding up in one of their winter hideouts.