I have fished a lot of matches this month. They can wait for the time being because I have something far more exciting to tell you. It all started on April 4th (Lake Hunting). A quest to find two old Lakes that were rarely talked about, hard to get to and held in rather low regard. Ernie calls them The Switchback. Derek knows them as Neals Pits. The banks of both are heavily overgrown and unkempt and after many visits I have yet to see another soul there. The forgotten Lakes.
Wednesday 16th May
It had been dry for a couple of days. This was my chance. I decided to try and drive down to the Lakes. The two entrances to the the track were heavily rutted. I was in no mood to be deterred. As a regular to my diary you'll know I had been walking over the fields to these Lakes for weeks. I forced the van over the grassy verge until I could see the track. It was rough. I stayed on the grass, following the track, criss-crossing it to avoid the worst ruts. After about a quarter of a mile it evened out and I drove around a ridge and descended the steep hillside towards the Lakes. They looked different from this side, bigger somehow and prettier.
Now it was fairly late, around 6pm and I decided to have a go in the bottom Lake. Tony had been telling me how it used to be the better of the two with some big Crucian Carp present. This would be my first port of call and I set up close to the bottom of the hill. I fished for an hour on the feeder and pole with nothing to show for my efforts. My confidence was low and a move to the top Lake was in order. I settled down and cupped in a bit of bait and fished around 5m out. I caught a few small Perch and Rudd but it was slow going. It was fairly warm though and I was just happy to be at the waterside. All of a sudden a big splash startled me and I looked to my left. A large fish had just jumped and was returning to the depths. There was a brief pause then it came clear of the water again, thrashing its tail wildly. Holy cow! It was a Carp. A big one.
A new Lake has recently been dug at a nearby fishery complex. They have stocked it was some impressive looking carp. One forty, two thirties, loads of twenties. I was thinking of having a few goes there. I'm not really a Carp angler but I fancied upping my biggest fish (17lb 12oz in a match). This new place seemed ideal but the sight of the forgotten lake fish focused my attention. I'd rather catch a twenty from an old, overgrown, forgotten lake than a thirty from a hole in the ground. It was twenty pounds, easily. I packed away my gear, despondent at my meagre catch but buoyed by the sighting of the massive Carp.
17th May- 21 May
What the hell is happening?
On the fifth day (Monday) I heard from Tony that the Tuesday night match at Partney had been cancelled due to some fish deaths. Tony was the only one that I knew had reliably caught anything from the Forgotten Lakes. He had been keen to join me on my on-going adventure at the pits but we could never find a time to go together. With the match cancelled Tuesday would be ideal. I went down to the Lakes, baiting the top Lake with the usual boilies and corn. I also went down to the other Lake to a spot where Tony had mentioned. I balled in a modest amount of dampened pellets and corn. Upon returning to the van I could see fish were already topping over the feed. Excellent.
I phoned Ernie, "Me and Tony are going down the switchback tomorrow Ern if you fancy joining us". "I might do, I might bring Jack when he's finished school." He replied.
Tuesday 22nd May
I went down in the morning, baiting up both Lakes again. When I returned just after 4pm I was brimming with confidence. Setting up a simple rig on my heavy feeder rod I wandered round to the pre-baited spot on the top Lake. I chose the least knackered of my baitrunners. They were still suffering from the effects of the Floridian surf despite my best efforts at flushing and re-greasing them. At least the clutch works I thought as I cast to the hot spot. An hour passed. Nothing. Not even a twitch. I popped my head up to look over the bank just as Ernie's car appeared, trundling down the hill. "Hi Guys" I greeted. "Hello Mr Taylor," replied Ernie. Jack looked happy to be there (one of his favourite places apparently) and we set about moving his Granddad's gear into position for him. I stopped with Ernie for a short time while he raked his swim out. He was going to be fishing mussels for Tench. Jack would be trying to catch anything and everything. Having these two here fishing wildly different methods be a great help in cracking this place I thought as I wandered off.
Packing my stuff away I moved onto the bottom Lake in preparation for Tony's arrival. I settled on the further of the two swims I had pre-baited and cast out a feeder and set up my pole. I started getting indications on the tip straight away. Roach and Rudd were the culprits. Vicious bites too. These fish were hungry! Ignoring the tip for a bit I cupped in some bait on the pole line. It seemed Tony wasn't coming. Jack came round for a chat as his swim was slow going. We chatted and Jack told me about some big Perch in the top Lake. Jack sauntered off back to his peg and about a minute later Tony appeared.
The pole line was solid straight away. Tony came and sat with me as I tried to juggle the two methods. "Bloody Hell!" exclaimed Tony. "Did you see that?" He asked. I certainly had seen it. A massive Crucian Carp had popped its head up right in front of us. "I've had two over four pounds out of here," said Tony. "Plus some massive Perch, pain in the arse they were, biting you off all the time." He added. It was too much to take in. Then Ernie appeared in the distance. "He's never going to walk all the way round here is he?" Said Tony as we watched him walk gingerly around the Lake. With my two methods, two spectators and a head full of specimens I crumbled. Tangles, missed bites, wayward casts the lot. Don't get me wrong though, It was wonderful to have some company after so many solo visits.
Ernie left, shortly followed by Tony who couldn't fish due to work. "I expect to see a picture of a massive Crucian in your Diary, a British record in here you know," was Tony's parting shot. I threw my tip rod up the bank and concentrated on the pole line. Despite my best efforts at buggering it up it was still solid. Decent Roach and Rudd were caught every put in. An hour passed and I was building a big weight. Jack came round again, his swim having died. "Here you go Jack, you have a go". I left Jack with my gear while I went to get my Jacket from the van and see Ernie for a bit. Apart from a rogue Eel he was struggling.
I returned to my peg an Jack was buzzing. he had seen a big Crucian too. His enthusiasm was palpable. He told me of his plans for the lake and how he was going to catch the elusive Crucians. It was fantastic to see him like this. Just like I was when I was his age, probably like you were too. The Lake held some mystery for both of us...............but one of its secrets was about to be revealed.
Jack went back to help his Grandad pack up. I flopped my rig in and it settled nicely. The float rocketed under as if a Rudd had nabbed the bait. I waited for it to shoot back up. It didn't. I lifted the pole tip up and to my surprise the elastic shot out. Blimey, what the hell is this? I saw Jack in the distance and shouted him over. He arrived just as I was netting a Crucian of about two pounds. He was ecstatic. "Wow," Jack exclaimed. Wow indeed. I'd finally caught something to show you I thought. Jack returned to loading the car as I fished on. It wasn't long before I was shouting him over again. "Oh my god!" I said as a massive Crucian surfaced in front of me. I netted it and grabbed the net to lift it clear of the water. It was difficult not to swear with Jack there. It was massive.
Ernie saw it. "Looks like a real one too," he said. Crucians are notorious for hybridising. The British record is 4lb 9oz. Mine was 4lb 10oz. I took a lateral line count and some ray counts before returning her to the depths of this fantastic Lake. Upon returning home it was clear from a bit of research that it was indeed a hybrid. Shame but still a great catch. I was elated.
Thursday 24th May
A misty dawn
A decent Roach
The sun appears
The smallest is 2lb 10oz
5lb 4oz, 4lb 15oz, 4lb 2oz!
Oh, don't forget the stone of Roach and Rudd too.
We are all friends here, no secrets. A few people didn't want me to write this blog but I trust you. You know the journey I have been on with these Lakes. I'm sure you wouldn't want to hang on my coat tails. It is so much more satisfying finding your own challenges and adventures. So if I go down there any time soon and the banks are strewn with rubbish and every peg taken then we have a problem. Jack and I will never forgive you. This truly is a magical place. Now for that big Carp......and those Perch.
Till next time