More autumnal action

With my local rivers still in desperate need of some extra water and the forecast suggesting another unseasonably warm and sunny day, I decided to head over to the wonderful Lake John fishery rather than scratch around on the river.

I fancied the carp would be having a nose around in the sunshine, feeding up before the long winter. I also wanted to try for the venue’s big perch. I’ve found that the bigger perch in the lake don’t really start feeding until dusk, when it’s possible to take four or five in quick succession before they suddenly disappear again.

On arrival, the near bank that I wanted to fish was being battered by a strong wind that would have made float fishing nigh on impossible. So I settled into a quieter bay that has produced some big perch for others in the past, but an area I’ve yet to take a stripy of note from.

I set up a float rod to fish maggots close in and a carp rod to fish ‘sleeper’ style on a buzzer. Despite the warm weather, I wanted to keep things subtle so relied solely on casting small pva bags into likely looking areas.  The rig featured a long hook length with a small, strong hook and it was finished with a little source pellet on a long hair.

It was lovely sitting in the warm sunshine, gently building the margin float swim. I had plenty of roach, skimmers and bream before I hooked something more substantial that forced me to backwind. For a second I dared to imagine a huge perch, but the steady, determined power at the end of my line suggested a decent tench had taken the double red maggot hookbait. I was right. But it was a golden variety of the species that I eventually netted after a good scrap.

As the afternoon drifted by the sun moved across the sky, creeping past the tree that had been partially blocking it from my view. As it cast its warming rays directly into my swim, the bites dried up. Just as I was thinking about a move my alarm burst into life and the baitrunner whizzed as a carp made off with the bait.

After a solid, if unspectacular tussle with what was obviously a good fish, I netted a long silvery gold common carp. She weighed 17lbs 8ozs and was an absolute pearler. All the carp I’ve caught or seen caught from the lake really have been in tip-top condition.

Lake John common carp
A wonderful Lake John common carp of 17.8lbs

Despite this success, I still wanted to move and find somewhere I could float fish without the sun in my eyes. So I wandered over to a shaded area with a nice expanse of water in front of me. All I could muster on the float were a few more small roach and skimmers. No sign of the perch. However the carp were active, with the odd fish even topping in the sunshine.

I lowered the bait in the margins for an hour or so, but despite some bubbles and clouds of silt emanating from around my hookbait, I didn’t get a bite. So, after spotting a carp moving around 40 yards out, I launched the bait with a little bag towards the fish. And 15 minutes later I was in again.

This time the scrap was lot more ferocious, but the fish didn’t feel quite as heavy. And so it proved as I netted another perfect, golden common. This one was bit chunkier than the last fish and it weighed 14 pounds and 12 ounces. Not record breakers by any means, but I was absolutely delighted with my autumn brace of Lake John commons.

Dusk common carp
Another perfect Lake John common

Commercial fishery fun

Commercial fisheries aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. Featureless, joyless ponds overstocked with hungry, deformed carp. Or even worse, F1s. Has there ever been a more depressing way of describing a fish? I know it’s a scientific term from the genetics world – but couldn’t we at least call them something, anything more interesting than F1s. Crarp? Crommons?

A muddy puddle
A commercial fishery, yesterday

I’ve fished a few places not too far from this particular version of piscatorial hell. I remember one such place that the husband of a friend of my partners sister (!) recommended. Third-hand details were relayed of big fish in wild surroundings and that I should definitely get down there next time we visit.

Wild it was. In amongst the crowds were a group of burly blokes drinking lots of lager – their casting getting more and more ‘adventurous’ as the day wore on; a large group of yoooves who spent the day alternating between shouting into their mobile phones and taking it in turns to spod seemingly endless piles of pellets into their swim; and even an over-amorous couple in a budget bivvy – all this on a lake not much bigger than half an acre.

The most amazing part of the day was when the Environment Agency turned up to check rod licences. One of the lager swiggers, upon realising who the new visitors were, grabbed his rod and seatbox (still half full with Stella cans) and disappeared over the verge at the back of the pond.
His mates soon cottoned on and made an equally hurried dash for freedom.

Of course not all commercial fisheries are like this. After the close season was abolished (I can’t remember the year it was scrapped – anyone?) I started fishing a new day ticket lake at Foxearth in Suffolk during the spring.

Although the place was relatively new, it was surrounded by woods and the lake had a central island, established lily pads and rushes,
gravel bars and a healthy, mixed stock of fish. It was usually pretty quiet on weekdays and worms fished down the edge could normally be relied upon  to tempt the resident tench, bream and odd carp.

The place was sold on a few years ago and has since developed into a proper commercial ‘complex’ with all the trimmings. The lake I fished became a picturesque carp syndicate and I often wonder if the carp I had from there went on to become the 30 pound-plus monsters that inhabit the venue now.

My favourite commercial fishery at the moment is the wonderful Lake John in Essex. It’s a very well-run day ticket pool, set in the picturesque surroundings of the Epping Forest. Despite the fact it’s only minutes from the M25, it’s a peaceful and attractive place to fish. It does get quite busy at peak times and understandably so – but the pegs are nicely spread out and with bushes and trees running along the banks and rushes by the water,it’s certainly far from a claustrophobic experience.

Dawn on Lake John
Summer fishing encapsulated - dawn on Lake John

Perhaps the best thing about the pool is the great variety of fish that reside there. I visited Lake John again with an old mate, Meechy, last week. We always plan to meet up and go fishing more regularly than we ever actually do, but by the time we actually do arrange a time and date we’re raring to go.

We both float fished in the margins, using little waggler floats dotted right down. Baits included corn, maggots, little hookable expander pellets and some larger halibut pellets. We had plenty of super-strength tench – rewarding us with some epic tussles close in, countless skimmers and bream, some clonking roach, perch and rudd and a tubby crucian carp each. I managed to find a pair of carp later in the evening and tempted a long, lean common off the surface using floating crust. Great fun. Long live commercial fisheries.

Big lake John roach
A superb roach of 1lbs 8ozs from Lake John