ISSUE 1 ARCHIVES
Part 2 of Scotty's White Swan tales is taken back up, rare mirrors, a spring soiree back to the 'Circus' and Al's meeting with the 'Trip'... things are starting to fall into place.
White Swan had gained a reputation over the years as being a syndicate where all the anglers had their ‘own’ swims which they baited and fished throughout the seasons. Well, by the time my ticket had arrived it wasn’t so much the case, with people chasing them around like buggery. Ironically, I had become a bit obsessed with peg Six myself, endeavouring to get in there and exploit the long gravel spots while the rigs and bait were still working. When I arrived back a week later, I found I’d not missed much while I’d been meandering in and out of Scandinavia’s glorious fjords. Gary Alloway was down for the week in Six, but they were stacked up along the dense reeds opposite in the Plumber’s Boards. The next afternoon I managed to extract Single Scale at 31lbs, it having been missing in action for two years at the time.
I still had Six on the brain; I just knew those fish were out there for the taking, assuming I could a) get in there, and b) get my rods out perfectly in the relentless crosswinds. I wasn’t wrong either, managing to extract fish throughout the season from those two little sweet spots with the fantastic line lay. Fat Al had begun his own little obsession on the opposite side in the Plumbers Boards, a fantastically secluded fenced swim dead opposite my new home. We were both fishing on our little gravel sweet spots either side of a dense 20 yard wide weedbed in the centre of the bay (which was maybe a touch closer to Al, but what’s a few yards between friends?).
Having lost a fish that had destroyed me straight through said weed forest, I’d decided to fish locked up the following week. Al stood sentry at the end of his board in a puff of blue smoke as we chatted the morning away on our mobiles. The right-hand rod tensed with cramp in the single banksticks as all hell prepared to break loose. I’ll never forget dropping the phone, crouching down, picking up the rod just as the inertia kicked in and being literally dragged to my feet as the clutch started to squawk in pain. The telltale ceasing of gravel crunching alerted me to a jogger who’d stopped dead in his tracks behind me. What must that bloke have thought as my flattened rod pointed directly at the spot and an unstoppable bow wave surged toward the distant Twin Trees reed bed, way out in the distance to the right? I was pretty sure my name wasn’t on that one, having been emotionally disturbed by the unstoppable momentum of the initial take, a real slap in the face and a rigorous inspection for my new-found hooks.
'Al stood sentry at the end of his board in a puff of blue smoke as we chatted the morning away on our mobiles. The right-hand rod tensed with cramp in the single banksticks as all hell prepared to break loose'
By the time I had the line pointing straight at the fish Al had arrived by my side. The jogger had long since jogged off before I’d dragged another Park Lake man ‘o war to the skilled hands of Mr. Appleyard, who magically persuaded Mr. Carp to swim free from the weed and over the net cord. The tackle had stayed true and survived the savage pressuresexerted by the 27lb common that lay beaten in the net. This was braced the following day with a 30lb common that I’d nearly given up hope of finding in the bottom of my net, which I’d managed to fill to the brim with a Canadian weedbed. Having stood on the buoyant net float in the margins, I’d hand-lined the leadcore right up over the spreader block, before releasing my foot and fighting the arms clear of the weedy tendrils. After 20 minutes of emptying the weed out, I was gasping for a tea, convinced that my adversary was long gone, when I finally found the culprit. Little Dave had arrived to witness the spectacle and we both agreed that we’d never seen so much weed in a landing net before!
Al had his moment with a very special carp sometime during the early autumn, in the form of Triple Row at 46lbs 4oz. After one of his infamous ‘late shifts’ at the pond, Al had seen a big fish slosh out over his spot at around 4am just as he was turning in for the night. Something was brewing out there and Al was sure one of us would hook it. His prophecy and dreams eventually came true after the great fish smashed him through the weedbeds, making my buzzers bleep as it made its determined bid for freedom.
'Something was brewing out there and Al was sure one of us would hook it. His prophecy and dreams eventually came true'
Things took a turn for the worse as the clans of tufted ducks descended and the place started to look rather bleak and winterised. The pond was soon sealed with its translucent frozen lid from just after Christmas until early February, which coincided with my birthday (for which I’d planned a three-nighter), having gone stir-crazy stuck indoors for a grand total of five weeks.
An exceptionally warm week of weather had graced my presence as a band of low pressure swept the country from the south-west, banging through peg Six’s water into the top bay. The water temperature still felt sub zero and the crosswinds gusted at 40mph, so I paced the lines out to the marks and upgraded to 3.5oz leads to combat the awkward casts. Within five or so flicks of each rod I’d managed to get two absolute crackers out there in the choppy waves. Opting to fish singles for a change and not wanting to encourage the local wildfowl and sky rats to ruin my birthday, I settled in for the session.
At around 10pm, I thought I heard a fish somewhere out to the left, which perked me up no end after the exertions of the day. This was followed by another definite ‘boom’ of carp out in front somewhere. A lethargic 29lb winter mirror obliged at some stage of the early hours and was awaiting Matty’s camera skills the following morning. It made a change to extract anything in the winter, especially from the park, so a proud moment was had in the early morning sun as we photographed the colourful creature.
As expected, the hordes descended upon the lake during March. I was still loving the top end, which Al, Nick Jones, Dave Ball, Dave Ollif and I seemed to frequent most weekends. Even Nigel ‘Monki’ Hodgson had crawled out of the woodwork, having not fished all season due to ‘moving house for seven months’, or excuses to that effect. The last time I wrote for Gaz, old Monki had moaned like a bitch for not mentioning him. “You mentioned every other fucker under the sun and I only got a photo of the back of my head!” he griped. So, here you go Nige. If you ever see him and he tries to use sweeteners in your tea, tell him you know he keeps actual sugar in reserve for his ‘real friends’. If you’re struggling to find him, he’s the one with his bivvy on fire, acrid smoke billowing out of the door and a size five chod rig hanging from his bottom lip.
'If you ever see him and he tries to use sweeteners in your tea, tell him you know he keeps actual sugar in reserve for his ‘real friends’. If you’re struggling to find him, he’s the one with his bivvy on fire, acrid smoke billowing out of the door and a size five chod rig hanging from his bottom lip'
The fish hadn’t turned up en masse on the new wind as Nige had hoped, having blanked in the sunny Twin Trees for a few nights. Imagine my surprise when I turned up on the Friday morning the following weekend to a vacant top half of the lake; anglers were packed like sardines through the car park and middle sections of the pit. I crept round the top bay where the wind rippled and the sun’s rays beat down on to the rapidly warming waters. As I inched my way down the long boards of the Twin Trees, a group of six decent fish cruised past about a rod length off the end of the board, in unison, with a bosh off the reeds to the right; it was game on! Poor old Monki despaired as I told the story of fish jumping out every 20 minutes, “I put three kilos in those bloody reeds when I left!”
Location was well and truly sorted and my last session resulted in the final brace for me that season with a 24lb mirror and 29lb common, caught two rod lengths out round to the right of the swim. That concluded my first full season, resulting in 16 landed fish, and eight losses.
Spring at the Circus – Club Lake: April - May 2011
As I write this, I’m in the midst of a 15-year love/hate affair with a local pond close to my heart, the very pond where I painstakingly learned my trade. Having left the White Swan specimens to their close season peace and quiet, I ventured back to the old haunt where I hoped to tie up some loose ends. I was hoping that I might manage to squeeze in a tale or two of these wily specimens, but space dictates otherwise, so that story will have to wait for another time. I’ve included their pictures after what was an intense close season on one of the most pressured lakes you could ever imagine. Both were uncaught for three seasons and were in immaculate condition, so apologies for this tangent and I hope you enjoy seeing them.
'Having left the White Swan specimens to their close season peace and quiet, I ventured back to the old haunt where I hoped to tie up some loose ends'
White Swan Syndicate: June 2011 - March 2012
The first two months of the new season were very much the same as the first, spending every Saturday and Sunday night at the lake, but failing to hook or land anything despite being on the fish on nearly every occasion. The novelty of carp popping their heads out over my rigs soon wore off but I was confident that if I stuck to what worked for me, things would begrudgingly fall into place.
Both ends of the lake were solid with weed, but even the barren middle third of the lake was blanketed in the stuff. As a precautionary measure, I’d decided to update my helicopter set-ups by using Enterprise’s little ‘C’ clips, the lightest of which broke at 2-3lbs. These little gems turned out to be a godsend for the season. By attaching a large ring to the bottom of the leadcore, and fitting a snug tail rubber over the weak ‘C’ clip, I had a balanced breakaway set-up, without the need for light mono and PVA knots to secure the lead for casting. Having a penchant for a 2.5oz lead, I could now get away with leading around as much as I liked, and once the bites started I noticed the difference straight away; the leads would drop off and, more often than not, the fish could be landed from the bank without having to mess about with the boat.
At the top end of the lake was an intimate, reedy swim called the Swamp, festooned with the usual Canadian weed that flourished in the warmth of the sun. As I crept down the long board that nestled in the reeds, at least 20 dark shapes materialised in the tiny gaps and channels that marbled through the surface weed. A big fish ghosted through in-close, tantalising me momentarily as it glided from left to right, where a marginal bush lay overhanging a small sandy patch that had been dusted off to reveal some fine gravel.
'As I crept down the long board that nestled in the reeds, at least 20 dark shapes materialised in the tiny gaps and channels that marbled through the surface weed'
Before long, I had a rig on the close spot and was trying my luck with a fake plastic snail, in the holes out to the left with a chod rig on a long break-away nylon link. After 24 hours of that, having been cleared out of my broken baits twice on my margin rod, and my little pop-up spooked off five times from various weed holes, the better fish had long melted away leaving the smaller stockies to it. After the stress of being on swan watch for a whole day, I lifted out the rigs and escaped the mental torment for a circuit of the lake.
By August, the weed situation had seemingly worsened twofold as I made my way down the Motorway Bank, on the Sunday lunchtime. I was greeted by the sight of two dirty great milky clouds that hung suspended in the middle of the Car Park Bay, where Bernie had given them a bit of a clumping in July. This was all I needed to see, lining up the areas with the boarded swim opposite before moving my kit from the Swamp to Les’s. Subtle bubbles effervesced out in the pond around the target areas as I carefully polished up the sticky-sharp hook points. After a quick lead around for a couple of cracking drops, the rigs were tied, balanced and dispatched to the marks relatively painlessly. Typically, a tench hung itself not long after dark on the banker rod and then, after re-tackling, re-clipping and re-casting, the first carp of the season obliged, despite fighting all the way in to the net.
After a few flash shots of the 30lb common and a sweet re-chuck in the dark, I was woken to yet another take which had stitched itself solid out in the pond, and no amount of persuasion from my end would convince him to come out of his hiding place. Using the boat to retrieve the end tackle some two hours later, I was mortified to find a snapped black Amnesia hooklink attached to the swivel. Having procured some old school 25lb clear Amnesia from Nick’s 1990s tackle box selection, I decided to upgrade to the 25lb instead. The lake had turned into a bit of a tackle destroyer that season and I’d noticed the difference from the year before; the weed was literally packed with tiny, black snails which scratched away at the fluorocarbon with every retrieve.
I’d taken a liking to Jay’s Boards during the summer, the most panoramic swim on the lake, so when I arrived on the Saturday I dropped in there. Wandering next door the following morning to collect a welcome brew off Al, I strolled back to find the left-hand rod out of the clip, the tip rhythmically nodding out toward the spot as the remnants of an oily swirl ebbed away over it. A chunky little 23lb mirror was my prize for the morning, neatly hooked on the thicker hooklink and landed painlessly across the band of surface weed that ran parallel to the bank.
The following session found me back in situ in Jay’s, in the mouth of the Car Park Bay, where a 29lb mirror succumbed the same way as the 23; a fish which later transpired to be the same 29-pounder that I’d caught the previous February from the top end. After attaching a large piece of dissolving foam to the hook, I managed a nice thud first chuck, so let the line sink, grabbed ten baits from my pockets and plopped them straight onto the mark in two pouchfuls, before the flying rats had the chance to bombard the swim. The mirror had come over 200 baits from the previous evening anyway, so I let the rods fish into the afternoon.
At 2pm, something that sounded big chunked out in the weed just behind the spot, just before Monki arrived, sniffing around on a pre-session reconnaissance mission. Come 5pm the jumping carp had long left my thoughts when the said rod tore off once again. This one was going berserk on an unstoppable run up the pit. The line grated savagely the whole time as line was stripped off the tight clutch, before the line was cut off abruptly way out in the pit. I hung my head in shame as I retrieved the lifeless line, and then Monki nudged me and said, “Jesus look at that!”
'The line grated savagely the whole time as line was stripped off the tight clutch, before the line was cut off abruptly way out in the pit. I hung my head in shame as I retrieved the lifeless line'
I looked up and was stunned to see a monumental surge of water heading straight toward us from the spot, as a very angry carp bow waved deep beneath the surface. As we tiptoed up to the end of the board, hoping for a glimpse of the fish, it came right up to the edge of the marginal surface weed, and then surged off down to the Car Park Bay to our right. We never did clap eyes on the specimen, it was too deep down, but the intensity of the bow wave was too much to be a small one. By the looks of things, I’d just lost myself a whacker.
Head back for the concluding part 3 tomorrow evening, same time