Fox-sponsored angling coach and fish farmer, James Anderson, starts his monthly blog series in great fashion...

I started the winter with the greatest of intentions having got my name down for the winter syndicate on Airfield Lakes Mustang Pool. It really is a great venue with an awesome stock of carp. The fishing was slow as the winter syndicate started, I got one night in early doors while the weather was still warm but it was quiet all round.

Come the end of October the work really kicks in with harvesting and delivering fish with my business Deben Valley Fisheries. This combined with my main job teaching at Easton & Otley College meant I was working 6 day weeks up until Christmas so not much time for fishing!

This carried on over the Christmas period and through January and finally when I had some time to get out, the lakes were frozen solid. Just my luck! Once the lakes had thawed I managed a couple of overnighters and a day session during half term but it was still tough going. There were a few fish coming out including a new lake record and first forty pounder which was great to see. The fish really are doing well in there which is testament to the way Rich managers the venue.

Very often it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time in the colder months and you just have to be there when the carp have a little feed. But my limited time meant I never quite caught it right and it would do a fish just before I got there or just after I left. I never saw a carp all winter, except for when we netted it with my students to crop the roach population!

I had done a few trips to Mustang in previous winters and managed to notch a few so this gave me something to work with in terms of tactics. When the going gets tough you need a bait and rig you have confidence in as confidence can easily wain if you’re not catching.

The carp in Mustang know the score and I wanted something a little subtle so my main chosen presentation was a cut down Pro Fruitz pop-up from Tails Up balanced with a shot on the hair, fished with a small bag of crushed Pro Fruitz. The rig was constructed with Camotex Semi Stiff and Size 6 Edges Curve Shank Hook.

It was a tactic that had worked for me in previous years but it didn’t quite happen for me this winter and after trying a few other things I finished with zero fish for my four nights and one day session. That’s winter fishing for you and as the winter syndicate came to a close in mid-March I had thoroughly enjoyed my short time on Mustang pool.

That brings us up to date with my fishing at the moment and I’m currently really looking forward to the year ahead. I have just re-joined a local syndicate called Hasse Fen that I’ve been a member of for a couple of seasons now. It’s a really interesting farm reservoir that isn’t your standard deep, flat bottomed, open expanse or water you’d expect. There will be lots to discuss in the coming months as it poses some interesting challenges.

As well as targeting the fish in Hasse, I have entered the UK Carp Championship doubles and singles event at Willow Park and Chestnut Pool which should be fun! I really enjoy fishing in matches and it certainly has brought an extra dimension to my angling. I’ll be filling you in on my progress through the rounds if it goes well including the successful tactics I use. The first match is the doubles qualifier at Willow Park so I’ll be getting over there for a practice at some point.

Before I can get any more fishing in I’ve got ponds to de-silt, otter fencing to put up and carp to stock out for another year of growing. So flat out for the next month and then fishing here I come! I hope you enjoy reading my blog, I’ll try and keep it as lighthearted and interesting as possible. Good luck to everyone for the coming season!