One of the most consistent Fox-sponsored anglers so far this year has to be James Wilsmer who has once again caught some splendid carp in recent weeks...
Well last time I finished up I told you all I had a trip booked to Cambridgeshire's Holme Fen Poachers Pool. That's the smaller of the two venues on the complex for those of you that don't know and despite its lack of size still holds some fantastic fish compared to the hippos that reside in the main lake.
Well with two nights booked with my pal Kris, we landed late Friday morning with strong south westerly winds, overcast conditions, which quite honestly with the lake booked for just ourselves for the weekend we couldn't have asked for much more in the middle of march!
We both knew from the outset from looking at google earth and from talking to the bailiff Martin who runs Holme, that it would all be about two swims at this time of year, both at opposite sides of the lake fishing up to a no fishing bank. Ideal on your own but no good for a social! So to keep things more enjoyable Kris and I decided to fish from the same bank, with him choosing to fish short spots on the near side bank with a small snaggy bay and myself fishing long range spots, which in all honesty and in hindsight I should have known better as I knew I wouldn't be able to fish effectively considering the big casts, awkward angles and high winds forecast for the weekend. Such is life though I wasn't at work and that's all that counted on a Friday!
Well to say things started off well was an understatement as after only a few hrs with singles cast long to some marginal bushes I was into my first Holme Fen fish, a pretty mid double for my efforts. Confidence high things got even better when only an hour later Kris was in on one on his short range spots and after a short but spirited fight in true Holme Fen fashion there lay in the confines of Kris's net a scale perfect mirror. Sling sorted and up on the scales it looked to be a good fish and at 31lb+ came as a pleasant surprise and a great way to start the session off! Dusk was soon upon us and as the light faded into darkness although cold, lucky for me one of the rods was soon away again, this time another small double which although I was happy to catch I knew I must have been a touch unlucky given what else I knew swam in the lake.
Despite this though I wasn't to be too disappointed as again at first light one of my other rods rattled off. After slow and ponderous fight at distance (120yds to be precise) 15 minutes or so later I finally landed a larger resident at last. This time an immaculate mirror of 27lb 12oz and one that optimised the Holme Fen strain.
The winds continued to batter the north eastern banks all morning and despite early action the day light hrs for me were exceptionally quiet, despite seeing fish at range for a good hour in the morning in my swim. Later that afternoon things changed for Kris though as he experienced no less than three takes and all unfortunately resulting in hook pulls which from what we could only put down as very small carp that couldn't really deal with the rigs and hook baits. It was all rather odd really as we never did really make sense of it considering he's someone who always pays attention to detail with presentation and having incredibly sharp hooks in his armoury.
Despite these weird occurrences though darkness soon crept in and with the winds still strong from the south west things looked good all round for both of us and it wasn't long into darkness when I received a drop back at distance on one of my open water rods. Alas disaster struck straight away though and from word go of picking the rod up on the initial take the line was grating on the bottom over some hidden obstruction. I've had this a few times on gravel pits over the years where the old workings leave cables from the gravel extraction and sure enough only a few minutes later my line parted leaving me with a shredded section of line just above where my tubing had been. I was absolutely gutted as I rarely lose fish as it is and after seeing some good fish roll that morning I knew every chance it would have been a decent one!
Dawn broke to motionless bobbins for me and with only a few hrs left before we had to be off I was itching for another bite. Kris had also had a small one in the night (single figures I believe) and with another aborted bite was well and truly pulling his hair out over what the hell kept happening. Conditions were still exceptional for the time of year though and looking over to the wind battered margin in the distance where I was fishing too it just had to throw up another bite before I left.
In true Blue Peter fashion an hour later the middle rod absolutely one toned and sitting over the rods with a fresh cup of coffee I was on it in a flash in the hope to redeem my loss from the night previous. However, this really wasn't meant to be my weekend and no sooner after picking up the rod a powerful fish kited some 40yds into one of the marginal bushes at distance on the no fishing bank. Wedged in like an Alabama tick there was no way I was going to budge it at that distance and after leaving the rod for twenty minutes or so in the hope it would swim out nothing gave and another loss was on the cards! Even after some intuitive thinking by myself and Kris with cutting my line and walking around to the other bank with my rod and casting back to Kris to tie me back on, after an hour of trying I had to concede defeat as the line parted where it met the bushes.
Despite my seriously bad luck Kris on the other had decided to go out in style and as I walked back well and truly pissed off his marginal snag rod was away again! After an angry fight, some ten minutes later up popped one of the most gorgeous looking plated mirrors I've seen for a long time and one that I recognised instantly from the Holme Fen web page gallery. Up on the scales she went an impressive 37lb 6oz, which looked absolutely mint in the early spring light and wrapped up although a disappointing session for me was a great introduction to a fantastic fishery for both of us.
With April fast approaching this is always a time of year I really put myself out and make an effort, as I rarely fish the warm summer months these days as I don't really enjoy fishing in the heat. With the day time temperatures rising consistently and the light values ever increasing I knew by the last week in March it was time to get back to my local syndicate in Essex.
After a long work party one weekend and a couple of quick last minute nights I'd finally built up an idea of the movement of the fish and my first proper trip down I planned on the first weekend in April.
As with most fish in early spring when the days increase you can always bet your bottom dollar on the fish moving into shallow water in the days and creeping back out at night to find warmer climbs. One area I'd repeatedly been seeing fish on my walks just so happened to be a halfway house between the deeper areas and shallows spots of the lake so the first afternoon to no surprise guess where I found them cruising up and down?!
Rods all clipped up to known spots with my trusty swim mapper app over to the far margin and with a gentle westerly breeze blowing down the lake towards me before I'd even cast out I'd seen two nose their way out the water. Not one to miss an opportunity for day time bite all three rods were blasted out there with single homemade Mainline Essential Cell cork ball pop ups and semi stiff links.
I've always found if you can get right on top of them at this time of year, they can be all too easy to catch in the right swim and conditions and my first proper night back proved just that as over the next 10hrs to say it was hectic was an understatement!
My first rod was away in less than an hour with a lovely 25.10 mirror and no sooner once I'd photographed that, one of the others was away as well! After a great ten minute battle I then slid the net under a well-known resident known as the Banana at 37.10! Finally, my luck had swung around.
As dusk settled into night I knew there had to be a number of fish in front of me and even though I'm a big fan of fishing singles this time of year for quick bites I just knew if I gave them some bait with the throwing stick it would only benefit and right I was because at 4am I landed a 29.10 mirror and no sooner after casting that back out the rod was away again! Totally different to the others this was by far more heavy and sluggish in its fight and it came as no surprise because as I slide her over the net it was one of the A team from the lake! At 42lb 5oz she looked awesome in the early morning light for photos and although a recapture for me I was more than elated to catch such a great looking old leathery mirror again.
The cool morning soon turned into a scorcher and with it a complete change in wind, this time from the east. Knowing the lake exceptionally well I knew my chances in the area I had were done and instinctively knew where to head straight away down the other end. Packed up, quick trip home for a freshen up I was soon back down with renewed enthusiasm and ready to go again.
My chosen swim this time was up to some marginal snags on the south west corner of the lake and with a north easterly wind blowing into it needed no more influencing me on where to place my baits. Two rods clipped to the marginal snags and a scattering of 15mm cell all the way along it, everything was perfect for a bite at any time.
Unbelievably the afternoon and evening were very quiet and despite this with overcast conditions on the cards for the night I knew I had to be in with another chance. Sure enough, at 6am the next morning the left hander dropped back to the deck and then back up to the blank with a fish clearly shaking its head angrily from what I could tell. After a spirited scrap, another unit fell over the cord and at 35lb 4oz was a great end to my first session back!
Well, that’s me over and out for another month, I've got a week off at the start of May which I do every year in attempt to have a good spout before they spawn so hopefully next time around I'll have a few more scaly ones to show you all!