Fox-sponsored Luke Church checks in with the second instalment of his regular website blog with an update on his recent fishing exploits...

Another month has certainly flown by and here I am writing my second blog instalment. Over the past three or four weeks since my last piece, the weather has improved dramatically and the fishing has with it; finally!  I have been seeing loads of good captures reported, large hits of fish landed and big carp have been plentiful which is hugely encouraging after the very poor winter we endured. Spring in my opinion is without doubt the greatest time to be out on the bank attempting to catch our chosen quarry, they are waking up from their winter slumber becoming increasingly active, searching for food and readying themselves ahead of spawning. Also they have barely been caught all winter so they tend to have their guard down a lot more which will of course increase our chances all round.

What have I been up to? Well, I have been trying to get out on the bank when I can and as mentioned at the end of my previous blog, I had planned to fish up to the end of the season at West Stow syndicate in the hope that some of the fish would start to show themselves and here is how I got on…

With the Mustang syndicate finally closing at the middle of March, it gave me a chance to really focus my time and efforts down at Stow for the rest of the month. I had planned for my first session back to be the following weekend on the 19th – 21st. Prior to my session I had booked off the Friday afternoon so I could get down a bit earlier and fingers crossed, get a swim that I wanted for the weekend. Much to my surprise, when I arrived and checked the catch report book, there hadn’t been a fish out for nearly three weeks. Considering the conditions had been almost perfect with lots of warm winds and sunlight penetrating the water, the carp still didn’t seem to be playing ball. The forecast was showing huge south westerly winds in excess of 45mph gusts were on the way so if anything was going to switch these fish on, this was it.

I set up down the far end of the lake where the wind was due to blow and I was very pleased to have seen a couple shows in the area whilst setting up my gear. I was later joined by my good friend Kev Grout and we were both very much looking forward to a long overdue social for the weekend and trying to stay optimistic of a fish or two. Over the course of the weekend the wind got up, hacking down to our end of the lake and the fish moved on it, but unfortunately they were showing in abundance to our right approximately three swims away from us. The fish had a good munch on the Saturday with the lake producing 5 fish out of nowhere, but sadly they were just out of our water. It wasn’t until the Sunday when the other anglers had packed up and left that we had an opportunity to move down. As the conditions were looking absolutely spot on I opted to stay for a third night and make the most of it, luckily just on sunset after not long casting to a showing fish my decision had paid off and I was rewarded with a lovely 18lb 12oz Mirror, not the biggest fish in the lake but for me personally it was a cracking result. It was the first fish I had caught from the lake since September so I was over the moon.

I had a couple of nights at home but soon enough I was seriously chomping at the bit to get back down, so I planned to do two overnighters in a row on the Wednesday and Thursday night. Both nights were relatively busy on the lake, but I did manage to find a few fish. I was very confident, but nothing occurred. The lake seemed to have switched off again and nothing had been caught since my fish on the Sunday evening. When I left Friday morning a fresh easterly was just starting to blow, a wind they do like to follow on Stow so I was interested to see how the weekend anglers would get on.

For my next trip I had a master plan; I would fish three or four overnighters from the Sunday to the Wednesday/Thursday, going to work in between, so I could try and stay in tune with the water for the final week of the season. I very rarely fish Sunday nights, but I decided it would be beneficial to get down and find out some info from the weekend anglers; where the fish had been showing, if anything got caught etc. When I arrived on the Sunday the wind was still blowing an easterly, nothing had changed since I left three days prior. One fish had been out on the Saturday night, but nothing else was caught. These fish still hadn’t got their feeding heads on much to my amazement and everyone else’s. Luckily the fish did decide to put on a bit of a show that evening and told me exactly where I needed to set up for the night.

I dropped into a swim that I had never fished before, but they were showing in numbers down the right hand margin so I quickly flicked out a Milky Malt Dumbbell Wafter soaked in PBs intense booster liquid to where they were showing and catapulted a few Nutta-S freebies over the top. It wasn’t long before I had all three rods in position with fish showing gently over all three spots at close range. I was so excited and was praying this would be my chance to catch one of the better ones that hadn’t graced the bank as of yet. A few hours passed with a couple of liners on the rods, then around 10pm on the right hander my Slik Bobbin smashed into the alarm and line started peeling slowly off the reel – I was away! I hurried down to the rod and lifted in to what felt like a heavy plodding fish, I played the fish for around five minutes, then up appeared a truly stunning creature, one of the two known linears in the lake so at this point my heart starting going even more and so did the adrenaline. Not long after the fish was safely in the net much to my relief and I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I safely unhooked the fish and weighed it in at 34lbs 15ozs – GET IN! 

The fish was caught with my set up comprising of 16lb Exocet main line, a 4ft 30lb Trans Khaki Illusion leader, a Slik Lead Clip set up with a 20lb Camotex Semi Stiff hooklink of around 7 inches tied to a Size 7 Edges Curve Medium hook. I got some lovely pictures and shortly after slipped the beautiful specimen back into its watery home. As you can imagine I was and still am made up with this capture, what a fish and also quite a sort after fish in the lake so even more reason to be chuffed.

I fished the next night in the same swim, but it was evident the fish had backed off a bit, the wind had slackened off and I was seeing the fish through the night further down the lake. I did fish the next two nights, but to be honest the fish had stopped showing, the lake turned flat calm and I kind of lost track of where they were located on the lake. I didn’t receive any more takes, but to be fair the linear I had was the last fish to come out for the rest of the season as the lake switched off again. I’m certain when the lake reopens in May it is going to fish its nu*s off!!! I can’t wait to get back down there again.

Other than fishing at Stow, I did manage to do a night on a local estate lake where I managed to land three fish including two 20lb+ commons with the biggest being 22lb 1oz. I caught these fish using the exact same tactics as when I caught the linear.

So that concludes my second blog, I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I have a qualifying match next weekend down in Dorset at Todber Manor’s Big Hayes lake in the UK Carp Champs which I’m very looking forward to so I will be writing about how I got on next month. Also West Stow is due to open again on the 1st of May and I will also be looking to spend quite a lot of time down there, fingers crossed I can have some good results to report next month.

Until then, keep at ‘em.