Rob Shanks is back with the second entry to his blog series. The Norfolk carper has been a busy boy!

With March came a noticeable and almost immediate lift in the weather, the longer days were feeling significantly warmer and brighter and the level of footfall in the shop was noticeably picking up. The most pressing thing on my mind was securing the necessary tickets I wanted for the years angling ahead and at the end of Feb I received some good news. The two waters at the top of my wish list were likely to become viable options with both owners offering me tickets. All I needed to do now was the hardest bit to sort out, parting with the hard earned cash.

Neither ticket started until April so I had a month in limbo to get through first. I would almost certainly be doing a bit of angling on my local Bridge Inn day ticket. It was only a 10-minute drive from work and was home to a rather big common that had previously eluded me. It was there where I ended up fishing on my next trip. I’d swapped days at work to help out and instead of my usual days off and I hatched a plan based around fishing a quick night after work on the Tuesday evening, back home Wednesday to keep the wife happy and attend to my ever increasing list of jobs, which including preparation for my son’s seventh birthday. It was a hectic few days ahead it’s what I have become come accustomed to in order to keep the balance between family, work and my fishing in place.

Above: Rob has been kept busy in his shop.

I was hearing reports of fish getting caught from various venues, which had me itching to get the rods out, it was clear they had woke up from their winter slumber, so now I had no more excuses. I personally find fishing is a routine, once you get out of the habit it’s so easy to become lazy and not bother but equally once you’ve pushed yourself to get out again, going regularly becomes the norm. I decided to have a walk round the little pit on the Monday evening on the way home from work, it only meant a slight detour and it had been a gloriously hot, sunny day. The smell of spring was certainly in the air, the geese were racing around with only one thing on their minds and several people obviously had the same idea as the little lake was busier than ever. Most of the anglers were pleasure fishing, targeting the lakes prolific head of bream and pike. The lake looked fantastic with a bit of sunshine on it and it was clear to see that things were looking good for a bite. One area jumped straight out at me, it was quite central and a great interception point between several reedy islands, I just had to cross my fingers nobody would have the same idea as me and jump in there before I arrived the following afternoon.

That night all the necessary things were prepared, hooklinks tied, bait sorted, bedchair removed from behind the living room door, much to my wife’s delight. I just had a manic day at work to negotiate, luckily it absolutely flew by and I was soon driving the short distance to the lake. After a couple of laps I was still convinced the area I’d fancied the day before was the right place to be. With the light fading quickly I couldn’t hang about, the gear was bundled on the barrow and trudged round to the swim. The left hand rod was flicked 35 yards out towards the central area and baited lightly with around a dozen 20mm Manilla boilies.

 Above: Sticky Baits Manilla in 20mm was the order of the day.

The right hand rod was placed down the margin, on a gravel area close to some reeds over which I threw a dozen or so broken baits. Both rigs were the same, my simple, take anywhere multi rig set up. The hooklink was tied with a combination of 35lb Cortex Matt Brown for the hook section and a length of 25lb Camotex semi-stiff light for the boom.

The hook was one of the new Edges Stiff Rig Straights in size 4, I always prefer a big hook these days, feeling the bigger gape maximizes the chances of converting a pick-up into a landed fish. The hookbait on this occasion was a Sticky Baits White Chocolate in 16mm. Next job was to chuck the Supa Brolly up and chill out in the fading light. It certainly is a lovely place to sit back and soak up the atmosphere which this particular venue has in spades, being old, full of history and even plays host to stories of haunted banks.

Above: Shanky's take anywhere rig.

It was a mild night with a big bright moon, deathly quiet, but even though I hadn’t seen a thing I drifted off to sleep full of confidence. I had a rubbish night’s sleep being my first on a bedchair for a while and it wasn’t long before I was sitting on the edge of the bed, fed up with trying, coffee in hand with the faint glow of dawn on the horizon. It grew into a beautiful morning, it really was a pleasure to be sat out there that day, I was watching the water like a hawk and at around 6.30am something broke the surface just in front of the rod fished out in the middle, it was too long to be a bream, I convinced myself it was one of the lakes many pike as they had started to spawn over recent days.

Above: Watching and waiting...

I’d all but admitted defeat and with that I decided to boil the kettle for a brew and breakfast with a view of slowly packing up, I got half way through my porridge when the left hand rod just whacked up tight. I quickly dropped the porridge all over the floor and grabbed the rod in a flash and was greeted by the heavy thump of a carp on the end. The lake is littered with snags and obstacles so you can’t let them build up a head of steam; I quickly pumped the fish into the relative safety of the margins. It ran me a merry dance, doing it’s best to get in a snag bush to the left of the swim but I quickly had it just circling around in the edge. I hadn’t yet seen the fish but I’d convinced myself it was one of the lakes bigger stockies however, when the black, crusty back of an old common broke the surface I knew I was attached to one of the fish which had drawn me to target the venue. As I coaxed the fish over the net I caught a glimpse of a patch of slightly offset scales and I knew I’d caught “the scar common”, not as elusive as the big common but I was pleased as punch with one of the lakes oldest inhabitants. She was gently weighed, photographed and slipped back as quickly as possible in order not to cause the old girl any un-necessary stress. She registered 25.08lb on the scales, which to me was completely irrelevant; I was just over the moon to have caught such a special old fish after such a tough winter period.I had every intention to return to the pit before it closed but things never went to plan. A nasty water infection saw me unable to fish for a good few weeks and when I did finally get back out, I found myself doing a night on a new venue I’d joined, somewhere unfortunately I can’t go into too much detail about. I spent 24 hours getting to know the venue and a spent a few afternoons since then just watching and walking. The lake certainly cast its spell on me as soon as I set foot on the place. With my other water, “Kingy” now looking likely to open for a few weeks fishing in the coming months it’s exciting times ahead.

Until next time…..