Tackle shop owner and Fox-sponsored angler, Rob Shanks, has been catching some real crackers of late...

In complete contrast to month where the weather was hotting up and certainly played a big part in me catching the stunning common in my last blog, the weather throughout the main part of April has been absolutely baltic. We had a lovely weekend to kick April off with where temperatures reached in excess of twenty degree’s,  it lasted a mere and very frustrating two days and for three weeks we got battered by strong winds from the north or north east. I suppose the only positive I can take is that it was one of the driest Aprils on record so at least it wasn’t wet, windy and cold.

I spent the start of April getting to know a new venue and although fish sightings were extremely sparse, it gave me a great chance to get the marker rod out and really get to know the lake’s make up and more importantly get to know some of the lads and what a great bunch they turned out to be. My main focus of attention for April was always going to be Kingy, a lake that over the years has been probably Norfolk’s top big fish venue, in the mid to late ninety’s it produced a good number of fish over the 40lb barrier to a top weight of 47lb, at the time a Norfolk record. The lake was always well renowned for its head of 30lb plus fish.

The fishing over there in recent years has been difficult after it was brought by an adventure activity centre, which is now its main commercial focus. With a bit of hard work and persuasion, some local anglers managed to secure some very limited fishing time on the venue and a small fishing club was introduced and given permission to fish the lake in between the bookings. It’s a strange way to fish waiting for an email telling you when you can and can’t go but the limited access and numbers allowed to fish the venue have made it feel even more special when you are there. So with some dates available on the calendar I couldn’t wait to get started to be honest.

I had a quick walk round one sunny and blustery Sunday afternoon after work, if my memory serves me right it was a bank holiday weekend and it gave me a chance to re-equate myself with the venue having fished it briefly a few years previously without really getting to grips with it. I caught fish up to 34lb but I’d just had my little boy Stanley and moved house so family life was my priority at the time, my head wasn’t into it at all in all fairness. It gave me a chance to work out where the bulk of pressure had been over the weekend and hatch a plan accordingly.

I’d forgotten what a beautiful and inspiring bit of water it was and it was lovely to be walking its grassy banks again. The wind was cold and the main bulk of anglers had decided to fish off the back of it on the south facing bank where the water was shallow and in previous years extremely weedy. A quick chat revealed that other than the odd bite things had been relatively tough going, so as much as it seemed ridiculous it was quite clear the fish were obviously right on the end of the cold North easterly wind. Even going back five or six years I’d caught in the teeth of cold weather and it was clear the habits of the fish hadn’t changed too much.

I had planned to go to my other venue but with the lake looking like it was going to be quiet and the prime area free of anglers, I decided to do a night the following day after work. I arrived at the lake shortly after 3.30pm the Monday afternoon and a quick walk round confirmed that there was only one angler on, with the lake being in excess of 20 acres I’d struck gold. The strengthening wind was still hacking into an area known as the bridge swim and was bitterly cold as I stood and watched the water there for a good half an hour while I weighed up my options. My hands were freezing, it felt like winter, it wasn’t long before a fish crashed clear of the water in front of the hide swim opposite sending the birdlife scattering for cover. That was the only sign I needed so I quickly set off to grab the barrow laden with enough kit for night, my water bottle securing the area in case anyone turned up with the same idea.

I was back in the swim in double quick time, the flat grassy banks making the push with the barrow a doddle. I always like to watch the water for a while before getting the rods out. I’m never one to be in too much of a hurry to get the rigs in place, preferring to really think about where to position my traps to give me the best chance of a bite, it’s all too easy to wade in and ruin a good peg.

It was clear as I stood there I was in the middle of a big pack of carp moving backwards and forwards between the back bays to my left and the long arm of water to my right with fishing showing in both areas. I decided to keep the disturbance to a minimum and only use two rods which is always my preference anyway, my left close to a bridge where a small cut gave access to the back bays, the right on a small hump of gravel in the centre of the bay, a spot I’d caught from before.

My first cast was short and I brought back a huge clump of onion weed, I absolutely love fishing in the stuff and the carp love it too, the hump was surrounded by it, all new lovely fresh, green, weed growth. The traps were my simple take anywhere multi rigs, hookbait’s the awesome new Signature squid pop-ups from Sticky baits, one yellow, one white. A handful of mixed Vortex and Krill, swimming in the foul smelling pure krill liquid throwing sticked over the areas completed the traps. I avoided too much bait as I felt the fish were moving back and forth rather than being held up anywhere particular, so I just needed enough there to induce a take, fishing for a bite at a time.

It was time to sit back and enjoy being there and I completely forgot how much I loved the venue. The hours ticked by and as the day drew into evening, the wind dropped and the sky was illuminated by a glorious sunset. As the lake flattened off the fish started to roll either side of me. It was just after dark when my left hand rod pulled up tight and after a good scrap a 22.12 fully scaled was netted and photographed in the dark, I was chuffed to bits to have caught one just a few hours into my return. The action didn’t stop there though, as light broke my right hand rod on the hump absolutely ripped off and was clearly one of the lakes hard fighting commons.

It ran me a merry dance, in and out of the beds of onion weed but I soon had what looked a good common in the net. I left him in there to chill out unhooking him in the water. I quickly slipped a new size 4 Edges Stiff Rig hook onto the multi rig and launched it back out onto the hump along with another small handful of bait and within half hour I had another lovely looking mirror in the net, he was only a high double but he was a deep chestnut brown and covered in big apple slice scales. I quickly set about getting some self takes done, the common weighed in at 27.14, he’d looked every bit a 30lber with a massive long frame but I was chuffed to bits none the same.

Both were returned carefully to the freezing cold water and thanked for paying me a visit, my hands were frozen for the pleasure. The swim went quiet over the next few hours, the action and pressure obviously moving the fish into a safer area. A few hours later I noticed one show to my left in the back bays so I quickly packed down and moved my gear round there, it wasn’t long before my rod placed in a deep silty margin was away again, the result being a grey old classic looking Kingy mirror of 22.08. That was the last of action for me and before long I was making the short journey home, cold, soaked and covered in carp slime, the job of drying the gear out looking a mammoth task.

I returned to Kingy a few days later for a quick social with my old mate “The Bin Man” and unfortunately had a take which I lost due to a hook pull in one of the lakes big weed beds. That was it for a while, the lake closed its doors for a few weeks with no availability for fishing again until late May so it was going to leave me a good few weeks to crack on with my other water for a while with no distractions.