Mark Bartlett recounts a red-letter session on Bluebell’s Swan Lake, a venue which sees more than its share of angler pressure, especially at this of year...

There’s no doubt that Bluebell has been a venue in form of late and, as a result it’s seen plenty of anglers on the banks, so even having arrived as the gates were opening I had to wait for a swim to free up on my chosen Swan Lake.

Having had a trip around the lake, I found carp in a couple of areas but other anglers already had them covered. However, I then spied some definite fish activity in an area where the angler in situ appeared to be packing away. As I got round there he didn’t seem to have spotted the fish and, to my delight, he informed me that he’d be away within the hour. I wasted no time in dropping a bucket in behind him and parked the van up. The main reason for the trip was that I’d recently had the old pipes cut, if you know what I mean, so the ‘man area’ was a bit sore. I wasn’t able to work so what better way to spend a few days recuperating (feeling sorry for myself) than on the bank. Being able to fish out of the van on the road bank was a huge help; not having to barrow loads of gear with my aching balls was a godsend. I love fishing at this time of year, but I want to catch a unit before the winter kicks in and being able to do so in relative comfort is ideal. Despite the crowds, Swan was hopefully the ideal venue with its stunning carp and recent good form. I say good form, but when you consider how many rod hours this place sees on a weekly basis, the results are probably very similar to most lakes. With this number of anglers fishing any lake there are bound to be a few captures. I think they stand out on here though because they are very often absolute crackers, and the average weight is also pretty big.

Talking to some of the anglers it was clear that many of them were there for a week or more, whereas I usually only have a maximum of 24 hours. This time, however, I’d got the luxury of a couple of nights courtesy of a special surgeon! I’m sitting here now recounting the story of the session and my regular fishing buddy Kev Hewitt is alongside me for what has been a rare trip without us being in a match. He makes a great point that having less time leads to being a much more efficient angler. He’s the classic case in point, fishing only Sundays and Mondays but having one of the best catch ratios on the planet!

Above: Bart likes to explore the water in front of him with a Grappling Marker Lead.

Without the luxury of having 7 nights at my disposal, getting the tactics right is essential, as is giving it maximum effort for the duration of the trip. There are rarely any second chances on 24-hour trips. The first thing to do was find an area where I could present a bait. I also try and do something different to the anglers who had probably occupied the swim over the previous week or to. Most anglers get to these lakes, chuck loads of bait out to the middle and then sit on it. For me, catching carp from pressured lakes needs a bit more thought and effort. I had a few casts with a Grappling Lead I found that the bottom is covered in some sort of black detritus and there were very few really clear spots. However, with a bit of care and attention to detail I was able to find a very small area that seemed to have much less of the black stuff on the bottom. I certainly felt that I could present three baits on the spot without too many problems, so my location was sorted.