DNA Open-Access Analysis: Stanwick Lakes
Well, that shoot went rather well, didn’t it? I’m writing this at 5am the day after the shoot, as my mozzie bites are throbbing like a cobbler’s thumb! Also, following on from a couple of nights on the bank with Mozza catching fish, getting liners and the savage heat, I definitely think a siesta will be in order later! Anyway, enough moaning and on to the session down at Stanwick Lakes…
I’d fished Mallard last year on a Carp Wars match and was conscious to try and find the spot that produced a couple of good fish for me. I did find it, but the issue was it was 9ft and 30 degrees during the day, so it was obvious I wasn’t going to get a bite in the day! We opted to surface fish wherever the chance came and, in fairness, the first day they were cagey on the top. It’s all about light levels when it comes to surface fishing, and as soon as some hazy cloud came, or indeed the evening, they’d react to the Betastim Floaters a lot more. It was all about this particular spot, though, so what I was doing was constantly feeding it throughout the day: a simple mix of hemp, corn and SLK boilies was the mix. I’d been looking forward to using the SLK, as it was one of the baits that I’d ear-marked as being a particular favourite of mine. As soon as I picked it up, I just knew it was one of those big-fish baits, a quality fishmeal, and this proved to be too much for the Mallard carp to resist.
I did notice something while we were in another swim fishing on the surface: my spot kept ‘slicking’ up from time to time; not all the time, just occasionally. It was so hot and I wasn’t sure if it was tench or carp, to be honest, but something was down there having a grub about. I didn’t give it another thought until we got back to the swim in the woods and I re-spodded. I didn’t put loads out, maybe another 10 spods or so, but as soon as I did this and cast the rigs out, the coots started diving and I had a few liners that were 100% fish on the spot. I said to Mozza that I was sure I’d been cleared out, which I think happens way more than we are realise, especially on pressured lakes. The liners stopped around 3am, before I finally had a bite an hour later. The fish was slipped into the retainer while I spodded some more bait out. What followed proved my theory about being cleaned out, as I literally couldn’t keep a rod in the water! At one stage we had one in each retainer, one in one net and two fish in the other – it was utter carnage! They instantly moved back in as soon as I put more bait out, and the constant liners in the night were them clearing what I’d spodded out just before dark – sneaky buggers!
As I was using the SLK and the spot was as hard as nails, I didn’t want to use a pop-up, so it was a PB wafter on one rod and a matching SLK wafter on the other. The PB was to just mimic the corn I’d dropped into the mix, and it was the PBs that on the first morning produced the quicker bites on the recast. Or was it just because of the spot, like Mozza pointed out? “A spot within a spot,’’ as he called it. There was a noticeable difference in the middle rod and the left-hand rod during the hectic bite time, as it was the middle that went nine times out of ten. All I did was move the middle slightly right, which made the left the middle (if that makes any sense at all), so I was fishing rods very tight together on the one spot, and guess what happened, the middle rod still did more bites!
We both agreed the thing to do was to carry on feeding the spot more often during the day and to rest it until the evening. This suited me really, as we had loads of filming to do, plus the wind had dropped from the following day, which made surface fishing a lot easier. The day came and went with a flurry of really nice carp off the surface, and some from very close quarters too, which got the heart racing even faster. I suppose every couple of hours I’d put about 20 spods out on to the spot, but rather than put more particles in the mix, I really upped the boilie content. I wasn’t bothering chopping the baits either; it was straight 18mm SLK, but I did give them a re-hydrate in the matching SLK Liquid Food, something that worked for me so well over in France recently, but with the S7.
I’m guessing it was around 10pm when I got the rods back on the spot. I was super confident of more bites after what had happened the night/morning before. We turned in not long after that, but the mozzies were a nightmare, as was the heat; I was sleeping in a hoody so the things didn’t bite my head! I swear I was still tossing and turning until about 2am in my bag, and then the liners started as the fish turned up.
I should have milked it for all it was worth, but after two small stock fish I left the rods against the bivvy as I was just so tired; I’d not slept much the night before and was whacked! It was around 5am when I woke covered in lumps; I even found Mozza 40 yards away in another swim! He had been tucked away in the trees behind me and got it worse than me, so had moved in the night.
The first thing to do was get a coffee inside me, followed by spodding. There was still chance of more bites before the sun hit the surface, so 15 spods flew out, closely followed by the rods. It didn’t take long before the liners started, swiftly followed by two really pretty mirrors, but that was enough for us; we’d had 15 fish or so and were more than happy with how it had gone.
We couldn’t have asked for a better session down on Stanwick, but what did I take from it? Well, certainly the PBs produced quicker bites, but the SLK wafters produced the better fish. Undoubtedly, I should have fed more through the night and I know we could have maybe doubled what we caught. I was really happy with the surface fish we had; I’m definitely improving now, as I’m simply doing it more and learning from anglers who are better at it than I am. I’m glad my confidence in that hot spot in the middle paid off; there was just something about it, as it was surrounded by thick weed and was obviously a spot they liked feeding on, as it did 80% of the bites.
Lastly, the bait. I didn’t even have one single reservation about whether SLK was going to work; it’s a proven, tried-and-tested bait that catches everywhere, so the thought of it not getting me bites at Stanwick never even entered my head. You can’t buy confidence like that if you’re a regular day-ticket angler and pitting your wits against not only the fish, but also the anglers around you too. You need to hit the ground running on a bait you know is better than the guy’s next door and the fish are willing to come back for, and, in fairness, they were queuing up at Stanwick to eat even more, so much so I ran out of the stuff! Schoolboy error, Tong.
See you all next month.