After a successful Pallatrax Open Day at the iconic retail store Fosters of Birmingham, I was kindly offered the opportunity by Tom and Richard of Fosters to fish one of their syndicate lakes – Penn Hall Fishery. The chance to wet a line overnight or trog back down the M5 for several hours it was a no brainer and I was more than happy to fit in some desperately needed bank hours with business being so busy. Being in the angling trade certainly doesn’t mean lots of fishing, if anything I probably fish less now than ever!!
For those as old as me this lovely seven-acre lake is on the grounds of the historic TV programme; Crossroads – never my cup of tea I have to confess but an interesting footnote! With safe and secure car parking near to the lake and only a short barrow trip, I was soon at the gates and let myself into what is an incredibly well maintained set up. Unfortunately, it was a typical English summer afternoon i.e. the heavens opened and pretty much stayed like this for the next twenty hours of my session. I’m not a fan of getting wet but it was what it was and taking advice from Lee in the carp section of Fosters I headed to the far end of the lake keeping an eye out but seeing nothing to get my juices flowing. With no experience on the water, I’m the first to ask a question of those who regularly fish and Lee has caught plenty at the far end and with nothing else to give me any clue to the fish whereabouts I plotted up in swim 17. With the lake's inlet 50 meters to my left and rain coming down steady I was going to be in with a shout as fish love fresh water with high levels of oxygen and the Naturals that come down with the flow.
House set up, and rods sorted the first bait went down onto the reed line by the inlet followed by my other two rods into areas that looked right on the day. Tactics - nothing really changes for me when I’m ledgering for carp nowadays. The Stonze System has proven to be so consistently successful wherever it goes and though this sounds like a contrived sales ploy all I can say is it catches, and that is what it’s all about in the main for me! A small 1.5 oz Stonze in-line set up to free run and a 3.5” 15lb braid Stumpy rig to a size 6 Gripz was the terminal bits and baits were the Brown Hidra Snails which I had rehydrated in a mix of water and Jungle Liquidz. These really do take on the flavour, and with the natural ‘base’ of the snail, they really are an incredible bait on the right day. The finishing touch was to wrap a lump of Carp Crush method mix around the Stonze (they really are the best method feeder!) which I had bulked out with a liberal helping of dried Daphnia and Gammarus Shrimp.
With a sport so fixated on ‘round’ balls it is always good to ring the changes – something we do in all areas of angling but not carp angling? Bait selection on the day is vital, and I’ve seen many an angler who has bought into one particular bait and flavour unwilling to change even when other anglers close by are hauling!! In no other area does this fit and the successful match angler is someone we can all learn from i.e. they are forever changing baits, depths and tactics on the day to find the right combination - though bait selection is the key influence.
The traps were set but I have to admit I hadn’t been as serious and on top of my game as I should have been but tired, rain piddling down and now soaked through I quickly fell into the warm embrace of my sleeping bag! Don’t get me wrong I was on the bank so the thrill is always there and an hour into the session my left-hand rod gave a few beeps. I set my alarms up to be super sensitive and know that relying on the alarm to give me true indication is flawed and has to be based on assumption. How many times have you heard someone have a single beep and say; “liner”. Think of the float angler when a minute lift or drop means the bite and the strike and I work on that principle I tend to hit single beeps as much as a screamer. Many times I won’t switch my alarms on but sit by my rods watching my lines, and when I see the tensioning of the line or slackening off it I’m hitting them as a bite. This extra care has caught me so many more fish that if I hadn’t bothered I would have without doubt missed.
Wellies on I was quickly at my rod (the only time I ever move at something that resembles speed!) and though my bobbin was only just moving that was more than enough indication and I quickly pulled into a fish. The battle commenced and the fish was off towards a thick bed of Norfolk reeds. Norfolk’s are great for holding natural food, and therefore fish, but if they get in amongst them life becomes somewhat difficult, so I kept the pressure on and soon had the fish back into open water. A short time later I slipped the net under an angry common and have to admit to being well chuffed – a new water and the System was working as it has done for me on so many fisheries.
This portly common was quickly weighed (21lb 4oz) and filmed before being slipped back into the depths. Kettle whacked on I quickly reset the trap and as the heavens opened yet again my bag beckoned. The daylight faded and the rain got heavier, and a further drenching took place when at 11 pmI had a double run which resulted in two bream – not exactly the target species but reaffirmation that the tactics and rigs were working! Nothing further happened during the night, and the much-needed kip was gratefully taken, but this changed at 9 am when my left-hand rod again gave a couple of bleeps, and after a feisty battle, a 19lb 8oz mirror was lifted onto the mat – happy days!
Thanks again to Richard and Tom for letting me fish overnight and if I lived closer I would be getting a ticket, lovely place and friendly anglers – so very important!