West Yorkshire isn’t exactly known for its quality specimen carp fishing which is unfortunate as that’s where I live! Day ticket options are limited to only a couple of places, Erics Willows and Ladywood Lakes. I’d heard good things about both of them but never got around to giving them a go. When Dan, one of my fishing buddies said that he wants a session before he heads off to France in pursuit of monsters, Ladywood was the obvious choice with it being local and not having a membership fee like Erics. Ladywood operates a booking system on weekends so we along with our other fishing buddy Gary decided to book a day off work and do a 24 hour session Mon 7pm – Tue 7pm.
Leading up to the session I did a bit of reading on the place and tried to get an idea of what might work. I also called the very helpful bailiff Gus who gave me some good tips on the place. The weather was due to be unsettled because of low pressure – very carpy! The wind was forecast to be a cold north westerly so I suspected before I arrived that the fish would be on the back of the wind. For more info about this and why I came to that conclusion, have a watch of the video below. You only need to watch it for a minute or so to hear the relevant info but it’s explained really well. If so do have a spare hour, I’d recommend watching the whole video as it’s very informative.
So, Monday evening arrived and it was time to load the van. It still amazes me how much gear is required for carp fishing – I also fly fish for trout and for that I only need a rod, reel and a box of flies!
As we were setting off Gary mentioned something about heading to York, when we questioned him it turned out that he thought we were going to fish at Raker Lakes and had planned his approach/bought his bait accordingly! As always the journey conversation was about tactics, what we’d heard about the lake, what we might catch etc… etc…
Within 40 minutes of setting off we were driving around the lake looking for empty pegs. The place was bivvy city and this was midweek! This is clearly down to the quality of fishing but any carp angler will feel a sense of disappointment when faced with so many anglers. We found 2 empty pegs and an angler packing up next door so that gave us the option of fishing next to each other. The other option was to spread out in odd pegs across the lake but we chose the 3 in a row as we’d seen a few fish crashing in that area and the guy who was packing up told us that he’d had one that day but first thing in the morning. I decided to jump in the peg he was vacating because it had a nice margin to the right. For some reason I didn’t think about the bigger picture, the guy leaving had had one that morning so I thought great, let’s give it a go. One thing that failed to register was where he caught it from – the empty peg to his left and the one that Dan was now setting up in! The other thing I failed to consider was the wind; it was blowing into the peg I was setting up in. Now, if you were paying attention earlier you’d have noted that I thought the fish would be on the back of the wind so why the hell did I choose to fish on the end of it!? Doubts were now firmly implanted in my head and as I was looking at the lake there were fish showing on the back of the wind, SHIT! My scribbles on the image below might help you to understand my problem (I took this image the day after hence the sun and my rods in the water).
My options were to move to a peg straight across from me where I could get a rig close to where the fish were showing or stay put and try to fish what I had in front of me the best I possibly could. The free peg was crammed in between 2 other anglers which wasn’t very appealing and as I was half setup at this point due to needing some shelter from the rain when we arrived I decided to stay put. At least I’d be fishing next to my mates – I know this can be a classic mistake but I’m a pleasure angler and an overnight session is also time for me to chill out. What that means though is that I’ll never complain if I don’t catch because I know that a lot of the time it’s down to me to make things happen.
Gus the bailiff had told us that the fish will come in close so with what I had in front of me I decided to spread the rods but fish quite close in. A rod went in both my left and right-hand margins and one straight out in front. This lake is deep at 24ft in the middle and the margins drop off very quickly so I fished the middle rod on the shelf in about 12ft of water as I wasn’t too sure about presenting a bait in 24ft of water in the middle of August! If I’d have thought about it properly though I might have tried doing just that – the cold wind was crashing into my peg and cooling the water in front of me which might have pushed down any fish that were in the area. Hey ho…
Dan and Gary were expecting some action during the night; they were close to the fish and getting some serious liners, fish were crashing out in front of them and it looked nailed on for a bite. They both actually said that they didn’t see the point in going to sleep as they were expecting to be up and playing a fish at any time! I wasn’t getting any liners at all nor seeing fish in my swim. I knew I wasn’t on the fish and if I did get a bite during the night it would be more about luck than judgement. There was nothing else for it, time to get some sleep and see what the state of play was tomorrow – no doubt I’d be waking up to see pictures of Dan and Gary’s captures. As is turned out all of our plans were scuppered, I managed to get about an hours sleep, not because of runs but because of the bloody train track and road running next to the lake! Gary and Dan hadn’t managed a bite and were left scratching their heads.
After numerous cups of tea and some breakfast it was time for a rethink. We all tried to change things. I tried different coloured popups, solid PVA bags with different coloured hook baits, zigs and roving the rods to try and find some fish. I ended up fishing the shelf in front of me with 2 rods over half a kilo of boilies but that didn’t work either. The 2 guys at either of the empty peg had both caught fish; I was now regretting now moving the night before… The day passed quite quickly and for all of us it was uneventful. Dan and Gary were still getting the odd liner but I didn’t have a bleep. Before we knew it we were packing up. The weather was nice so I packed up the bivvy a couple of hours before leaving and just laid on the bed chair in the sun. We packed up the van and headed back to Leeds discussing what had (or hadn’t) happened.
A couple of days later we were talking about the session on our fishing Whatsapp group. Also joining the conversation was John, another friend and the most experienced carper of the group. His view was that tweaks to the setup should have been made to convert the liners into bites. Lead arrangements and rigs were mentioned but I maintained that I wasn’t on the fish and no way was I going to start tweaking my rigs when I was 100% confident in them. Plus I don’t fully understand rig mechanics so I’d have been guessing as to what to change. I think if John had have been there he’d have seen the difference in swim activity from mine and Dan/Gary’s. Dan and Gary did agree with John which in their shoes I’d have probably done the same as they had a lot of activity in front of them but weren’t getting the bites so at least they have learnt something and both are determined to go back and make something happen. What did I learn? Well, looking back I should have thought more thoroughly about my choice of swim. I suspected that the fish would be on the back of the wind yet I still set up on the end of it. There was a free peg where the fish were showing but I made the wrong decision and stayed put. As just mentioned I didn’t want to start playing around with my rigs but I did try different hook baits and different areas of my swim. One thing I didn’t do was try the deeper water which thinking about it now could have been a more comfortable area for the fish given the cold wind. All in all though I still enjoyed myself and will be going back to try and settle the score.
Until next time, tight lines…[subscribe2]