As I write this the winter isn’t quite all over yet, it’s the end of February and it’s still bloody raining, I have lost count of the times I’ve packed up in the rain this winter getting soaked through and having to dry all the kit before it goes mouldy before the next trip, I decided to stay on Bough beach, a three hundred acre water, that to be honest isn’t easy at the best of times. The upside is there are only a handful of members still fishing for carp.

The pike syndicate fishes the water through the winter so there are at least some anglers around the venue. The interesting part about carrying on into the winter is the change in water level from the summer low to the winter high. Levels, where in some swims you’re fishing to where we would have been bivvied up only weeks before. I fished all round the reservoir trying to find the carp. Some swims off the barrow and some not accessible with barrow as the water rises. Then it’s a boat trip with all the gear needed to stay comfortable at this time of year. There were a couple of times I almost got stranded at the top end of the lake when the wind rain and white cap waves make it unsafe to return to the boat yard. There were a handful of fish caught up until the Christmas break, but not unfortunately by me. Staying on 24mm baits probably didn’t help my cause to avoid the still active bream shoals, but they still managed to hook themselves on double 24 hook baits. Will be looking at a new baiting approach when I resume back on there in the near future.

I did a couple of January sessions by the dam wall where I had some success many years ago when the carp were introduced as the trout fishing ended, but still no carp. Another water I had fished the previous winter is Beachborough lakes. A confidence booster was needed, so a day visit provided some much needed action before deciding on a new Venture. Around that time I had the opportunity to Fish Loggie’s lake in Chartham with the purchase of a winter ticket. Somewhere I hadn’t fished before as up until last year I really only fished day ticket waters. It was somewhere I had some knowledge of working with Chris Senior at Mid-Kent Fisheries, when the lake was extended and lakes amalgamated into one.

First session on my new winter venue I did question my sanity with someone¬† bobbing up and down on their phone opposite on loudspeaker for hours on end.The armada of bait boats is something that really frustrates me when the bloke opposite thinks you’re asleep and places his baits in my margin. But the up side I’ve had the lake to myself several times, again mostly in the rain. Location is key at this time of year. The north east corner of most lakes is where you can locate the carp on a lot of larger lake. A chat with Dan the bailiff, who is hard working and very helpful, said he had seen carp from the boat half-buried in the silt.

Locating some good areas nearby was my plan, as it turned out no-one else was fishing this area whenever I turned up for my mid-week twenty four hours. A couple of blanks and a sum of smaller fish on other visits was at least catching, but more importantly my ground bait mix consisting of Mistral baits, mixed size pellets with finely ground marine zest Boilies  and some sweetcorn and maggots blanched with boiling hot lake water was spodded out after each visit. Mainly fishing with solid bags and no ground bait, some fish were starting to show themselves on the spot being baited by mid-February, giving me the encouragement needed to keep going in the same area.

Arriving on Monday 19th Feb things looked really good: no rain and fish all over my baited spots. So a change was in order if I was going to get through to some of the better fish. Mid-afternoon it all went still with no fish activity, so for the first time fishing over bait felt like the one. I’m not really a Ronnie-at-all-costs angler, but fishing in the silty area felt this would be the best approach. I used a helicopter set up with my trusted trilobe leads, 8 inch nylon hook lengths with Atlantic crab pop ups and six maggots wriggling above, looked like a bite to me. After dark more spod mix and red maggots were sailing out the area now that the bird life had departed. It was nice bivvied up next to the rods sitting out in the dry clear moonlit sky.

Around 8pm, the right of three rods just bleeped and a slow rise on the indicator showed a positive take. After a good battle the fish was finally in the landing net. To say I was pleased is an understatement, the fish lay safely in the landing net while I set up the self-take area to weigh and take some photos. It was a pristine common of twenty seven pounds. All those winter nights blanking pale into insignificance with that fish under my belt, what was to come at ten to midnight is what we carp anglers aspire to every time we leave home. Same rod did the same thing: bleep and a slow rise on the indicator.

Sitting next to the rods there was calm and a slow pickup of the rod and an couple of steps backwards and this was big. It didn’t initially want to be led by me, simply walking to the back of the swim. It seemed like ages to-ing and fro-ing until eventually the walking tactic was beginning to have an effect. But it wasn’t all over yet with deep water and trees to the left and right that I definitely had to stop it getting into them. It didn’t like the headtorch, so the moon was handy to see its outline as I eventually coaxed into the waiting net.

Same process as before but this time when I looked down into the net with the head torch on, I was blown away by its size, in winter on a day ticket water. Bringing the unhooking mat as close as I could to the water’s edge so an easier lift would be better for me and the big carp in the net. At that moment when lifting her out I knew this was a special nights winter fishing that would have been even more special sharing with two old friends Simon and Paul who sadly have both passed away.

On the scales that was a bit of a struggle as I didn’t have my weighing tripod with me trying to cut down on tackle. The scales settled on 46lb with some huffing and puffing, putting the fish in the sling so we could both have a rest before some self-takes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and put her back where she belonged.