The first session

It’s always an exciting time getting a new ticket and this year my focus is on a 5 acre lake in Essex. There is a good stock level with majority of fish over 20 and a good head of 30s to go for. The deepest parts of the lake can be up to 20ft, but the water fluctuates a fair bit throughout the season from my understanding and currently the deepest areas are around 16ft.

My sessions consist of very short overnighters of 12 hours max, so my approach is always to go light and be prepared to fish wherever the fish are regardless of how long the walk is or how uncomfortable the swim might be. Due to this my strategy is always decided at the lake as part of the session rather than trying to premeditate what I am going to do and where the fish my be. If carp fishing has taught me one thing it’s the unpredictability of fish, conditions and the other factors that contribute.

I took this ticket without even seeing the lake, so my first session really was an exploratory mission as much as a fishing one. On arriving at the lake I was confronted with a lake in the middle of nowhere with an island running through the middle and very steep banks as the water level was low. I exchanged pleasantries with another angling fishing the car park swim who told me he was the only other angler on. I decided to make my way to the far side and see if I could spot a few fish. I made my way to a point parallel with the island where I could get a good vantage point and instantly I saw 2 or 3 decent fish milling around the island. I made my way further round where I could get a decent swim to cast back over to the island. Without wasting anymore time and having seen fish, I got things setup.

My chosen bait for the trip was a mixture of Antarctic Red and Natural Maple+. I always tend to fish a mixture of sizes and baits as I think this can often break things up a bit and ensures lots of different food signals are being leaked off. Not knowing the lake make-up or having gained any other knowledge I decided to have a little lead around for depths and to assess what the lake bed was like. I decided the best solution was to go with presentations and rigs I had absolute confidence in and would give me a wide range of options to try and see which might work. I targeted two rods on the island and one in the deeper open water. I distributed a light scattering of baits on the island and fished the other with a PVA bag. Every lake is different, so something that worked well previously may not have the same effect. Every new lake you fish is a challenge and one that you must learn to understand before you can be truly successful.

By the time I was finished setting up it was around 9pm and the wind had really started to blow and the temperatures were beginning to drop rapidly. There was some fish activity over the open water rod, but I suspected these fish were probably in the mid to upper layers and really required a zig approach, which I wasn’t well prepared for… I decided to stay as I was for the first night and got in the bag hoping for some action in the night.

I had a mixed night sleep with a couple of bleeps throughout the night, most likely liners and as it was pretty chilly it wasn’t the most comfortable nights sleep. That’s the one downside of going light, you can’t be prepared for all eventualities. I woke at around 4.30am an watched the water for signs of movement, but there was very little. I had to be away by 5.30, so following a swift morning brew I got the rods packed up and headed home!

My first session hadn’t proved successful from a fish perspective, but I had certainly learn’t a few things about the place and could make sure I was properly prepared for my next session. No session is ever a wasted one and it’s my belief that every time you fish you should be looking for the next piece of the puzzle!

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