For the KLAA member who is a specimen hunter we are truly blessed with some of the finest predator fishing in the country. We also have waters with the potential for very large bream and tench but for the carp specimen hunter it’s a bit patchy.
There are stories of 30 lb carp in the Ten Mile Bank, Such a water is a daunting prospect when looking for a small head of specimen fish that could easily decide to up fins and move 15 to 20 miles downstream at anytime. Still waters generally provide the carp angler with a greater chance of finding a specimen or two.
There are currently two options for KLAA members who want to fish for still water carp. The first is Tottenhill Pit, a small water which has a good head of small to medium sized carp. This lake though is more geared to the match man than the specimen hunter. It has an interesting shape and nice features such as lily pads and fallen trees providing many good holding areas for carp. It can be a very busy water and the fish get a lot of angling pressure. There are certainly some larger fish in there but with time and bait restrictions it is not really the type of water I am looking to fish for carp.
The second option, and in time potentially a better option for a specimen is Shepherds lake. I am not sure of the maximum size of fish in the lake but my sessions on it thus far this year have produced fish of an average size of about 10 lb and several low doubles. Why I think this lake has more potential in time to produce carp in the 20 lb+ bracket is the stock levels and quality of those fish already in the lake. Heavy stocking of carp creates too much competition for food and reduces growth rates. Also most carp I have caught in “overstocked” lakes tend to be out of shape and have deformities. I like to catch fish in good condition as to me this is a sign of a healthy system.
Shepherds lake can be fished from dawn to dusk, it is a shame night fishing is not allowed but that’s the rule and we have to abide by it. The lake itself is quite shallow which can make the fish quite easy to locate as they can often be seen breaking the surface with their backs. One end has an interesting array of islands and overhanging trees providing nice features to fish to. The other end is quite featureless except for a few caged islands along the centre of the lake, I have found these to be fish holding spots.
My tactics for the lake are quite simple. I use semi fixed rigs with either an inline lead or a Korda lead clip rig. Not being a fan of lead core I use 2 feet of clay coloured tubing and a flying back lead to pin the line down. I also use a back lead directly off the end of the rod. The reason is twofold, it pins my line down from rod tip to bait reducing line bites and with the water being so shallow hooked fish tend to dart about in front of you and pinned down line minimises tangles when using two rods.
The carp in Shepherds lake respond well to fish based boilies and I present mine using homemade fishmeal and tuna oil stick mix through which runs my fluorocarbon hook length. For hooks I use a size 10 Korda curved barbless hook to which there is a single hair rigged boilie. The hook is pulled into the stick mix so just the boilie can be seen. I also add a stringer of 5 boilies off the end of the hook bait for further attraction. This provides a nice neat pile of bait on the bottom. The dissolving stick mix, covering the hook and rig with a neat group of attracting boilies one of which if sucked in should hook the carp (see photograph).
I make my stick mix up using Dynamite baits marine halibut stick mix to which I add some crushed boilies of the type I am using as bait. I also had some small halibut pellets and some green mussel pellets. For oil I use saved oil from cans of tuna in oil. A small tin holds a surprising amount of oil which has a great tuna aroma. You can also buy oils such as halibut oil and I mix some of this in as well. I make my mix up in advance and keep it in my bait fridge. Also the evening before a fishing session I make up a dozen or so sticks and boilie stringers to save me time on the bank. These I keep in old butter tubs in my bait fridge to keep them fresh.
Prior to using the stick mixes I was catching just one or two fish a session using stringers and pva bags with pellet. With the stick mix method my catch rates have improved greatly producing 13 fish in one 8 hour session and 4 in a recent 2.5 hour after work evening session. I am also now catching bream to 4lbs as well on a regular basis so they clearly also like the method.
The prevailing wind on the lake is generally from the car park end towards the entrance end and the fish seem to follow the wind. So when I arrive to fish I will almost always go to the end of the lake to which the wind is blowing. On hot windless days I look for signs of fish or target the overhanging trees and island areas. Floating bait tactics on calm days are not an option with the amount of waterfowl so I go for areas of shade. These are basic fish finding tactics for most species of fish and they work well for carp.
I have heard rumours of fish being caught in excess of 15 lbs and my target for this summer and early autumn, before I go back on the drains after predators, is to see if I can catch and photograph a fish of that size from the lake. Every carp I have caught thus far from Shepherds lake has been a common carp. The commons are in amazing condition probably due to not being keep netted. I will keep you posted if I catch that target high double.