Elvington Lake is no ordinary fishery, it is a mature lake containing large Tench, larger Carp and monster Catfish, definitely not for the fainthearted or light tackle, we had been there a few weeks previous in a match and vowed to return.
During the match, several Carp had been hooked and lost, poles were not made for this water.
The weather was hot and sunny, the water still, there was not even a drift across the surface.
Several Carp could be seen basking, a few Rudd seemed to be picking at the surface, picking at flies that had fallen, so what was it to be? Shall we go for the Tench or try and tempt the Carp.
Past experience told us that when Carp were basking, they generally don't feed but wait until the evening when the surface cools before getting their heads down.
Today was to different though, we came for the Carp and were determined to at least catch one.
When Carp are basking and not interested in feeding, there has to be only one method worth trying, freelined bread-crust. There is no point in throwing loads of bait around the fish, that would only scare them into moving elsewhere. What is needed is an accurately and softly placed bait, just enough to create interest. And why should we wait for the fish to come to us, lets go stalking.
We were lucky in a way, there were only a few anglers on the lake, so there was plenty of room to roam.
- 8lb Line, straight through to a number 10 barbless hook. 13ft Rod.
- A torn off piece of fresh bread crust with the hook thread into the crust side and back out of the same side.
- The bread pushed slightly up the line and the hook put back into the bread again, bringing the hook point back out the same side.
- The line pulled tight to remove any slack and the hook turned so that the bend and point sit proud of the crust. (A bit like sewing the bread on!)
- A slight dunk into the water to gain casting weight and away we go.
Stuart chose to say at one peg trying to tempt a Carp from out of the relative safety of an overhanging bush; I took a wander. Several casts later and no luck.
I managed to land a piece of crust right onto the nose of one fish, it looked, it turned, it left.
Stuart, meanwhile was struggling to hold a Carp away from the bushes but it proved unsuccessful.
I could see three fish all around the 10lb mark under the overhanging branches of a large Oak tree, but try as I may, there was no way to tempt them away from their relative safety.
Then a thought, if the fish won't come to me, I'll go to them!
A change to a 11/2lb test curve, 9ft rod, and I positioned myself against the trunk of the tree, amongst the brambles and flipped a piece of crust under the overhanging branches. The first thought was "how would I land one if I hooked one", the second was "let's hook one first".
Everything suddenly went wild, a Carp turned into the shelter of the tree, saw the bread and sucked it from the surface. There was no room to strike, I wound in the slack, the fish felt the resistance and tore off towards the middle of the lake. At this point I thrust the rod deep into the water to hopefully allow the line to clear the branches that were hanging in the water, it worked. The Carp had now stopped and was tearing back towards the tree that it had just left; I wound in like fury, trying to keep pace, Stuart meanwhile was laughing at the whole situation whilst trying to position himself with the net. A short, frantic battle and it was in, a Mirror Carp of exactly 9lb.
The other two Carp had left during the commotion so I then went for a wander elsewhere.
Against a Lilly pad, there were several Carp just sunning themselves but they were not interested at all. Then I heard a frantic shriek from across the lake. I had wandered half way round and Stuart was shouting from the Oak tree for help. Like a cross between Sebastian Coe and the Honey Monster, I ran the bank to find him battling with a hard fighting Carp in the spot that I had earlier left. The reason for his shrieking; not having a short enough rod, he decided to use his son's, a £6.00, 6ft, spinning rod from Argos! It was bent double, he was holding the reel and the ferrule to stop the 'rod' from breaking and a Common Carp was determined that it was not to be beaten. It was wrong, eventually, somehow the fish came to the awaiting net. A perfect, unmarked Common of 9lb 8oz.
Who needs designer tackle?
The day ended with myself landing one more Mirror of 9lb 13oz, the third from the tree, again to floating crust, several Tench to more conventional methods and quite a few Skimmer Bream, Rudd and Roach. All in all, an exciting if different day's fishing