I didn’t know it at the time but my 12th season on the West Stow Carp syndicate in Suffolk would be my last. But as it happened it was probably as good a time as any to leave for pastures new. I would fish Stow for the Carp in the Spring and Summer but I would also be targeting Barbel in a river not far from where I work. This meant fishing the lake on a regular basis would be difficult.
My 1st trip of the season would be an early April 24 hour session. It was a wet but mild day with a nice south westerly wind pushing up the lake into an area known as the village bay. Sure enough the odd fish popped its head out and gave itself away. This area has so many features you would struggle to fish them even if you could use six rods! I only had two so opted to fish one in the deeper water next to an island. The other rod was put in the opening of the bay. I baited the island spot with half a kilo of my homemade squid n shellfish boilies in a tightish area. The bay spot was baited with the same bait and quantity but spread with the throwing stick. I like to have a couple of different presentations and if one works I will swap the other rod over to the going method.
The conditions were spot on and sure enough at around 4 pm the island rod was away! The fish ran to the right into open water taking line as I clamped my hand down on the spool. After that initial run it made a u-turn and headed to the bay. I didn’t want it to take out my other line so again I put pressure on it and turned it away. It started to make shorter runs and was under some sort of control at last! I could see it was a mint looking common still with some of its winter colour showing. In the net it went first time of asking. It weighed 25lb 10oz and was a cracking fish to open my account for the season.
The next capture came a couple of weeks later on a 24 hour trip. The day temperatures had warmed up and the fish were getting in tight to one of the islands. I had fish sitting right over the top of my white pop up but they were not interested at all! I switched to something a little more subtle and sent a yellow pop up out to the same spot. Same story again and even though they were sat over it they ignored it! Another change and a red pop up was deposited to the same spot. It only took a few minutes and I was into a fish! The fish went into the net pretty quickly as it was a tight snaggy swim and I didn’t want to mess around. It was a colourful stockie Mirror weighing just shy of 20lb.
I managed to get out for a few day sessions in June and caught a long Mirror of 23lb 6oz. I really wanted to get out for a long session though so I could immerse myself into the lake (mentally not physically). It was now midsummer and I was starting a midweek session after the stunning Carp that inhabit the lake. The lake was quiet angler wise so I had a good chance of finding an area that would give me a chance of catching. After a walk around the lake I decided to fish a swim that gave me open water and an island to target. I saw a few fish show in the open water and there were nearly always fish around the island. I fired out a choddy towards the corner of the island and another to the bottom of a plateau in front of me. I scattered my homemade squid n shellfish boilies over the rigs and sat back to take in the atmosphere. Nothing happened that night and I was getting restless. I sat next to my rods scanning the lake and noticed a fish jump clear of the water up the top end of the lake. This was the sign I needed to move. And on a lake that can be very busy it’s not something you can do too often.
I got to the new swim that commanded a bay where the wind was pumping right into. I cast a choddy left to the bay entrance and cast a combi rig into the open water right on top a fish I just saw come up. No alarms, just the rods on the ground and the net ready just in case. Suddenly the open water rod made a ping as the line pulled from the clip. I pulled into a strong fish that made me work hard from the off. It made several strong runs but each one less so than the previous run. It glided into the net and when I lifted it I knew it was a goodun! Surprisingly I was the only angler on the lake and it was Friday afternoon! I had to weigh it on my own (which was a struggle) and the needle spun round to 38lb 10oz. A new pb! I didn’t recognize the fish at the time but it was a fish called “the Dragon” and normally weighed well over 40lb. He was probably around 40 years old and the most sought after fish in the lake. I managed to get a few good self take pictures to capture the memory of this special Carp.
That was not the end of the action though. Just minutes after returning the Dragon the other rod was away! Again a hard fight was sapping my energy and I had not recovered from the previous fight. Without too much drama I netted a very long common that was immaculate. Again I weighed and photographed the fish on my own. She weighed 29lb 10oz. Worth the move right?!
The Barbel fishing took over for a while and it took until the start of September before I found myself back at Stow. I was down for a social with a mate Alan who was already fishing when I got there. He was fishing on the end of the 1st island. There were a few other swims that gave me island options but I opted to fish a swim in the middle of 2 islands. Not really a swim that is fished much as most anglers tend to go for the island swims. I reasoned that as it’s a less pressured area of open water the fish may feed there with more confidence.
I found an area by casting a bare lead with no marker to find an area I could spread a kilo of my trusty squid and shellfish boilies. I reasoned that as there were fish showing either side of this area around the islands they would most likely be moving over my baited area. The evening came and went (along with a beer or 3) and I soon found myself tucked up in the camp for the night. However, I was woken in the morning by a rip roaring take! My running lead rig with a bottom bait was away and I was soon playing what felt a nice fish. It was a strong fish and led me a merry old dance taking me left, right, up and down all over the place! I did get the better of it and eventually a lovely Mirror would slide into the waiting net. The fish weighed in at 29lb 8oz and was the icing on the cake as I mainly went to catch up with my mate.
I had a couple more nights at Stow and caught a 2 more mint Commons to 22lb. It was mid September now and I felt the need to move on and target different species. For around 15 nights of fishing I ended up with 8 fish. One of them being a new pb and the jewel of the lake. As I said earlier it turned out to be my last season on the West Stow syndicate. I may not fish the lake again but I took some happy memories that will stay with me forvever.
Big Thanks to Kevin Sanders for writing this article if you want to read more of Kevin s article head to http://kevscatches.blogspot.co.uk