As the water was still very cold I returned to the small, relatively easy estate lake to get a bend in the rod. I turned up on a mild afternoon. I parked the car and went to see what winter had done to the lake. All looked pleasant enough, the lake now totally free of any weed and lilies, the trees totally devoid of leaves. There was a nice mild wind blowing gently up the lake and it looked good for some action, I hoped.

I went back to the car, got the stuff and then made my way round to the island. It was good to be back. After I had set up I sat on the seat and looked across the lake. The casts were easy, just gentle lobs with eight bait stringers, one to the edge of a small island, the other to open water on top of an old lily bed. I then catapulted a few freebies out by catapult.

Darkness came an hour later and I sat expectantly. I did not have to wait long as I received a liner and then a drop back in close succession on the island rod. I wound down to the drop back and connected with a nice weight. The carp struggled for a while to get behind the island and on the 7lb line the fight was quite exciting. There was nowhere for it to go really though so before long I had a nice 11lb common nestling in the bottom of the net, a good start to the night. The carp was in perfect condition and had lovely winter colours, soon it was powering off in to the shallow water.

The fact that this lake is so shallow means that with the merest hint of frosts it will freeze over, however any mild breeze will also melt the ice quicker than deeper lakes. The carp feed regardless of temperature and will respond to any sensible baiting method, even under the ice. In the past I and others have taken them off the top here with the lake almost completely frozen over.

The evening action though on this occasion was not fast and furious as I had to wait until 11pm until the next take, a fast one on the rod over the lilies, this was a better carp, or so it felt as it thudded away in the slightly deeper water in front of the island. It rolled a couple of times close in and I was sure I saw the scales of a fully scaled mirror, I hoped I did anyway as there is one lovely such carp in the lake and I had not caught it for many years so I hoped I was about to renew its acquaintance. Sure enough a minute or so later I folded the net around the carp and a quick peek in to the net revealed that indeed it was the fully scaled one.

On the mat I found it was in lovely condition and was quite deep and firm in the belly. I held my breath and watched the scales spin round to 15lb 3oz, it had been pigging out; it was a great welcome back to the lake. When I planned to fish it a bit over winter, I hoped I might get one of its older residents. When I first started fishing it there were only doubles in there and the old fish were those above 13lb, around twenty of them. Over the years some of these have died and restocking had meant that there are many younger stronger fish, but the old ones are still the best in my eyes. This one was perhaps in the top three. After admiring it though I had to say goodbye. I let it slip from my fingers as I felt its strength come back and watched as it slowly swam away.

The rest of the night was quiet and no more carp came my way nor did any leap out, obviously the cold weather had put them in to some sort of winter slow down, I doubted very much if any other member had been down to carp fish on the lake so they would not have been getting any food to keep them mobile. I left in the morning quite happy with the result though.

Later in the week I went pike fishing with Gary but it was a cold start to the day and we experienced one of our very rare complete blanks, neither of us getting a sniff to our baits. January is a funny month for both carp and pike but February is just around the corner and this can produce some fantastic catches of both species. I look forward to getting out and doing both. The only problem then is that March is only just around the corner and fourteen days into March comes the end of the season. Both my carp lakes and of course the rivers shut up shop until June. This year in the close season I plan to get the rods out after some rarely caught carp and at the same time hopefully attract one of my ambitions, a 40lb English catfish, now that really would be a story!

Have fun!