As I pulled in off the road it was as if nothing had changed since my last visit in November. The stroll down the hill was the same but the lake looked stark and lifeless and the strong southwesterly wind ruffled the surface as it pushed down to the dam. Now, where to fish? I could fish into the wind, no, perhaps not. I could make the long walk round to the far end and fish the deeper water, no, perhaps not. In the end there was only one place to fish, where I had left off, in the central part of the lake in a deep bowl-like area of the lake, the water being around 7ft. The area was weedy in summer and from old I knew the carp would not be far away as they did not move much in winter.

I cast out just with a lead to see how much weed was around and was surprised to find still a few clumps but basically it was clear of any large beds. Soon I was settled having cast out both rods with PVA bags full of trout pellets and crushed boilies with a small white pop-up on each hair. Next was the oval shelter to keep off the stiff wind but it was so mild I sat out by the rods well after dark just looking and listening. It was earlier than I planned to return to the lake but the weather had been so mild it was worth a go, though I suspected nothing would move for a couple more weeks despite the weather, it's just the way it is. Carp seem to have some sort of body clock that says, late-February, lets nosh! Before that though it's still sleep.

Sure enough, all remained quiet as the evening went on and as midnight approached I retired to the bedchair resigning myself to a blank. I awoke though at around 3am when a carp crashed out in front of me. I looked out across the lake and forty yards out there was a large flat in the rippled surface, interesting. It was not a sign for some hectic action though as still the indicators remained still, but at least a carp was out there. Dawn came and still there was nothing, slowly I packed up and with one last look I set off on the trudge back to the car park, I would be back!

It was still mild enough for a pike trip to the Thames later in the week, however there had been a little too much rain and the river was high and turbulent. After a chat over a few beers with Gary, we decided to go and have a look at the small stream at Windsor where, in the sheltered water, just as the stream leaves the Thames, the pike sometimes lay up, being February and mild it was possible that they would be beginning to gather to spawn and a few of the massive females the Thames hold would be around. Gary had had a poor week with just a small jack falling to his baits over a couple of sessions, livebaits too were hard to come by so it was to be one livebait and one deadbait each on this trip.

Dawn was just breaking as we arrived at the area. The main river was flowing strong but not as strong as it used to before the flood relief channel. The small stream looked good though with a lovely crease as it left the main river, soon two livebaits were working the area. Our two float-legered smelts were positioned in the margins next to vicious snags. The morning dragged on with nothing happening, we chatted about this and that, our plans for the season to come and whether there would be time left this season for a pike that would smash the Thames record, we knew they existed, we had seen them at this very spot years before as the giants gathered to spawn.

After lunch the rain began to fall and the wind got stronger. The river began to rise and twice we had to adjust the depths of the floats. Finally Gary’s deadbait grew legs and the float slowly made its way out to the main river. The strike met with a good pike that did not fight much but hung in the current, it rolled on the top showing a deep green flecked flank, then it was gone, no warning, just gone. The smelt was torn apart by gashes that ran down its flank, made by a sizeable pike, how big? Well, it's hard to say, let's just say nothing was said between us for a while, it was for Gary to speak first. When he did he turned to me and said, "Thirty?" Slowly I nodded in agreement.

Have fun!