Carp 'Off the top' at Lakewood

Heading south, down the motorway, sipping out of a takeaway coffee cup at 4am might not appeal to some, but I was meeting up with Brian Skoyles for a two day carp session and I was loving it!

My buddy Michael was following behind in a second vehicle as he had to head back early to watch a football match.

After four hours with only two stops (breakfast and a call from nature) we arrived at the beautiful Lakewood Carp syndicate. We were guest of Dave Butt who manages the Lakewood Syndicate after meeting him on the Daiwa stand at the Northern Angling Show.

Brian arrived about an hour earlier and had put a few mixers out with the carp responding in good numbers. The lake is about 3 to 4 acres and is known to have 100 plus carp (80% commons to 20% mirrors) at an average size around 16lbs with some going to mid 20’s.

We went through the set up; a Longbow DF X45 ‘floater special’ and a 3000 size spinning reel loaded with a 10lb floating line. The end tackle was a controller float and hooklength with a size 10 hook. We were good to go.

With a bit of expert guiding from Brian I presented a mixer towards the meandering fish. Anticipating a take at any time it didn’t take long before the drag was singing its sweet song and I was into my first surface caught carp.

I’d managed to keep it out of the weed it desperately wanted into it. Brian slipped the net under a small but lovely common and I was grinning from ear to ear. Michael was bursting to get in on the action and didn’t have to wait long. Dave had his rods out with baits on the deck and told us to alternate takes between us. Michael was first up and landed a mid double mirror which really got our juices flowing.

Soon it was midday and Bob Roberts had joined us. He couldn’t refuse to drop in a bait which was promptly swallowed by a common. I still had one in the net ready to be weighed so we were lucky enough to get a picture with a brace of stunning commons. These two fish took the tally to 10 for our efforts so far. The sun was shining, Carp were feeding and I was enjoying it with one of the most experienced guys at catching them ‘off the top’; tremendous stuff!

Michael reluctantly headed back up the A1 around 3pm and was gutted that he had to leave what was a masterclass in surface fishing. Just after he left I got an 18lbs 8oz Common that was the biggest of the far.

I put the almost scale perfect common back and continued feeding in the hope of something similar or even bigger. We were joined with a few other members from the Lake and picked what we wanted from the local Chinese menu before Dave went and collected dinner for us. Just before he arrived back I landed that something ‘slightly bigger’; a 19lb common. After photographs I tucked in to a beef curry, listening and laughing to some great stories. Everybody left in stages throughout the night and as darkness fell, Brian and I had no idea how many fish we had caught, which was certainly the sign of a good session.

As the last of day light had all but left we were feeding the fish close to the bank in the hope of catching just one more as they got closer. Brian showed me how to fish for carp off the surface in the dark. This way of fishing had me shaking at the knees. I never managed to get one and just as the kettle had boiled for our last brew of the evening, the rod that was in a known catfish swim had line passing through its guides at a ferocious rate. The 2.75lb carp rod was bent in two and this cat was heading ‘up a tree’..uh oh! It never reached its intended snag as I kept the pressure on with the drag set tight. After a great tussle it was in the net. We sorted the camera gear and weighing equipment. It tipped the scales at 20lb 6oz and I was happy to land my first cat. After wrestling with it for a picture I put it back and cleaned the slime that I was now covered in.

We wound the rods in to get some sleep setting the alarm for just after 5.00am. I woke up at quarter to eight with Brian chapping on my bivvy asking if I was getting up at any point today.  I slowly rose and Brian had me a bacon butty ready; what a guy. He also had been feeding the carp close in again and they were literally right under our feet. I kept feeding the swim after breakfast and it wasn’t long before one of them made the mistake and it was resting in the net. What a way to start the day.

Dave joined us for a few hours before leaving again. It was now one o’clock with the temperature at 24°C and I spotted the resident koi carp showing an interest in my free offerings. However it wasn’t interested anymore, it was happy sunbathing. Early afternoon was enjoyed by more ‘off the top’ action and we began to slowly pack up around 3.00pm.

I thanked Brian for what was a great two days fishing. I headed back up the A1 in sunshine with memories to treasure. I’m hoping to meet up Brian, Bob and Dave again around October, only this time they will be heading north and Perch is the target species.