Looking Back Over 2020 Part 1 of 6


Looking Back Over 2020 Part 1 of 6

I’ve decided to look back over 2020 as part of my Podcast series and will feature multiple trip in one long podcast, from pike to carp fishing and easy lakes, to the big water I love to fish so much.

Trip 1 – 2020 – Carp Fishing

Location – Meadow Lake

Hours – 22 Hrs

My original plan was to fish Sunday night, unfortunately, my daughter became unwell and we had to cancel our arrangements.  However, there is always a positive with everything in life.  After checking with the wife that’s it was ok to go tonight instead of tomorrow, I find myself here.

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After not being anywhere near a lake or in contact with any syndicate members over the Christmas period.  This is always best, otherwise, I would have tried to get on the bank and I really wanted 2 weeks with the family.  It’s always nice to have a break and reset yourself for another year.

With this in mind, I really don’t have any idea where to head and what to expect.  We had had a lot of rain, the River Avon was still over its banks and very high.  The level on the lake could only have gone up!  I drove around the lake looking for signs of carp and had a walk into a few swims.  There was only one other member night fishing and he was at the end of one of the points and I didn’t fancy a walk out there.  There was a day angler about somewhere, a couple of the swims were pretty much underwater and unfishable.  However, the one that I was in on my last trip of the year here was free and just about fishable (as luck would have it) and I’m always confident that the fish are better here.  The next point along, being a few hundred yards of unfishable bank, does very much depend on the fish moving down this far because they treat that area as a sanctuary and don’t venture out that much.  If the lake has been quiet over the holidays with not much bait going in there, it will have certainly slowed down and been just staying put.

I baited as before, after checking how clear the small gravelly area I have been fishing was.  As I was a lot further away from my rods than normal, I was going to be fishing this side of that spot, but I’m not sure it’s a good move.  But I need to be able to get to the rods before the fish make it to the cover of the overhanging margins.  If that means I need to fish it differently, then I will.  As I don’t think it’s good angling to get a take at all costs, this could be to the detriment of the carp’s safety.  My bivvy was set up as close as possible on the path which leads down to the swim.

I baited as before; with a mixture of 12/15mm Catalyst boilies, a bag of the particle mix and all soaked in Catalyst syrup.  They have a Ronnie rig with a small Catalyst dumbbell wafter and with a 12mm PPS on top – this sits up perfectly.  I use a safety clip and a 3oz Touchdown distance lead.  I like the heavier lead as I use slackline, this will help to get the hook home and generate the perfect hook hold.

With the rain arriving, it was time for a bite to eat, brew on, watch and listen out, hopefully for some Carpy signs.

The night drifted by without a single bleep and no sighs of Carp.  They may well have been active to my right, but I couldn’t see very well.  I was certainly not leaving my swim with unattended rods, as 9 am drew ever closer, it was nearing the end of my first of many 2020 session.

Next Trip

Trip 2 Perch Fishing- 2020

Location – Ice Lake

Hours – 2 Hrs

It’s about time I started Perch fishing, I enjoyed every minute of it last year and I have a few lakes to have a play on.  There isn’t much information on the size of the fish, but that’s not a surprise as its very secretive with specimen hunters!  So it’s going to be a lot of hard work and perseverance on each lake.  I’ll stick to one lake each trip and try to divide my time by splitting them up over different sessions.

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After spending two hours in one swim; flicking the baits about by the dead pads.  It was clearly time to get the Deeper out and locate the baitfish.  You’d feel that this is very simple on a small lake but there are so many nooks where they can hide, it took me over an hour.  There were a few definite spots worth a try, but I may have to get some worms or try live bait.  It was clearly going to be hard work and a challenge that I’m definitely up for.  I can easily split this up with the odd carp trip.

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After not even a knock, I headed home early in the hope that the other lake was empty and I could quickly get the Deeper out on there in advance of my next trip.  Unfortunately, not this time as I don’t particularly like the idea of disturbing another angler’s tranquility, so I headed home.

next trip

Trip 3 Carp Fishing- 2020

Location – School Lake

Hours Fished – 4hrs

With my gardening job canceled today and unfortunately, the Perch bait is still in the freezer.  I quickly organized the carp kit, which is pretty simple as I keep it all sorted and ready to go.  I just need to grab the bait and as I had received my order yesterday from SF with the new Classic Corn Boilies, I just had to give them a go.

I arrived down there to find a couple of guys fishing and a work party going on down the shallow end.  I headed down towards the island, as this had to be my best option.  I catapulted some crushed CC out around the island and fish both pop-ups, one CC & PPS as I was interested in how they performed as hook baits against each other.

I was soon rewarded with my first take of the year and my first fish on the CC bait, it was a good fight which was over quickly and back safely.

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Lovely Common

With the rod back out, I finished sorting the swim out and got the brolly up as a windbreak, it was pretty blowy out here today.

The second take happened out of the blue on the right rod, not long after a single bleep on the left rod, which I was expecting to fly off.  After a very hard fight, which was a Common, that just wouldn’t give up in the margins.

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19lbs 8oz Common

I flicked the rod out on the spot and topped the swim-up again with more CC.  I was hoping to bait up a couple of spots on the way back, I also moved the other rod, as it hadn’t received any action.

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Unfortunately, the next take took me straight into an underwater snag that I was unaware of.  This is never going to help and despite my best effort, the hook pulled out and the fish was gone.

That was it for today.  Heavy rain was forecast, so I was off by 1315 and I’m so glad I was, the rain was tropical.

next trip

Trip 4 Carp Fishing- 2020

Location – School Lake

Hours Fished – 4hrs

With the success of yesterday, I decided to head back to the school lake.  As it’s Friday, I was in two minds, we all know what a Friday can be like on a carp lake.  I was surprised to only find one other angler on the lake when I arrived, but it didn’t take long for another two more to arrive.  I do need to know for future reference how busy it gets.

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After baiting the island before I left yesterday, it was my starting place.  With a bit of movement around the sticks on the water, it was definitely the place to start.  But this time, I had moved round to the right and was fishing off the dam wall.  My left rod was positioned on the same spot as my right-hand one was yesterday and the right rod was now in a completely new spot off the other corner of the island.  Hopefully, this change of swims will produce the goods.

The first take happened at 10 am on the left rod, this turned out to be a lovely looking Mirror.

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The second take happened just as I was putting the first fish back!  This was a lovely Common.

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Both were very hard fighting and gave a good account of themselves.  This is what it’s all about over the Winter months.

The third take was not long after that and this was also to the right rod.  This had a PPS 12mm pop up over a bed of the CC and 8mm Catalyst pellets.  The other rod was a 12mm CC pop up, I love these little pop-ups on the Ronnie rig as there is no need for putty, they sit perfectly.

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By 11 am (and during all the action), two other anglers had set up fishing around the island.  So I’m thinking if the action dies away I will have to move swim.  We shall just have to see if they cut the fish off, hopefully, they are held up down here.

Just after 11.20, I had my fourth take on the right-hand rod.  It instantly found a snag and after some effort, I eventually got half the rig back, it had shed the hook into a root off the side of the island!  Not very helpful.  It was quite ironic as I had moved away from another snag, but I’m still receiving action on the plus side.

After no getting any more action, there was now a match angler set up one swim down from where I was yesterday.  He was hauling them out.  It was clear that I had been cut off from the fish and it was time to move on for the last 2hrs.  I quickly packed away and headed down the lake looking for signs of Carp, I hadn’t seen any when I was looking down the lake from my last swim.  So, I settled on an area where I’d previously caught from in past trips.

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The sunshine had vanished and there was a bit of a cool breeze in the air.

Think it’s one of those days!  Within 30 minutes of casting out in the new swim, I got a take and it founds a nice snag and the line cut.  Another fish has done me.  I’m never a fan of that happening and always do my best to avoid it.  It always niggles me for a time afterward. I can’t complain though, 5 takes 3 landed and an hour to go.

I decided to change over to a CC on the right-hand rod and move to another spot as the ducks were very persistent.  Just after 2 pm, this rod ripped off and headed down the lake, it felt a lot bigger than anything that I had hooked before.  After a very hard fight, with a close call with the overhanging brambles, (and picking up the other rod) it was safely in the net.  I was happy with this after the last two takes and finally another one in the net

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19lb 13oz Mirror

Oh so close to a twenty!  As it was almost pack up time, I tidied up and headed home a happy man.

next trip

Trip 5 Carp Fishing- 2020

Location – School Lake

Hours – 4 Hrs

I’m out for my usual Monday session; obsessed with the Carp at the moment.  The forecast is for very high winds and heavy rain this week, so I’m not sure if I will make it out again.

I arrived at the lake to find the maintenance team hard at work sorting out the dead trees, it’s always nice to see your membership money getting put back into the lakes you fish.  I was really hoping to fish a different area from the island today but felt that was my best option with all the noise and falling trees.

I headed to my normal area and baited with 8mm Catalyst pellets, crushed Classic Corn boilies and fished a 12mm CC pop up, with my ever faithful Ronnie rig.

The first take happened just before 10.30 and just after the rain had started, which wasn’t forecast to arrive until later this afternoon.  It was only a small Common, but still very welcome.

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With a fresh bait on the rod, it was soon back out on to the left-hand spot.  l topped up the swim with a small amount of bait.  By 11 am, as there was no action on the right-hand rod, I moved that one down to the bottom of the margin shelf.  I had a feeling this was going to be a hard days fishing, the weather had changed and there were absolutely no signs of Carp.  Just as I was thinking this, the right-hand rod ripped off, with a very unhappy Mirror on the other end who was clearly not happy but it was soon on the bank and then safely back in the lake.

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Just shows you can never really tell.

The wind had really picked up and the brolly was taking a beating, there was the odd break in the rain, it wasn’t too bad on the bank today.

Well, it’s almost heading home time and this wind has certainly got a chill to it.  I’m very happy with two fish, as it’s gone from warm and sunny, to cold and windy in the space of a few hours.  I’m certainly feeling the difference and I’m sure the carp will be.

Next Trip

Trip 6 Carp Fishing- 2020

Location – School Lake

Hours – 4 Hrs

I arrived down the lake to find the maintenance guys had finished the first bank and were headed around the island.  This gave me the opportunity to try in open water again.  I’d been meaning to do for some time, just need to stock up on maggots and casters.  Previously, the carp didn’t pick up anything I’ve tried so far in open water, it’s all been margins and underarm flicker.  I’m sure this may well be where the bigger carp are, we shall see over the next few weeks.

I’ve not forgotten an item of tackle for some time, but today it was my buzzers!  And the trusty barrow pod was put into action, must be my age, I turned 55 today.

I’m using a combination of maggots, casters, crushed Classic Corn boilies in a large pva bag with 12mm pop-up and casting just over midway across the lake.

The wind is pushing down this end of the lake nicely and there is the odd heavy rain shower,  but nothing too drastic, it looks like its being pushed up North more.  I’ve been putting out the pva bags once every hour.  However, just before noon, I decided that the last two hours I would put a fresh bait on and stick it tight to the far margins as that tends to produce a Carp or two, as I’ve had no action yet.

Not long after putting out the margin rod, it was away with this lovely dummy Mirror.

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I put the rod back out in the same area, you never know, it may well rattle off again.

Unfortunately, that was the only take of the day, but it was all I needed not to blank.

next trip

Trip 7 Carp Fishing – 2020

Location – Meadow Lake

Hours – 44 Hrs

It’s Syndicate time and with a kind friend offering to collect the kids from school; this saves me a night time set up.  The water levels are pretty much as high as I’ve ever seen them – 3ft+, so a high proportion of the swims are either underwater or extremely hard to fish.  When I arrived, there wasn’t a soul here.  After a quick drive around the lake which ruled out a fair few swims, I was standing in this swim and a nice fish rolled.  My choice was made.  I hadn’t seen anything on my walkabout around the few fishable spots.

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I felt that as I hadn’t been here for some time, I had to get the Deeper out and see if I could locate a couple of good spots away from the normal ones.  This swim can be very tricky.  I located a perfect gravel spot I had previously not found, which is brilliant as the Carp have hopefully cleaned off the weed/silt and created a feed spot.  All I hoped for was that I wasn’t too late and the Carp had moved on.  This was in a perfect position as an interception route out of the bay area to my right, it leads into the sanctuary area.  The other spot was at some range and was along one of their patrol routes.  This spot was silty but you could pick up the odd signs of gravel.  I always run the marker rod over the area once I’ve located a spot with the Deeper, this also helps with baiting up and lining up your horizon markers; unless its a flat calm day, unlike today, I had to sit in the bivvy for 15 minutes before continuing to set up, as a very heavy rainstorm pushed over the lake.

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I baited up both areas, the range rod was going to be Classic Corn boilies with a matching wafter.  The other was Catalyst boilies, pellets soaked in Catalyst syrup with a bag of particle blend with a 12mm PPS pop up.  Once all the rain had finished, the temperature started to drop and the pressure was steadily rising, there was sunshine forecast for tomorrow with the prospect of a northerly wind.  The part of the lake I was in would be sheltered and hopefully warmer, fingers crossed.

It was just after 3 am when my first take happened, I was happily pumping across the lake what felt like a nice Carp when the hook pulled out, I thought I had got around that problem, perhaps not.  That was a real shame as that was on range rod baited with the Classic Corn, it would’ve been nice to catch on my first trip here using it.  Well, at least it produced a pickup, which is certainly positive as there is a pretty hard frost on the ground.  Onwards and upwards.  With the rod back out there and a fresh bait on, the hook was still needle-sharp, just was one of those things I suppose.

My second take happened just after 5 am and after a very careful fight, the fish was safely in the Nsr50, the hook hold was absolutely perfect and going nowhere, same rig just on the right rod this time.

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22lb 9oz Common

I was over the moon after the lost fish early on, with that rod back out, it was time to get back in my pit.  There was a very heavy frost and I had to break the ice on the water bucket that I use for the fish.

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I awoke at just after 9 am to find that heavy fog was over the lake, not surprisingly after that temperature drop overnight -3 apparently.  Once the fog had cleared and I could see my horizon markers, I rebaited both rods on their spots and a couple of spombs over each for the day.  It was going to be a sunny day but with a fresh northerly wind.

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As there had been no action by 13.45, it was time to top up the swim fully for the night.  This was in the hope that I will receive more action and after seeing a Carp crash out some way past my baited area, I was pretty confident.  A moving carp will be using up energy and therefore must feed to replace what it’s been burning off.  Fingers crossed again for tonight, it’s going to be another cold one and the pressure is through the roof, I can only hope.

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Just after 3 am, which was more or less the same time as the take yesterday morning, I get a couple of bleeps and no more – don’t you just hate that?  You are never 100% sure until it either rips off an hour later that it was a liner or you reel in the next morning and there’s a problem with the rig.  Well, I took the decision to leave it, as I was 100% sure I could get the bait back on the spot and there had been no real positive signs it was a take – we shall have to see.  I stayed up for a bit and heard a Carp or 3 topping out in the open waters.  This boosted my confidence, I was more positive than it was a liner and a take would happen sometime soon.  That wasn’t the case and morning soon arrived along with pack uptime.  I can’t complain about 1 Carp on the bank in these first proper Winter conditions and the ‘oh so’ sudden changes in the pressure, wind, and temperature since Friday am.

p.s the rig was perfect on rod.

next trip

Trip 8 Pike Fishing- 2020

Location – Water Works Lake

Hours Fished – 5hrs

I’m well overdue a Pike session and after taking a walk around here yesterday afternoon in the sunshine, I was pretty inspired.  It’s not going to be an easy venue, but it’s certainly worth a few sessions before the close season.  I really love the Pike, unfortunately, the Carp bug takes over too much!

When I was walking around yesterday, it was clear that the Grebes were feeding in this part of the lake and I felt it would be a good starting point.

I flicked the Deeper out to try and locate the baitfish and they were pretty abundant.  They were in a couple of cast-able spots, however, the trees were overhanging the swims, so this made a couple of them unfishable.  I found a suitable one to fish and would give it a couple of hours then move on.

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With no action, I moved on to my second area.  I’ve decided that I will try and cover another area before going, then return tomorrow and fish the other end of the lake.  I’m able to use live bait, so if I can get myself sorted, I will come kitted out to catch some tomorrow.  Oddly, I feel the best area for that is where I started this morning as there was a lot of fry in the margins.  I was surprised by the lack of action, but these things happen and that’s the joy of fishing.

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After walking right down to the far end and not finding very much to shout about, I find myself back in the first swim I started in!  There was way more baitfish out here and I will spend the next 2 hours here in the hope of a pickup.

With not a knock or bleep its time to head home.

next trip

Trip 9 Pike Fishing- 2020

Location – Waterworks Lake

Hours Fished – 5rs

I’m back out after the Pike again and hopefully, I will be out for a couple of trips next week.  The conditions are a bit better – other than the wind.  I’ve been trying to catch some live bait, but with the restricted casting from the tree in my swim, it’s been problematic.

I’ve come to the same area and put the Deeper out for good measure.  Yep, the baitfish are still about and hopefully with some Pike mixed in.  I’m sure it’s not going to be that simple unless I catch the live bait, the Pike are less likely to pick up a dead bait when there is an abundance of fresh food.

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I’ve moved along to the right, from yesterday’s swim, otherwise, the wind would be in my face and making casting harder.  Plus I feel I’m in a better area and today I will be sitting this one out in the same spot.

I’ve nearly come to the end of my session today, unfortunately not a bleep again and any signs of Pike.  We will keep on trying, it’s probably just one day next week, but we shall see.

next trip

Trip 10 Carp Fishing- 2020

Location – Meadow Lake

Hours Fished – 38hrs

I arrived down the lake at 1830 and it was completely dark, I always like to drive around the lake to see if anyone is about.  To my amazement, there were 5 other anglers already set up, this left me with not a lot of choices, so after 3 laps around the lake and a lot of thought.  I was also very happy that I always leave my waders in the car, I have probably not used them for over 4 years, but you never know when you will and tonight’s the night!  I very nearly set up on the smaller lake, but I finally decided that if I had no choice but to use the waders, which to be honest are a bit of a pain, I should at least be in a swim which gives me access to the area I feel the carp are in.  After 2 barrow trips through the mud and a lot of effort, I was all set up – some 2 1/2 hours after arriving here.  I did feel very confident and happy with the location of my baits for the first of two nights fishing.

Overnight I had a few liners but heard no signs if Carp crashing about, it was going to be another of those Winter grey days,  but with the wind changing around to the Southwest and the pressure dropping slowly, I could be in with a chance.

Just after noon,  I set about baiting up, fine-tuning my spots and recast for the rest of the day and night, with the hope I will get a Carp.  I was baiting up both areas with the new Spotted Fin Classic Corn boilies and fishing a 12mm CC & PPS.

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The first take of the weekend happened just after 2230 on the second night and it absolutely screamed off.  I had to calmly and quickly get the waders on, then grab the rod – this felt like a lifetime.  We had a nice slow and not to spectacular fight, which was a help, the Carp was safely in the Nsr50 and soon back home after a quick photo shoot.

I rebaited the rod and had it back on the spot.  I was over the moon, it wasn’t the biggest Carp.

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16lb 12oz Mirror

But it made all the difference this time of the year and the bait was producing Carp.

The rest of the night had a few fish topping, I was forever hopefully and even after dawn I spotted a Carp showing not too far away.  After 2 hrs of hoping, it was pack up time, but I went home very happy as I’ve been quite lucky lately.

Part 2 of 6 will follow in a couple of weeks

Until then Richard

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About richardhandel

I would like to give a brief snap shot of my life and introduce myself; My name is Richard Handel and was born in 1965 in Suffolk. I have worked as a UK Operation & Intermodule Manager for a shipping company. I live in Hampshire now and am married with 2 young children, both girls so I am a bit outnumbered even the cat is a girl! I have been fishing since I was about 7 years old. I started on small local rivers in Suffolk, then moved onto gravel pits and then carp fishing. My personal best is a 39.08 mirror, over recent years I have started river fishing again, on the Hampshire Avon, this is a nice break from the carp lakes. My life has turned a big corner this year, the company I was working for relocated their Operation centre to Estonia. I was offered a job at the head office in London. This would have meant a 5 day commute and working in Stratford. As a family, we did not fancy this, as I would hardly spend any time with the children (and the Mrs). So after 22.5 years, I was given a nice redundancy package and with my wife is working full time. I became the house husband. This has meant a complete turn around in my fishing, as I can pick and choose when I go. I have found a splendid new syndicate to fish this year, which includes 5 lakes and some 8 miles of river with only 150 members. It's an amazing change to the way I am able to fish. I am now trying to start my own tackle business and make a bit of a name for myself in the world of fishing, as I have retired from real work. Richard
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