Scott Harris just returned from a successful session on his syndicate lake. Here's what he had to say:
"I fancied a change from the local ponds I've been fishing for the last year. I had some great times on there and experienced some of the best and most enjoyable fishing I've ever had. After a conversation with a mate, I was inspired to join him on a syndicate lake that I've fished in the past. I got myself a ticket and have been fishing there for about 5 weeks now.
The lake is 60 to 70 acres in size and is very deep, the average depth being over 20 ft and in places can be over 30 feet deep. It has quite a high stock of carp, made up mostly of more recently stocked fish that were not present in the lake when I fished it last. the stockies range from low doubles to mid 20s and are all perfect looking scaley fish. The rest of the stock is made up of a variety of carp of many different strains, shapes and sizes, from prehistoric looking scaley mirrors and long dark commons, to a handful of real giants that far exceed the size of anything I've caught before. It's an exciting place to be fishing.
I've gained alot of confidence in the OP31 boilies over the last few months that I've been using them. It did me well on the local ponds and I've caught some nice fish to over 20lb on a few recent over-nighters that I've done on day ticket waters, so that was again my choice of bait going into this new challenge. I prepare the boilies by covering a few kilos In water and mixing in a decent amount of the OP31 liquid. I leave them to soak and draw in the liquid for a few days and I end up with soft, washed out, highly digestible boilies that are perfect for spombing or catapulting out. I keep some dry ones handy too for situations where using the throwing stick is the best option.
There are a lot of smaller carp in the lake which makes it difficult to target bigger fish. My approach has been to try my best to locate larger fish by searching around the lake before setting up, watching and climbing trees to get a better view into the margins and if I can put myself in the right area then at least I stand a chance. Every time I've seen bigger fish they've been accompanied and largely out numbered by smaller ones and it looked like I'd have to catch my way through alot of smaller carp and just hope that I picked up a few better ones along the way.
I've been trying out different baiting strategies and thinking alot about the placement of the rig within the baited area aswel. If I'm fishing two rods on one spot then I'll put one of them several feet away from the baited area with the thought that a larger, wiser fish may be hanging cautiously back from the centre of the spot. I've been spreading my loose feed quite wide and prefer to bait up with a throwing stick or catapult when conditions and the distance fishing allow for it. I feel like baiting in this way, when using only boilies as feed, keeps the carp moving between mouthfuls and leads to better hook holds than when fish are feeding over tighter beds of bait put out with a spomb. Sometimes spombing is the only option though and I will use a shorter hooklink over a tighter bed of bait.
The action has been frantic at times and I've been catching anywhere from 4 to18 carp on a session, mostly between about 12 and 16lb with the occasional upper double and even a few low 20s. They're all perfect looking scaly fish that really fight hard at times, ripping line from the clutch and making you think you're into a 'big un' for a while. The bait has been working well from the off and the fish can't seem to get enough of it.
Rigs and hookbait wise, I've stuck with the same simple coated braid bottom bait rig with just a small piece of silicon round the bend of the hook to help flip the hook over on the bite. On this rig I use an 18mm boosted OP31 hookbait and may use a 3 bait stringer or small mesh bag of crumbed up boilies if necessary, but alot of the time I cast it out on its own and am quite confident in its pulling power without the aid of a bag or stringer. I fish a stiff hinge rig for pop ups, but use a semi stiff coated braid for the boom section and normally use a fluro yellow or pink pop up on this rig.
I have changed a couple of things in my set up lately. Firstly, I've changed from the 15lb line that I've used for years, to 18lb Pro logic interceptor. I wanted something with a bit more abrasion resistance to cope with the sharp edges of the bars and the abundant muscle beds in this lake. I've been cut off on These bars twice whilst playing fish since I started fishing the lake. I watched Tony porter demonstrate the toughness of the pro logic line by using a length of it to cut through a piece of hard plastic like a cheese wire, only for the line to retain great breaking strain when a knot was tied in the visilbly damaged section and pulled between the 2 of us. It looks like just the job and I'll see how I get on with it in the coming weeks. The other thing I've changed is my lead set up. I've always been a fan of the lead clip systems and believe dropping the lead to be a great help in bringing fish to the surface quickly and landing fish in snaggy conditions. However, I probably lost over 40 leads in a month which adds up to a significant amount of money and is not something I can sustain. I've changed over to a helicopter set-up for now and am using the e.s.p components which I find make a nice, neat, streamlined set up. I was worried I might loose more fish with this lead set up due to the lead bouncing around and loosening the hook hold, but as I write this blog, I'm coming towards the end of my first session using the helicopter set up and have landed 12 out of 12 fish hooked so far, without dropping the lead, so that has put my mind at ease.
The highlight of my fishing on this lake up to now has been the capture of a long lean common that weighed 32lbs. It was part of an 18 fish haul and was caught on an OP31 boosted, 18mm, bottom bait fished a few feet off the edge of an area that I was baiting little and often with OP31. I'd seen the carp in the swim before I set up, along with a mirror of similar size and shape and a load of smaller carp too. It was the next day and 11fish later when I caught the common. The fish faught powerfully and I was so pleased when I finally landed it.
The lake is very rich in natural food and the margins are littered with all kinds of crustaceans and aquatic life. when you drop an OP31 boilie into the margins, within minutes it's encrusted with loads of tiny snails that are hungry for a taste. To me this can only be a good thing and I can think of nothing more perfect or irresistible to a carp than a boilie sprinklled with snails. OP31 doesn't just attract fish, it attracts every living thing in the lake.
Fingers crossed the bites keep coming and maybe one day I'll have a monster in the net. I'll keep you posted."