After ending 2007 on a high with 5 carp to 18lb on new years eve I was keen to get back to the lake to try and open my account for 2008. The journey to the lake was a bit shorter than usual due to the lack of traffic on the roads, new years day morning was the quietest I've ever known and at one stage I felt I could well have been the only person on the motorway.
I arrived at the lake around 10.30am, I was immediately scanning the water for signs of carp as soon as the lake came into view. I spent a few minutes sat in the car park just watching the water before I got out of the car and went for a walk around. On new years eve the carp had done a disappearing act on me during the afternoon so I figured they wouldn't be on my baited area. I looked there first anyway but my gut feeling about them not being there was right. I found them in the bay round to the left. The fish were stacked up in the same area I'd caught from on boxing day and on the saturday between christmas and new year. There seemed to be quite a few carp stacked up in the bay and as I dropped my gear in the bay swim I was confident of catching my first north west winter carp of 2008.
I started off with one rod on a spot I'd seen several fish rolling over the christmas period, I'd picked up a low double mirror from the area last saturday but I'd seen several other fish roll in the area and it was close to the bank and an easy cast. A single piece of peparami on the hair rig and a two bait pva mesh bag completed the setup, my rig was the usual 8 inches of kryston silkworm with a kamasan b175 hook in size 6 that was tied knotless knot style. I made a short 25 yard cast and trapped the line as the lead hit the water, I let the lead sink on a tight line and it landed on the bottom with a nice thud. Once the first rod was set I cast the other rod to a mark about 70 yards out, there were fish actively moving in this area and I was confident the second rod in particular would produce something during the five hours I had ahead of me. The baits were out by 11.10am and I sat back to concentrate on watching the water for signs of fish.
It really pays to watch the water when you're looking at locating winter carp. The time I'd spent looking for carp over the last few weeks had really paid dividends and I was on them again today. I'd have preferred a little wind to be blowing today but it stayed flat calm. It made locating carp easier but at the same time, a lead landing on the fish was harder to get away with and there was always a chance they would vacate the area as they had done on new years eve.
After casting out both rods things seemed to go quiet for a while, the carp certainly stopped showing in the area I'd put my second rod. Nothing showed for over half an hour after my leads had hit the water. When a carp did give itself away it was to the right of my second rod and it looked like the fish had drifted off a little after me casting out. I was so busy looking for fish on my right that it came as a bit of a surprise when the left hand delkim bleeped twice, this was the rod that was positioned close to my bank. I focused on the left hand rod and a few seconds later the tip pulled down and the delkim sounder box signalled a slow run. I was on it quickly and after a quick strike the fish was on. After only a few seconds of playing this fish I had just one thought in my mind, it was heavy. No charging round, it just plodded round in semi circles on an ever shortening line just as my boxing day biggie had done. By the time the carp was in the margins I was convinced my first fish of 2008 was a 20+. I caught a glimpse of the fish in the water, it was a common, a long fish that did indeed look like a twenty. After a short scare close in with the other rod I slipped the landing net under the fish. It certainly looked to be over the magic twenty mark and my initial guess was somewhere around 21lb-ish. I secured the net and got everything ready for the weighing and pictures. As I lifted the fish from the water I knew it was a new years day twenty and the scales gave me a reading of 20lb 6oz. Well that was it for me, I didn't care what happened for the rest of the day, I'd kicked off 2008 with a cracking twenty pound winter common.
Once the photographic duties were completed I returned my prize to the water. I watched the fish disappear out of sight then turned my attention back to the rod. The peparami was still on so I simply tied a fresh pva mesh bag and dropped the rod back on the same spot. Nothing else happened during the afternoon, it took a few more hours of observation to work out that the carp had indeed moved to the entrance to the bay. It was just before 3pm when I worked this out and I wound in the right hand rod and repositioned it to the area I'd seen the odd fish. I planned to fish until 4.30pm so I had an hour and a half with a bait in the last area I'd seen a carp. With time running out I packed my gear away, by 4.15pm my tackle box, camera gear and unhooking mat were all neatly away and my rucksack was ready to go, only the landing net, pod and rods remained out. I'd already decided to pull the left hand rod in first, I'd caught a twenty on this rod but no fish had showed in or near the area for hours so I bent down to wind it in and as I did the right hand rod ripped off. I was quite surprised, I'd already accepted I was only going to get one fish so this one was a real 'last knockings' bonus fish. A few minutes later and I'd have been on my way home!. I hit the rod and began battle with my second new years day winter carp. Funnily enough, I had a feeling of deja vu as the fight off this second carp played out just like the first and when the fish went over the net I looked down at what could well be my second new years day twenty. I emptied the rucksack and got myself ready for the weighing and photographing, it was a 50/50 fish and as I lifted it from the water and transferred it to the unhooking mat I wondered if it was going to make it over twenty. It fell short by quite a way in the end but at 19lbs even, it made up half of a cracking new years day brace of commons to start 2008 with.
Once documented, I slipped the fish back none the worse for its trip to the bank. I packed the rods and the rest of my fishing gear away quickly and cleared off home with mixed feelings. Catching my first twenty of 2008 made it a very special New Years Day session, getting a ‘last knockings’ 19lber made it even better but as I drove away from the lake I couldn’t help feeling a little bit sad. I’d had a great couple of weeks off over Christmas and I’d caught some lovely winter carp but I knew the time had come to hang up the rods for a while but more about that next week.