Following an exceptional spring, fishing zigs on the Bayeswater syndicate, the time had arrived to apply myself somewhere I could give the fish I was going to be angling for something to think about.
Last season, after the carp had begun to spawn at Bayeswater, I ventured onto Cleverly Fisheries
Top Lake and to follow suit, that was my plan again this year. As the fish at the Top Lake had spawned three weeks earlier, I knew they’d be up for some proper food.
There were three fish I really wanted from the Top Lake, not because they’re the biggest fish in the country, but more for their age and beauty. Sparky’s Sister which my good friend Adrian had caught and had wet my appetite. The Fully, as it’s as old as you like and a real looker. Then finally, 5 Scale.
I first arrived back at the Top Lake on the evening of Wednesday the 23rd
of May to find that there were 5 other anglers fishing. It certainly seemed busy for a school night! George (Big G), my second cousin had recently got himself a ticket and he was set up in a swim called ‘Turks’. I was stood chatting to Big G, whilst watching the water in front of the ‘car park’ swim when I spotted a carp come clean out, and it wasn’t long before I saw another fish bosh in the same area.
Spotting an opportunity, I was quickly off to the van to get my gear and after barrowing everything back to the swim, I was stood watching the water once more, and once again bosh! Rigs were soon hanging in the eyes of my rods awaiting the next show. It wasn’t long before both rods were cast to showing fish, my bed and brolly were up, and the kettle was calibrated. Following a cup of tea, I decided to get my head down.
At 4.30am the following morning, I was awoken by the sound of my alarm. Sadly, on this occasion it was my phone alarm signalling that it was time to start packing up for work. Following a quick pack-up, the gear was barrowed back to the van and a ten-kilo bag of Supa Fruit was retrieved and taken back to the ‘car park’ swim. As I deployed all ten kilos into the drop off from the shallows, I thought to myself, this should give them something to think about.
As Thursday was my last day of work for that week, I was chomping at the bit to get back down there and angle for the Top Lake’s residents. I spent the day with my head buried in my welding mask, welding up a 14-tonne excavator bucket and all I could think about was the Top Lake fish I wanted in my photo album. Eventually, 4pm came and as it was a bank holiday weekend, work was done until the Tuesday morning.
Following the drive home for a shower, supplies and more bait, it wasn’t long before I was pulling up in the Top Lake car park. From what I could see, there were only two people on, a guy in ‘Fitman’s’, and Northern Wayne who was on the move and barrowing his gear back towards me. As he passed by, he mentioned that he’d seen shows in ‘Singles’ and was heading round there. I wished him luck and set off on my journey.
Between ‘Fitman’s’ and a swim called ‘Coxy’s’, there’s another swim called ‘Summers’ which has spent a lot of time under water and has been shut all year. This was a blessing for ‘Fitman’s’ and ‘Coxy’s’ as it had increased the amount of fishable water in front of each swim. As I hopped over the tree that had been put in place to let people know that the swim was closed, I instantly spotted a number of carp, sat up in the water sunning themselves. That will do nicely I thought to myself and went back to the van, loaded the barrow and made my way up to ‘Coxy’s’.
My left-hand rod was deployed into the deeper water and my right-hand rod was deployed into the shallow water between ‘Summers’ and ‘Coxy’s’. I spread five kilos of Super Fruit over the deep-water rod but limited it to just had a handful of over the rod in shallow water as the bird life can be savage!
The Thursday night passed quietly and in true top lake form, at first light there was what seemed like a hundred shows and not a single bleep. All show and no go I thought to myself.
At 10.30am, my left rod fished over the heavily baited area was away and after a reasonable scrap, a low twenty mirror was sulking in my net. It wasn’t long until all was good again and the rod was wrapped up and put back out with another five kilos over the top. At around 5pm that evening, I was cooking my minted lamb chop when the same rod was away again. This time the fight felt different and I was into a real heavy plodder that stayed deep. After a good twenty-minute scrap, my pal Josh walked round and took responsibility of the netting and slipped the net under a good mirror.
The following season I had caught a fish known as Orange Spot and once again, there she was sat in the bottom of my net. Because my pictures from the previous capture were night-time shots and didn’t really do her justice, I felt it right to have a couple of pics with my old friend. A proper character, she went 31lb 14oz. She was soon on her way and the rod was put back out with another five kilos of Super Fruit over the top. I sat eating my lamb chop and rice feeling well pleased.
Orange Spot 31 14
Just like previously, the night passed quietly, but at around 7am it was take time again and a lovely little leather was soon netted, un hooked and sent on its way. Two more bites over the bait followed that day, both of which were low twenties.
That evening, I opted to put out another five Kilos of Supa Fruit and 3.30am saw me throwing back the bedchair cover and connecting with an absolute power house. After a good 40-minute stalemate, I had another one in the net. Standing in my boxers at that time of day for 40 minutes was certainly fresh, so I staked the net out, got myself dressed and had a celebratory cup of tea. I knew that Josh was in the swim next door, so I finished my tea and went to give him an early morning wake up call.
After returning to the swim, we took a look in the net, and upon further inspection, there was Sparky’s Sister in all her glory. She was well spawned out at 28lbs 4oz, but the weight really didn’t matter. Joshua did me proud on the camera and she was soon on her way. Following my early morning wake-up call, I decided to go back to bed for an hour’s power nap.
Sparky’s Sister 28 4
At around 9am, Josh popped in for a brew and as I’d seen fish down the right-hand margin, I got him to hold the rod whilst I waded a rig down the reed bed and tactfully placed it in pole position. As I was wading my way back to the swim, Josh shouted to let me know that the deep-water rod was off once again! As soon as I got close enough, Josh passed me the rod, and following another lengthy battle, I had another member of the Top Lake’s A-Team, ‘The Lady’ nestling in the folds of my net. Red letter day or what!? Once I got back to dry land, we weighed her at a spawned-out weight of 28lbs prior to taking a few pictures and sending her on her way.
The Lady 28
At the start of the trip, I’d lost two in quick succession out of the shallower water, one to a hook pull and one which cut me off in the thickest of the Norfolk reeds. This made it 9 bites and 7 fish landed in one session! There is usually a 72-hour rule on top lake, but twice a year you can do more if you book it in advance. As it was a bank holiday weekend, I’d pre-booked it in with the owner Ben and the bailiff Adam, much to the dislike of a certain regular. It makes me wonder if I’d done four nights and blanked if he’d have been all that bothered. A prime case of the green-eyed monster. Still, leaving with my head held high, I was more than pleased with my first four-night weekend back on the Top Lake.
In the week that followed, I managed to get down to the lake and unload another 15 kilos of bait. The Top Lake carp love the Supa Fruit and I wanted to keep them eating it until I could make my return. Once the weekend eventually arrived and with luck on my side, I managed to get back in ‘Coxy’s’.
A frustrating few days followed and even though I had carp showing all over me, it proved very difficult to get a bite. Luckily, I did manage the one bite which came, out of the blue, in the middle of the afternoon and only turned out to be ‘The Fully’. A true old English carp that anyone would love in their album, Big G’s photography skills were called upon to capture the moment. I only managed the one bite that weekend, but none the less, it was another tick in the box.
The following week saw me sneak back to the lake for a bit more pre-baiting, and when the weekend finally came around again, it was evident that Lady Luck was still on my side as I dropped straight back into ‘Coxy’s’. As soon as I had the rods sorted, I deployed the customary 5 Kilos of Supa Fruit and sat watching the water. Much like the previous weekend, it was all show and no go so I turned in for the night.
At 3.30am on the Saturday morning, me and Dylan (one of my beloved spaniels) were cuddled up in the bag, when the deep-water rod began to sing. In the seconds it took me to get to the rod, the clutch was absolutely churning, and once again, a deep fought battle ensued. On this occasion, it wasn’t too long before I had another of the Top Lake’s mirrors sulking in my net. To say you couldn’t write it is certainly true, as I peered into the net, there was Five Scale, I couldn’t believe it! After a moment, I grabbed my phone and called Big G. After waking him to come round and confirm, we did some pictures and sent her on her way. Three weekends, job done!
Dylan keeping an eye on things
The Top Lake has been exceptionally kind to me, but I genuinely believe that quality bait deployed in the right places was the unlocking of the venue. Twelve nights, 11 takes and 9 landed, I’ll take that. All of the fish were caught on Gardner Ronnie Rig Components
, size 4 Muggas, 4oz West Country leads and the ever faithful Supa Fruit Boilies
with Supa Fruit Pop Ups
fished over the top.
Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings, thanks to Tom, Neil and Brett at DT Baits
for their loyal and consistent support.