Sunday, June 24, 2012

New Tickets, New Dog, New Plans...

The last sentence of my previous blog entry in March read; "This year will see me return to Bundy's when it opens on June 16th then some time at Birch Grove in the winter. Beyond that?... maybe a return to Elstow but on pit 1 this time. Who knows where I will end up..."

Little Stocky

Well, I didn't see it coming but it all changed so very quickly. Shortly after my last blog Bundy's shut down for the usual 3 months and, as planned, I did a work party there the following weekend. While I was there the owner decided that there wasn't to be a closed season this year. Otters had been sighted a short distance away and it was felt by having anglers around the lake it would help to deter them until a suitable fence was installed. The lake was to be open from that night onwards and I just happened to have my tackle with me in the car. After the hard days work I was unsure whether to do the night or not but in the end I stayed and in the early hours of the morning had one of the lovely stocky commons for my efforts.

To the owners great credit a few weeks later an otter fence was in place and we could all rest a bit easier knowing it was far more difficult for any passing otters to visit the lake.

Otter Fenced
A Bundy's 27
I had a few fish to upper twenty during the closed season but failed to get amongst the real big girls. I couldn't make the most of this opportunity and I missed some time in April due to going abroad with the wife and also some of the better weather during May as I had to stay home with our new dog while he settled in. Our previous dog, Jake, died quite suddenly back in March which was quite a blow but we now have a Border Collie, called Max, for company. Hopefully, he will make a good bankside companion one day.

Jake - Gone but not forgotten
Something surprised me in May - I was offered a ticket for the Mangrove Swamp!!! I initially thought of passing it by but 10 minutes later temptation got the better of me and I went for it! The thought of spending some time in that part of Shropshire again was too much to resist. I had been a member for a good few years up until 2008 but I had missed it and looked forward to having another go there. It really is one of the nicest places I've ever fished! It will also be handy to fish closer to home when I come to introduce Max to the joys of carp fishing.

That wasn't the end to the pleasant surprises. June arrived and with it an offer for a place on the BCSG syndicate water Korda Lake. I'd been on the waiting list a few years for this special Colne Valley water so the cheque was written without a second thought. I'm looking forward to wetting a line down there I can tell you! More about that later though hopefully...

With work parties done at Birch Grove and a reccé in the boat around Mangrove, with fellow member and long-time good friend Steve Guy (@stevie_gism), I was buzzing to get the rods out over there again.
A Trip 'round Mangrove in the Boat
I was unable to fish opening weekend due to one thing or another so it was the Friday of our second rota before I got down there. Steve had got down Wednesday but told me all was quiet. Conditions looked great though with a heavy sky and south/southwest winds. It had fished very well at the start of the season but the carp had took a hammering and had been absent for a few days.

In between showers I managed to quickly load the boat and get across the lake with all the gear and set up in the Fallen Tree swim. It just started to drizzle again as I was finishing off baiting up. A kilo or so of whole and crumbed boilie and a bit of sweetcorn was deposited about 50 yards out with the Spomb. Two rods were put on that and one went down the pads to my right with a handful of boilies for company.

A short time later, I was getting twitches and liners on the open-water rods and was beginning to doubt my brilliant idea of using the sweetcorn. The silver fish were obviously having a field day out there. That evening before the England/Sweden match had kicked off I had a twitchy take that I promptly struck, and then reeled straight in, a Bream of about 5lbs or so.

That was all that happened and the next morning at about 11am I decided to freshen up the hookbaits and put a couple more Spombs of boilie out. It was an uneventful day and I just enjoyed and soaked up the glorious atmosphere of the Mangrove. A lot of the time was spent bivvy-bound due to the rain but I was loving this June 16th - a special day in years gone by - it was great to be back at this special water.

I was at the windward end of the lake on the side of it but that day it had slowly turned and was now blowing more into my corner of the lake. It looked good and I heard a couple of fish in the pads that afternoon which boosted my confidence of a bite.

Mangrove Sunset

I busied myself with some photography trying to capture a decent sunset picture. It was the perfect place for it. In fact it was originally called the Sunset Swim before the tree came down. I'd just finished doing that and started to review the images on the camera when I had another twitchy take. "Bream again", I thought, as I hit it. The fish had run towards me and as soon as I caught up with it it rolled and I then knew it was a carp.

Somehow it had crossed my other line when it ran towards me but it wasn't posing too much of a problem at this stage with the bail arm open on the offending rod. It rolled a few more times and I saw that it was a fair-sized mirror. The tangled line became a bit more of a problem as the fish got closer and was dragging the lead around. It fought really hard and caught me out a couple of times when I was juggling rods and it decided to go on long runs. In fact I strained my wrist at one point due to its power! All good fun!...

Eventually it was within netting range but with the platform I was on being so high above water level it was tricky to get it into the net without the line angle being far too steep. I bungled it in there in the end and it was mine. I slumped down after that epic battle relieved and nursed my wrist. A pleasurable pain!

Paw Print - 37lb 12oz
The mirror looked wide across the back and as I leaned down to have a look at its scaling I thought "I know what that is, but it can't be surely!". I doubted myself because it's not a long fish and I thought perhaps it was a smaller fish with similar scaling.

She looked great on the mat and up on the scales it confirmed what I already knew when I'd lifted her from the water. Paw Print at 37lb 12oz. I'd only gone and been jammy enough to catch the biggest in the lake on my first session back. What a welcome return! Thank you Mangrove.

Until next time...

Craig Banks.


  1. Nice article mate,realy enjoyed it,I had realy nice old dog which when we lost him cut me up,
    when I saw yours reminded me how sad that was.
    Good stuff keep writing.
    Keep Those Lines Tight.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It's good to know folk actually read this stuff.

  2. As Jake's and Max's mommy and your beloved wife and keeper of the keys when you are fishing I also thoroughly enjoyed your prose and look forward to reading more of what you get up to whilst I am hoovering xxx