Something Differing

I enjoy the challenge of fishing new places, even when there’s hardly any information to be gleaned about them. I discovered Manea Fisheries while studying an aerial map of my local area. I could see two lakes in the grounds of what looked like an industrial site, with only basic information on the Internet saying they were available on a day ticket. On arrival, it didn’t look anything like the image I had seen on my laptop. The grounds were nicely landscaped, with manicured lawns, comfortable swims, even a well-kept toilet block. The complex had evolved into a caravan park, sectioned off from the busy skip hire part of the property. I couldn’t find anyone, so I rang a phone number I saw on a sign by the entrance gate. I was told it was okay to start fishing. With plenty of swims to choose from, I eventually set up a waggler on the top lake, deciding that would be a good way to begin.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

The Island

I’d picked a spot opposite a reed lined island, with the shell of an old cabin cruiser cheekily parked on it. It was strange on my own, wondering why the place was so deserted. I was supposed to be fishing with my pal Andy, but he had managed to get a puncture on the way and was having a tough time finding somewhere to get it repaired. It was after all a Sunday and this wasn’t one of the most populated parts of fenland. I was soon catching plenty on the waggler, casting it close to the island where there was a good depth. I had trouble getting through small rudd, but when I did, carp resulted. They were all sizes, mostly immaculate looking fish, apart from the odd big bruiser that butted in. It was great fun using light gear on a forgiving 12ft float rod. I was using 0.12 mm Edge Premium Mono and an 18 medium wire hook, to encourage plenty of bites in the cold conditions.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

All Action

It was crazy fishing considering the chill factor, although the high hedge to my left was helping to take some of the sting out of the icy wind. There had been some heavy frosts and the nearby drains were running hard and coloured after recent heavy rain, resulting in having to deal with floating rafts of weed and lots of other debris being flushed through. I doubt if I would have enjoyed hectic sport like this anyway. I had started with maggots, but was rarely managing to get through shoals of small rudd, prompting a switch to hard pellets. These still accounted for a few silver fish, but mostly found hungry carp. The latter liked the cover on the island, hugging tight against it. It was awkward because the bigger fish wouldn’t come out. With the depth factor, it was tricky trying to cast a waggler in tight, at the same time avoiding draping the hook bait over the thick fringe of overhanging growth.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

Simple Approach

I thought about switching to a small pellet feeder and plopping that against the island, but every so often it’s better to persevere with the tackle you started with. There’s a danger of setting up more gear and changing direction during a session, which can over-complicate things. Persevering, I gradually got to grips with casting my deep set waggler tighter to the cover, only gently feathering the tackle down to avoid catching up the hook bait. It was hectic fun, either whipping out rudd, or playing lively carp. Some of the carp were weighty and, like long torpedoes, tricky to cram into a match sized landing net. Gradually, the bigger fish pushed the rudd away from the island. Experimenting, I could catch small stuff by dropping my rig under the rod tip, or simply dangling a maggot on the surface. I decided I would have to come back and have a proper go for the silvers.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

Going Back

Returning to the carp pool, I set up a pole to have a go for rudd and any other silvers that might be resident, but couldn’t buy a bite. I tried shallow and worked my way down, ending up a few inches over-depth before finally gaining some interest. An elastic stretcher turned out to be a fair-sized carp, which took a while to tame on a light rig. Another followed, with still no sign of the small fish I had such trouble getting through the week before. I tried shallowing up again, but nothing resulted. Andy had managed to get here this time without any car trouble. He was also struggling on a pellet feeder, casting it way out into open water. It was colder again than the week before, so maybe that had made the rudd go dormant. That wasn’t the case with carp, which were heavily rooting around my feed area. I wasn’t going very far out, simply adding a couple of pole sections to a top kit.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

All Change

I switched to a slightly stronger full depth set up with 0.12 mm Edge Premium Mono at the business end, connected to 4-6 Edge Hybrid Green Solid Elastic. If the rudd didn’t want to play on a frosty morning, I wanted to see how a medium rig might cope with the carp. It soon got busy with just a single red maggot on the hook. I found I could cope with big fish, some into double figures, but was forced to step up to even stronger tackle and heavier elastic. The carp were queueing up, and it was taking far too long to land them. Andy was bagging up as well by now, on his pellet feeder rig. A switch to heavier gear made no difference to the action. I was cupping in loose fishmeal groundbait and feeding a few maggots over the top. Still no signs of any silvers, but not a problem with so many netters to be enjoyed. Keepnets were permitted for smaller fish, but that wasn’t happening.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

Weight Building

I’m not a regular when it comes to amassing huge hauls of carp, but enjoy it when conditions turn tough for everything else. Water levels were at flood levels in many areas, so it was pleasant to be fishing from grassy banks and not sitting over liquid mud. I soon lost count of where I was weight wise, but if I had been using keepnets, the first one would have been bursting by now. It didn’t seem to make any difference using medium or strong rigs, once the fish got their heads down. That wasn’t the case earlier. When bites were at a premium, my lighter rig was more effective. The owner turned up, and I happily paid my fiver day ticket money. With sport like this, it was top value, considering on most commercials it normally costs a lot more for hectic carp sessions. I was informed this place did get quite busy during holiday periods and the warmer months, mainly with touring anglers.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

Off Peak

Although I enjoy fishing in company, I also like it after the crowds have gone, which often happens when winter sets in. Apart from being a lot more peaceful, it allows time to reflect and try different things. Andy was giving some new pellet feeders a run out, using flavoured micros as feed in combination with banded wafters. He had worked through different coloured buoyant hook baits, discovering pink was best for some reason. Casting out into open water, the fish had taken a while to settle over his baited area. Earlier it was a long wait for takes, but now his quivertip was being rattled as soon as the rig hit bottom. Because the small silver fish had gone missing on this occasion, there wasn’t any need to bury hook baits in the feeder. Left exposed on a strong short hook length, his bright wafters were finding carp, starting at a pound and going well into double figures.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

Welcome Bonus

Suddenly, Andy’s rod was bent into something different, undergoing a slightly more juddery tussle with a fish that zigzagged more wildly than carp tend to do. I had just been wondering what else might be in this water, when the newcomer turned out to be a beautiful tench. It was thickset, with perfect fins and bright red eyes, paler than the much darker fish the nearby fens produce. I’ve enjoyed plenty of tench action over the past summer on drains like the 20ft and the Old River Nene, with many more new venues I’m excited to explore. I’m still confused about the naming of waterways like the 16ft, 20ft and 40ft. It appears the 40ft title refers to the distance measured between its two high banks, but the 16ft and 20ft are much wider than their name suggests. Very strange. Anyway, it was great to have discovered this alternative prolific fishery close by.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

Proper Lumps

Back on my margin pole, I was kept busy by the carp, with some only just fitting into the largest Edge Landing Net I had with me. Whereas pellet had been the best bait on my first visit here, it continued to be single red maggot that was attracting the most interest this time. I tried a banded hard pellet, but the fish didn’t seem to want it as readily as maggots, which I was also feeding very lightly. Nearby, Andy continued to bag up with his micro pellet and wafter approach, again finding some hefty carp, the best around the 17lb mark. Somebody else did eventually turn up to have a fish, but it still felt strange having most of this brilliant spot to ourselves. I wondered how many other gems like this there are tucked away in the countryside, under the guise of caravan parks and holiday complexes. I found a similar venue when I was in Lincolnshire, but only thanks to a tip off from a mate.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

Adding Up

I can understand why many anglers like carp bagging matches because you only need a few fish this size to boost catches dramatically. When it gets colder, providing you can tempt lumps like this into feeding, they become more docile and can be landed much quicker. I enjoyed catching loads of netters on my return visit, but still wondered where all the small silver fish had gone. While playing carp after carp, I decided to give it one more attempt the following week, considering the weather forecast said it was going to stay cold and settled. My previous experiences on waters like this has been for the carp to shut down and silvers to become more active in winter, but that wasn’t the case here yet. The carp were still queueing up, and I had completely lost count of where I was, numbers or weight wise. I didn’t intend to do that when I came back, providing I could find the rudd.

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

Another World

Back on the carp lake, I spent a while picking a swim, looking for signs of silvers on the surface. Failing to find the rudd last time might have been due to sitting in an open water peg because the only surface activity was close to thick rushes in a sheltered corner. I set up to fish shallow. I didn’t want to use a whip with so many weighty carp resident, so I opted for elasticated match tops that fit my longer Cadence pole. They would provide half a chance of not getting lighter rigs smashed up. Feeding small balls of cloudy groundbait and a few loose maggots over the top, I was soon catching loads of small rudd. It was like bleak bashing as we used to call it years ago, on southern rivers like the Lea and Thames when they were coloured. I kept count by adding a pellet to an empty bait box every time I reached the hundred milestone. I caught a lot of pellet’s worth of rudd!

Carp Fishing with Dave Coster

One thought on “Getting to Grips With a Winter Carp Pool

  1. Avatar Pete Lawler says:

    A great days angling dave, I bet you loved catching all those carp !. But what a smile on your face with the silvers m8

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