CAMPAIGNING ON A DAY TICKET | Part III - The Stormy Seas Of The Mets Lake


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I was back on the Mets not too long after my mammoth holiday session, with the usual three nights ahead of me, itching to get among the residents once more. I’d kept on the move, not necessarily throughout the sessions up to now, but definitely between each session. I’d found spots and caught from all corners of the lake, and hoped that would continue to work for me.

As I pulled into the car park early that morning, and set off around the stunning, unkempt banks of my new favourite lake, I was a little disheartened to see fizzing in the Lightning Tree; I think this was the first time I’d dropped into a swim I’d already fished – but with fish clearly in the area I didn’t stay gloomy for long.

I dropped into Lightning Tree for that session, the weed was high and touching the surface in places but the spot was still clear and devoid of much growth. I had a little lead around and the clearing was significantly different to the surrounding water; the planes overhead could probably see the spot, not necessarily because of its size but the contrast between the thick weed and the clearing was like night and day.

I knew my baiting needed to be accurate, the last thing I wanted was boilies littering the fronds of weed surrounding the spot, causing the fish to feed at all levels right over my lines, so instead of using the catapult I switched to the Spomb to ensure maximum accuracy. Using a mix of 20 per cent Wicked Whites and 80 per cent Pandemic boilies, I hoped the fish would home in on the brighter white rather than the dark red of the Pandemic. I crumbed a large amount of it, broke some down and left a smattering of whole boilies in to give the swim lots of pieces of bait, which keeps the fish feeding for longer and also deposits more flavour and scent into the lake bed – I’d used a lot of liquid to enhance the mix too. I was concerned about the disturbance and hoped they’d come back over the bait, but it was a calculated risk I had to take.

Whenever I see fish in a swim I will usually fish singles for a short period first, just in case I can put one on the bank before disturbing the water, and this session was no different. With light leads and precision accuracy, or luck as it’s called, I whizzed two rods on to the clear bottom and pondered how I’d add bait to the swim. I left the traps for a good five or six hours before I decided to bait up and set about Spombing my mix of chops, fine crumb and lots of liquid out to the zone. I’d not been able to do that during previous sessions with the catapult, but as I was forced to Spomb to be accurate I could return to smaller bit pieces of bait to keep the fish grubbing round for longer, and depositing more attraction into the lake bed for sure.

It was approaching dusk by the time I’d finished baiting, and I’d added around 4kg to the swim. With lots of small bits and pieces I imagined the carp coming in and picking up my hook baits fairly quickly as a larger food item, so adding lots of bait would let me leave the swim alone and minimise disturbance for a day or so at least, allowing the fish to get their heads down and hopefully stay in the area. The weather was good, with low pressure, a dank feeling in the air, and I just had that instinctive feeling they’d be up for a feed…

How wrong was I, a further 24 hours passed without a sniff; it turned out my instinct had broken down that day, but the second half of my session really kicked off, thankfully. I quickly realised the weed was going to cause me problems. I did lose one in the weed at first but I soon changed my plan and solved the issue – tips up in the air, heavier leads dropping on the take and fishing locked up prevented the fish from running into the weed at the back of the spot. Dropping the lead popped them up to the surface almost instantly on the tight line and they came across to the net fairly easily from then on, and on that particular session I ended up with eight fish on the bank, with two falling foul to the weed. Barbless hooks and wise carp surrounded by weed make the fight a fair one, I can tell you that.

My next session saw me arrive down the track early on the Monday morning – sometimes my ‘four on, four off’ shift patterns time seamlessly for the best possible fishing sessions and turning up on a Monday is possibly my favourite day. With a few Red Bulls down the hatch – after finishing work the long drive really does take it out of me about three-quarters of the way there – I set off for a lap and it was quickly apparent the weed had grown significantly. It was too dense to even contemplate Lightning Tree that session. High on the energy drink fumes the lap was soon coming to an end and I knew landing fish from that swim would be near impossible, and certainly reckless.

I’d been down the lake quite a bit now, and there were several other anglers visiting the Mets regularly too; despite it being a day-ticket water they were also treating the lake as their ‘campaign’ water, and we soon had a message group to pass information and keep each other in the loop. I was at the water every week, only away for a few days at a time to work, so I was there to see for myself a lot, but hearing of captures and such was also a big help.

I was putting a lot of time into the water myself, so I wasn’t necessarily offering up all the information I’d gleaned, but I was giving up plenty, for some in return. I didn’t mislead anyone though, and we all seemed to get on well; it’s nice to have that camaraderie between the regulars, a long way from the usual solitary angling I’ve undertaken. Keeping your finger on the pulse is a huge advantage on any water, let alone one where they move so often, and so freely.

There was one of the friends from the group fishing in Lazy 2 that trip, and he was off the next day. I’d seen a few show out in front of Lazy 3 next door, but I was waiting to drop into Lazy 2, which is actually two swims up, after he’d left. He’d been catching consistently throughout his session and the fish were clearly still around.

The first 48 hours were shockingly biteless and the only thing I could think of was that the spots were blown. I’d gone in with a light baiting approach of a few Spombs per rod, hoping to continue nicking bites, but it didn’t happen. It was later in the afternoon by the time I had the sudden rush (or “sod it”) and baited up with 5kg of my crumbed, broken and whole boilie mix.

That night I had no sleep. The swim had a weed boundary that filled the middle of the lake across to the swims opposite, and fishing tight to it was the natural option. As darkness fell the fish move out of the weed with the oxygen levels dropping and landed on my bait with nothing other than a ferocious appetite.

I’d been told that the fish didn’t respond well to the spod in Mets Lake early on, but I knew I needed to keep the bait going in. After every two runs I’d top up with a couple of Spombs. They were competing for the bait without a doubt when the first fish came at midnight. The pressure dropped and the rain was biblical, for want of a better description – I was half expecting Noah to float down the River Colne just behind my swim, or was that a dream?

Everything clicked right to have fish, and boy were they hungry. I banked five that night in the belting rain, and what a way to round that session off. It had been a grueller, even more so with the bad weather seeing me pack up in the rain for the trip home too. With very little sleep and a proper soaking I was away knowing I’d be back within a matter of days.

With another three-night session ahead of me the lake was a little busier than previously, but Lazy 1, right in the middle of Lazy 2 and 3, was free. Cross the bridge from Thorney Weir over to Mets Lake and the Lazy swims are literally at the foot of the bridge, in a podium format with 1 in the centre and 2 and 3 either side of it. There were fish showing in front as well so they were still evidently in the area.

I had a bit of a nightmare session this time round; I lost the first four fish, and I didn’t really understand why at first. I don’t know whether it was the way they were feeding, almost like they were feeding in a very stationary position and the hook wasn’t getting a good hold or something, but I lost a really good one at the net – I was gutted.

Leading around when I got there provided much-needed information for that swim, which again I’d not fished before. There was a narrow silt seam straight in front, running parallel to the bank, long enough to fish all three rods too. If I clipped up half a rod length short, or long, I’d be in the weed, so I estimated it to be around six feet wide. It was relatively clear compared to its surroundings, with just a very small amount of low-lying weed.

I wasn’t too fussed trying for the quick bite because of the leading around, and knowing how well they responded to the bait the previous trip I mixed up six to seven kilos of my boilie mix, with crumbed, broken and whole baits drowned in a matching liquid. I Spombed a third of the mix out and got my rods in position, fishing the same rigs as before, a Ronnie made up of a size 2 but with a darker red Pandemic pop-up to fish just over the top of any soft detritus on the bottom.

Losing those first four bites was soul-destroying, and after losing the fourth at the net I reduced the boom on my rig by half on one rod, taking it from eight inches down to four. I initially wanted a long rig to settle over the top of whatever I’d felt on the spot, but when I landed my fifth run, and the fish being absolutely nailed, I knew exactly where I’d gone wrong. They had far too much play in the setup, to allow them to ‘get away with it’ and they’d been doing just that – I should have picked up on this sooner but such is life.

That first landed fish came on the second morning, I was becoming concerned as to whether there was any bait left on the spot, but the odd coot was diving and I had put two Spombs out after each of the lost fish too, so I remember hoping something was there for them to find.

I dropped down to two rods after the first 29lb common, and switched them both to shorter rigs after the initial test on one rod. I’d gone through two-thirds of my mix now, which I’d added a couple of kilos of micro pellets into before the second night. This added lots of attraction to the water without giving them much in the way of food pieces as it breaks down so fast.

The fish kept coming after the first, the shorter rigs and bait application starting to pay off. I put the remaining third of my bait out for the last night; I’d had another two fish through the day and was confident of more, so emptied my bucket and even went and dug around the van for some corn and a couple of jars of hemp to add to a kilo of boilies I found in there. I’d probably totalled around 12kg of bait now, but it was exactly what the fish wanted as I banked another three by the time I left the next day.

Learning when to bait heavily and when to fish for a bite is something I’m constantly working at. Reading the situation that is presented in front of me with all of the varying factors – weather, temperature, disturbance, time of day etc – is really keeping me on my toes, but when it works, it really works. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on Mets up to now and long may it continue – the lake holds a stunning stock of carp as I’m sure you’ll agree.