Q Lake with Mark Pitchers

We arrived at the lake around 11:45am as the ticket starts from midday, and this enabled us to have a quick catch-up and get the gear out the van. We were keen to find out how Mark planned on approaching his session going forward.

Mark Pitchers: “Now I’ve fished Q lake on and off for the past 12 years, doing both tutorials and my own fishing here; not a lot, maybe a couple of sessions a year, but it’s given me enough knowledge of the venue to have a rough idea on starting tactics.

“It is a different layout to normal lakes, in that all the fishing is done from the island out into the lake, rather than from the normal banks. With this being the case, fishing over to the far side is normally where I pick up the bites from so that will be a good starting area. The far margin is reed lined most of the way round, which makes the perfect holding area for the fish.”

For this trip Mark had booked into Peg 5; most of the swims control a similar amount of water due to there being swim boundaries marked out by wooden posts. The thing that stood out in this swim was the fact that it was one of the few areas with weed in front of the peg, creating another holding area for the fish.

Mark wasted no time in prepping some rigs and bait to get fishing quickly. We wanted to know what sort of tactics he was going in with to begin with.

MP: “I’ve done well in the past on here by using high-attract pop-ups and small amounts of bait; because of this I’m going to start with some washed-out pink pop-ups and a small amount of Pacific Tuna boilies, which I have boosted in advance with Hot Chorizo Compound and Pacific Tuna Booster powder. I’m only going to introduce around 20 baits around each rod because the areas I’m going to be targeting are shallow.”

Why does the depth of water determine how much bait you’re going to be putting out?

MP: “The spots are only around three feet in depth and I just feel like they won’t stay around and feed for long on these shallow zones. In deeper, open water you can build up much more competition and have the fish grazing for a lot longer, whereas on the shallow zones tight up to the far bank I feel like I’ll just be picking fish off as they ghost through, so the amount of bait and high-attract hook baits I’m using are just enough to spark an interest from the fish.”

That’s an interesting perspective on things as most would fish just the same in the shallower water as the deep. Mark got all three rods spread across the far margin a couple of rod lengths apart. Unfortunately, after a couple of hours of inactivity a fish trailing line wiped all three out, but this was a blessing in disguise.

MP: “Well that certainly isn’t ideal, but I have been watching the water since I put those rods out and it’s apparent there are a lot of fish in the near margin, around these rafts of weed at the front of the swim. So, I think a tactical change is in order; I’m going to drop a couple of solid bags on to the areas where I have seen the fish with some match the hatch hook baits to be nice and subtle.”

What sort of mix do you plan on using in your solid bags? And are you planning on putting any bait out with them?

MP: “The mix I favour for my solid bag fishing stays the same practically everywhere I go, it consists of around 70 per cent Oily Bag Mix, 20 per cent frozen water snails and 10 per cent of the Pacific Tuna Booster Powder. Using a mix with such small food items enables me to get the bag nice and tight, to be as aerodynamic as possible, but in this situation it doesn’t hugely matter as I’m dropping it almost off the rod tips. The hook bait inside the bag is just a trimmed down Pacific Tuna Wafter; I don’t like big hook baits in bags, so I often trim the hook bait down if it’s bigger than around 12mm in size.

“I’m not going to put any quantity of bait out, I’m just going to introduced two chopped baits and maybe a pinch of pellets, but that is just purely to partially spook anything out of the area. I find it much better to spook the fish with bait over a rig, they often return to the area soon after with bait whereas with a rig it can be chance blown.”

Mark positioned his rods once again, dropping two in the edge in front of him and persisting with one over on the far side. The day drew to a close and with the weather how it was, high pressure and hot, Mark felt his best chance of a bite was going to be through the hours of darkness or at first light. He wasn’t wrong, and at around 11pm his left-hand rod fished next to the weed pulled up tight. Unfortunately the fish managed to bury itself in the marginal bull rushes, so Mark got his waders on and followed the line to where the fish was stuck. After a couple of minutes trying to free the fish, it pinged free and came straight into the net with a ball of weed round its head.

MP: “Well, that’s a great start to the trip, even if it did cause me a bit of drama down that margin. It is only a small one though, so I’m just going to unhook it in the water and let it go. The night is still young so there is a chance of another bite yet, I just hope the disturbance of me wading down the edge hasn’t put them off. Anyway, let’s get another bag knocked up and get it back out there.”


The rest of the night was quiet, no beeps or indication that the fish were still in the area, however at 5am just as dawn broke Mark received another take, this time though it was on his right-hand rod, again fished down the edge.

MP: “I think the signs are certainly telling me not to fish over to that far side on this trip, two bites now and they’ve both come from around this weed bed floating in the edge, so a rethink is definitely going to be in order today for my third rod. Anyway, this fish feels slightly better than the last so fingers crossed we can get it in, no dramas so far with any bull rushes this time.

After a short tussle under the tip Mark bagged his second fish of the trip, a common that was probably around upper double in size, a good first light result. A few snaps on the camera were taken and the fish was returned. Mark put the kettle on for the first brew of the day, watching the water like a hawk to figure out what to do with his third rod, or if he was just going to fish with the two that were producing.

MP: “I’ve noticed this morning quite a few fish showing and fizzing just out in open water, not up against any features, so I think I’m going to position my third rod out there on to some bubblers for a few hours and see what happens. I am however, going to drop it out there with the use of the bait boat just so I can be extremely stealthy; hopefully by doing this I can lower a bag in right on top of the fish without spooking them with a cast.”

Mark loaded the bait boat with a couple of chopped baits and some of his PVA bag mix, then positioning the solid bag on top he sent the boat out, around the fish though, not on top of them, and we were keen to find out what he was doing.

MP: “One thing I’ve noticed on this trip so far is how easily the fish move off the areas if there’s any disturbance, so what I’m doing now is driving the boat around the outside of the fish and then I’m going to wind the boat back over the top of the bubblers with the rod so there is no noise of the boat’s engines going over the spot, just to be as quiet as possible. This way I’m hoping the fish will continue feeding on the spots.”

That made sense and was maybe something a lot wouldn’t consider. Within 15 minutes that rod was away. This time it was a mirror around the same size as the common from first light.

MP: “It really does just go to show you how important it is being quiet and stealthy on day ticket lakes; not only that but going into it with an open mind. I came with a preconceived idea that I would be fishing the far margin when in fact all of my bites have come in much shorter than that.”

The activity slowed down throughout the morning and no fish were spotted around the marginal weed like the day before. The weather had taken a change for the better with stronger winds rolling in and overcast skies. Although the feeding windows seemed to be short-lived, every now and again Mark would spot some bubblers and reposition the rod on to them. He managed another upper double common in the early afternoon, but the rest of the day was quiet. The feeding activity had subsided and even the shows had stopped. Going into the last night he opted to fish all three rods out in open water where he’d seen the most signs throughout the day. We wanted to know if there were particular spots he was looking for or if they were just ‘pub chucks.’

MP: “To be honest, I know the make-up of the lake bed reasonably well, and there isn’t much on the bottom in the shape of detritus, so I can put rigs practically anywhere, but I have been monitoring the water all day and I’ve positioned the rods in areas where the most activity has been so I’m hoping that will do the trick throughout the hours of darkness tonight.”

The final night was ghostly quiet with not a beep on any of the rods. We thought the end of the session was going to be fishless, so we started a pack-down early the next morning. Out of the corner of his eye Mark noticed a fizzer while packing away the bivvy, followed by one sliding out and back into the same hole, creating no noise or disturbance. He quickly positioned a solid bag on to the feeding fish and within five minutes the rod was away.

MP: “There is another great example of being proactive on the session; all of my bites this trip have come to reacting to signs that the fish have presented me with. This one actually feels like a better fish so hopefully we can get it in the net.”

After a much more dogged battle that seemed to go on for some time, up popped an immaculate common that tipped the scales round to 24lb 14oz, the perfect way to end the trip.

MP: “What a carp this one is – big spaced-out scales and a perfect overslung mouth. If this session has taught me anything, it’s to be more open-minded about turning up to venues, no matter how many times you’ve fished them and how well you think you know them. “Anyway, let’s gets some photos and get on the road.”

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