Scott Lloyd delves into the tactics and techniques he likes to use on small, intimate waters, as featured in his popular Insights film

I think it is fair to say, most angling literature is very much based around large venues, often gravel pits that not everyone can actually relate to. I have fished such venues heavily over the years, just because I enjoy that style of big water angling. But what about the other end of the spectrum, small, intimate lakes? How should you approach them?

Tackling a small water was certainly the order of the day for my Insights film, as I ventured to the Northeast, to fish the famous Dolly Mill. It was a typical small venue and is perfect to use as an example to explain how I go about fishing small lakes.

Small lakes can be deceiving, and in truth can be much trickier than big pits. The fish tend to be more clued up and be very riggy and aware of visitors arriving and mooching around their surroundings. An element of stealth is often key, and location is still paramount.

I always pay attention to any visible features first, and at Dolly Mill there was a variety of options. Overhanging trees, lily beds, islands and so on, are very good starting points. As it happened, the main feature on Dolly Mill was an out of bounds bank, somewhere I would always check out if you have one on your water. I always spend a good few hours looking for the fish, as if you aren’t fishing where they are, no matter how large or how small the lake is, you aren’t going to catch them if you’re not on them.

I always pay attention to any visible features first, and at Dolly Mill there was a variety of options. Overhanging trees, lily beds, islands and so on, are very good starting points. As it happened, the main feature on Dolly Mill was an out of bounds bank, somewhere I would always check out if you have one on your water. I always spend a good few hours looking for the fish, as if you aren’t fishing where they are, no matter how large or how small the lake is, you aren’t going to catch them if you’re not on them.

Once I have found the fish, it’s imperative to find a spot that’s presentable. On Dolly Mill I had the advantage of a boat, but realistically most small lakes wouldn’t have this. You can achieve enough with a simple leading rod, and if I didn’t have the boat available, I would have just done it the old-fashioned way. Most small venues tend to be silty, or clay bottomed in the vast majority of the country. So, the spots you are looking for aren’t going to produce the tell-tale tap of gravel, but more of a smooth, glassy type feeling. These areas are prime feeding zones and are the only places I will present a hookbait.

Once I have found the fish, it’s imperative to find a spot that’s presentable. On Dolly Mill I had the advantage of a boat, but realistically most small lakes wouldn’t have this. You can achieve enough with a simple leading rod, and if I didn’t have the boat available, I would have just done it the old-fashioned way. Most small venues tend to be silty, or clay bottomed in the vast majority of the country. So, the spots you are looking for aren’t going to produce the tell-tale tap of gravel, but more of a smooth, glassy type feeling. These areas are prime feeding zones and are the only places I will present a hookbait.

During the filming, I used two H Blocks, which judging by a few of the comments riled a few people up. This is just an old habit from fishing very big venues, the first block is your general spot marker, so you don’t lose you bearings and the second actually finds the spot. I was very particular to find the firmest spots on Dolly Mill, I searched around with the second block to find the exact spot to place a rig. They certainly weren’t the easiest of spots to find, as is often the way on silty venues, but perseverance paid off in the end.

Accuracy is always important on every lake and my trip to Dolly Mill would be no different. Having the use of the boat made the rig placement and baiting incredibly easy and ensured I was super accurate with both. You’ll notice I fished one rod per spot, which I will touch on shortly, and as such I kept the baiting super tight and compact. With only one baited rig on each spot, I didn’t want the fish moving here there and everywhere, and potentially missing the baited rig.

As I alluded to previously, I like to spread my rods around on small lakes, rather than cramming all three on one spot. I have found it pays to have them on different spots within the swim. With the angling pressure being focused into a small body of water, the carp know what’s going on, and tend to move around a lot in my experience. The key is to try and intercept them with a baited spot long enough for you to get a bite.

As I alluded to previously, I like to spread my rods around on small lakes, rather than cramming all three on one spot. I have found it pays to have them on different spots within the swim. With the angling pressure being focused into a small body of water, the carp know what’s going on, and tend to move around a lot in my experience. The key is to try and intercept them with a baited spot long enough for you to get a bite.

In terms of the rig end, I don’t change much, so if the bottom is clear, like it was at Dolly Mill, I use a Noodle rig. It’s tried and tested so there’s no need to change it. I see it very often these days where people go lake to lake and change their rigs for every venue. It’s just not needed, I know the Noodle works over clean ground, so rather than reach for an alien rig, I go for something I trust wholeheartedly.

In terms of the rig end, I don’t change much, so if the bottom is clear, like it was at Dolly Mill, I use a Noodle rig. It’s tried and tested so there’s no need to change it. I see it very often these days where people go lake to lake and change their rigs for every venue. It’s just not needed, I know the Noodle works over clean ground, so rather than reach for an alien rig, I go for something I trust wholeheartedly.

The only slight change was I used a big 5oz lead, just to make sure the carp immediately hit the weight and get hooked before they could deal with the rig. Even without the boat, you can get away with big leads on small lakes, as you don’t have to cast very far generally. On silty venues I would always recommend a flat style lead as they tend not to plug into the bottom as much. This obviously didn’t affect me whilst using the boat, but if you are having to cast to your spots, it is worth bearing in mind.

As a whole, I thought the session on Dolly Mill went well, it was a typical, moody small water. The fish knew straight away they were being fished for, and certainly put their guard up. I think if I hadn’t found those super hard spots, which were clearly recently fed on areas, I wouldn’t have caught the fish I had.

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