Sam Verstreken catches a quartet of big carp from a big Belgian pit...
James Timberlake – Fall & Spring
31st March 2020
James Timberlake sends us his latest tales from Dinton’s White Swan – the highs and lows of fishing on the bottom and near the top…
Dinton White Swan – ‘Fall’ 2019
“As the summer drifted into Autumn, I started concentrating my efforts on one particular swim that was situated on the West Bank of the lake, being a un-fancied swim tucked away off the main path, I thought It would be a perfect zone to get something going in, not to mention the fact it fished into a fantastic area of the lake which acts as a natural bottle neck into the top section of the lake! The swim had been kind to me a month or so previous producing two of the lake’s original mirrors, so my confidence in the area was high! The spot was a small firm area at short range with huge banks of Canadian weed surrounding it – due to the size of the spot and the intensity of the weed around it I chose to only fish one rod. Tackle had to be strong, so I used long 45lb olive camo leadcore leaders, size 4 Curve Point hooks and strong braided mainline.
The next bite to come off the spot was another old one, this time one of the lakes original commons. It fought like an absolute demon, really testing my tackle to the limit by smashing through weed bed after weed bed! On inspection of the hook hold i could see the size 4 buried 2 inches back in the bottom lip, nailed! After baiting up before I left, I was once again back the following week for another 48hr in the swim. The fish were still clearly in the area and small patches of fizzing could be seen hitting the surface over the spot, giving away their feeding activities. It wasn’t long before the alarm signalled a fast take and I was bent into another White Swan carp. The fight was another fierce one with it taking me through various different weed beds, I soon had it coming towards me with a great big lump of weed covering its head. Once within the folds I could see It was a beautiful long grey linear, clearly one of the younger strain fish, well chuffed!
That was to be my last fish from White Swan that season as I had an exciting new river ticket starting in Mid-October. although I would have like to have carried on with the spot, the urge for river fishing again was too much, I would be back again come spring.”
Dinton White Swan – ‘Spring’ 2020
“As like most years I usually start back out for the carp around the end of January/ start of Feb. It had been an extremely mild and wet winter and the rain was showing no signs of letting up anytime soon. I like to walk the lake regularly before I do my first session back and this year was no different, regularly getting up there for first light or late evening looking for signs of fish. On one of these walks I spotted signs of fish off the back of the wind in the first section of the lake you come to, the odd bubble could be seen hitting the surface and the whole area just felt warm and alive!
My first trip back was a single night fished on the build-up to the full moon on the 7th of Feb, unfortunately nothing occurred but it was nice to get back out on the bank and get back in tune with the place. Tactics-wise, my main approach would be zig rigs, there’s no ignoring how devastating they are and after using them consistently for 4/5 years now, my confidence in them is very high! My set up consists of using a small leadclip with a big heavy tournament style lead (4/5oz), an anti-tangle sleeve, a long 12lb nylon hooklength and a small size 8 hook fished knotless knot style to a small piece of 8mm black foam whittled down.
As we got into mid-February the country received an absolute deluge of rain again and unfortunately the river burst its banks at Dinton and started to flow into the lake, in turn making the clarity go from crystal clear tap water to the colour of coffee! I carried on for a few more weeks but didn’t receive any action or see any activity. The fish really went to ground and it wasn’t until the middle of March that conditions got better and the water clarity returned, I felt a lot more confident of a take now and received my first bite after getting on a showing fish in the car park bay, it was a lovely pristine low 20 common and marked a good start to the year.
The following week the fish were clearly in residence in the middle reaches of the lake, I must have counted 40 or 50 shows throughout that middle section! It was a ‘no brainer’ that I needed to be in that area, so I chose to set up in peg 13, the swim I’d seen the majority of the shows in. The bulk of the fish were showing on the 35/40yard mark, so it was a simple task of dispatching the long links to that range. As darkness crept in I was full of confidence and just knew something was going to happen, as I was drifting off to sleep, I could hear them sloshing out all over the area and could make out the odd silhouette breaking the surface. The take came in the early hours, an absolute one noter that had me scrambling down the bank to hit the rod. What commenced was 35 minutes of pure drama with a very hard fighting carp, in the process of landing it I first fell in, trying to get into the water. I then managed to dig the net under a brolly sized piece of weed, thinking the carp was in the middle of it all, only to see a big swirl 20 yards beyond the ball of weed. To cut a long story short I ended up hand lining a lovely long mirror into the net – on inspection I could see it was a beautiful looking mirror and safely staked it out in the deep margins until morning.
As dawn broke I gave a quick call to my mate opposite and he was soon round on hand with the camera. It was an awesome looking carp, built with pure muscle and shaped like a torpedo. The mouth was absolutely mint and it had lots of little pearly scales dotted over its flank, I was well chuffed! Things were starting to come together.
Unfortunately, a few days after the capture we were to receive news that the lake was shutting down temporarily under government guidelines to stop the ever increasing threat of the Covid 19 pandemic, a very sensible decision. Hopefully normality will resume again soon, and we can all get back out there…”