Last Minute Session – Stu Smith

Sometimes when carp fishing we just don’t know what we will be faced with, we jump on venues we don’t know much about and no matter how much we troll the internet for information it just doesn’t live up to time on the bank! This session was going to be one of those times……

As much as we like the challenge of a tough water, everyone likes to get a bend in their rod now and again so with that in mind and on the back of a couple of blank sessions I decided to go somewhere where I knew I had a good chance of catching.

Winterley Pool was the venue in Crewe, it has a specimen lake and a smaller “match pool” both of which contain a good head of carp. After speaking to the bailiff on the Thursday, he said that not many were booked on and I should easily get a peg on the specimen lake. So Friday night after work I loaded up the van and off we went. On arriving at the venue there were only 3 cars in the car park so was confident of getting a decent spot. How wrong I was, the specimen lake was full! Gutted! So it was going to be the match lake, which I’d never even seen before let alone done any research on.

After a quick walk round I decided on a spot facing an island which also gave me a good lily pad bed to the left and a nice tree down my right hand margin. So now I was on the back foot, I’d geared everything towards fishing the specimen lake and I was fishing a much smaller lake which I knew nothing about and it was now nearly 9pm!

As it was pretty obvious I was going to be fishing tight to features I decided on the old faithful solid bag approach which I knew would be presented half decently no matter what chod was down there. I started by casting quite close to the island with a bare lead, pulling a little more line off, clipping up and recasting until I was clipped up to within inches of the island. When I was happy with the spot I then cast again and felt the lead down to make sure the bottom was moderately clear. When I was happy with that I wrapped the lead round a bankstick I’d put in and walked my rod down the bank until I hit my clip and then put another bankstick in so I’d be able to clip up easily. As I was only fishing around 30 yards it was easier than getting the marker sticks out. Out went around 50 or so Poloni boilies over each spot while I sorted out my rigs.

My PVA bag rigs are as simple as they get, a size 7 hook sharpened to within an inch of its life with 4 inches of soft braid with a loop at the end so it can be quickly changed, a line aligner on the hook eye (I would usually use shrink tube but there was no time for that), a relatively short hair with a small shot sat just behind a Poloni wafter just to keep it sat above the pellets in the bag. I then use around 2 feet of unleaded leader to a small inline lead. In my bag went 2mm Krill pellets (I like the small pellets as you can get the bags really tight) as well as my hooklink and my lead. Both rods were then cast out to the island and I could get on with setting up somewhere to sleep!

Once I was set up I made myself a coffee and sat watching the water for a little while to see if I could see any signs of fish, I heard a few crash in the pads to my left so put a little bait in there as an option if the island didn’t produce. It was around 4am when my right hand rod rattled off and due to fishing quite tight to the island I was up and on it straight away. It didn’t feel like a massive fish and after a short battle a lovely looking low double ghost koi was netted. Not a big fish by any means but a real looker.


After slipping the fish back I walked the bank with my rod and clipped up. When casting in darkness I tend to clip up a couple of feet short when fishing so tight to a feature, this just eliminates hitting the island if your cast isn’t spot on. I’d much rather be slightly short of my spot than leave my line in a tree just for the sake of waiting until first light and recasting. As first light was now only an hour away, I stayed up to recast my rigs which also gave me a chance to try and spot some fish.


In the next hour I noticed a good fish crash a few times right in the middle of the pads to my left so at first light I re-did my clipping on the left rod and cast a bag as close to the pads as I dared followed by a few Poloni freebies. As a bit of extra attraction and to try and draw the fish out from the pads I injected my bag with 3ml of hemp oil.


After a quiet day and after introducing freebies every couple of hours, it was around 3pm when the same rod went round again. This fish was a little more clued up than the last though and even after being locked up and on my rods in seconds the fish managed to snag me instantly which resulted in a hook pull. A little gutted but after a quiet spell it was encouraging.

After the commotion of the lost fish and feeling that this was the prime spot I decided to introduce a little more bait and then rest the swim for a while. I had been baiting the tree down my right hand margin every few hours so I switched my right hand rod to this and left my other rod on the pads where fish were still showing themselves. I left it like this until 8pm but after no fish I decided to recast both rods for the evening.

It was around 10pm when I had a screamer on my right hand rod which pulled my rod into the air as it tightened up, I was on this one again instantly but made sure it didn’t get an inch of line. I could feel my line grating against the underwater snags and I was poising myself ready for a hook pull but it held fast and I managed to steer the fish away from the island. After a really good fight another ghost koi was in the net and this one seemed much bigger than the first. On the scales the fish went 21lb10oz and I was chuffed to bits! My biggest koi and ghostie in one fish! Just a shame fish like this come in the hours of darkness so you can’t get a decent picture!


I got the rod back out shortly after but apart from a 2lb crucian carp at 3am that was the last of the action. I was really happy with the result at an unknown water, just proving that sticking to what you are confident with works wonders.

Stu Smith
Carp Team

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