Cracking The Syndicate – James Conway

It’s fair to say that it has been a slow start for me on the syndicate that I joined last year. I managed a few overnighters last year and added to what I’d done this year, I had totalled up 10 nights without a bite.

However, a couple of rotas’ ago that all changed. I decided to put the odds in my favour and instead of turning up after work on a Friday and battling for a swim, I booked a Monday off work with the intension of arriving Sunday afternoon and getting in a good swim. The plan worked as I managed to secure a swim known as the ‘Reeds’, a swim that I had never had chance to fish before due to it always being occupied. It has a large roped off reedy bay to the right that nearly always holds fish and this day was no exception.

Setting up was a hot affair in the blistering afternoon sun, especially as the swim has very little shade in the latter part of the day. However, before long I had two rods positioned along the far margin and another in the near margin.

Nothing happened throughout the night, but at 9am the following morning, my middle rod was away and I was finally into my first fish from the lake. The fish did exactly as I thought it would, by kiting right into the sanctuary of the roped off bay. There was a brief nerve wracking moment when the fish became stuck in the marginal reeds, but luckily for me it decided to swim back out and was swiftly netted.

It was by no means a monster; in fact one of the stockies weighing 16lb 8oz, but it had put an end to a long run of blanks and marked my first fish from the venue so I was more than happy.

My next rota weekend saw me arriving mid afternoon on the Friday. I had seen a fish show in the middle of the lake, so had put my barrow in a swim that gave me access to that area. As I was unloading the barrow, it played on my mind that I had seen no fish in the ‘reeds’ bay, which seemed strange for such a hot afternoon. Curiosity got the better of me, so I set off for a look at similar type bay but at the far end of the lake. I’m glad I did as when I arrived, I was greeted by the sight of a good number of carp cruising around. This was all I needed to see, so I ran back to my barrow and pushed it all the way round the lake to the swim nearest the bay.

I had fished this swim on a few occasions in the past, so getting all three rods out was relatively easy. The left and middle rods were put on a bar at around 60 yards and the right hand rod was fished towards the reedy margin on the adjacent bank.

The evening went by without any occurrence, but I went to bed confident of some action, purely down to the amount of fish that were still in the area.

At 4.30am, I had a take on the middle rod. It was still dark and after a scrappy battle, I soon slid the net under another mid double stockie. I managed to get the rod back out in the darkness and knew that it had landed sweetly, due to positive thud that was sent back up the rod.

Nothing else happened throughout the morning until I was packing up to go home. I noticed a slick starting to come up over my right hand rod fished to the adjacent margin. I was wondering whether it was a carp that was responsible, when all of a sudden one popped its head out right in the middle of the flat spot. There was no way that I could wind in and go home with this activity going on, so with my barrow already loaded, I sat down on the grass next to the rods and waited.

The slicking continued for another half an hour or so, when out of the blue the middle rod tore off! This was the rod that I had recast in the dark, confirming that it had landed it back on the right spot. Straight away I knew that it was a better fish and certainly not another stockie.

The fish came in relatively quick, spending most of the time up on the surface but woke up once in the margins, going on powerful charges around the bay. After a failed first attempt to net it, the second time he was mine and I was soon looking in the net at an old Bedfordshire mirror carp – exactly the kind of fish that I had joined the lake for.

The fish weighed 27lb 8oz and as I held it up for the camera, all of the previous blank sessions were forgotten.

The slicks were still coming up over the right hand rod, so I gave it a little while longer while I repacked the camera gear and put away other to rods. However, I was now well and truly out of time, so begrudgingly had to wind in. There were still lots of fish around, so if ever there had been a time that I wanted to stay for a second night, this was it!

All three of my fish came to the same methods, by fishing small yellow pop ups over a bed of mixed sized Poloni boilies, Salted Maple Spod Mix and Scopex corn. As always, I mixed the whole lot up the day before and gave it a generous amount of Omega 3 Fish Oil and a dusting of Pure Fishmeal powder.

I now have a 6 week break due to a holiday and house renovations, but I cannot wait to get back and give it another go during the autumn.

James Conway


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