This month’s winning Academy Q&A is from Harry Gilbert: “I’m going to start fishing a 65 acre reservoir in the spring. It’s very deep, quite low stock (150) and very snaggy, full of old walls, and tree stumps. What would be the best starting block?”
“It sounds like the perfect lake! Spring is the perfect time to start – as soon as the weak sun starts warming the layers the fish will start to show themselves. They are often lazy, almost torpid and covered in clay or some sort of detriment which gives you a good idea of where they have been holding up through the winter. They are easy to spot which gives you a great opportunity to see what stock it holds (if you don’t already know). Spend as much time as you possibly can on the lake, even when you are not fishing, and you should be able to keep track of their movements.
“In my experience, on the bigger low stocked waters the fish tend to behave as they should, rather than the anglers dictating how they behave. Find a couple of likely looking areas where a prevailing wind will hit, and start to trickle a bit of bait in. Don’t go mad – these types of Carp are not dependent on anglers bait, and tend to graze rather than gorge. They have a huge natural larder at their disposal, and I have noticed that they tend to cruise in, take a couple of baits, then move on to mussel or bloodworm beds. I can remember thinking that I could give them a big hit of bait on a very similar water, and it was the kiss of death. They never went anywhere near it! When I started to bait different areas little and often the results came thick and fast. I would walk the lake every other day, and spread a kilo of bait over four different areas. Yes it was hard work, but I had over thirty fish that season which was previously unheard of.
“The other thing to bear in mind is tackle. It sounds like the lake is full of obstacles that will easily destroy your gear, so you need to be sure you are not under gunned. I have found that these types of fish are rarely rig shy, so you can step everything up. The last thing you want is a rare bite to turn into a common loss. I hope this helps.”
Matt J says:
“I’d like to start by saying that although I have fished waters of a similar size and stock density to the one mentioned, these have all been gravel pits and not reservoirs, so they are nowhere near as deep or snaggy. Depth is very important in spring and I’d imagine this is more so on a deep reservoir; as the warmer weather arrives the fish will push into the warmest piece of water, which is invariably the shallows. So I would pay all my attention on the shallower areas of the lake, whether this is a shallow plateau, raised bar, shallow bay or margins. I’d keep a little bit of bait trickled into these areas to get the fish used to finding it which may encourage them to visit spot and it will help to get my bait readily excepted.
“If there aren’t many shallow areas, then zigs fished high in the water might be an option, but this will have to be done in a none snaggy area of the lake. To counter the snags I’d fish a braided main line, this will increase bite indication and allow me to get control of the fish sooner after the pick up as well as increasing abrasive resistance to minimise cut offs. Although if the tree trunks are a major issue, I’d use a thick mono leader, because braid will cut into the wood of the tree stump causing the line to snag, but a thick mono would more likely roll off it.”
“This sound like you’re going to have a very interesting spring campaign. I’ll start off with the low stock and big water side of things – with this in mind I would not be using much bait, in fact I would stick to single high attract hookbaits and worry about locating fish. Being spring they take a while to wake up, especially in deeper water so again this would be the ideal approach as the fish are not moving much and actively seeking beds of bait – you are initially just trying to spark some interest and snatch a bite. You also mention the snaggy element of the lake and with winter coming I would suggest visiting it as much as possible as this is the ideal time to get the marker\leading rod out and try to get a feel for the lake and pinpoint a few spots for a head start come spring. Another thing I would try to find out is the shallow spots, in particular larger areas such as bays as when the sun starts shinning the fish will be sure to visit these areas especially in mid to late spring.”