So, with the ticket confirmed I made my way to the meet Rob who was running the syndicate to obtain my membership pass!

The excitement was unbearable and all I could think about in my head was various fishing scenarios from what rigs & lead systems to use to what the lake bed and water would be like. So many things to mull over!

I decided to firstly visit the water with no tackle to assess the lake. Things like walking distance from the car park, swim access, swims and how many and what parts of the water they commanded, and of course to see if I could spot any of the lake’s prizes.

The lake I decided to start on was the smaller of the two in the park, some 20 acres in size and tear dropped in shape with one side engulfed in rhododendrons and the other side at some point was the same, but now completely exposed with grass sandy banks which you couldn’t fish from. The lake was 20ft at the dam wall side of the lake going down to 3-4ft at the bridge end. The Weed was thick in areas at the shallow end, gradually depleting as it worked its way towards the hidden dam wall end of the lake.
As it was a public park the rangers and arborist were concerned about making the waters look too much like a fishery and wanted to retain the natural look of the lakeside and had almost sculptured the swims into the thick rhododendrons plants that hid the lake from view. The swims in some spots were like being in a jungle which you could cocoon yourself back from the lake hidden away from sight.
From looking into the clear shallow margins the lake bed looked to be very soft sand and silt which is what I expected from an old tree lined estate lake. I managed to find a heavy stone which I pelted into the water’s edge to see how it would land on the bottom – as I imagined the stone plugged a little into the lake bottom which confirmed one of my queries of how I would set up my rigs going into my first session.

As I carried on around the lake poking my head into various swims I was expecting to see or even meet other members, especially being a Saturday afternoon in early March, but I didn’t, a blissful lake with not an angler in sight – Hmmm… I had this vision of a mass of dark green polyester bivvies lining up down the west bank of the lake. But no. Nothing. How nice was this.

With the eager anticipation to get the rods out on to my new chosen paradise the joy was short lived as something happened that no one was expecting. GLOBAL PANDEMIC & NATIONAL LOCKDOWN! Covid -19 was here.

Fishing and everything else in life came to complete halt in mid march….. Devastated. The wait began.

With all the madness going on it wasn’t until June that I finally stepped foot on the bank for a two night session. During lockdown I decided I would try and keep a diary of each trip so I could learn and figure out the lake as I progressed throughout the year. And so it began and the first day bankside came and went. WOW. What a place. Just me, a couple of other anglers, locked in at dark in 500 acres of royal park soaked in history.

As expected on my first trip I blanked my nuts off. My trustful Stellas & Pinky’s did not come to my rescue this time. Not a sound, not a show..nothing. 48hrs of silence. So the head scratching began.
Planning for my return trip I debated tactics of bait, rigs and spots. All the usual things you go over in your head again and again when you’ve had your pants pulled down.

With the battle plans laid out I planned on doing a two nighter. I heard a few fish had come out of swim 5 which finally speaking to the first member seen on the lake he told me that this swim has good form around may onwards upto around august.

Hearsay being that, I wanted to form my own views on the situation and lapped the lake to scope out the playing field. Having only seen fish showing in the out of bounds area up towards the dam wall end of the lake I was deciding to either fish swim 5 or 7 as they gave me the best vantage point should I decide to move onto showing fish.

After a long debate the decision was made to fish from swim 5. Rigs baited, leads clipped on and 3 rods went out at mid water just behind a weed bed in 8ft of water with a light scattering of the ever pungent ocean amino over the top of each spot. Traps set. Contented, I sat back, waited and soaked up the mild June evening hoping for those royal carp to pay me a visit.

Lloyd Chapman