Spring Dreaming – Jake Herford

So as we move into the phase of long, cold, dark nights and the kettle constantly on the boil you can’t help but reflect on your years fishing and results up to this point. Let’s face it, our results and what’s to come entering the following year is what keeps us going through the tough times we face during the winter and obviously, depending on where you choose to fish, that chance of a winter chunk!


Spring this year was very kind to me and I managed to rekindle my love of the sport once again after some 18 months completely out of the game. Over the last couple of years I’d done some travelling and generally living my life but always coming up with the same excuses not to get back into my fishing. The usual ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘it takes over everything else’ but really I guess my head just wasn’t in it at that particular time. Around the end of March I was out for drinks with some friends and one asked me ‘why don’t you go fishing anymore?’ I didn’t really know what to say and the question stuck in my head for a few days. So with that thought in mind a couple of days later I was loading my car and heading to the lake. The lake I talk of is a little water which I play a role running with my father, a small club in Essex that I’ve fished on off for around 9 years now. At the time I had six fish that I knew of that I hadn’t caught so I had some targets to aim for.


So my first overnighter began and I’d scrambled together some old bait I had left in the bottom of my freezer which didn’t look at all appealing but it’s all I had. I headed to an area of the lake that had produced really well for me a few springs previous. The swim controls a big snaggy out of bounds area of the lake with areas of shallow water that the fish begin to enter on the warmer days as they begin to wake up. This swim would become a big part of my success over the year to come. I used my time on the bank more than anything to look through my equipment and work out what I had remaining and what I needed. I just enjoyed my time out as it had been so long, it was no surprise that I blanked that night but I was just happy to have got out there. A trip to the tackle shop and a few quid worse off I was back down the pond, the lake hadn’t been fished much over winter and not much had been out so I didn’t have a lot to work with so I decided I would fish a few swims and work out a plan of action for the Spring.

I was now five blank sessions in and like most other Carp anglers get I was frustrated and couldn’t wait to get back and try and get amongst them. Bait was something I knew I was in need of and luckily for me my good friend Harry had contacted me about giving Tails Up a go which I was happy to go for. I decided to give the OCM a try as it suited the profile I favour when choosing bait. Armed with the OCM I was back and full of confidence, I’d decided I would focus as much time as I could in the first swim I mentioned known as the ‘barrels’ and start introducing some bait on the spots every time I left as I was seeing very little bait go in from other anglers. Again something I feel played a big part in my success and divided me from the other anglers.

First night out with the new bait and my first fish of the spring campaign found its way into my net. A double common but I was over the moon to have caught one and the bug was definitely back! A couple of nights later and another double was mine. My confidence was growing in the bait and the fact they were eating what I was introducing in the area every time I left the pond.


I’m lucky enough to occasionally get one day off work a week and this enables me to get down to the pond and do two or sometimes three night sessions so I knew these sessions would play a big role in my spring campaign and I would bait accordingly to these. With this in mind the spots were baited ready for my arrival in a couple of day’s time. The weather had started to warm and signs of life were really starting to show, so my confidence was growing every time I returned. I arrived on dawn and after 3 hours I had my first 20+ of the year on the bank with a night ahead of me, I was buzzing! Camp was set for the night and my confidence was sky high. I was up in the early hours battling a carp from the out of bounds area and not long after she was in the net, I could see she was a better one at 26lb 4oz and one I hadn’t caught known as ‘Prince’ looking absolutely immaculate in winter colours! I sacked her for some morning shots when Louis came down and he didn’t disappoint! I went on to land another low twenty and a double whilst we sat and had a brew! The bait was working and area was coming to life! The spots again were baited ready for my next visit.


I was now back in the zone and the bug was well and truly back, so my attention turned to focusing on landing my five remaining carp to catch from the pit. I knew the area I was fishing could produce all of my target fish. My main focus was to keep the bait going in and get in there as much as I could to prevent anybody moving in on my efforts. Another overnighter and another double later I knew it was a matter of time before one of the big girls made an appearance as hardly any had seen the bank yet. We were approaching the start of May and my worry was the bank holiday weekend was approaching and getting into the swim I’d worked so hard to get going. I managed a bit of luck and got the Friday off work so got in the swim Thursday night happy knowing it was mine for the weekend! The night was quiet but I was confident of a few bites over the course of the session. A pal dropped into the swim next door and we had a bit of a social but with the weather turning cold, down to -2 we was quickly tucked away in the bag. Around 3am I was into battle with a carp, with some persuasion she was in the net and another 25+ common was mine, this time one known as ‘patch’.


I slipped her in the sack and got the rod back out. I couldn’t have been back to sleep more than an hour before I was awoken by a real aggressive take on the same rod and lifted into what was clearly a very angry carp! I gave it all I could to keep it from getting in the snags I was fishing to and could hear the fish rolling on the surface after a couple more heart stopping tugs for freedom I had it moving out into open water to my relief. The fish then proceeded to chug up and down the margin for over 10 minutes before I finally got it up on the surface and under the light of my head torch I could see it was a big mirror that could only be one of two fish! I slipped the net under her and let out a sigh of relief thinking how on earth I managed to land that one! I looked in and it was ‘chestnut’ the most sought after fish in the lake! It was a recapture for me but I knew she could be bigger than ever, this was confirmed when she went 32lb 8oz her biggest weight yet and after 18 months of avoiding capture! I couldn’t believe it! I sat up in the cold watching the mist clear from the lake as the sun rose, brilliant memories!


Not everything went to plan after this but plenty of action continued, I’ll save that for next time!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the read.

Get after them.

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