Winter Gold - Craig Runham
  • Glorious winter gold.
  • Craig return his prize back to the icy cold water.
  • Fishing slack lines and fluorocarbon in the clear water.


Glorious winter gold.
It was Friday afternoon when I unlocked the padlock to my secret heaven. It was a dreary December day and the forecast did little to raise my enthusiasm with the coldest night of the year ahead of me. To be fair the reason for my negative outlook on the session was I was feeling out of touch with lake as I had spent a few weeks away from the waters edge. The lake in question hadn't actually done a fish for around eight weeks. I had a good friend Mike Patrick joining me so at least we could waste away the long winter darkness with a good catch up. The long winter nights can dampen even the most highest of spirits. 
I came armed with two choices of tactics, I had been to the local tackle shop and spent a small fortune on red maggots. The reason being on my previous trip I witnessed a fair around of fizzing in deep water over the blood worm beds. The red maggots was the closest I could get to mimicking thenatural food larder. The other tactic I came armed with was a couple of kilo of washed out mainline cell. These had been washing out since the Wednesday and I was full of confidence this could make a big difference as I found the fish seemed to leave boilies untouched for a few days before eating them in this lake. Recently it was a tactic I have done well employing. After three laps of the lake I had nothing at all to go on. The lake appeared dead with not a single sign to go on. There was a cold north easterly blowing across the lake so I decided to set up on the back of the wind fishing into the calmer  water. It wasn't long after a few casts with the marker I had located two likely looking spots. One was at the base of a gravel plateaux in around fourteen feet of water the other spot was in some thick silt in fifteen feet of water. I edged my bets they would still be in the deep water seeing as the temperatures the country had received of late. I fished two rods over around four pints of red maggots to start with the rig comprised of six red maggots on a size 12 match hook pulled into a piece of fake corn this sat just above the size six wide gape x hook. I fished this with a lead clip arrangement and a four ounce swivel tournament lead. The length of the rig was around 10 inches long made up of n trap silt.
On the other two rods I fished naked style Chod rigs with the use of the new Heli Safe system. I have been waiting a long time for the release of these Heli Safe systems and simply couldn't wait to try them out for myself.  I tied on a couple of Kodapops cork ball cell pop ups, one of which was white the other a dull pink.  I had huge confidence after the capture of a couple of very special fish recently on them. I was using the mouthtrap in twenty five pound with a size six choddy hook arrangement. The chods were short around a inch long of which is my favourite length for fishing over a silty bottom. Both chods were casted ten yards apart either side of the marker around sixty yards out. Both rods landed nice and soft on the silty area behind a gravel seam. I followed with around a kilo of the washed out cell and the traps were set just before dark.
It wasn't long after dark the temperatures began to plummet and by six pm the bivvies had a layer of ice on them. The thermometer read minus one already and it was still early evening. It's times like this I seriously question my own sanity. The sky was clear with stars aplenty there wasn't a breath of wind in the air and the lake seemed lifeless. A bite seemed out of question that's for sure. With the temperature still plummeting it wasn't long before Mike and I retired to our sleeping bags filled with a lack of expectancy. I awoke a few times through the night and peered out at the lifeless mirror like surface hoping to see a sign that something was moving around. Each time drifting back to sleep feeling hopeless. I awoke at first light and peered out at a white winter wonderland, the outside world covered in a layer of whiteness. I stayed in my sleeping bag watching the water till I got the courage up to get out of the comfort of my warm bag. I reached over filled the kettle up and fired the stove up for the second time of the morning. I walked along the crisp crunchy ground to mikes swim clutching a couple of brews and to see how the night had fared for himself. Not surprising  he also had a good nights sleep with nothing to report. The conditions were as worse as they could get by a long way. Once Mike decided it was time to get up we both walked back to my swim to put the kettle on again in an attempt to keep warm. It was around seven thirty am when my middle rods bobbin became unstuck from its frozen position on the ground rising by a couple of inches. I was quickly above the rods position when the bobbin lifted again and I watched the line cutting up through the clear margins. I picked up the icy blank swinging the rod up and was met with no resistance I tried winding down instantly but the line was frozen in the line clip on the rod. I was panicking as I was trying to free the line around the reel that had tangled due to the line being wedged in the frozen clip. After a few nerve racking seconds I freed the tangle and pulled the line from its frozen position under the clip. I wound down and was met with very little resistance. At first I was in a shock as I couldn't believe I was hooked into something given the conditions it seemed mad a bite had occurred. After leading back what felt like a tench thirty or so yards from the spot it woke up almost pulling the rod from my numb hands. The rod was pulled right over as the fish went on a twenty yard run back out into the deep water. I played the fish carefully as for some reason I doubted a good hook hold due to the nightmare I had during the take. Before long I lead back what was clearly a carp, through the icy crystal clear margins we could make out a golden common twisting in the depths. I could make out the washed out dull pink pop up hanging from its mouth and prayed the hook was in a good position. The lead had been dropped with the Heli Safe system, clearly doing its job.  I shouldn’t have worried about the hook hold as after a few heart stopping minutes the common was coughing water and I could clearly see the hook was buried in the bottom lip, with just the swivel exposed on the outskirts of its lip. As the fish rolled into the mesh a large grin came across my face as I knew how lucky I had been giving the weather. At just under twenty eight pound it was a great winter capture and such a rare winter capture for the lake too.
Bag a biggun
Craig Runham