Nestling on the Essex/Suffolk border lays an eight-acre Estate Lake. Surrounded by farmland, and with no main roads, airports, or train lines nearby, this lake has a very special mood. Hugging the lake edge is a union of huge swaying willows and white-flowered hawthorn, encircling an abundance of flowering lilies, head-high bull rushes, and yellow flag iris. Then you have the resident muntjac deer, kingfishers, swooping owls, and an abundance of wildlife. Just to compound your mood, on windless nights, you can hear the sound of running water from the nearby weir.
It sounds perfect, yeah. It is an extraordinarily rare setting and with so many commercial lakes taking over, it should be respected, nurtured and embraced. With crashing Carp, fizzing and rolling Tench, your imagination goes up a notch with dreams of that special fish. They are there in numbers, but as with most lakes like this, they are not going to give themselves up easily. With channels, gravel bars, islands, reed beds, huge areas of lily pads and an abundance of pondweed, this place inspires the thoughtful angling. Those special old estate-lake commons and mirrors are a rare thing. You can watch them on a sunny day cruising, but catching one is another thing altogether. Stealth should be at the forefront of any anglers approach.
Sorry people, but pilling in 3 ton of boilies just ain’t gonna work here.
Instead, you should be thinking about their natural habitat and the highest quality bait. The fish in this lake live in a 5-star restaurant and chucking ‘McDonald’s’ at them is just not the way to go. Hemp and high quality FRESH particle is a good starting place. If you cook it yourself, it is relatively cheap by comparison and therefore pre-baiting selected areas is a good starting point. Then sit back and watch the fish to see how they react. Slowly introduce your chosen hook-bait. Corn, maize, bread, and worms all work well. Alongside these, high quality bolies and pellets will score well, but pick carefully as those soaked in artificial preservatives, synthetic flavours, and fake colours are more likely to deter the fish.
For me, SSP System X has been a revelation in bait development and technology. With the use of pre-biotics and Medi-GrowthTM, zero preservatives, and the highest quality ingredients give this bait and unique individuality like no other. Those who know me, are aware of how particular I am about bait, and for me, this is the best bait by a long way. SSP is a human food nutritionist company with an impeccable pedigree, selling mainstream sports bars in 32 countries around the world. This is not an accident. It has happened because of their extremely high standards and quality products. Their exceptional business model and elevated industry ethos has been applied to performance bait for the European and UK market place. In just six short months, System-X has become the ‘go-to’ for the thinking angler, producing scores of quality fish. Already it has accounted for an array of special Carp, Tench, Bream, Chub, Barbel, along with some exceptional Rudd and Roach.
It was April when I started fishing seriously. My approach was to feed a combination of System-X pellets in various sizes in silt and gravel, crushed and halved boilies, in both colours and the silt ground bait to bind it a little. I added to this a small amount of freshly cooked hemp, flaked maize, corn and powdered molasses. On one rod, I was going to use one 12mm gravel, critically balanced hook bait and on the other two 12mm baits. I decided on small hooks (10s – 9s Drennan Barbel hooks) tied to 10lb Suffix stiff silt braided hook-length with the last inch stripped back. Previously, I found the fish to be hook and line shy, so a delicate approach seemed a reasonable conclusion. I had picked a swim where I had seen several good fish over the last couple of weeks and decided to focus the next couple of months in this area. I started my first serious campaign by baiting a kilo of my mix. Two hours in and I was slipping the net under a 6lb male Tench, soon followed by a female of a similar size. That was it for the next 20 hours, and I came away suspecting I was close but perhaps hadn’t fed enough at the start. Maybe I was lazy or hadn’t really thought it through but had decided on a small amount of feed because the air temperature was barely getting into double figures and there was still the odd frost at night. During the week, I decided that irrespective of the weather, to feed around 2 kilos at the start. Again, I had two Tench early on and other than a few beeps on my alarms, nothing for the following 20 hours. The main result for me was catching 4 Tench on bolies having previously only had the odd Tench and no Carp at all on a boilie.
I wracked my brains all week and decided to fill it in at the start of the next session. I was convinced that the abundant small Rudd, along with the Tench, had cleaned my baited area on previous trips. The Rudd shoals are a nuisance, but the Tench are worth targeting. The lake has a history of notable fish. Besides, I am a firm believer in getting the Tench feeding in your swim, and the Carp will follow.
I’d decided on 48-hours for this session. I was armed with a kilo of crushed/flaked/halved boilies, 2 kilos of silt coloured pellet in various sizes, all SSP. I added to this, 4 pints of freshly cooked hemp, a pint of flaked maize, again freshly cooked, a sprinkling of sweetcorn, and a kilo of SSP silt ground bait, plus a little powdered molasses, In it all went in a 7 foot channel close to a big bed of pads around 40 yards out.
Moments later, after an epic struggle, I slid the net under an amazing ‘Old English’ Common. Tipping the scales at 29lb 2oz, I have had bigger fish, but for me this was my personal best fish, a real common. To compound my emotions further, she was fully skirted, having never been hooked before. Five more good Tench followed and I can’t wait for my next session with SSP.
Thank you Mark Hoye and Kevin Stack at SSP Baits. I have no doubt that your bait helped massively with the capture of this fish.