We join Tom Maker during a blustery early season session on Willow Park Fishery as he is tasked with catching a few carp for the camera

We join Tom Maker during a blustery early season session on Willow Park Fishery as he is tasked with catching a few carp for the camera

With day-only restrictions still in place, I made my way to Willow Park Fishery to shoot a feature. Having only previously visited once before, it was a little daunting to try and get a few fish out for the camera. Thankfully the lake’s high stock and reasonably shallow depth bolstered my confidence somewhat and come the morning of the feature I was sure the carp would play ball.

I arrived on the gate and was only joined by one other angler, which was a massive bonus and something I am sure I will look back on with a smile on my face! Upon walking round, I couldn’t see any signs of fish, so I just went in a swim that looked good. Peg five was the one I went for, it covered a large area of water and gave me a view of 90% of the lake, so if the fish weren’t there, I could see them.

I soon found a nice, deep silt gully and positioned two rods on it with five Spombs of maggots over the top. I then set up my third rod with a 3ft Zig just to keep to one side, while I decided what to do next. That is part of the buzz for me, especially on new lakes, finding out what works and building up your captures.

While I was sat back waiting for the fish to hopefully turn up, my eyes wondered over to the birds. They were congregating in a very specific area and past knowledge has suggested that this could highlight where the carp are! Sure enough, as I watched the birds fiercely battling the wind, two carp showed in the waves! I whipped the right hander in and cast a bag of maggots into the zone.

Nothing materialised and so I decided to chuck the third rod over on the Zig, convinced there was something happening underneath the birds! Something didn’t quite feel right, so I decided to move the Zig a little further right not long after first casting it. I saw a subtle show as I did so and felt super confident.

Sure enough, that rod registered a classic drop back bite and I was into my first fish of the session soon after. Following a very spirited fight, I netted a cracking looking fully scaled mirror which was left to rest as I got busy! I whipped in the middle rod and attached a Zig, followed by the right hander on a recast. With the rods back in the zone, I got the fish out and it looked mega as the sun began to make an appearance.

With the sky clearing, it became apparent Zigs were going to be the order of the day. I got to work tying up a load of fresh ones with a few slight depth changes and different colours, not forgetting the all-important Peach & Pepper spray. Even though I had caught on black and yellow, I knew that red was a popular colour on there, so I tied a few up just in case. I dispatched a few rods in the area and sat back with a bag of lovely Haribo’s!

A couple of hours passed, and the birds had moved, I had a feeling the carp had too as I hadn’t had anymore indications. Keeping my eye on the birds paid off though, as I spotted a fish show with them, while they were over to the left of the swim. I quickly wound in the left-hander and dispatched it to the area. Feeling for a drop like normal, I felt a double drop – I had hit a fish on the way down, now if that wasn’t game on, I don’t know what is!

No sooner had the rod been laid onto the rest, it was away, just cementing how important location and tactics are. The guy to my right was so transfixed at looking on his phone, he’d failed to spot anything that I’d seen, yet he was on Zigs too. If you’re going to go angling for the day, go angling, don’t sit there scrolling your phone then go home wondering why you didn’t catch, as it’s pretty obvious!

After landing the scraper-twenty common, I checked the hook point once again and got it back into the area first time and would you believe it… it hit another carp on the re-cast! By this time, all the rods had been changed to red Zigs. They clearly favoured that colour on the day and although it may have seemed like I’d left it late to switch, it kept bringing the action my way right up to calling it a day at around 5pm with another two mirrors. The last one being a lovely heavily plated upper-double, a look which many would associate with Willow Park. We could’ve stayed longer, and no doubt the action would’ve continued but we’d got the feature in the bag. I’d worked hard to get those bites, and with no one else catching on the day too, I left with four carp to my name and a big grin. It may be hard work at times figuring out the winning methods, but I guarantee if you put the effort in and work the swim, you’ll catch them. I could’ve quite easily sat on the lake for the day with three rods on the spot, but knew it wasn’t going to get me the bites we needed. Chopping and changing brought the success my way, and by observing everything in front I left the lake a very happy chap.