Taking on Stanton – Chapter 2: The First of the “A Team”

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In this article series I’ll be taking a look back at the legendary water that is Stanton. We’ll look at the highlights, the lowlights and everything in between. If you need a refresher on this incredible water, click the button below to take another look at the map with important swims highlighted:

View Map

I was still fishing in Reading a fair bit and didn’t get back to Oxford until August time, I hadn’t really been bitten by the venue, I’m not sure why, but I kept being drawn elsewhere. I had a walk around the lake on the Thursday before a meeting in Oxford, Korda were filming on the water at the time, so it was busy, but I saw some fizzing at range in the stile. I had fished this swim on my first visit and had spots in the zone (assuming they hadn’t changed) so it could be something to go on.

Twenty-four hours later, I was back for three nights. I was unwell with a stomach issue and remember thinking I should be close to the toilet, but as usual obsession outweighs common sense, so I headed straight to the stile as it was free.

Conditions were good, with a strong south-westerly wind pushing diagonally down the lake, similar to the conditions that I had the fish from the rats nest swim all those years before (which is only one swim to my left). This weather front had arrived after a long settled period of hot still weather, so the conditions really were perfect. I found a good area at range in the middle of the lake, a deep firm area surrounded by weed. The right rod was fished shorter on a raised grave feature and the left on a silty area between weed at 60 yards.

The Setup

Both the middle and right were on ronnies, fishing 5-Alive popups and the left was a long-shank fished that was being fished snowman style. I was using Oxford carp baits MC nut, which is what I had caught on the first trip, and is generally a good instant bait. Another new member set up in rats nest to my left and with a few others on it was fairly busy so a move was out of the question, I just had to hope I wasn’t too far off them.

I woke early the next morning, lying in bed I watched the middle rod lift and re-settle before pulling up again. I was on it fast and met a good resistance; it was a lively fight, forcing me to wade out to net it in front of the reeds to my left. Peering into the net I saw a beautiful scaley mirror in the high 20s. It was a fish called Patch and one I wanted, having seen it before I joined, a mega result! I re-positioned the rod and at 11 it was away again, this time with a 24lb common. This was a good sign and I decided to reposition the right hand rod on the long spot as the re-cast had probably delayed the second bite.

Arms Length – a fantastic capture

Around 17:00 I was rebaiting the rods, starting with the long spot, half way through retrieving the spomb the left rod was away with a stuttery take. Half thinking it was a nuisance fish, I tried to retrieve the spomb when the rod started ticking steadily… not a tench! I grabbed it and felt a good weight on the other end; this fish stayed low and begrudgingly allowed itself to be lead to the bank. As soon as it was in the net I staked it and tried to finish baiting, this was almost a costly mistake as the fish tried to leap out of the net and almost succeeded! Calling Jack from the next swim we hoisted it ashore, it turned out to be a fish called ‘3 scale’ coming in at 32lbs and ounces. One of the A team was on the bank in such a short space of time, I was buzzing.

3 Scale on the bank

During the night I had a small mirror on the same rod, it didn’t look a young fish and I tried to transfer it from the net to a retainer in the water, only to have it jump out of my hands and back to freedom. At around 05:00 the middle rod was away and amazingly it was 3 scale again, what are the chances of that happening?! I slipped her back without taking her from the water and opted not to re-cast in case there were more out there.

Shortly after this, the remaining rod went into melt down, it flat rodded me around 100 yards out, tearing line from a tight clutch. Eventually I managed to stop it but it had gone through several weed beds and I was not going to get it back. The boat was dispatched and once above it, I managed to free her quite easily. The wind was a real pain, pushing Pete and I down the lake quite a way before I eventually netted a good Ghosty common that looked close to 30lbs. On the scales she went 28.12, an awesome solid fish.


Final Morning Of The Session

This session was turning out to be a great one and I was buzzing for the final morning to see what else was in store. During that night the left rod produced a stocky, wiping out the other two rods. This was a disaster and repositioning them in the dark proved to be very difficult. I focussed on getting one-rod back on the money, this meant checking the line angle with a torch to ensure it was bang on. Once I was happy this was the case I crashed out. Not long after I woke up to the clutch on that rod singing at first light, I had forgotten to switch the alarm back on! This was another good fish, when she came up for the net I could see a flash of grey flanks and large scales. It was a fish called Arm’s length, another one I had seen before joining and a perfect way to end the session!

After ten fish in my first two trips of the year, I was keen to get back but in typical fashion, the Autumn didn’t go to plan. The following trip I blanked in the style and the fish were evident on the meadow bank in the last of the thick weed; the following trip they were still there and concentrated in numbers. I managed to lose one after casting at a show, it took whilst I was sinking the line and by the time I’d realised what was happening the fish had doubled back into the weed and was gone. I concentrated on the area for the rest of the Autumn period, landing a stocky from the back of the weed but overall it was a very slow period with few fish caught.

Autumn Stocky