Taking on Stanton – Chapter 3: Spring Arrives
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:
My spring started at the beginning of March, I had managed to get up to Stanton on Dec 23rd and lost a fish for my efforts. Well, I didn’t exactly lose it but rather struck a 9” drop back and when I made up the slack the fish had gone, but a bite in December is a result none the less. In fact, some special carp came out from other waters that week, I recall a friend landed three from Pingewood – the conditions everywhere really were perfect.
The first spring trip was a 24-hour trip to Oxford at the start of March, the weather was blustery with a strong south westerly wind pushing down to the bridal bank. I wanted to be fishing the deeper water in the middle area of the lake, this had been a fruitful area for other members the previous spring. Though with the wind gusting at 30+ MPH, making the range was impossible so I opted to move around to the far side and fish the back of it, still in my target zone. Overnight was quiet but I had a few liners through the morning period and saw a few show at range in the centre of the lake, they were certainly awake but not playing ball just yet. I packed up with nothing to show for my efforts.
As with every year, I visited Germany for my mother-in-law’s birthday (as well as mine) and Nowruz (Iranian New Year) to celebrate with my wife’s family. On the 20th I flew back, leaving my wife and son for a few weeks to stay on with family, giving me some proper angling time.
A Quiet Session?
Arriving in Oxford at around 07:30 on the Friday there was only one other angler looking around the lake. It had produced a few fish the weekend before whilst I had been in Germany (up to 34lb), so we were chomping at the bit to get started. We saw a fair few fish show in front of the bridal bank in the central area controlled by the Stile. Andy, who had arrived before me, plumped for it and I opted to fish the drain which is in the centre of the Meadow bank and fishes out to the same zone. On Friday the fish were slightly on Andy’s side and by mid-afternoon he had managed two and lost one. I was fishing 5-Alive Pear and Banana pop-ups on Ronnies, spread at 100 yards in the deep water behind the bar, which runs the length of the lake.
On Saturday the wind swung slightly and the fish came my way, we were only 30 yards apart but it made all the difference. At around 11:00, the middle rod produced a small stocky mirror, one which had been stocked at the start of March (I would meet a few more in the coming weeks). Two hours later and the same rod was away again, this time a better fish was responsible, holding its ground at range staying deep. It managed to weed me close in, but with a bit of patience I soon netted a lovely long common at just over 20lbs.
Early spring 20lb Common on a single Pear and Banana pop-up
On Sunday the fish pushed back to the Bridal path side and Andy had a third fish to close the weekend. We had seen a good number show and I had identified some interesting areas to explore further in the coming weeks, so overall I was very pleased with the weekend.
Keeping at it
The following week I was back out on the Friday, the lake was quiet with only a couple of us on Friday night. I fancied the Stile as the fish seemed to favour this side but after setting three singles in the middle zone, 24 hours passed without occurrence.On Saturday morning the weather changed from cloudy and overcast to warm and still. The fish hit the surface by 11, cruising with their humps glistening in the sun, I packed up and barrowed around to the Drain, fishing zigs at various ranges in their paths but to no avail. They seemed more interested in sun bathing than eating. I had to visit the shops that afternoon for gas and a few other bits, on the way I passed the main snags at the end of the meadow bank. There were several good fish in residence, so before leaving to the shops I moved the kit round to the ‘Point Swim’ which boasted prime access to the area – lesson learned from last spring!
On my return I set the traps for the night, one was fished tight to the snags at around 105 yards to a shallow margin, this rod was fished on an MC nut cork ball. The other two were spread out in open water towards the same zone I had fished from the Drain, each with a PB pop-up, as yellow had produced both bites last week.
The wind increased through the afternoon, blowing an easterly straight toward me, at about 2AM I was awoken by a 20lb stocky on the snag rod. After enjoying some self takes I slipped him back and re-positioned the rod, climbing back in to bed. Waking up again at around 4AM I was freezing, the wind had increased to 40mph and was bitterly cold! I immediately packed up; sure they would be backing off this new wind into the more sheltered centre of the lake.
Stocky on a freezing cold easterly
By 6AM I was making a bacon sandwich, watching the sun rise from the other side of the lake, just in time to see the first few shows in the teeth of the wind I had just moved off. Trying to ignore them was pointless as one after another launched out amongst the waves. My mistake was evident, I packed up again and moved back to brave the day in the Point until I had to leave around 3pm. The fish weren’t tight to the snags but showing about 10 yards off them and out in open water. I spread three rigs with PBs in the area and at around 2PM I was rewarded with another small stocky, not what I had come for but another two fish weekend was a good result and hard earned!