Taking on Stanton – Chapter 6: The Final Charge
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:
I didn’t fish much in the summer, only visiting a handful of times without success. I did attend the social BBQ which is held every year, making a terrible swim choice in the sweltering conditions and proceeded to watch some very capable anglers reap the rewards in the shallower water swims.
Autumn was again a bit of a washout, I managed two further fish for a decent number of nights, but it just never seemed to come together. They had been clumped at the end of August and I started again in September. I had a fish called little Earl from the drain during my first weekend and then a small stocky on the point at the start of September from the treeline (this was a repeat). I then turned my attention to the drain spot, as I had not had either of the two really rare ones from there yet.
Two weeks later, I made a glaring error. Having done a night on the baited area, I moved to the walk out at the far end where the fish were putting on a real show. The following morning they had left and were fizzing all over my baited area again, but now another angler was in the swim and I could not move back, frustrating to say the least.
The next week I couldn’t get there until late on the Friday and missed out on the Drain yet again, they were going mad in the zone and I saw one very big fish over the spot. The angler in the swim was fishing short and said I could fish the area from the point, which was kind, and I did so. We’re talking about a cast of 120 yards after I had pinpointed the spot from the new angle, but by the time I had gotten rods out, the fish had left and did not return.
On the last weekend of my time I managed to get back into the Drain, I sat it out for the weekend intent on not moving off the spot this time. I was rewarded with a loss on the Sunday for my efforts and with that the year fizzled out.
I did a little more time through the winter this year, getting a weekend in each month, but to no avail. There was almost nothing caught off the bottom during the winter but Zigs were starting to catch a few fish. I was also spending time in Chichester and on the new large pit in Reading as I had gone through a large proportion of the stock in Oxford. I felt the lake would not really peak for a year or two more, 3 scale had done 39.12 to my mate Carl in September and it was only a matter of time until the lake held a 40 pounder again, if not a couple.
My favourite season arrives
Spring rolled around and I was buzzing. I had a week’s angling planned after my birthday from the 20th of March and spent a couple of nights on the point, losing a fish on a single PB pop up on Friday afternoon before Boris plunged us in to lockdown on the Monday and all thoughts of angling were set aside for a tortuous few months. When I did get back out it was in Reading, not venturing to Oxford until later when the booking system had been dispensed with into June.
I had done an eight-night session in Reading, one of the hardest I had ever done for several reasons; I decided to go to Oxford for the last two nights for a relaxing weekend before heading home. I arrived early and there were a few lads on, I dropped into the style. The areas had changed from the last summer session I had done in there. I did manage to find a nice raised gravel area at range (cheers Andy A!), with the other rod positioned on top of the main bar over the silk week. Baits were a mix of 5 Alive and PB popups over MC nut, pellet, hemp and Coke Tigers.
I was exhausted and crashed out really early that night, the next morning all was quiet and nothing had been landed despite the fish regularly being seen. I left the rods as 11:00 had been a good time for me in the past here, at 11:30 the long rod dropped back and a fish was hooked, after a short fight I landed a nice old Common, not huge but a lovely fish and I was pleased to have had an original.
Not all small commons are created equal
That night I rebaited and moved a second rod onto the long spot, sometime in the middle of the night I had a slow steady take on the middle rod. I picked it up and was flat rodded as the fish took untold line. I recall thinking it was going to reach the island (Stanton doesn’t have one) as I thought I was still in Reading. Eventually waking up it dawned on me it had to be one of the big catfish the lake holds, playing it accordingly, I managed to gain some control and 20 minutes later it was circling under the tip, with a serious effort I lifted it in to the waiting net. She weighed just shy of 48lbs, Jack did the honours in the middle of the night with some great shots (thanks mate) and we slipped her back.
The next day we decided it was Boris, the largest cat in the lake. I didn’t re-cast as the take had been late the day before, instead repositioning the rod at first light. An hour later the same one was away with another steady take against a tight clutch, as I picked up the rod it lurched downward as the fish powered through weed beds before grinding to a halt. I was convinced It was another cat but the boat was called for as I couldn’t free the fish no matter what I tried. Once above it, the fish came free and I was back in contact. She came in relatively easily with a little weed over its face and soon I was staring at the same awesome bronze common I had landed on the 1st of June the previous year – which also came on the last day of my annual 10 night session, crazy really.
If I only catch one cat from the lake I suppose the largest is not a bad way to do it!
This brings us almost up to date. I did carry on for a couple more weekends but the angling was poor with few fish being caught despite them being seen. The ones that were caught showed signs of an infection and it was clear all was not quite right. With this in mind, I decided it was best to leave it alone for a while and in the interim, the fish have been improving steadily and hopefully next year they will be back to their top form. It’s a special lake and I don’t doubt you’ll be hearing a lot more about its residents in the years to come!