The Lake of Dreams

Truly a Lake of Dreams
Truly a Lake of Dreams


My name is Juan Coetzee and I’m based in the UK (United Kingdom). I am 27 years old and I have been carp fishing just over 4 years, so I am relatively new to the sport. There is so much to learn in this game and I look forward to continuing my carping education and sharing my experiences with you all.

This year I have had the opportunity to start fishing on one of the most historic venues in England. Situated in Nene Valley it really is  a hidden gem. The lakes stock is what drew me to the venue and excited me with the fish being extremely old, dating back to the days when Duncan Kay owned it. After Duncan Kay sold it,  another very influential person in the European carp fishing world Kevin Maddocks purchased the lake. There are still a fair few of the original fish present in the lake, which makes it even more of a challenge. With the new owners, Nigel and Jane Roberts the future of the lake is looking very healthy indeed, with new stock of fish coming through all the time, from VS  Fisheries and Iheart carp.


I received my membership to fish the lake in January and was excited to get started on the challenge as soon as possible. Not knowing where the fish usually get caught from I set about to get some sort of plan in my head of how to approach the lake and fool the old residents. The first few months were during the winter and the carping season hadn’t really started yet, therefore my aim was to learn as much about the features of the lake as possible. With only 11 individual swims around the lake I set out to marker and  pre-bait five swims to make it a more manageable task. We had a really cold start to the year, with a lot of snow and the lake freezing constantly which meant my campaign to get bait into the lake before I fished really suffered. Added to a 200 mile round trip to the lake there was limited time to get prepared for the season in front of me.

Early March saw a break in the weather, with the lakes thawing out and the fish starting to move. I set my plans into action. The swim choices were the easiest part of the equation but the feature finding and seeing what the lake bed was like , well that was much more of a challenge! With more Canadian pond weed than I expected I began to realize what I had let myself in for when accepting a ticket; finding a place to present a rig was going to be tricky!

One of the swims I really took a liking to was a swim called the reedy bay, a nice open front area with a half acre bay to the left and a  long reed line in the front. To the right was open water with a  nice blood worm bed at 20 yards range in 8 ft of water.

Rods spread around the area for maximum coverage
Rods spread around the area for maximum coverage

I began focusing a lot of time and effort  into this swim and the swim next door as I had a lot of confidence in the area, knowing that the fish couldn’t be that far away.

With the first night underway in this swim and the temperatures still being 6 degrees (Celcius) my chances were looking  limited. At 3 am I had a steady take on my middle rod  and as soon as I lifted into the fish I knew it was a decent sized carp that was attached. Fifteen minutes into the fight the fish spat the hook at the net!! Devastated, I decided  that leaving the rod out for the night was the best option for me as I was fishing up-close to the reeds, not the easiest of casts in daylight. The next 72 hours came and went with not a single bleep. I had missed my only opportunity of catching something special.

The next four weeks I spent a lot of time down the lake pre-baiting swims and getting ready for my next session which coincided with a pals birthday. Knowing that the fish were clearing the pre-baited spots I was itching to get back down to the lake.  The end of April could not come quick enough.


When I finally managed to get back to the lake at the end of April the conditions were perfect for one of the swims I had been pre-baiting the week before. I didn’t need any more encouragement to get into the swim and already knowing the exact distances of where I had been putting bait was going to make things easier. With 48 hours fishing  in front of me I wanted everything to be perfect, marking my lines out it only needed a couple of casts on each rod to be on the spots.

The Waiting Game
The Waiting Game

The day and night passed without any signs of fish. My initial rod positioning on the spots had spooked them. Contemplating a move I reeled my rods in and went for a walk around the lake to see if  I can find where they had moved to. Three hours of walking and climbing trees  I was  none the wiser. I could not find any signs of  life  anywhere. I returned to my swim and changed my rig presentations to stiff hinge rigs, baited with seafruit cork balls.

Bait of choice
Bait of choice

With the daylight hours passing it didn’t look too good for a bite as only three fish had been out the lake so far this season. Just as daylight was dropping I had a couple of bleeps on my middle rod with the bobbin dropping a couple of centimeter’s. My initial thought was that the water fowl (Coots) had picked my rig up. Watching for any signs of the coots my bobbin tightened with the alarms screaming. I lifted into the rod and could tell it was a fish; the lead came off on the initial take with the fish rolling on the surface and after twenty minutes of tug and war with my best pal by my side, he managed to slip the net under a pristine conditioned scaly mirror carp. Over the moon with a fish in the net and four months of hard work paying off I couldn’t believe I had my first Ringstead carp in the net.

I wanted to know which fish I had caught as it looked like a low to mid 30lber. When the needle on the scales settled at 35 lb 15 oz  it was a new U.K. personal best, a fish called 3&6.

Old Warrior
Old Warrior


Months went by after my last capture from the lake and with five lost fish under my belt due to weed beds and hook pulls I had to make some drastic changes. Leaving the bait and terminal tackle company was the first step and I managed to get on as a tester  with Mainline baits and P.B. products, both extremely good and proven companies.

I started working away from home which gave me the opportunity to spend more time down the lake and get a new campaign going with the new bait… the lake is a 70 mile round trip  from the site.. Finishing everyday at 4:30pm it was a race to get to the lake and get learning all over again. My rig set up changed and I opted for a blow back rig set up with Jelly Wire and a size 6 Jungle hook , 2ft silk-ray leaders and dumper lead clips. The Cell was my bait of choice as it’s got a good track record. The weeks of over nighters came and went and I lost track of how many nights I had done in between work.. 20…30…40? I began thinking, “when will it all pay off?” Finding the fish wasn’t the problem, it was catching them that was the challenge. I simply didn’t have enough hours to keep my rigs in the water to tempt one of these special fish.

On one of my Thursday sessions I got to the lake just before 6 pm and after having a walk around the lake I found a few fish away from the normal swims that I had been fishing. Watching them from the trees I knew they were in the area for a reason as it’s a weedier part to the lake. They were obviously looking for food. I managed to sneak the rods in not so far out on a couple of clear spots with a good amount of bait going in for them to keep them occupied. In short time they were going mad over it with nine or ten shows after only a couple of hours of the rods going in.

Rods in place at sunset
Rods in place at sunset

At 4:30 am my left hand rod went into melt down. As soon as I got to the rod I knew it was a decent fish as it felt heavy from the start and took line at every chance I gave it. Usually I would have had my waders on ready for any action, but settled for my trusty crocks this time; foolish mistake! Within ten minutes the fish had kited to left hand of the swim into a big bay area, giving me no option but to follow it, up to my waste in water with only a pair of cotton bottoms on to keep me warm. The fish swam straight into the reeds trying to spit the hook and my heart sank once the line went tight and I couldn’t  feel the fish on the end. With no choice I decided to go in after her as she well and truly snagged up in the reeds. With no waders on I walked up the reed line with water up to my chest keeping a suitable amount of pressure on the line. Twenty yards down the reed line I managed to get to the fish sitting waiting for me to come and net her. While parting the reeds I slipped my landing net underneath her and finally my second fish went into the net.

I got the assistance from another Syndicate member and we soon had her photographed and weighed. I couldn’t believe it, I had broken my personal best mirror carp again, 37 lb on the dot and one of the oldest residents in the lake at an estimated fifty years old. It was an old warrior of a fish called snub-nose.

Snub Nose - A proper character fish
Snub Nose – A proper character fish


Something special

After having  snub-nose I knew I couldn’t get back down to the lake for another couple of weeks. Work had been overly busy and I needed to be close to the site, therefore my over night sessions took the punishment. Booking the Friday off work for my pal Ryan’s birthday I had everything set for a three day session  at the weekend.

I managed to wake up late on the Friday morning , which I was very annoyed with myself for. Ryan was waiting for me sixty miles away and we arrived at the lake at lunch time. All we could think about was getting the rods in and starting to celebrate Ryan’s birthday.

I went into the reedy bay again where a few fish were on the surface and Ryan went into the swim on my right. After getting set up the night passed without action. The fish were very active out in front of the swims and at the crack of dawn I got out of bed to sit and watch the lake to see if I could see any signs of flies on the surface, thinking that the fish were feeding on the naturals as it was warm. With the night time temperatures being 14 degrees I thought it could be the case and I started noticing a few fish on the other side of the lake opposite from me being very active. I decided to reel the rods in and go for a chat with Ryan next door and have a walk about. There were something the fish liked in that area and I wanted to discover what it was. On the way around to the other side I had a brief word with the owner of the lake and he told me that he had opened the water inlet from the river. I had to cut him short and rush back to my swim to grab a bucket to secure the peg, just in case I made the decision to move. Once I got into the swim the inlet was letting in a lot of fresh water from the river behind and with no hesitation my decision was made, I was moving. I counted fourteen fish out of the forty five fish stock in front of the swim, including a lot of high 30 lb fish. It took me a couple of hours to move swims and have everything ready to position the rigs but I knew in this swim with the inlet coming in a heavy baiting option was the way to go. With the amount of fish I had in front  of me 8 kg of chopped and whole boilies went onto one spot for 2 rods with a further 3 kg of response pellets. The spot was clear and perfect for a bottom bait rig and after a couple of casts the rigs were in position and the waiting game had begun. Watching the fish move over the baited area and not feeding had me questioning my tactics.


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