A cracking review from Ross Hunter, who recently spent a week at 5 acre Jonchery #7, a venue ideal for 1-3 anglers to share exclusively.
After getting to Jonchery #7 after 3.5 hours from Calais, I couldn’t wait to get my session started. I had fished the main lake in September this year, and just fell in love with the whole place. I mean not only does Mark Slade know the lakes like the back of his hand, the service is second to none, the food package is great and the welcome you get, along with being made to feel at home while there is brilliant.
Once we had walked around Jonchery 7 it was clear that the fish were stacked up in the shallow section of the lake, this looked great for me as in the coin toss, I had chosen to fish the left side of the lake. My reason for that decision had been the weather, which for this time of year was still warm and the wind that was blowing from left to right and was very cold, but the left side was sheltered from the wind and the fish were using that because it was so much warmer down that end.
I really thought that this was going to be a walk in the park, I mean let’s face it, we have all heard the saying “five minutes in the right place, is better than 24hrs in the wrong one”, so what could go wrong. I was on the fish, the water temperature was great, and the weather for this time of year was too, The carp really did put on a show throughout that first Wednesday night, it was easy to get the rigs on the spot and a few bollies out with the stick. Had total confidence in the rigs I was using as they have caught me fish from every water I have fished in the last 20 years. The first night was a blank, had fish jumping all over the spot’s, liners all night as the fish moved from left to right and again as they moved from right to left into the shallows in the early hours of the morning. It seemed that they moved out from the shallows at night and into deeper water, then back into the shallow water during the day, which is unusual, because they do tend to like the deeper water in the winter months.
As the day went on, it was becoming clear they didn’t seem interested, but just sitting there resting, and every now and then showing us both what we could be catching, by leaping from the lake and teasing us. So on went the waders and out into the lake I went. The middle rod in hand, I sneaked up to a point where I could cast to a spot I had seen quite a few shows from, as I cast and felt the lead down there was a firm thud as it hit the bottom, as Mark had said earlier I was now fishing on a nice 3ft wide clay spot in about 2ft of water with a home made pink pop up on, and balanced to sit just an inch of bottom. I did the same to my left hand rod and put it on another spot which was just of off the inflow pipe which comes from the mighty Lake Orient and was very close to the bank, with a Mad bait’s Wicked white wafter just hovering so that the hook was just touching bottom. The third and right hand rod was put straight out at around 100 yards on a little hard spot. It wasn’t easy as I am not the tallest person in the world, and the lake was at a height where it was just about at the top of my waders, so I had to be very careful while out in the water, but I just managed it.
The nights came in really fast, and before you knew it, it was pitch black as there is no light pollution, and the star’s are so bright and so clear to see. Thursday night was going quietly, until I just sat down to have my dinner, when all of a sudden my ATT burst into life with an absolute one toner. Finally I was into a fish, it felt good, nice bend in the rod and was putting up a really good fight. It’s hard to describe the excitement I feel every time I hear those alarms go and feel that first surge the fish gives you, and even more so when it’s on home made baits and for me that feeling has never changed in all the years I have been angling. After a short hard fight I had what looked like a Leather in the net, not massive but just as welcome all the same. I didn’t take more than few minutes to have it weighed and photo’d, as I had done all the sling, scales and cradle well before hand. Very nice mirror of 15lb’s on the bank and then safely returned. The amazing thing about this little mirror was it reminded me of the near exact same mirror I had from the main lake back in September, only difference really was the weight, as that one had been 37lb. Both had only a few scale’s in near enough the same place, it was uncanny.
Out into the lake I went again, pitch black but for my head torch. I must point out, don’t do this on your own, as anything can happen, and it’s better to be safer than sorry. If you are on your own wait until daylight to get that rod back out on the spot. I was lucky in that I had Mark with me on the bank and was able to get the rod back onto the same spot. That night passed without any more takes, It just seemed that no matter what we put in front of them they were able to ignore. Changing baits, and going through every home made and shop brought pop up and wafter I had but to no avail. I had started with 16mm bait’s and Ashima Tackle’s coated hook links of around four inches long with a fair sized PVA bag, but to get the carp interested and curious enough to take a bait I had to go down to 8mm baits with very small PVA bags and supple hook links.
06.00 Friday morning I bought the rods in and went down to the house with Mark as I had been asked if I would like to experience the French fish farming way of netting and sorting the stock ponds, I had agreed as it’s something I loved doing when I was at Hadlow doing my Fisheries Management. Spent all day netting and putting fish into various stock ponds and removing others that were being sold on, into the transport tanks. I really enjoyed it and would like the thank Paul and Mark for allowing me to join in and gain that experience. At the end of Friday the temperature really dropped and went from 8 degrees down to 2, the mist came down so heavy that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, and deep down I didn’t think I would have anything through the night, that feeling was proved right because by Saturday morning it had been a blank night on the carp front.
Late Saturday afternoon after playing around with rig length’s and flavoured bait’s I ended up with a fruity pop up that I have been playing about with alongside the Mad baits wicked white’s base mix and a pink dye and a few extras added. I was just about to cast when a mirror carp just launched it’s self clear out of the water and looked a really good fish, so I cast to it, landed within a foot of the fish at about 140 yards. I didn’t have to wait long before I got a very unusual take, the bobbing lifted, stopped and then dropped slightly before coming level with the ATT and stopping. It didn’t move so I hit it and I’m glad I did as there was a fish on, which then took about 30 yards of line and really put up a great scrap, about 15 minutes or so later, I had a lovely big mirror nestled in my net.
Now I have to say that I was trying out a new self take device as I usually use a remote which I hold in my fingers whilst holding the fish. While the fish was safe in the net, I got the camera and tripod sorted and plugged the new LCD timer remote shutter in. I got it from Ebay for £7 and have to say what a great buy that was. I put the settings on it to take a photo every 10 seconds and it works great, giving me time to get the fish settled and into position for the photo’s very well, no struggling with the remote in my hand any more that’s for sure, and the device works for most of the modern cameras on the market too, so after the mirror went 28lb on the scales, doing the self takes was so much easier, and I actually enjoyed it more, as it felt comfortable and didn’t feel like I had to rush to get that good shot.
As the day came to a close, again the temperature really dropped and the mist descended for a second time, with the lake going totally silent. At about 3am I was woken up by a loud noise which I think was a boar, can’t really be sure but just as I was returning to my lovely warm bed, the ATT screamed in to life, I turned and hit it, and for about tens minutes I was definitely into the biggest fish of the trip so far, every time I gained line it would rip line from the spool, and I would have to start again. Now earlier in the evening I had a few little bleeps, and I thought it might of been a musk rat having a go at the bait as it was close to the margins but nothing else happened until the take so I didn’t think much of it, until after about 10 minutes I lost the fish. When I retrieved the rig and looked at it the hook link had broken half way down the link and it looked like it had been chomped at the break. The musk rat must of had a pop at it but not got it, but done enough damage to the hook link, which left me totally gutted. With heavy heart after such a loss, a new rig was made up and cast out to the spot, hoping that another one would make a visit, however it wasn’t to be.
Sunday morning was really sunny and the temperature began to climb again. Most days I had tried a bit of stalking as the lake is very good for this with plenty of ambush areas along either side of the lake, with over hanging trees, two small shallow bays one on the bottom left with the inlet pipe and one on the opposite side of the first one. Hadn’t had any luck until Sunday when after about 20 minutes sneaking around I found some carp just under a huge over hanging tree. I only just managed to get the baited rig in place as it was in such an awkward place. I waited for what seemed like days, but was only 30 minutes before finally I got a take, the water absolutely erupted and the went everywhere as the depth was only about a foot of water. grabbed the rod and held on as best I could, but that fish knew exactly where it wanted to go and went straight into a snag I didn’t know was there and left me in the huge branch under the water. After some how managing to get my gear back I walked beaten back to the swim and put the rods back on the spots. A bit disheartened but determined to at least have one more before I left for home Monday. So as Sunday’s light was starting to fail the right hand rod ripped of, and this fish I think thought it was Arnie. Had me all over the lake and in the end, took out my over two rods before I could finally get him into the lake. This mirror was a really scaly one and at first glace both Mark and I thought it wouldn’t go much more than 18lb but when we weight it, we both were shocked when the scales hit 25lb. either way I was really happy and really wanted more so, once it had gone back, the rods put back out and I was really hopeful of another take. The weather had other ideas, and went down to -3 overnight and Monday morning came round all to quickly. Everything was frozen solid and it was a few hours before I could defrost everything enough to get packed away for the trip home.
I have to say that has been the hardest winter session I have ever had, I have never had to work so hard and change so many things just to ensure a take. The fish were so picky and the bites so finicky, that now sitting here writing this I have come to realise that I actually had more takes than I thought at the time, even though the fish I did have gave me really good takes. I have also come to the conclusion that you can never have enough pop ups, and wafter’s of every flavour because, if it wasn’t for the fact I had so many with me I could well have blanked in this winter session. It’s also been a very good learning curve because I never really fished with anything under 10mm but had to in this session and adjust the rigs to suit the method, and enable me to catch these fish which had become very tricky in these conditions. Mark Slade was very good at giving advice and again his knowledge of the lake helped me, bank those fish. He knows the lakes so well and is a joy to fish with. I know that some of you find it hard to listen to others when it comes to your fishing, because we all like to do it our way, or we have set ways of doing things, but out of this session, the best bit of advice I can give you is, listen to local knowledge and try the suggestion’s before turning them away and doing it your way, and above all, don’t be afraid to try and keep trying until something works. Learn to be adaptable and versatile in your approach and you will put those extra fish on the bank even in the hardest of conditions.
Mark and Anita run a stunning fishery and also provide a great food package at Jonchery for all tastes, along with great facilities in the anglers lodge, where you can charge phone’s and bait boats, keep your bait fresh in the freezer’s or even your food in the fridges, along clean toilet and shower rooms. If you are looking for a really well looked after and clean fishery then visit Jonchery as you certainly will not be sorry you did.