The lure of Littledale Hall Fishery began for me in 2006 when, as a late entrant to the sport, I landed my first 5lb Mirror Carp on a warm August morning. I caught the magnificent beast on a small worm fished over a bed of trout pellets and still have a picture to remind me of the historic day. I have visited the fishery many times since then and in return it has provided me six of my personal best fish.

(Crucian Carp 3-2 (28.10.07),
Perch 2-13 (23.02.07),
Roach 1-3 (09.10.07),
Rudd 0-13 (18.06.07),
Common Carp 18-10 (28.10.07) and Grass Carp 9-15 (13.10.07).)

Littledale Pool is also the venue which gave me the best fishing session I have ever had on 13.09.07 when I landed 92.9lbs of fish in just over six hours.
(6 Common Carp of 18-8, 10-1, 9-13, 7-1, 4-15 and 4-13. 5
Mirror carp of 9-13, 8-3, 7-13, 7-6 and 2-15. 3
Roach of 0-8. 1 Perch of 0-2.)

A slight improvement in January temperatures saw me dusting off my tackle and getting ready for a few hours at the water’s edge on Thursday 22nd January 2009. I could well remember catching an 11-8 Mirror Carp at Littledale a year before on a similar January day and I was keen to try my luck again.

I bought my ticket and maggots from Howard at the Thornton Road shop in Morecambe and arrived at the lake by 10.30am. As no other cars occupied the car park, I knew that I would have the lake to myself, apart from pheasants, moorhens and friendly robins that have trained me to feed them on demand.

I was fishing by 10.50am, with one rod ledgering for carp with a fish-based boilie and the other going for silver fish with light tackle and a waggler.

I knew from experience that Littledale fish were normally more activity after lunch, although, as angling is not an exact science, it is impossible to be precise.

I’d scarcely been fishing five minutes when Ian, the warden, came striding along the bank to pass the time of day. I had got to know him quite well, and as a fellow angler he had given me lots of valuable information about the pool.

He told me that I was the first to fish the lake in 2009, and that the pool was only just warming after being frozen solid for two weeks. Nevertheless, I was determined to give it my best shot even though my thermometer said the water temperature was a chilly 4.4 C.

The sky was bright and although rain was not forecast, I quickly pegged down the flaps of my umbrella to prevent the sharp wind from penetrating my waterproofs.

During the colder months bites are clearly less common and more cautious than normal and for about an hour I tried single and double maggots of various colours, different pellets, luncheon meat, prawn and sweet corn. I fed the peg with trout pellets and the odd catapult of maggots, being careful to avoid over loading the swim. Having spoiled my chances several times in the past, I was painfully aware of the maxim ‘don’t put too much in as you can’t take it out.’

Although bites where difficult to see through the surface ripple, I could tell that my waggler was waggling and that fish were in my swim. Bites appeared stronger with corn than other baits so I decided to stick with it and see what happened.

At 11.55am my float disappeared and I felt the weight of my first fish of 2009 wriggling at the end of my line. I carefully wound in the bream and wasted no time getting it on to my unhooking mat. It was a solid and well proportioned specimen of 1-12 which showed no sign of the harsh winter conditions it had recently experienced. The fish was well hooked and had taken the grain of sweet corn fully in to its mouth. Spurred on by success, I attached a new piece of sweet corn and placed my bait in the same spot as before.

Nothing happened for about ten minutes so I revert back to rotating maggot and corn in the hope that this would stimulate a feeding response. The fact that I did notice a few ‘bobs’ with white maggot made me wonder whether visibility was an issue, given that I was fishing on the bottom where the water was murky. A half piece of corn was taken eagerly at 12.28pm by a 1-15 bream which put a fine bend in my rod inspite of the cold conditions. Within two minutes the fish was back in the water and so was my waggler with a fresh piece of corn attached.

I was just about to note down the catch when bleeps from my Delkim bite alarm indicated that my boilie was creating some interest on the lake bed. I guessed that carp were moving about and, as a wise man once told me, ‘a moving fish is a feeding fish’.

I knew that on some occasions in the past my bait had been picked up and dropped before being taken properly and there was always a chance that this could happen again. I carefully jotted down the details of the ‘pick up’ in my diary and relaxed back in my chair.

Some twenty minutes later, the silence was interrupted again by a run of bleeps caused by a fish picking up my boilie. The sound soon stopped and I stared at the alarm in anticipation until the light went out.

Feeling hungry myself I reached for my flask of tomato soup and eagerly consumed its contents which had now cooled to a drinkable temperature. I always tend to gobble my food when fishing, as too often I have been caught out by fish which almost appear to take advantage of my distraction.

Within minutes a strong run made my Delkim sing again. Lifting the rod I could see from its bend that I had hooked a good fish. It tried the usual tricks of the trade, runs, rolls, jerks and twists but within minutes a fantastic 10-9 Common Carp lay recovering on my unhooking mat.

I now only take pictures of double figure, special or personal best fish as the memory in my aging computed is almost full and threatening to conk out at any time. This excellent fish qualified for the privilege on two counts not only being a double but also my first double of 2009.

It was fat and in fantastic condition given that it had probably not eaten much since its Christmas dinner and the superb state of its mouth suggested that it had not visited the bank regularly. I took its picture on my mat, returned it quickly and watched as it swam away to join its chums.

My catch records show that Littledale holds a large number of such fish and it to be a great privilege to catch one of these magnificent monsters.

The sound of Ian’s quad bike in the road told me that he was coming back to the pool for a second visit. True to the law of Mr. Sod, he arrived within minutes of my January double going back in the water.
‘I’ve just had a 10-9 Common,’ I said excitedly.
‘You could have taken our photograph if you’d been here a few minutes earlier.’
‘That’s fishing for you,’ he said with a grin. ‘People are never about when you need them.’

Whilst chatting about that and this, I rebaited my carp rod and put my bait back out as before. I did not expect to catch a second carp on such a wintry day but in fishing you never say never.

Having been ignored, the fish in my other swim had gone and try as I might, I could not rekindle their interest in my bait.

Ian walked off down the bank again and had almost disappeared, when my carp alarm screeched out continuously for the second time as a powerful fish made off with my boilie. Instinctively I lifted in to a smaller but faster carp which pulled line from my bait runner rapidly as it swam towards the opposite bank.
‘I’ve got another,’ I shouted to Ian who was out of sight, but still in ear shot.

He hurried back along the bank towards me to help with my catch and see if it was worthy of all the commotion.

I cautiously maneuvered the fish in to the net and Ian lifted it clear of the water and on to the mat.
‘Not as big as the last,’ I said, ‘but equally welcome. Perhaps you could take a snap of me with this one.’

I gave him my camera and held out the 7-2 Common so he could get a good picture.

Unfortunately the law of Mr. Sod swung in to action for the second time of the day, as the battery was flat.
On the bright side I had now caught 21.4lbs of fish and still had an hour or two to go. Inspite of the low temperature, I was certainly having a good day with a very respectable catch weight for my efforts.
I quickly put the fish back in the water and reset my carp rod.
I fed the other swim again with maggot to attract any fish in the vicinity and although I did get one or two weak bites on single white maggot, I got the clear impression that that my waggler had seen all of the action it was going to get for the day.
My carp alarm, however, told a different story and at 2.23pm I had a very short run, which stopped almost before it had started and all went quiet again. At 2.45pm precisely the same thing happened followed again by silence for an hour. Following the same principle as before I left the bait where it was in the hope that a proper bite would develop but sadly it did not.

The sky steadily darkened and by 3.45pm I was ready to call it a day. I packed up my float rod and other gear but left my carp rod out just in case.

My patience was rewarded at 3.55pm by yet another slow run which I attributed to a baby carp. Lifting the rod I could see that the fish was small but able to give a good account of itself. In failing light I was convinced that I had hooked my third carp of the day but as it swam over the rim of my net I realized that it was a stocky 3-8 bream instead.

The fish took my weight for the session to 24.9lbs, a wonderful wintry bag which perhaps explains why I like Littledale.

Alan Harvey.
23rd January 2009.