I’d arranged to meet Rob at Headlands for around midday, one of our favourite places for a social, although it had been far too long since our last one, so this was long overdue. Headlands Farm boasts two lakes, both of which are stunning and hold some incredible fish. Run as a day ticket water it’ll cost you £10 for a day session, £15 for a 24 hour trip and £25 for 48 hours, very reasonable going by a lot of other water’s prices. In the summer it’s where I usually point my bonnet when a prolific day is needed, yet even through the colder months you can enjoy a serious day’s sport if you can find the fish.
The top lake is said to be the specimen one of the two, with the bottom lake being more of a pleasure type affair. The Top holds slightly bigger carp but less of them, and also pike to 20lbs. The bottom lake and my favourite of the two is home to some beautiful carp, really scaly delights with some of them topping mid doubles. No pike live in this one, but perch, and some very big ones to with at least one 4lber coming out that I’m aware of. It is oddly shaped but with its many bays, islands and deep margins it’s a wonderful lake to stalk on a summer’s day.
I arrived early and slow walk around the lakes revealed nothing; the fishing had been slow for those who were angling with just a few fish to one chap at the far end where the strong breeze was heading. This was duly noted and came in handy when selecting an area for us to set up camp. A central area on the bottom pond was where we usually set up, and although there are unsightly and slightly annoying power cables overhead, the swim is plenty big enough for two to fish and commands a great deal of water including a big bay and access to the 3 islands.
I swiftly staked the claim but dumping my gear, put my brolly up, opened my bed-chair up and thought for a minute about climbing in and getting some sleep. It was now 11am and Rob was still an hour away. Instead of sleeping I set up the rods and before making any casts had one more walk around the lake, just to be sure. When I got back to the pitch I looked out over the bay and sotted a carp roll right in the very corner, it was only a very slight sighting, but it was all I’d seen thus cementing my swim choice as a good one. The wind was pushing into this bay quite heavily; I just knew there would be a few carp in there.
With my rods set up and ready to fish I made a start, opting to fish 2 marks within the margins of the bay, one into the far corner and one half way along the right hand side. This involved walking the rods round to the spots, lowering them onto the gravelly shelf and depositing a handful of bait over the top, then with an open bail arm walking them back and tightening up. This avoided noise, meant I was fishing accurately and with a bank stick pushed into the ground next to either spot I could do so all through the night. It’s a tactic I’ve used at Headlands to great effect in the past. End tackle was simple, a lead clip arrangement with a small dumbbell tipped with fake corn. My take anywhere rig.
An hour passed without any action but it was gorgeous sitting outside with the sun beating down on me. Rob arrived shortly after midday, I watched him unload his car, load his barrow and push enough kit for a week or more towards me. I filled him in on what I’d seen since being there, he was pleased we’d secured out usual pitch and immediately began to unload his barrow and set up his section of camp.
Whilst Rob was putting his bivvy up my right hand rod sprang into action, line poured from the reel and about time too. I ran over and struck into what was obviously a carp which followed the bay along the margin, out into open water and towards the island. With 12lb line and Carpathia it should have been fairly plain sailing, but my kit was tested to its limit. That’s the thing I noticed about these Headlands carp, such strong fish, powerful, and with a never give up attitude. Even on the mat they flip and slap, making photos quite tricky.
The fish came straight to the surface from the off, they tend to do that at headlands during the day, yet although it was starting now to come towards me, it was wallowing, nodding this way and that and felt like a decent fish. A few yards off and with Rob at the ready with the net he looked out and spotted the big scales. The main appeal of these Headlands fish are their looks, I’d go as far as to say that almost half of the carp in the lake are scaly wonders, practically all mirrors, many of them linears, some with dark backs and some with a ghost like appearance.
Under the rod tip she dug deep, the line cutting round and round in circular motions and all the time we just wanted to get a closer look at her. Finally she bobbed up and Rob scooped her up first time. A lovely long fish with big apple slice scales, and definitely a double figure fish. It was a superb start. On the mat she did what they all do, flip and flop and try everything to avoid me picking her up. With some gentle coaxing she finally succumbed and I managed to get a few shots. She looked delightful in the sunshine. Warmth, carp and good friends, what more could you ask for?
That fish signalled the beginning of a hectic afternoon. I could go into detailed accounts of yet more epic battles with gorgeous scaly carp but I fear that might get somewhat tedious for the reader. I never counted them, never weighed any either, but it was an afternoon to remember with the bay producing many incredible carp. Between fish we drank tea, ate toasties and caught up on what had been a very long time without angling together. Rob got in on the actions with a couple of fish too, but it was the night shift he was to enjoy the most.
Having done the previous night on a local water and being kept awake with bream all night, I was seriously in need of some rest, especially after the hauling of hard fighting carp all afternoon. Just on dark I wound the rods in and allowed Rob to put one of his into the bay. It didn’t take long for him to start catching and throughout a fairly peaceful night’s sleep I kept seeing his headlamp wander past as yet another fish was hooked, played and the rig walked back out.
After a hectic night for Rob it was time for me to reclaim my spot, but not until tea and toasties were consumed. The morning was slow, much the same as the day previous, but it didn’t matter, we’d had our fill already and it enabled us to enjoy a slow pack down. It was a great session and one of my favourite venues, it really doesn’t get too busy and with two substantial ponds there’s always space for you to pitch up for the day. I’d suggest you give it a go if you’ve never been, the facilities are great, the surroundings wonderful and the carp are absolute pearlers.