Lakes on form in the west – but river banks are deserted

Chub to 4lb have been caught at Shepherd's Lake.

Chub to 4lb have been caught at Shepherd's Lake. - Credit: Archant

While the rivers have been all but deserted, apart from predator anglers, the lakes are still on form.

Carp to nearly 20lb have been showing in multiple catches on the feeder at Springside.

Water levels are high on there right now, so take care on the platforms – there's 12 feet of water under your rod tip in most swims.

It's been rub-a-dub-dub up the road on Shepherd's Lake, where chub to 4lb have been the dominant feeders. With no other predators to speak of to compete with, I wonder how big they'll go in there.

Next door Bear Lake has been producing a few carp, but it can be hit and miss this time of year in such shallow water.

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As observed, you see few people apart from predator anglers on the rivers and drains these days. But the fish are still there to be caught. It was around this time last season that there were some huge bream nets on the Relief Channel near Downham, after someone successfully tracked down the big shoal of slabs which rarely bumps into an angler.

Rarely because so much of this drain is hardly fished now your average bream or roach probably stands a reasonable chance of living out its life without ever seeing a size 16 spade end.

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A few seasons back, the bream were near St Germans Bridge at the start of the season. For some reason, bream in the 'channel seem to travel up and down the drain in one mega shoal.

Back in the 60s, when it was a popular match venue, bailiffs observed a similar phenomenon. This made it very 'peggy.

So they introduced 97 zander fingerlings, believing those that survived would harass the bream, dividing them into smaller shoals which would make the fishing more consistent along the entire drain. This, of course, didn't quite happen. But the zander didn't do too badly out of it, spreading throughout the Fens and even further afield – probably with the odd helping hand from anglers.

They seem to be making a bit of a comeback on the Relief Channel after a few seasons when catching one became a bit of a rarity.

With only a fortnight left, many will be looking forward to spring and early summer on the lakes after last year's cracking start. We'll hopefully see a few more youngsters on the banks too, now the Environment Agency has abolished charges for the junior rod licence.

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