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Tony Gibsons Top Tips For Fishing Mallard Lake.

Mallard is probably best known as the easiest of the main carp waters on the Bluebell complex, where carp ranging from low double figures to over 30lb are the main targets. With reasonably high stocking levels of some very nice looking carp, plus a few old originals swimming around, there’s plenty of carp to attract carp anglers of all abilities. Mallard is however the largest lake on the complex and the carp won’t always be ravenously hungry, so location will always play a big part in the success of a session and some careful thought about bait and tactics will help to produce a few runs when things are slow.

With good access pretty much all around the lake there’s nowhere really for the carp to hide and so there are always opportunities to spot a few fish when first arriving at the lake. As on most gravel pits, the Mallard carp love to investigate the margins, especially on the bank where the prevailing wind is pushing into, so this is always a good place to start looking. Even areas of very shallow water can attract the carp here and I’ve seen lots of fish in water that is barely covering their backs. The shallow margin shelf, just where it starts to drop off into the deeper water is also a favorite area for them. A slow mooch round with a pair of Polaroid sunglasses never fails to reveal a few fish… and sometimes loads!

At the right time of day the Mallard carp are also pretty keen on putting on a bit of a show as they fling themselves out of the water and evenings and early mornings can often result in a good display of carp in the right areas. In fact it’s definitely worth keeping your eyes peeled at all times of the day, as the carp here aren’t too shy of showing themselves.

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Remember though that the carp in Mallard Lake can be pretty mobile and react to angling pressure in just the same way as the bigger carp in some of the other lakes. This can mean that a swim that was seemingly full of carp one day can be relatively devoid of fish 24 hours later if they’ve decided to clear off elsewhere.  During busier periods when there’s a fair few anglers about the carp do appear to be very able to suss-out where the bulk of the pressure is and to slowly melt off to areas of the lake where nobody’s fishing.  It’s definitely worth investigating some of the quieter areas around the lake when first looking for somewhere to set up, or be prepared to move if the carp appear to have ‘done the off’!

I’ve caught Mallard carp on most standard baiting situations and presentations, but I’ve caught the majority on either quite subtle little pop-up presentations fished close to the bottom over a decent amount of spodded particles, or on presentations with halved boilies on the hair and a PVA bag of chopped and crumbed boilies nicked onto the hook or threaded down he hooklink on each cast.

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One of my favorite little pop-up presentations for fishing over spod is shown in one of the accompanying photos, with a grain of sweetcorn presented on the hair over a piece of shaped rig foam. Fixing the counter balance shot or putty on the hair rather than on the hooklink below the hook means that the hook itself is resting on the bottom and the bait is sitting just a tiny distance up from the bottom, almost indistinguishable from the particles in the spod mix that the bait has been cast over.  The idea is that the fish will come over the spodded bait and start hovering it up, with the bait easily flying into the fish’s mouth alongside all the other goodies that are being sucked up. A short hooklink and small sharp hook should see the hook pricking the inside of the mouth somewhere and the fish bolting off registering a bite almost before it’s realized that it has made a mistake.  This is my favorite tactic and presentation when there are a decent number of fish present in my swim and can result in plenty of bites and some nice multiple catches when everything goes to plan.

Obviously there’s a bit more effort involved in this method, then simply slinging out a simple hair rigged boilie amongst a few handfuls of boilies catapulted or ‘sticked’ out over a wide area, but the rewards can most certainly be worth it. The spod mix I use on Mallard is quite simple and is based on a reasonable quantity of hemp and quite small sized pellet (3mm – 6mm). I’m sponsored by Dynamite baits, so it’s probably no surprise that I use the prepared hemp you can buy in jars and tins produced by Dynamite and my favorite pellets are their ‘swim stim’ carp pellets, but other makes are also effective [remember that trout pellets are banned on the complex and that only certain types of pellet can be used]. To the hemp/pellet base I always add a large tin of sweetcorn. My favorite is the Dynamite scopex flavored corn, as the additional flavor helps to boost my own confidence and there are also plenty of nice big whole grains of corn in each tin that I sort out and keep separately for hookbaits, but obviously other types and standard supermarket corn can also be used.  I also like to add a good handful of 10mm boilies and a couple of handfuls of boilies that have been halved and crumbled to add additional attraction and variety. This also means that I can use a cut down boilie as an alternative hookbait over the spod and still be matching my hookbait with an element of the spod mix itself.  

 My second favorite tactic for the carp on Mallard is the use of small 10mm boilies, or even better a couple of halved 10mm boilies as the hookbait, along with a PVA bag of crumbled and/or halved boilies. This is a method that I tend to use for close in and margin situations. I’ll fish the hookbait and PVA bag on their own if there isn’t many fish about. However if there are plenty of carp in the vicinity I might be tempted to spread around a few 10mm boilies to help keep the fish interested and hopefully hold them in the area for longer.

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Of course I’ve caught some Mallard Lake carp on more standard tactics and methods. I’m often tempted to present a 15mm pop-up on a short chod rig over a spread of similar sized boilies, as I’ve talked myself into thinking that it might be the best tactic for some of the largest carp in the lake. However my 20lb+ carp from this lake have actually fallen to the smaller bait over the spod method. Perhaps a few more sessions on the lake will start to indicate whether there is a method that will help to sort out the larger fish, or whether simply trying to catch numbers of fish with hopefully the larger ones amongst them is the way to go.

I’ve had quite a few tench from Mallard as well as carp. I’m not sure if any have actually been stocked, so they’re not nearly as prolific as the carp, but they are definitely worth fishing for. Although I’ve only caught them to 5lb+ I’ve seen one roll that looked several pounds heavier than the best I’ve caught so far. Most of the Mallard Lake tench I’ve caught have fallen for the small or halved boilies as hookbait fished with a PVA bag as described for the carp above. Tench love the margins, so it’s not surprising that all of the ones I’ve caught so far have been caught close in, sometimes in only 18 – 24” of water.

The other species that reside in Mallard Lake that I’m keen to catch, but haven’t so far, is bream. There are clearly not many of them, else they’d be falling more often to carp anglers baits. However a few bream do get caught each year… and they do seem to be really big ones, with the biggest reported at over 18lbs! I’m hoping that my favorite spod related tactics, with a sweetcorn hookbait will be the method that will eventually find myself landing one of these rare specimens. Only time and additional effort will tell.

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