Unfortunately, the weather report looked pretty shocking for the Friday but what the hell: we've got umbrellas and fish don't mind rain right?!
We arrived at 7ish and I set up in my favourite swim on the far side of the lake near a tree and dad opted for a swim on the road bank. Luckily for us, the rain held off first thing meaning we could get set up in the dry! I'd a variety of hook baits to try: some cell boiles, some 'special' fish meal and plumb boilies that I'd rolled myself (using some paste very kindly given to my by Terry Smith the fishery manager!), a handful of tangerine dream baits (provided by Bitterwell!), some casters left over from last weeks session, the every faithful sweet corn and pellets.
Amazingly, I got a run on the first cast! The weather actually brightened for a spell and the left hand rod which I'd cast out close to the island with a cell boilie tipped with plastic corn, ripped off within 15 mins off being in the water - this was going to be a busy session?!
But after that first fish the weather got really bad... The rain came down in all directions, the wind was blowing a gale straight across the lake a making casting very difficult and I managed to loose my spod on the first cast when the wind took it straight onto the island!
Dad headed off around 11ish, not too soggy (the new brolly was a good investment!) but only one fish that fell to prawns on the float. Unfortunately, it came off at the net...
The next 5 hours passed with no fish! Constant liners, bobbins lifting and dropping but not a single run and no fish showing anywhere on the lake. Dads barber was saying that now we've had our first frost fort the year (it got really, really cold on Wednesday!) that was it for lake fishing... and maybe he was right?! I tried a bit of float fishing, crazy what with the weather but the margins to my right were relatively sheltered. Not a nibble.
One thing that was feeding was this little rat... He'd swum across the front of my swim, jumped up next to my alarm and started having a much on some pellets he'd found. Then he went and sat in my landing net! Lucky for him that Terry wasn't around with the air rifle...
There was one break in the weather at around 1ish and this seemed to trigger the second and final run of the session. I was pretty overjoyed to get this one in the net...
I had to pack down at 1.30 as I was being picked up at 2 on the nose. It was great to have two fish on the bank in such difficult conditions but I think that this may set the scene for the next couple of months as the winter takes a hold. A tough morning but still loadsa fun!
So the next sessions will hopefully be out on the rivers? We didn't manage to hook any pike last year so with a bit of luck, we'll be fishing for British crocodiles sometime soon ;)
The lake was pretty quiet when I arrived at around 8.30am with only two anglers along the road bank. It was sunny and surprisingly warm, with the wind pushing into the far corner so I decided to set up on the left end of the car park bank in one of my favourite swims. On my last trip to the lake, I'd tried a 'big carp fishing' approach spodding loads of bait in and fishing over the top of an area around 3 metres square. As it resulted in me catching some of the smallest fish I've ever pulled out of the lake, a different plan was needed!
Most of my sessions on the lake have been in the evenings over the summer when I'd found that the fish move into the margins or are up on the surface. But during the day when there's pressure on the water, they seemed to favour the open water spots with the weather dictating the layer they want to feed in. The day was going to be warm and sunny (I found out later the hottest Halloween on record?!) so this time I'd brought chum mixers, maggots and boilies. The plan was to fish single boilies with a scattering of around 20 or so baits out towards and around the island in the middle of the lake and then float fish with maggots and pellets in front of me to see if I could find where the fish were swimming - and also to try and pick up some silvers! There's been some great perch coming out of late...
So rod one went out with a hair rigged Mainline Cell boilie and a scattering of baits and I got settled into some float fishing. The action was very slow... There were fishing showing out in open water but no takers and the float rod was producing exactly nothing!
As there wasn't a whole lot of anything going on, I had a play with the camera managing to snap a huge dragon fly and a really colourful duck who was being chased round the lake by the horny mallards!
The first bite came around an hour or so later when the bobbin on the boilie rod slammed up against the blank and the line went solid! A fish at last - but it wasn't to be... I managed to get the fish in as far as the bank and the hook pulled! Bugger. That wasn't the plan.
By this time, the wind had got a real chop on the water and 5 or so anglers had arrived all setting up on the carp park bank. I'd been eyeing up my 2nd favourite swim on the lake on the furthest corner near an oak tree and right next to a nice margin with lots of cover. The increased angling pressure, lack of fish and the fact that it seemed to be the only area of water that was calm (the float fishing was becoming challenging!) prompted a move.
I got settled into my new swim and this time decided to chuck a method feeder in front of the reeds to my right while I sorted out the the boilie rod. It was really warm by now but as I'd not seen any fish cruising on the surface, the open water out towards the island still felt like a good spot to try. While I was in the process of getting a PVA bag tied, bang, off the feeder rod went - the move had paid off! But again, a bloody hook pull...
This was not going at all well! So I took a deep breath and got the rods out again... While I was lamenting my failure on Facebook, the boile rod screamed off - that was quick! This fish was going to come in even if I had to wade out into the lake to get it...
The result was a short but fat common, quite unusual for this lake as most of the fish I've had are longer and leaner. Banking a fish and getting 2 runs in the space of 20 minutes from the new swim was just the confidence boost I needed and I got the rods out onto the spots asap.
Over the next 4 hours I had fish after fish from out towards the island - all on the cell boilies with the only change being alternating topping with a bit of fake corn, mainly to see if it resulted in a quicker take!
Thanks to Jake Alden for being on hand to take this snap of probably the biggest fish of the session ;)
Things started to slow down towards last knockings. The light starts to fade so quickly at this time of year... I really miss summer! But I was in luck: Terry Smith (the manager) wandered over with a handful of some of the new 'special' baits he's been rolling, handily just as I was rebating one of the rods (I'd swapped both over the bottom baits out by the island as this was where all the runs had come from).
So this time I chucked out a double stack consisting of a single 'Tangy Tangerine' and a 'Pineapple +' mini dumbbell. This was to be my last cast of the day as the misses was picking me up at 5pm by which time it'd be well and truly dark! Marcus was also fishing the new baits, over in the corner of the car park bank and hooked into a stunner on the pole:
And then at 4.45pm on the nose (I know 'cos I was clock watching and packing down!) the rod with the new 'special' bait ripped off!
So a brilliant end to another great day on the bank. If you've not been to Bitterwell Lake, give it a go. I've a feeling it'll be a great winter venue this year ;)
I'm back up for a morning session next week and can't wait!
I'd been in the area the week before and had popped out with the kids for a look round. It looked like the water level issues had been sorted out as the island margin banks were covered and the plant growth in the margins was healthy. The water is a really rich red colour due to the iron oxide in the ground which makes spotting the fish a real challenge and none were showing themselves... You get the odd swirl or clouding up in the margins, but apart from that it's guess work!
We got out to the lake at 7am on the nose and set up in a couple of swims on the car park side of the lake. Dad opted for a spot next to one of the water inflow pipes and I headed down to the far end aiming for a swim I fished last year that had produced really well.
Boyd Valley is a tricky lake. There are plenty of fish but finding and catching them requires some thought... The main thing I learnt on previous trips is that they're very light biters, they're adept at getting rid of hooks and there's no favourite bait - in fact, it seems that once you've caught on a bait, the swim'll go dead! The only method I'd constantly caught on was floating baits namely bread and chum mixers.
So a mixed approach seemed like a good idea: I started with a feeder rod in the right margin loaded with method mix and fake corn on the hair and a bottom bait rod tight to the island with code red boilies scattered around in a tight circle. The plan was to be quite mean with bait but cast regularly to try and locate the fish and then ring the changes.
Over the next couple of hours I worked my way through luncheon meat, sweet corn (fake and real), halibut pellets and peperami with the only bait producing any bites being red maggots. A small pristine common of around 1lb.
The weather was supposed to be shocking but as the morning wore on, it got warmer and warmer. As the sun hit the water, some fish started to show in the bay to my left so I fired some chum mixers in to see what would happen...
Sure enough, carp started to gingerly take the mixers - so a bit of stalking was in order! I spent a good hour in the bay but had nothing to show for it. It didn't seem to mater where I placed a bait or free offerings, the fish were always in the next part of the swim! It was if they knew where I was going to target next...
But when I wandered back to my swim (the bay was only one swim round so the ledger rod wasn't unmanned) the bobbin started to twitch up and down! I struck into the bite but there wasn't an angry carp on the end, instead a chub of around 2lb sat was in the landing net! This is the 2nd chub I've had out of the lake, but it's still a surprise to catch them on carp gear ;)
After that, the predicted rain started and it chucked it down on and off for a good hour or so which pretty much killed the water dead.
By the time the sun came out again, it must've been around 1ish meaning only 4 or so hours of light were left - time to get stalking. So I headed out with a floater rod baited with a freelined fake mini chum mixer, a feeder rod, a bucket of real mixers and a bag of bread ends.
I spent the next hours hopping from swim to swim prebaiting and then working my way back through. As previously mentioned, they are very adept at spitting the hook out. As all the fish were in the margins, I was baiting, creeping back 6 or 7 foot and literally dropping the bait in over the edge. If the fish spotted me, they were off light a shot. I must've had at least 10 different carp suck the bait in and then casually spit it out! Frustrating but also loads of fun (more fun than sitting behind motionless rods in any case!).
In the end, I managed to have 2 runs on the feeder and 4 on the floaters! All the carp where in good condition and only around 4 to 6lb but loads of fun on light gear.
I'd been regularly checking in with dad as I did circuits of the lake and his swim had really picked up with a fair amount of silvers, carp and even a crucian carp coming in - not bad!
Getting back into my original swim at 4ish, I cast the rods back out and set about packing up. As a last resort, I'd rigged the ledger rod up with a maggot ball rig and hooked on a massive bag of red maggots (I had a good 1/2 pint left). I was rewarded with a cracking single toner bite just minutes before the rod came in for the last time and probably the biggest fish of the session, a common carp of around 8lb came in - result!
Boyd Valley Lake is by no means an easy water. The fish are a real challenge and I still don't think we've got a handle on them yet, even with this being our 3rd trip. But that's fishing - sometimes it's better to be pushed than just chuck and hope?!
The last bit of river fishing I did was a couple of years back when we were travelling in Australia. We'd stopped for the night in a camp site up in the Atherton Tablelands and it had a river running along the valley. I'd been free lining worms along a very shallow stretch, only 30 or so centimetres deep and had caught loads of really dark black bream and turtles! I had a feeling the Avon maybe a bit different...
By far the biggest challenge we've had is finding any reliable info about river fishing in and around Bristol. It seems most of the river stretches have been snapped up by clubs and any of the 'free' areas change hands regularly meaning nobody seems to know where you can and can't fish! But after exhaustive googling and asking in three different tackle shops, we settled on Saltford with the Conham River Park as a back up.
The advice had been to fish the stretch from the weir by the Jolly Sailor pub down to the shallows. We managed to find it on the map and arrived around 7ish, just as the light was coming into the sky.
The first spot to try was just outside the sailing club as the road curves away from the river. There's a concrete jetty and a metal walkway around 20 metres long that runs along the river bank, perfect for fishing off! I rigged up one of my carp rods with a open ended feeder and loaded it up with liquidised bread plugged at either end with a mix of hemp and maggots in the middle. A real simple hook link of 6lb mono with a size 12 hook with 4 or so red maggots and that rod was ready to go out in the flow right in front of some boats and a wooden jetty to my left. The other rod was my trusty 13ft float rod which I've had for years. It's prefect for river fishing and I soon had that out trotting in the flow with a thin waggler dotted with 5bb shot and a couple of red maggots on the teeny tiny size 16 hook to nylon (such a different from the 'bent nails' I use for carp fishing!).
The first fish of the day was an eel! Caught more through luck than judgement as I'd dropped my float in at the edge by my feet while I sorted out a cast on the feeder rod. It was a good sign though and as I'd had nothing from trotting the float out in the flow, I started to cast along the jetty literally just 1/2 a foot from the side (although I guess it was a good couple of foot in if you think about the undercut). Over the next couple of hours I had bleak, good size roach, minnows and a decent perch - all inches from my feet!
I'd been getting knocks on the feeder rod all morning but nothing really seemed to take. Then at 10ish, the tip started to rattle and I struck into what felt like a decent fish! A short play in the flow and a decent size bream of 5lb or so slipped into the net - not bad! I'd put the knocks down to eels nibbling at the bait but if there was a shoal of bream out there...
But no more bites... In fact, the bites tailed off altogether at 11ish so I decided to take a wander the other side of the weir past the pub. There's a footpath that runs down the side of some fields that are plastered with signs stating 'Private Fishing, Keep Out! Holston Fishing Syndicate'. I've never heard of 'Holsen' but everyone I'd spoken to had said that part of the river was controlled by Bathampton AA?! Anyhow, there were 5 or so swims dug into the bank that looked really good. The river thins down here and the flow was slightly calmer. Would love to give it a go, need to find the mysterious club that runs it?!
I gave the boat ramp spot another hour or so as dad had pulled in some more silvers and a decent perch but a mixture of surprisingly warm weather and an increase in the flow seemed to have killed the swim dead. The wind had really got up too making trotting floats almost impossible...
The biggest tip I'd been given for river fishing is to stay mobile, so I took a wander up the bank in the other direction of the weir. There were two more fishermen spread out over 5 or so swims a couple of minutes walk from the jetty. They'd had nothing out as yet, but I'd noticed the wind was a bit more sheltered here and the swims had small areas of slack water - worth a go?
Once in my new swim I got the feeder rod going in regularly every 15 mins and tried the float rod again. Nothing was forthcoming in the 1st hour then the feeder rod jumped in the rests! I struck into the fish and it felt really good, maybe one of the river carp?! As it turns out, it was a dustbin lid bream of around 8lb.
These river bream are in a different league to their still water cousins. I was amazed by the fight it put up and what a fat fish!
That was to be the last big fish from the swim but I did manage another eel and a ruff, a fish I'd never caught before and had to resort to Google to identify.
The weather had really changed now with the wind howling down the river and threatening looking black clouds gathering on the horizon. I moved the gear back to the jetty for a few last casts and we packed down packed down at 5 and went for a pint!
Saltford is a good spot and it's free, well worth a look if you fancy having a shot at river fishing. It was great to catch so many fish, especially as the Avon's reputation doesn't seem to be that glowing? And to catch so many eels was amazing as last I heard was that they were nearing the endangered list ;)
The plan was to try and catch some of the bigger carp. I've had some fantastic evening sessions over the summer but as time was always a factor I tended to stick with what I knew would work: method feeder in the margins and a floater rod with chum mixers to nick them off the surface.
So with this session I decided to employ some 'big carp' tactics! 1st job was to get a feeder rod in the margins (I didn't want to blank after all!) with a bit of fake maise on the hook and then it was out with the marker rod. After 10 minutes leading around the results were kinda what I expected: the lake has a silty bottom and is a fairly uniform 5 to 7 ft deep from midwater to the middle. There's a dummy island and an aerator right in the middle a couple of rod lengths apart so I decided to fish in the middle of these features. The line went in the clip, a couple of bank sticks went in the bank a rod length apart and the spod and fishing rod were clipped up at exactly 7.5 rod lengths.
The next job was to get a bed of spod mix out consisting of hemp, sweet corn, a mix of pellets and split Code Red boilies. I'd managed to get 3 loads in before the feeder rod ripped off ;)
The fish went back and I got back to spodding - must've chucked 10 or so out in the end in (what I'm hoping!) was an area around 6ft square. The idea was to fish Code Red boiles and stacks of 2x fake corn over the top of the mix, with the spod mix drawing the fish into the area. The margins are such a feature on this lake but I was banking on the fish moving to open water once the bulk of anglers arrived around 9ish...
I left the baited spot for an hour or so and had both rods in the margins. There were a couple more runs on the feeder but I was keeping my eyes on the baited spot and could see fizzing and swirls... Around 9ish the margins started to slow down so the 'baited spot' rod went out with a 2.5oz lead in a lead clip, short hook link and a Code Red boilie tipped off with a bit of fake corn.
I didn't have to wait long, around 20 mins and the alarm started to beep! But the moment I picked up the rod I realised this wasn't going to be the monster I was after... In fact, as I got it closer to the net it looked like it could be the smallest carp in the lake... and then to add insult to injury, it came off!
Ah well, the concept was sound, there were defiantly fish over the spot as the bubbles and fizzing continued so a couple of top up spods went out and the rod was rebaited with a with a new rig, this time with a stack of fake corn.
Over the next couple of hours the bites came to both rods with the open water spot finally outdoing the feeder. The fish had definitely left the margins the moment the lake started filling up so the baited spot idea was a winner! In the end I must've had 6 or so fish with 2 lost - not bad!
I love fishing at Bitterwell, there's some cracking fish in there and the lake has a really friendly community feel to it. I'm not 100% sure the big fish tactics are the best approach but it was fun to try! I'm going to give it another go, I reckon hitting bite o'clock (7am through 9am and just on darkness) is critical as is choice of bait. They don't really seem to respond to boiles (I don't think a lot go in) and I've had much more success on corn. There's some beasties in there though that I'd love to catch ;)
And with winter well and truely setting in, maybe it's time to change targets and try to get some of the monster perch in there... Watch this space!