Sunday 4 May 2014
Scored an unexpected but greatly received freedom pass for a fishing trip this May day bank holiday. Having visited Bitterwell Lake last weekend for a looksee and been impressed with how much it's come on since the last look around over 6 months ago, looked like a great location to wet a line ;)
Love a new venue, always presents a challenge: you have think about how to approach it, find out how it's fishing, ring the changes with baits, read the water... loadsa fun!
For some reason, I woke up at 3am! Not the best start... just couldn't get back to sleep (excited?!) and ended up dozing till around 6ish. Loaded up the car, got on the road and managed to get the fishery at 6.40am - beating the manager by 15 minutes!
The early start really paid off though as I managed to have a good chat with Terry (the manager) about the lake and get a bit of advice on swims. My original plan was to head to a swim near a tree on the far side of the lake as it looked good for a bite: rushes to the right, bit of sun/shade from the tree, good bit of open water but not a overstretch cast for a feeder out to one of the aerators. But the advice was to try one of the double swims near an inflow (very good advice as it turned out...)
I decided to start the day with my fave set up: a sleeper ledger rod with fake corn, pva stick and a light feed of liquidized bread, pellets and corn and a 2nd rod fished with a feeder filled with groundbait and a maggot ball on the hair. The ledger went out into open water, only 6 or so meters from the right margin and the feeder went infront of the inflow.
It soon became apparent I was fishing all wrong!
The 1st run came to the ledger - it screamed off, grabbed the rod and... nothing...
The 2nd run came to the feeder - again, it screamed off, grabbed the rod and... nothing...
This happened a further 5 times! Bloody annoying! I'd been fishing for all of and hour or so and had managed to successfully miss 7 runs - wtf?!
So a bit of a rethink. Got the rods out of the water, got the breakfast porridge on and spent 20 mins or so munching, watching the water and generally calming down a bit. Something was up: the conditions were great, the swim was great, the fish were there, the bait was working... but something was failing. Which left tackle - perhaps I was fishing too heavy? One of the other fishermen (the chap who was actually fishing in my original swim choice) wandered by and mentioned he was using a smaller hook as the fish were pretty shy...
So I spent 10 minutes tying up some new rigs: a hair rigged bait band on a 10cm braided hook length with a size 12 hook, the idea being to mount either pellets, luncheon meat or sweet corn on the band. I also stepped the rod down, switching out the heavy 2-1/2 test curve carp rod for a much lighter 11ft feeder rod and put a korum method feeder on rather than the original cage feeder. The other rod went out with a similar size rig but this time using coated braid and a trimmed down Cell boilie.
The results were instant... and pretty explosive! The feeder rod had been out for around 5 minutes with two bits of real sweetcorn on the band when it literally jumped from the rod rests and proceeded to be dragged down the platform! Even with the clutch slackened off, the take was so violent that the fish attempted to take the rod with it! It took 5 minutes to get a 6lb common in on the light rod, loadsa fun!
I managed a couple more runs on the feeder (the ledger was silent) when the sun finally poked over the top of the trees behind me and shone on the water just out in front of me. This must've been around 11ish and all of a sudden, the fish started appearing on the surface... Luckily, I'd brought a tub of Pedigree Chum Mixers with me and fired out a couple of pouch fulls to see what would happen. Sure enough, they started to disappear ;)
It got so warm, I was able to shed the bib and braces and expose my lilly white legs to the world...
As the ledger really wasn't producing, I reeled in, got the float rod out and set it up with a really small surface controller running to 6lb mono and a fake chum mixer mounted on the hook. After a few missed takes and a chat to one of the chaps helping out the bailiff on the bank work, I switched to a real chum mixer on a bait banded size 14 hook - a crazy small hook for the fish that were showing, but they kept spitting the bigger ones out!
It took all of about 2 minutes and I was into my 1st fish. And they kept on coming. From 11am through to around 4.30pm it was all I could do NOT to catch fish ;) They we're literally boiling on the surface. I managed to get through nearly a whole bag of mixers, the greedy buggers! The only down point was loosing what I imagine was the biggest fish of the session to a hook pull after a great 10 minute fight... Could've used a bigger hook and a heavier rod for that one...
And after having ignored the feeder rod for a couple of hours (only recasting it every 20 mins or so) it suddenly came to life. I had 3 screaming runs in the last couple of hours of the session that resulted in some really decent fish.
It was difficult to pack up at 5ish, I can only imagine the surface and margin fishing would've really taken off (even more?!) in the early evening but what a brilliant session?! A perfect days weather, a whole loada fish ranging from 3 through to 10lb (there's bigger ones in there, spesh the-one-that-got away!) and I can't wait for a return trip.
If you haven't visited Bitterwell Lake lake yet, it's well worth a visit, you won't be disappointed. It's a really well maintained fishery which has had loads of work done on it recently (with more to come by the looks of it), one of the best in the area I'd say.
The weather was predicted to be brilliant for Saturday and thinking it'd be busy on the bank we decided to leave at 6.30 to arrive at 7. Believe it or not, the car was frosted up! Bit of a surprise but I guess the night had been cold and clear... Couldn't find the ice scraper (may have been packed up for er... the summer?!) so I had to use a CD case to scrape the windscreen ;)
Lucky we left early: got there at 7 on the nose and the lake was rammed! In 3 trips we've only seen a couple of anglers but the long weekend and promise of sun had brought everyone out! Unfortunately for us, the swim we really wanted (where dad usually fishes) was taken by a fella and his grandson so we opted for my usual swim, a treacherously steep shelf that fortunately has its own bay and access to open water. Its ideal for one person, a bit more of a challenge for a dad and his enthusiastic 5 year old daughter!
Ah well, we got the gear from the car and had a quick look round the lake while setting up the rods and getting Lilly started on her first breakfast of the day (a huge apple). The angling pressure didn't seem to be effecting the fish and it was encouraging to see people hauling as mist rose from the water surface.
As with out previous trips, it really is a case of get the feed in and you'll catch fish. As the swim was far too small to get 2 rods out for me and 1 for Lil, we opted to put a sleeper rod out with fake sweet corn into open water and then share a feeder rod in the bay. We used liquidized bread mixed with groundbait, maggots, sweet corn and pellets packed into a small feeder with a maggot ball on a short hair. Plop it in and off it goes! Lilly managed around 20 or so fish in a couple of hours! The ledger was strangely silent but between helping Lil and getting breakfast number 2 sorted (a huge saucepan of porridge and sultanas) I was kept plenty busy.
Unfortunately for us, the weather stayed cold, grey and chilly for most of the morning. Poor Lil got quite cold and in the end I made a tent out of my big fishing jacket... She soon warmed up, think I need take warm drinks next time!
By 11 pretty much every swim on the 1 acre lake was taken but we were still catching fish! I'd been feeding up the margins and having seen one feller across the way haul out a really nice looking 15lb mirror on a white pop up boilie I decided to swap out the fake corn for one of the pineapple pop ups I'd done so well on on my last trip to Harescombe. Nothing massive came out, but I did manage so hook 10 or so fish in the space of an hour with some real rod wrenching runs - lozdsa fun!
The lake is very shallow, at most 5ft and maybe 3ft in the margins meaning that once the sun did make an appearance, the fish headed straight for the surface. Which was lucky as my fav method is still floating baits. We'd brought a big tub of floating chum mixers so I got Lilly busy with the catapult while I rigged up my float rod with a surface controller and a fake doggy biscuit. We spent a good couple of hours catching and missing loads carp around the 4lb mark. They really are crazy in this lake and you can get the water boiling with fish!
We packed up around 3ish having had another great day despite the cold start. I think Lilly-Grace maybe (ahem) hooked...
Dad and I have had a couple of sessions at Lower Kilcott Farm recently (Catching Goldfish At Lower Kilcott Farm, Carp Off The Surface... In January?!) with huge hauls of fish gracing the bank. It's a water stuffed full of very hungry carp between 1 and 10ish pounds so an ideal spot for an enthusiastic 5 year old.
She did incredibly well! Initially I set her up with a short 10ft rod with a float, my thinking being if she had something visual to watch, the boredom wouldn't creep in... This kinda worked, but I realised we were missing a lot of bites so we switched over to a really light feeder and off she went. As usual, if you get some feed going in and cast to the same area the fish literally hang themselves on the hook - meaning I was free to fish and all L-G had to do was grab the rod when the tip went round! She had loadsa fish and a great time.
A brand new water today for our double hit of fishing this weekend. Harescombe Fisheries is a 4 lake (well, 3 lakes and a pond!) fishery in Gloucester around 30 mins outside of Bristol heading north on the M5. We knew little or nothing about the place other than the chap in the Cirencester tackle shop mentioned it last time Dad went in. He's a keen match fisherman and was singing its praises and from what I could find online, it's a well stocked, well maintained commercial - well worth a go.
After the terrible weather of the last couple of weeks and a wet and windy day on the bank on the Saturday, we were pleased to see the outlook for Sunday was sun, sun and a bit more sun! However, the draw back to lack of cloud cover was a car covered in ice... Our 7am start was put back a bit... Not to worry, scrape down the car, get on the road, pick up some bread and bacon on route and we still managed to arrive at the fishery around 7.30am.
Only to find the Field Lake we'd planned on fishing was closed due to a hosting a match! Bugger. I thought the match lake would have the, er, match on it?! The other options we're Pasture Lake (which turned out to be a small pond... but according to the bailiff, it's got the biggest, hardest fighting fish in the complex?!) or Meadow Lake (didn't fancy the match lake and I think it had a 2nd match running on it later in the day). Based on the info online, we figured Meadow would be the best bet: it looks to be around the same size as Field, only slightly smaller with less tree cover.
One of the nice features about the fishery is that you can drive to your peg. When we finally arrived, there was one fisherman on the bank for the whole lake - even with our early start knocked back by the ice and our garage stop it'd paid off as we had pick of the swims. The lake itself has a big bowl of water thinning out to the top end where it narrows out. We opted for the top end, the thinking being that the run off pipe flowed into the lake there (lots of nice oxygen fed water), there were plenty of died back water lilies and weed beds and (the main thing) the farthest swims were flooded meaning we'd have that end of the lake to ourselves if it got busy (which it did!).
A new water is always a (nice!) challenge - how do you approach it, how does it fish, what baits do they go for. Being a commercial, I figured the fish would've seen pellets, maggots, sweetcorn a plenty so opted for a maggot ball on the feeder out in open water on one rod and 2 bit's of popped up plastic corn on the 2nd rod on a light ledger cast to the far end tight to the weed beds. I've realised this is fast becoming my favourite set up!
Dad went out with the float loaded with sweetcorn and nabbed the 1st bite pretty much 5 minutes after he got a bait in the water, a decent size common. Then my ledger rod wrapped round! I managed to lean into the fish only to loose it as it came to the bank... Ah well, take a deep breath, calm down (the 1st run of the day always gets the adrenaline flowing) get the rod back out and get back to setting up!
The pace for the 1st couple of hours was nice and steady. The feeder rod produced smaller fish at a pace of around 3 an hour. The ledger however was really doing the business: a take every 10 mins or so. The fish were bigger too, they seemed to be responding to the single, smaller hook baits better than the feeder.
Then came my 'fish-of-the-day'... I'd been casting to the weed beds but switched tactics and decided to drop in near a patch of died back water lilies. I'd walked up the bank and dropped the faithful popped up plastic corn with a PVA stick and two balls of liquidized bread with a smattering of sweetcorn and maggots mixed in. The bites had backed off a bit and I wondered if the bigger fish had moved in so I decided to leave the rig out for a bit longer this time... The theory was rewarded about 25min later when the rod tip wrapped round and the bobbin smacked up to the rod!
This fish felt different to the rest: rather than making straight for the weed beds or out into open water it just started head-banging - normally a good sign that you've a bigger fish on.
A good fight later and a beautiful upper double mirror slipped into the landing net. I'd got it up onto the unhooking mat when the feeder rod went off - gotta love double hook ups ;). A bit of heckling came from Dad on the other side of the lake, 'now you're just showing off!'. Much smaller fish of around 6lb but it's always nice to see 2 fish in the landing net!
After that excitement, things began to calm down. The lake had really filled up with anglers, virtually every peg had a person on it with the exception of the flooded swims near us, good bit of planning that. The fish definitely responded to the angling pressure by backing off completely giving us a chance to have lunch and sit in the sun for a bit.
As often happens with commercial fisheries though, people started packing up around 3ish. The left over bait went in and the edge, the cars started leaving and the fish magically came back on. They've pretty good internal clocks I reckon...
The last couple of hours where great: dad switched sides of swim and started picking decent size fish after fish off near some died back lily pads (really put his new 13ft rod through it's paces, must get that out on the rivers at some point!). I fed the area near the weed with sweetcorn and the rest of my maggots and the bobbin didn't stop climbing.
With fish coming even as we we're packing up with the rods on the deck, it was with great reluctance that I finally reeled in... What a great, great days fishing! Cant wait for the return trip.
Saturday 15 February 2014
It's half term, the kids are away so it's a double hit of fishing this weekend! The weather has been miserable... record levels of rain, high winds, frost, sleet, hail... all the rivers are in flood... the forecast for the weekend was predicting armageddon for Saturday but sunny on Sunday... So we thought we'd hedge our bets: Lower Kilcott Farm on Saturday and a new water, Harescombe Fisheries on Sunday.
But we arrived around 9.30ish just as the weather turned for the worse: I'd managed to get my gear round to the swim just as a big rain cloud dumped it's contents on the valley! I'm not the biggest fan of umbrellas, but getting them set up when it's chucking it down with rain and blowing a gail is a real challenge.
Anyway, I got set up, got the rods out and settled in under the umbrella. After the last session, we had a feeling that the action would be fast so I opted for a cage feeder with the faithful liquidized bread with mixed in maggots, sweetcorn, a handful of groundbait and a couple of handfuls of hemp with a maggot ball on the hair. The other rod went out on a lead clip ledger with popped up plastic sweetcorn on the hair and a PVA mesh bag filled with the bread mix. I got this into a little corner, the idea being to hopefully pull in any bigger fish with the small hookbait.
One small mishap: 1/2 my bank disappeared into the lake!
The water has a lot of very hungry fish between the 1lb to 6lb mark so once you get them feeding, they can actually be picked up on the drop. Many of the bites came as the rod was placed in the rest after the cast, especially on the feeder. Even the ledger rod went off a couple of times as I was placing the bobbin on the line!
The weather really picked up in the afternoon: the rain stopped, the wind died down and the sun came out. I've been desperately trying to persevere with my float fishing so out came the light tackle with an aim to pick out some of the great roach the lake has to offer. After an hour or so of picking off smaller fish, the sun had warmed things up and the fish were starting to take the small bits of bread I'd been throwing in at the edge... and then a goldfish popped up. And another. It was too much to resist, so I stripped the shot off the line leaving a couple round the float, got some bread on the hook and started surface fishing (had great fun doing this on our last trip).
I had several small carp and as more bread went in, the surface really started to boil. There were a group of around 10 or so fish that seemed to be rolling over each other in an effort to get at the bait! The interesting thing was that as the group bashed the bread, it became smaller and less buoyant meaning it sunk... and got picked off by the roach! I had 3 fish, all of a decent size that took the bait as it drifted down through the water after the carp had bashed it to bits. Great fun.
But the real prize was the goldfish: 2 kept on appearing at the edge of the 'carp boil' so it was a case of being patient, waiting till then appeared and then gently lowering the hook bait near them (I was only fishing a rod length from the bank!). After a few frustrating misses, I finally hooked one:
A plump goldfish - not bad!
The fishing kept it's pace till last nockings around 5ish. It's a really pretty spot, packed full of fish and a definate 'guarentee-a-bite' venue even in the worst weather conditions.
I even managed to get my surface controller that I'd lost in a tree on the last visit back - a result all round!