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!
My heart sank when I checked my phone in the morning. A mate on Facebook who was heading up for a day session had messaged me saying that he'd ditched the whole thing and gone to Henleaze lake instead as Bagwood was rammed! Apparently, there were 5 people with 2 rods each fishing in the swim I'd had on my 1st session... Mental. A whole load of angling pressure, I could only imagine the fish were huddled up in a scared shoal desperately trying to avoid lines, bait and hooks!
But luckily for me, when I arrived at 2.30pm the lake virtually deserted! The swim from my 1st session was taken, as was the point swim by the bridge but luckily for me, the bailiffs swim on the other side nearest the club house was empty! Winner, I got round there with a bag and a bucket to secure the swim and got the rest of the gear round from the car.
The first job was to clean up the litter - what a bloody awful mess! Empty cans, bottles, plastic bags, all kinds of crap were littered up and down the bank and in the water... Seriously, if you cant clean up behind yourself you don't deserve to fish!
Second job was to get the spod mix done - really simple but very carpy: hemp, different size pellets, sweet corn, chickpeas, tinned tuna and chopped boiles - nothing unusual, but all food they love.
After that I went for a wander with the spod bucket to have a bait up and see if I could spot any fish. One thing that's taking a bit of getting used to on the longer sessions is not rushing - I'm so used to having really limited time that the priority is to get a rod in the water as quickly as possible. On the longer sessions, I'm trying to slow down, think about what I'm doing, watching the water and coming up with a plan of attack. Wandering around with a bucket dropping a bit of bait here and there means you get to 'know' the lake better, set potential traps and have a chat with anyone else who's fishing - very civilised!
The water level is really, really low at the moment meaning that the margins are incredibly shallow, maybe a ft or two at most. Walking down the bank to my right towards the pipes that go under the bridge to where I fished on my 1st session, I could see some fish mootching along the edge. Once I got down to the pipes, a couple of fish had turned into 15 or so just hanging around as close to the edge as they could. There's a couple of overhanging shrubs and small trees around the pipes and the fish were definitely using these as a bit of cover. Interesting. I decided to bait up in front of the pipes so not to spook them and leave them to the freebies for a bit.
The water on the other side of the bridge still had 4 anglers on it with rods out. I could see a couple of fish in the margins and some just under the surface in the middle. I had a quick chat with the lads in the far bank swim and they'd not had anything out as yet but were in the process of setting up a floater rod. The point swim had a couple of anglers in it, one of which hooked into a fish as I walked past - a good sign?!
By the time I'd got back to my swim, I was really hot - the weather was warm and sunny meaning I could stay in shorts and a t-shirt! And I started to see fish showing out in front of me, both in the margins near the tree to the left and in open water. Thankfully, I'd bought a bag of doggy mixers - a real after thought, they'd been thrown in the car at the last minute!
A couple of catapult pouches went out and the fish really responded. Soon I had a group of 10 or so fish all competing for the mixers and I let them slurp up the freebees for 20 or so minutes before I introduced a bait: a Enterprise Tackle mini mixer on a long length of Korda Kruiser Control line to a size 8 hook. It took a good hour or so to get my 1st bite: a really slow take, I don't think the fish realised it was hooked! It felt quite small until it got into the edge when it went off like a train and put up a good account of itself before it slipped into the net.
A nice mirror of around 15lb, a cracking start to the session! I never thought I'd be able to pick a fish off the surface at Bagwood as I'd assumed the fish would be far too cautious to take a floating bait so this was a real bonus!
I spent another hour or so trying to snag another fish but as the sun started to dip the fish moved off. Time to get the marker out and suss out the swim: based on what I'd seen so far, the tree to the left was a definite spot (clouds of slit had been coming up all afternoon from the spod mix I'd put in earlier) and the pipes to the right still held fish but I was interested to see what the point in front of me had to offer. It seemed a bit deeper out there, 7 to 11ft from a shallow margin out to the fountain. After a bit of leading around, it appeared that bank dipped off to a shelf about 6ft from the bank so I clipped up to that spot and got some spod mix out. The tree spot was shallow and an easy cast at a clipped up 8 rods lengths. The pipes were a easy walk down the bank and a drop-in would see the lead close to the margins. Handfuls of spod mix on both spots and it was job done!
Even though I'd been keeping an eye on the sun, I'd forgotten how quickly it disappears this time of year... it got dark really quick! Trying to set a bivy up in the near darkness is a pain, especially when another bloody pole broke on me (the 4th since owning this tent!). I got there in the end and finally had everything set for the night by around 8pm. A bit of dinner and a couple of casts and I was thinking about turning in for the night...
I'd opted to put the rods left under the tree and right to the pipes to begin with and it wasn't until 11ish that I got my 1st run which really surprised me! I thought with the amount of fish I'd seen the action would be thick and fast but in hindsight, I think the fish move out into open water and start patrolling the margins once they know most of the anglers have left for the day...
Not a huge fish by this lakes standards but very welcome! The take had come from the pipes and the fish had run straight towards me so the bite was a drop back rather than the usual screaming run. Only a short fight but loadsa fun ;)
I got the rod back out as quickly as possible and spent the next 1/2 hour being plagued by beeps... which could only mean one thing: bream! And sure enough one snotty.
Ah well, that's carp fishing?! Not bad I spose, I've read some reports of people fishing Bagwood and only pulling out bream. In the end, I got my head down and actually slept! Not a beep during the night and I woke up around 6.30am to a very quiet lake, not a movement and really grey over cast weather. It was much cooler and although rain was forecast, it did look a bit grim...
I got some breaky on and then went for a wander with the bucket on the hunt for the fish. Not a lot was going on down by the pipes but there were a group off fish along the margins on the point next to the golf course.
And then I found them... there must've been 20 or so sizeable fish all shoaled up in the far, far corner nearest the club house. There are a couple of bays there and unless you're a demon caster or have a bait boat, it's virtually impossible to reach the bays. Hiding behind a bush, I started to throw some spot mix and boiles in, only a bit at a time and in a few different spots. The fish dipped down and started to mop up the bait...
Excellent! I rushed back to my swim, got one rod out to the point and then started to think about how the hell I was going to get a bait into the far corner. In the end, I opted for casting to the bank past the tree to my left, putting the rod in the rests with the bait runner on and then walking the lead up the far bank. No easy feat! The lake is really soft clay and a lead gets 'plugged' a good 6 inches deep even on a light cast. I got there in the end though and once a rig was on the line, I chucked it between two shoals of fish. A handful of boiles went in and then I ran like the wind back to my swim.
Cheating? I'm not sure... Worth it? Oh yes!
I'd been back in the swim for around 3 minutes when the bobbin climbed to the rod, the freespool started churning (I was locked up pretty tight due to the distance) and the alarm started to scream! I struck into the run and instantly connected with the fish but realised that somehow, the line was caught in a bush on the left margin! Disaster... After a bit of yanking and pleading with the line, it pinged off the bush and I could start playing the fish. By this time, it'd taken quite a bit of line and had started to head for the other end of the lake - at which point the line appeared to plink, plink on some underwater obstacle and lock up solid! A bit of walking back with the clutch wound tight (don't want to snap a rod!) and the line came free... but no carp was on the end any more... Bugger, Bugger, Bugger!
But it was a run and that gave me hope! I went back through the casting malarkey again (a bit easier this time, think the adrenalin had kicked in) and got the bait back on the spot...
Took a while longer this time, 20 minutes or so but off it went like a train! This time when I struck the result was exactly what I wanted: the line went taught and I could already feel an angry lump on the end. It took a bit of steering as I was aware of the last runs foul up but slowly I managed to pump the fish towards me... A bit of a heart in the mouth moment when it made a dive for the pipe to my left but eventually it was in the net!
A cracking common at 19lb! Under the target weight but so, so good. I was pretty darn happy, to have not had a fish for a good 8 or so hours then to loose one was gutting - but this beasty made up for it!
Once he/she been slipped back, I took a wander round to see if the fish were still there and to have a bait up. Amazingly they were! Unfortunately for me, I spent the next hour plagued by a frap off on the cast, then line twist mangling my main line (need to get new line of the reels!). I somehow managed to get out to the spot again and was stunned when the rod ripped off yet again ;)
But no dice... A snapped hook link. Whatta bugger! One think I need to get in the habit off is getting fresh hook links on the line every 3 hours or so. On the next trip, I'm gonna have a good 15 or so rigs ready to go and swap them out more frequently I reckon.
The clock had been ticking and it was now rapidly approaching packing down time. I'd had a cracking 24hrs and it was a good feeling to have 'cracked' the water to some extent. I feel like I know it a bit better now, have target swims and areas to fish too and maybe, just maybe a 20lb+ maybe on the cards for my next trip?!
Thursday 25 September 2014
I did what was probably my last after work evening session at Bitterwell Lake last night...
Only managed an hour or so before darkness descended but got 4 out with one lost!
Really gonna miss my evening sessions, a real stress buster have had some really great fish out over the last couple of months and it's been great to see the lake go from strength to strength.
Can't wait for next summer!
Cracking time! Lil was a great helper, firing doggy biscuits all over the place (some of them even landed in the water!) and helping out with the landing net. We had three fish and one lost (double hook up - Lil was doing so well but the fish fell off...)
Saturday 30 August 2014
I did my 1st 24 hour session up at Bagwood Lake this weekend. It was a tough call: I'd asked around on Facebook for spots to try for an overnighter and the runners were Bagwood and Longleat. In the end, Bagwood won, mainly as it was something I just had to get out of my system ;)
I've been up to Bagwood for a wander 3 or so times over the last year, trying to get a feel for the place and scope out swims. The lake itself is split in two by a bridge that's joined with pipes so the fish can move between the waters. From the evidence, it gets very, very busy at the weekend (but where doesn't?!) but there are some decent fish in there if you're willing to fight it out.
Pulling into the car park at 7 on the nose, the 1st thing I noticed where the amount of cars in the car park... Nightmare, 4 cars, figure 2 people in each, that's 16 rods (24 if they've got 3 rods out) so a load of angling pressure before the day has even begun. Had I made the wrong choice, should I have gone to Longleat? The carp demons where already chatting on my shoulder...
Anyhow, I picked up a ticket (£18 for 24 hours so not too horrific) and headed out to the lakes with a bucket and the rods to bag a swim. The point swim on the golf course was, unsurprisingly, occupied by 2 anglers, the swim on the other side of the bridge was also taken and to really kick me in the nuts, my target swim right in the back corner of the lake had someone setting up in it! Bugger, been beaten to it by minutes.
As I was lamenting my lack of choice, I noticed even more cars arriving in the car park (wtf?!) so I jumped in the swim next to my target swim and headed back to the car to get the last bits and pieces.
But it would appear the fishing gods were smiling on me: the chap in my target swim wandered over for a chat, and although he'd set up, baited up and cast in he was going to move! The blokes in the point swim on the club house side of the lake were moving off at 11 so we made a deal that when he moved, I could dive into his vacated swim. Brilliant, I was going to be where I wanted to be so I spent the next 4 hours really watching the water, getting as much info I could can out of the other anglers and getting my gear sorted for actually starting to fish in the afternoon.
11ish rolled around, the chap upped sticks and I got my gear in and started about the process of getting the rods out. To be honest, I didn't have much expectation of getting a fish out during the day, so although the rods where out the main task was getting everything ready for the early evening and night as I figured these would be the busiest times due to the pressure the fish are under.
I don't get to do a lot of 'big' carp fishing, most of my time is short sessions on day ticket commercial lakes so it was a bit of a new experience for me to employ some of the tactics and approaches I've seen in the magazines and videos. The 1st thing out was the marker float rod to map out the swim and although I'd packed everything and the kitchen sink, the one thing I didn't have was paper and a pen...
A bit of head scratching later and I grabbed a bank stick and 'drew' a map of the lake in the wood chip covering my swim. There was a drainage trench running along the back of my swim which was covered in shingle, which made for perfect counters. Pretty soon I had little piles of stones all over the map marking out the depths - too good ;)
The main thing I learnt was that the bottom was all soft clay - the 2oz lead I had on the marker was getting 'plugged' on each cast, not a hard spot to be found. The margins were around 2ft to 3ft deep and the rest of the water in front of me was around 5ft deep, so pretty uniform and shallow.
The only area it got any deeper was right out in front of me. It started to dip around 10ft from the bank and got down to around 7ft ish. Interesting... The other interesting thing was it was the only area on the lake that I'd seen any sign of fish! A couple had poked their heads up into the margins.
At that point the bailiff wandered round to check tickets and I managed to get out of him that there was a 2nd set of pipes in the deep area that had 'popped' when they stopped them up to drain and re-dig the lake. The force of the water had dug out the deeper area in the clay and was a def holding site for the fish. The thing to watch out for though was the razor mussels which liked to grow on the tubes and the fact the fish would make a dart for the tunnels themselves - resulting in a quick snapped line...
But it meant I was on the right spot!
The marker rod went out again and I got it clipped up to the distance I wanted to fish. Originally, I was going to walk out the line on the bank and get the other rods clipped up to the marker but then another video tip popped into my head: I stuck two bank sticks in the ground at the back of my swim a rod length apart and then wound the line from the marker float around it until I hit the clip. My target spot was 9 and 3/4 rod lengths - sweet!
With both rods clipped up, I started to think about how to get some bait out. Spod was one option, but the fact I could actually get along the bank side to the left of my swim was a real bonus. It meant I could get with in metres of my target area and bait up by hand and catapult. My spod mix consisted of hemp, corn, chickpeas, tuna and pellets all stodged up with a bit of liquidized bread. Around 10 handfuls and a 20 or so boilies went out in an area around 3 metres square over my marker.
By now, it was around 4.30pm and time to actually seriously start fishing! Pretty crazy, on the day sessions I do, I'd have hoped to put a bunch of fish on the bank by now and I'd be starting to think about packing up...
Rod 1 went out to the left of the baited sport with a Mainline Cell boilie topped with a single grain of yellow buoyant corn mounted on a blow back rig and the 2nd rod went out with a Sonubaits Code Red boilie, similarly topped with corn but this time on a kd style rig (one that I'd never fished before). Due to the clay bottom, I'd made up two stick mixes using a little method mix and crumbed up boiles so each rig had a PVA stick with the hook point embedded to make sure the bait was well presented on the soft, claggy bottom.
And now to wait... I'd set my alarm for 40 minutes, my thinking being to recast and swap around the baits till I found something that worked. Nearly an hour passed (I decided to be generous with the 40 mins!) when the left rod ripped off - fish on at last!
Luckily for me, the fish went to the right into open water rather than making for the tunnels. A spirited fight later and my 1st Bagwood carp was in the net - fantastic! On the scales, it weighed in around 15lb so not one of the monsters but a decent fish by any account. I was pretty made up, the 'big carp tactics' had paid off and fingers crossed, this'd be the 1st of many. A bit of video and a couple of snaps later and the carp was back off to find it's mates.
As the fish and taken out my other line, I decided to get both rods in, get some more bait out (all the vids I watch seem to advocate getting bait out after you've had a fish!), re clipped the lines using the bank sticks and then got the baits back out. This time, I switched the rods round but left the same combo of boiles on. The 1st fish fell to the cell, it'd be interesting to see what happened next...
I didn't have to wait long: 20 minutes later, the right hand rod ripped off! Brilliant, I'd hit 'bite o'clock' ;) Similarly to the last fish, it went straight into open water and put up a good scrap. Around the same size, 15lb ish and loadsa fun!
Having had two fish out on the same spot, I decided to bait up again but leave the rods out of the area for a while and plonked them into the margins while I got the bivvy sorted out and some dinner on. Half an hour later and the rods went back out, clipped up and on the spot.
The rods had been out for around an hour when the right hand rod beeped a couple of times... I could see the line curving round to the right in the water and decided to strike into it - only a little one this time, but really, really dark black in colour ;)
By now the light was really fading so I baited up again (again? I know, but if you figure one fish, there'll probably be more out there and they hoover up bait...), got the rods out, had some dinner and watched the darkness descend...
Around an hour into darkness (so 9.30pm? was loosing track of time by now...) a single toner rang out and the left hand rod jumped in the rests! Amazing, off again. This time though, the fish didn't go out into open water...
One of the things that I'd be doing is 'walking' the fish backwards in the swim rather than putting too much pressure on the rod. I'd seen a youtube video with Ian Russell when his argument was if you try and yank the rod and line backwards or apply to much pressure, you'll just end up with a hook pull. By tightening up to the fish and walking backwards, you'll pull or encourage them to come towards you.
It'd worked so far, but not this time - I felt a grating on the line about 10 seconds into the fight and twang, the line snapped. The fish had done me... How bloody annoying!
The rod went back out, my first cast in the dark! The line was clipped up to the 9 3/4 rod lengths and it felt like it was back on the money. And 10 minutes later...
...another one toner! Only this time on the right hand rod. But again, it wasn't meant to be - this time, the hook length snapped. As it was a freshly tied hook link, I've a feeling the razor mussels had got to it.
Pretty annoying one way and another, to have put all that effort in only to get snapped off twice frustrating to say the least. But, that's fishing! I spent the next half hour baiting up again (this time with a spod, another new thing and in the dark...), sorting out the rods out and getting new rigs in place.
The rods went out and I went about getting my head down...
The rest of the night was pretty busy - I had 3 more takes between 11pm and 4am, the biggest being a 17lb mirror:
Amazing! Getting woken up by screaming alarms in the dead of night is a real buzz, I'd forgotten how much fun it is. It seemed like I was up every hour, either recasting, baiting up, tying rigs, sorting out PVA bags...
...so little or no sleep was had. I finally managed to get my head down for an hour or so and woke up around 6.30am too see the lake at it's best: mist rising off the water, completely still and silent, no one moving or making a noise. Great stuff.
I decided to leave the rods out while I packed down, which as it turns out was a bit of a mistake. The right hand rod came in first and was well and truly musseled! God knows how long they'd taken to wrap themselves around my hook bait, but I sure as hell wasn't gonna catch anything with that rig...
The left hand rod came in with a bit of hemp impaled on the hook! Whether or not it'd got stuck on in the stick mix (unlikely as the mixes were boilie crumb and method mix, but I guess it was dark...) or it'd got spiked on the retrieve, who knows? Anyhow, lesson learnt for this lake: cast every hour!
By the time I'd packed up, it must've been 7.30am and I started trekking my gear back to the car. On my way past the 1st swim on the 2nd lake, one of the anglers popped his head out of his bivy and very kindly offered the use of his barrow (which he'd picked up on Gumtree for 20p no less!). The fellas name was Lee and my back is in his debt as it meant one trip rather than 3 back to the car. We had a good chat about this and that, really nice chap, just the kinda angler you want to meet on the bank side.
My original plan was to do another full day at another lake but to be honest, I was knackered! In the end, I headed down to my favourite Bitterwell Lake and spent the next 5 hours catching carp off the surface until I decided it was time to call it a day and head home.
So a brilliant 24 hour+ session! thank you to Lee and the chap (sorry, can't remember your name!) who very kindly gave me the nod about vacating my target swim and thank you the carp gods for getting me onto some fish. Can't wait to get out there again ;)