Friday 22 August 2014
I was very lucky to get a 2nd fishing trip in during our holiday to Devon (thank you Sarah!). After having a grand day but not many fish (unless you count bream...) at Jennets Reservoir on the Tuesday, I was really keen to head to a runs water and get some fish on the bank!
After much googling, I did find some contenders, not easy as the waters needed to be close by - the Devon roads were stuffed with traffic and the kids wanted (quite rightly!) to head to the beach! In the end though, it was the Anglers Haven tackle shop in Bideford that put me onto the excellent Tarka Swims.
There's mixed info out there re the day tickets: as the lake is run by the 'Bideford & District Angling & Social Club', most websites report that you need to pay a joining fee of £40, then £20 a year to fish! Not so, the chap in the tackle shop sold me a ticket for the grand total of £5! Just goes to show, you can't believe everything you read online...
Another word of warning: the lake is NOT where Google maps says it is! It's quite a bit further along Gammaton Road...
By the time I'd got the permit sorted, picked up some maggots and groundbait and headed out to the water it was around 11am. First impressions were really good! Good car park with toilets and a really well landscaped and maintained looking lake. I took a wander round and settled on a swim near the two islands at the top end which 'bumped' out into the water. It looked perfect for a bite, excellent near and far margins, an expanse of open water and not a lot of angling pressure (love fishing during the week - everybody else is at work!).
There was a very stiff breeze coming across the water and although it was sunny and warm, the fish definitely weren't showing themselves... So I opted for a bottom bait set up, the right hand rod going out to the island margins with a method feeder baited with fake corn and a standard bolt rig set up into open water with double corn on the hair and a PVA bag.
It took around 30 mins and 3 or so casts on the method to get my 1st bite! A nice little common. Then the bolt rig rod went off, a nice little mirror. Good start! After that, I had pretty much constant action for a couple of hours. Interestingly, the bolt rig rod in open water produced more than the feeder (I've a feeling these fish see a lot of method feeders...). I had a handful of small carp to around the 8lb mark and a couple of really good bream.
After lunch, a chap appeared in a swim to the left of me further round the lake (maybe there's a 2nd entrance 'cos I didn't see him come in?!) and hooked into what appeared to be a much bigger stamp of fish within minutes off casting out! As my swim had gone a little quiet, I decided to reel in and have a wander round to see what was what.
He'd pulled in good size common of around 16lb. After a bit of a chat, he suggested I switch from corn to big (and he meant big, think fishing for catfish size!) chunks of Spam on the hair and to fish literally just round the corner of my swim in the margins, as close in as I could get. Although this'd mean fishing literally under my feet, he swore blind that that'd be the best place to get the bigger fish!
So I decided to give it a go, the right hand rod dropping in close to the margin (literally inches from my bankside) with a huge cube of luncheon meat...
At 40 mins on the nail, the rod tip whipped round to the left and the bait runner started peeling off line! Annoyingly, the hook length snapped... Really frustrating! I've been using these Guru speed stop hair rigs (size 10 hooks to 8lb mono) and I've had so many give on me, usually just bellow the loop not (the rest have gone in the bin!).
A bit of a swear, a new rig tied (this time a 10 brait hooklink with a Korum bait screw) and another cube of luncheon meat went out. I only had to wait 20 mins for the next bite though... Again, the rod tip went round but I was ready for it this time! I got on the rod and off it went - a good fight later and a decent common of around 15lb came in.
Another 15lb mirror fell to the margin rod with 4 more smaller fish to the method feeder over the next couple of hours. What a brilliant session?! I packed up at 6ish and headed for home.
If you're ever in the Bideford area and looking for somewhere to fish, give Tarka Swims a go - you wont be disappointed!
I now have a new found respect for match fishermen... They sure make it hard for themselves!
It was really, really hard fishing! For a lake that I regularly pull somewhere between 5 and 20 fish out in a 3 hour evening session, I really struggled... The rules state no floating baits (darn it, my favourite method gone!) and only one rod/pole out at a time (double darn, I love to have a 'sleeper' rod out and a 2nd catching loadsa fish!).
Having arrived at the lake at 8.30am and had a walk round and a bacon bap, I could tell it was going to tough going: it was already really hot and all the fish were up on the surface, leaping around and generally enjoying the sunshine. We did the draw, I got peg 1 (right in the far corner of the car park bank) and we headed round to set up.
My 1st fish fell to the pellet waggler at around 11ish - an hours solid feeding for 1 fish?! I persevered but the fish were just headbutting my float rather than sinking all of a foot under the surface to get my bait. If only could put out some doggy mixers! I kept at it, bouncing between the 2 rods, keeping the bait going in little and often and tring to 'keep busy' rather just sitting in the sun.
By 2pm I was really getting desperate... One 3lb carp in the keep net was not going to get me anywhere! The clouds had come in and although it was still very hot, the fish wernt quite as active on the surface. So I decided to go for an all out for the method approach, switching both rods and getting them going in onto two spots.
And somehow, I managed to get into the fish! It seemed they were happy to feed on the bottom and I managed to pick off 3 in the space of 20 minutes. Luckily, one of them was a double and according to Tyler, that put me back in the running! After a couple of lost fish though, the swim went dead... I kept at it, got one tiny roach who decided to hang itself on the feeder but they really weren't interested.
The 'all in' came round at 4pm and I instantly got the doggy mixers going in - I was desperate to put some fish on the bank, even if they didn't count towards the match! There were so many fish up on the surface and as they'd be taunting me all day, it only seemed fair?!
It took all of 5 minutes to hook into a decent size common ;) If only the match allowed surface baits eh?!
But the weigh in revealed that I'd actually come in 3rd - result! The word up and down the bank was it'd been a tough day all round and to score a place with 17lb of fish goes to show just how hard it'd been. Congrats to Norman Sterry and Craig Miller for nabbing the top 2, well placed.
What I did't expect was prizes - who knew?! I had no idea... Even managed to win some Guru hooks in the raffle, so went home with some new toys, one of which was a rig box (which now means I no longer need to use a toilet roll to manage my rigs...). Amazing stuff.
A big thank you for Tyler Szmaglik for organising the event and prizes, you've put a lot of effort in. And my thanks to Terry Smith for the lend of your keep nets (and for letting me have a go on your pole! It was... interesting...).
Oh, and a mention for Alfred who's been asking to have a go at fishing for ages. He's very good at winding in - just need to work on when to stop...
Fish on the surface, the feeder rod doing the business on sweetcorn and amazing colours over the water at sunset.
Love this place, it's sooo good to be out in the evening catching fish!
Sunday 18 May 2014
Tricky arvo/evening session yesterday at Bitterwell Lake - felt like everything went wrong: caught up in a tree, shredded hook links, snagged landing net, spilt bait, hook-in-the finger, hook too big/small, bait bands too big for the mixers, hook pulls... The list goes on!
BUT I did manage to catch my biggest carp so far from the venue on the 2nd to last cast ;) A nice chunky common with a huge mouth and shoulders. Must've been 12/13lb and put up a cracking fight on light gear. Would've loved to get a snap but the feeder rod went off while I was unhooking him ;)
From the car park, I could see around 7 anglers dotted around the lake. My target swim had gone, so it was a case of having a look round for where the fish were showing. As I walked down the road side of the lake, swirls and tails where showing the in the far corner by the outflow... perfect.
I'd travelled lightly (I reckon next time I can go even lighter) so setting up took seconds. Some chum mixers went out into the swim, some premixed pellets and liquidized bread went into the margins. Looking good for a bite!
It took all of 10 minutes fishing before I'd hooked into my 1st fish off the surface!
The margin swim I'd chosen (the far reeds) wasn't producing so I switched to the near margin and swapped out the Peparami hookbait for a soaked chum mixer on the method feeder. Fairly instant results - a run within minutes!
And the action stayed constant all evening ;)
The night wrapped up with a double hook up, the feeder rod flying off while I was fighting a carp on the floater rod. Brilliant evening and a perfect way to spend a couple of hours on a Wednesday night.
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.