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?!
Bit of a late start, didn't arrive till 9.30 but knew I'd be fishing till last knockings so wasn't too fussed. When the weather gets colder, I've a feeling the end of the day produces more fish? Quiet day, not many people there and the wind was blowing straight along the lake. Took the gamble that the fish would be pushed in the direction of the wind so I set up on the far bank to the car park, almost fishing into the wind.
I decided to fish a light ledger in front on the reeds with luncheon meat on the hair and freebies on a stringer. A light scattering of ground bait and that rod was set. The other rod was set up with a Korum feeder and pellets, the aim being to build up a bit of bait in the swim and then float fish over the top once the fish started feeding.
After 20 mins, the ledger rod tore off, connected with the fish and then... nothing... Got the rig in to find the fluorocarbon hook link was snapped. Chewed through? Snagged? Not sure...
Five minutes after that, the feeder tore off. This time I managed to get the fish almost to the net before the hook slipped. I *think* it was a chub (managed to catch one last time) as it was a sizeable silver.
Unfortunately, my luck didn't improve... The morning wore on, the fish weren't taking the bait, the wind got stronger and stronger and I missed the only run I got before lunch time.
So, a bit of a rethink. I decided the reason I was missing fish was the hook size: I'd dropped from a size 8 to a 12 as the fish in the lake are very fussy about presentation. But the hook holds were obviously slipping, possibly due to the being unbalanced with the bait so I upped to a size 8 again. My hook lengths were short too so these were lengthened and swapped from fluorocarbon to a really supple braid.
The trick to not getting any runs is it gives you plenty of time to watch the water. Everyone was fishing down the wind end of the lake and no one was catching. In the top end however was a big patch of calm water that somehow was just out of the wind...
So in came the rods and I had a bit of a wander round the other side only to find 2 carp playing in the reeds. One was actually tail slapping in the margins...
I shot round the other side, baited the feeder rod with some ground bait and a couple of small cubes of luncheon meat and crept back to the swim. The fish were still there so I gently lowered the bait in, literally 10cm from the bank side...
...and off it tore! Real hook and hold fishing. But, as with my luck earlier in the day, it wasn't to be. Deep into the reeds and the line snapped.
But the good news was I'd located the fish. The gear was moved as quietly as possible, I got into a good swim with plenty of cover from the wind and cast out.
The left rod was still on the ledger with luncheon meat stringers but I changed the right rod to a open ended feeder which was filled with liquidized bread mixed with ground bait. Fill the base of the feeder with the bread and compact it down, tip in some pellets and luncheon meat and plug the top with more bread, chuck it in, leave for 5 mins and give the reel a couple of turns to drag the hook bait back into the pile of food. I hadn't tried this method before but it sounded good.
Within 10 minutes the ledger rod tore off 3 times and each time the fish pulled the hook! Incredibly frustrating.
On the next cast, I fished a slacker line and didn't put the bait runner on. My thinking was as I was sitting on the rod, there was no danger of it disappearing off and the bolt action would be more pronounced meaning a better hook hold.
And it worked! The rod tore off, a nice fight and a 10lb common carp came in. I've a feeling it was the same fish that'd done me 3 times previously...
Then things really picked up. The feeder rod came to life, the fish came up to the surface despite the cold conditions and I spend a good hour stalking carp with bread crust. Only one small fish came out, but on light tackle and so close in it's loads of fun.
The pace kept up and by last knockings, I'd got a good 15 or so fish ranging from 3 to 10lb.
The moral of the story? If you're not catching and you should be, change your tactics, change your tackle, watch the water and move - the fish are in there, you've just got to find them!
Saturday 27 July 2013
We'd chosen the lake for a Saturday fishing trip with the big appeal being the limited pegs and the fact you have to prebook tickets. The idea being it wouldn't be crazy busy (which seems to be a big problem on lakes close to the city?) and the anglers would be a bit more serious as you've gotta work a bit harder to fish there.
Looking on the satellite view of Google Maps is misleading as the lake is more than a featureless muddy puddle! The red water (related to the soil) means the fish have a beautiful colour, really golden with bright red tails. The swims are well made and there's cover either side of most meaning the margins are very carpy. The water level was very low, I'd estimate a good 70cm lower than usual (a lot for a smallish lake).
Fish wise, they're a crafty lot... Most fish fell to luncheon meat or chickpeas but presentation (especially the size of the bait) seemed to be critical. I found that fishing two small cubes of luncheon meat on a hair rig over handfuls of hemp mixed with sweetcorn and small trout pellets lured in the bigger fish. The smallest hook and the lightest tackle you can get away with is the way to go.
The fish really started showing on the surface around 2ish so we tried our luck with soaked dog biscuits. Again, the fish really showed their skills at spitting out bait: at one point, I had 5 or so decent size carp feeding freely on biscuits n the reeds literally 1/2 a meter from my feet. Every time they sucked in a baited biscuits it'd be causally spat out and the 5 would spook off only to return a couple of minutes later and the process would start again. All in all, I'd say we got around 30 or so fish (common and mirror carp) between us, most being 5lb and under and a couple up to 10lb.
Verdict? Well worth a visit, although I'd wait till be get some heavy rain so the water level is higher. The fish are in really good condition but I suspect it gets heavily fished - not a problem if you enjoy a challenge and don't want to catch monsters!