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!
Sunday 2 February 2014
After so much crazy weather recently, there was no way Dad and I were going to get out on the rivers... Everything is in flood or completely mangled after the rain which is such a shame! I've been itching to get out fishing on the rivers since returning to England in June 2013 but so far, no joy.
So to keep busy we thought we'd try a new water called Lower Kilcott Farm. I've read a lot about it online and done a virtual drive by on Google Street View and although it looks quite small, it seemed interesting enough. The general consensus in the forums was that it a bit of a muddy puddle full of fish (which for some people appears to be a bit of a problem...) and that if you couldn't catch, it was time to take up knitting...
We arrived pretty early at around 7.30ish and found that we had the place to ourselves - a good or bad sign?!. The weather looked good - sunny, bit of cloud cover and surprisingly warm for the time of year. As it's a small lake (an acre maybe?) we decided to take a side each: Dad took a corner swim on the road side of the lake which gave him access to a nice (maybe unfishable?) corner and some open water and I took up a nice edge on the far side with a bay and open water.
My plan was to have a sleeper rod out with a ledger baited with plastic corn and a float rod baited with maggots that I'd 'fish for a bite' with, a tactic I'd been reading up on in the fishing mags. The idea is to bait 3 areas, cast to the 1st and wait till you get a bite. Once you've got a bite (even if it doesn't result in a fish), trickle a bit more bait on that spot, move to the next and repeat the process. It should mean that any fish spooked on the 1st spot will be back in the swim by the time you return to it and with a bit of luck, you can rotate between the swims picking off fish as you go.
That plan kinda went to pot... The ledger rod had been in for about 10 minutes (less time that it took to get the float rod sorted) before the bobbin raised and the rod was off. A small 3lb common, very nice. The rod went back out, a little bit of bait went in, I tried to get back to plumbing the depth for the float rod and off the ledger went again!
And that pretty much set the scene for the day! I did manage to get the float rod out in the end and picked up some fantastic roach and carp, great fun on light tackle. The fishing was going so well, I swapped the float for a feeder filled with liquidized bread and went for a hair rigged maggot ball in an effort to bring in some bigger fish. It got to the point where the water was boiling and we were pretty much getting a fish a chuck - loadsa fun.
The weather throughout the day went from sun to rain on and off but the arvo was actually really warm. I'd seen some fish showing on the surface who'd been scooping up the hemp seed I'd been putting in as ground bait (guess some of it hadn't split or had dried out) so, silly as it seems, I gave floating crust a go...
... in January?! Really? It worked though! To be able to freeline crust in the sunshine, picking off 3-8lb carp was a bit of a treat after the previous one fish or complete blank sessions.
The action was so hectic, I only managed to take one snap for the day!
We've a return session booked in for this coming Saturday which I'm really looking forward to. The weather isn't going to be anywhere near as good (it's rain, rain and a bit more rain at the moment...) but I'm gonna take the opportunity to try out some new rigs and hone my float fishing skills (I missed a lot of bites last time). Then we're off to Harescombe Fisheries on Sunday which is another new venue for myself and Dad. From the sounds of it though, it should be nearly as prolific as Lower Kilcott Farm ;)
Walters lake is out at the Cotswold Water Park. It's a 4 lane commercial style mixed fishery though the focus is carp of between 2lb to 20lb (I've had one tench out in 3 sessions so there's some other fish in there).
We'd fished there a couple of times over the summer and had an amazing time - nearly a fish-a-chuck! With a bit of luck, we might not blank...
There was a heavy frost on Sunday morning, so it took a little while longer to get from Bristol out to the water. The drive was pretty crazy - minus 3 on the motorway and the car was screaming at me about the 'risk of ice'. Luckily the sparse number of cars that were out were taking it very easy. Once I got out on the A roads it calmed down a bit and I had to stop and take a pic of the sunrise - the colours were stunning.
So after stopping off to pic up Dad, we finally got to the venue around 8ish. Took a quick snap of the water as it looked stunning: flat calm water, frost on the grass, sun coming up on the horizon and...
...fizzing on the surface. They were in there! We got the day tickets, reviewed the rules (and man, is there a lot of them...) and got out to the swims.
As there was a match on later in the day, we could get to our favourite swims so chose to get in the opposite side. The water isn't wide and each swim is roped off meaning you don't get a lot of casting movement - which isn't a major problem as the swims are wide and, being winter, we could move as it was very quiet.
The major restriction with the venue is the rule of having only one rod out at a time. This is fine during the summer, in fact I can see the sense in it: the last session the bites were coming within 5 minutes of the bait being in the water! With two rods in, it'd be a nightmare managing the lines...
In the winter though, it's a different story. One you need to find the fish and two you need to attempt to figure out which bait or presentation the fish will actually take. With one rod casting every 20 minutes, fishing from 8 till 4 (at the latest...) that's 24 casts. Work on the basis that you may catch a fish, or get snagged or go for a wander, that's not a lot of fishing!
So maximising time and getting rods in the water presto was the go. I'd set up 2 rods, the idea being to bounce between them. One with a float, the other with a small cage feeder the idea being that casting around with the feeder might help me locate the fish and then sneaking a float in over the top of a bit of feed would help me pick them off. I'd opted for maggots and fake corn on the hook with liquidized bread for ground bait.
A bit of breaky a couple of hours later and still no fish. A few liners and pulls but nothing visible on the surface...
By this time a big bank of cloud had come in and as the sun disappeared the temperature dropped... and the wind got up... and the match started... and still no fish...
...and then Dad hooked one! At last, we'd avoided a blank ;) A good size mirror of around 10lb.
Another hour of persaverance and finally the feeder rod twitched, then the tip sprang round and the reel started to take line. I took it really, really easy with the fish - after all that work, I really didnt want to loose it due to a hook pull on a tiny hook (the size limit for the lake is a 10). A nice fight later and one mirror in the net.
The rest of the day was very, very slow but Dad did mange to land another lump close to closing time.
So, a slow day BUT not a blank! Walters lake really is worth a trip, it's a very well put together tidy lake with a good cafe and lots of fish. I wish they'd relax the rules a bit (spesh the 1 rod limit, even if it was only over the winter) but apart from that it's a winner.