Crazy weather, I drove to the venue in freezing fog and arrived far to early... Had to wait 30 minutes for some light to come into the sky so I could set up!
But a good session in challenging conditions. I managed to bank 12 or so carp of various sizes using a maggot ball and a small ground bait feeder filled with liquidised bread.
Maybe I should head back in the summer some time?!
We've had some really, really hard frosts of late and it's been incredibly cold but what the hell, gotta get on the bank. As I had a total freedom pass (the grandparents are in the house) I decided to go further afield and picked two venues that are chocked full of fish. Number one choice was Lower Kilcott Farm. It's a small farm pond that's filled with 100's of hungry carp and you'd be guaranteed a bite. If conditions where really bad, the plan B was Harescombe Fisheries, mainly due to it's choice of 4 lakes and the fact Dad and I have caught there in the winter before.
The day started with me scraping ice off the car at 6.30am! The roads where white and the car was screaming at me that it was zero degrees outside... But the drive out to Lower Kilcott Farm was surprising easy. I'd opted to take the 2nd of the two turnings down to the water as the 1st road is incredibly steep. We'd had a hairy time getting down the lane last year with rain, high winds and fallen trees being the danger but this time round it was ice...
So after a gentle descent with only one slip on the ice, I arrived to find the lake completely frozen over! Bugger. I guess with the water being at the bottom of a sheltered valley, the frost had really set in... So, no fishing at Kilcott Farm today, time to jump back in the car and head 20 minutes further up the road to Harescombe Fisheries.
The drive out through Stroud was beautiful, the sun was just clipping the horizon and the fields and villages looked very Christmassy. There was another steep descent down to Harescombe but I finally made it to the fishery around 9ish to find it quiet and still but most importantly not frozen over!
Dad and I have fished Harescombe a couple of times in the past and we've always ended up fishing the top lake Meadow due the the other lakes being incredibly busy (there are 3 lakes and one pond at the complex). But with it being post Christmas and bloody cold, Field lake was deserted so I decided to give it a go with the plan to move up to Meadow if the action was non existent.
I opted for a swim slap bang in the middle of the far road bank as this gave me access to the most water and cast a feeder rod out to the right of the swim to where a fish had just shown itself... The rod was loaded with a couple of grains of real corn mounted on Guru Feeder rig with a size 12 hook. The feeder itself was a small cage so I could keep the feed down to a minimum and it was loaded with my favourite winter groundbait mix: liquidized stale bread mixed with Swim Stim Amino Black and ground down Cell boilie. It smells great, leaves a great cloud in the water column and won't fill the fish up - perfect.
And within minutes, I had my 1st run!
Amazing to get action so quickly, a really good sign. It's actually a bit of a running theme with Harescombe as on the two previous trips I've managed to get a run within minutes of the 1st cast!
The next 20 minutes were crazy - I just couldn't keep the feeder rod in the water for long enough to sort out the 2nd rod!
By the time the bailiff came round at 10ish, I'd managed to get the 2nd rod out with a bottom bait and 6 or so carp had slipped into the net. Whatta session, the lake was fishing like it was summer not winter?! And I'd only been fishing for around an hour...
The lake had slowly started to fill up with 5 other anglers setting up in swims nearest the entrance with the exception of one fella who'd headed down to the far end of the lake. Unfortunately for me, getting so much action had stirred the interest of 2 fellas who were not catching and they decided to move swims, annoyingly picking a spot virtually opposite me and casting exactly where I'd been catching from. So much for etiquette between fishermen?! (As it turned out, it did them no good: they blanked!)
Whether it was my new neighbors constant chatting, the fact we'd past the winter feeding spell, or that the shoal had moved on the action dried up slightly at around 11ish. One thing we'd noticed on previous trips was that once the action slowed, it was time to ring the changes bait wise. So far, most of the fish had fallen to just plain old sweetcorn but I decided to try Celtic Baits popups, Mainline Cell boilies and pellets. Each producded bites but amazingly, after each change I put out some sweetcorn again and away the rod went!
I had one amazing take but unfortunately missed the fish using a Celtic Baits Pineapple+ popup. I'd tied on a small PVA stick of breadcrumbs and cast it to a deep spot I'd found by plumbing up the float rod. No word of a lie, it'd been in the water for around 45 seconds when it ripped off! Felt like a really good fish but after a good fight, the hook pulled... Ah well, if nothing it proves the bait is a winner!
I had several more fish through the arvo with the carp getting bigger with each run. By now the sun had started to clip the back of the hills and as my swim was now in shadow, it started to get very, very cold...
So I started to pack down around 3ish, did my last cast to a new spot to my right near a tree with the feeder rod and within minutes, off it went!
By far the biggest fish of the session and a great way to finish an amazing day's fishing. One of the best winter sessions I've ever had, can't wait to give the lake a go in summer!
Thanks for reading - happy new year!
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.