Sunday 24 January 2016
I've not been to a lake for months now due to my latest obsession with pike fishing on the River Avon. But having suffered a succession of blanks, I thought it was time to put a bend in the rod at my go to winter venue - the ever dependable Lower Kilcott Farm.
There were two targets for the day: the first was to get the float rod out and get into some of the quality roach the lake has to offer and the second was to put a couple of feisty carp on the bank. Having had some monsters on the last trip, I was eager to have another go.
Kilcott is a very small venue, only an acre or so in size and with very limited swims so it's a good idea to arrive early to have the pick of the bunch. Having said that, pulling into the car park at 7am on the nose in the pitch black may have been a tad over enthusiastic... But the early bird catches the worm right?!
As it turned out, I had the place to myself for all but a couple of hours when two fellas arrived and fished the far bank over lunch time. As expected, the lake didn't fail to deliver and I had loads of carp on the bottom bait rod and some prime roach on the float.
Every so often the lake does throw up a surprise or two and this trip was no exception. The bottom bait rod had gone quiet and I'd repositioned it in a different swim with a small white popup on the hair. It'd been in the water for 15 minutes (a long time for Kilcott!) when it ripped off and a nice size scaly mirror came in. Not a monster by any means but a tip-top fish for this lake.
And the day wouldn't be complete without some surface fishing (yup, in January!) and I spent the last hours of the session plucking carp after carp out of the margins by my feet on bread and dog mixers.
It was a great session, one that restored my faith in fishing after having spent so many hours on the river.
I'll be back on the Avon next week, croc hunting again but for now, it feels great to have spent the day hauling them in!
Saturday 14 March 2015
After suffering my 1st blank in ages at Ham Pool last week (looking back at blog posts, I think the last one was 'A Spot Of Post Xmas Piking' back in December 2013?!), I desperately needed to go somewhere where we'd were guaranteed a bite!
So Lower Kilcott Farm was an obvious choice. It's a small farm lake (more of a pond really) in the Cotswolds midway between Dad and myself and a perfect place for winter fishing as it's rammed with fish. As my daughter Lilly-Grace would be joining us for this session, it had to be a venue that'd keep an enthusiastic 6 year old busy too.
As it's a small venue with limited swims, we decided it was important we arrived early so I organised to meet Dad between 6.30 and 7.00 to make sure we had a bit of choice. I woke Lilly-Grace at 6.10am after having loaded the car meaning we were on the road and rocking out to Royal Blood on the M4 by twenty past ;)
A very easy drive saw us arrive at the lake around 6.50am to see one angler in my favourite far corner swim.... But the good news was Dad had already bagged the other corner swim at the back of the lake meaning we could all fish in a row like gnomes and pretty much have the road bank corner furthest from the farm house to ourselves! Well worth getting up at stoopid o'clock...
As predicted by the weather man, it was grey and cold but fingers crossed the wind and rain would keep at bay - I think even L-G's enthusiasm would be dampened if the weather turned?! After we'd said hello to Coco (Dad's gorgeous spaniel, another requirement of venue choice was dog friendlessness!) we set about getting the rods in the water.
Your gonna catch no at Kilcott no matter what so it's a great place to try out some new or little used techniques. For me, I really wanted to try out float fishing to target the excellent silvers in the lake but I also really wanted to try and find some of the bigger carp. On my last trip, I managed to get fish to around 10lb - nothing massive but I knew from a trip in the summer that a 15 pounder had come out. So rather than going for everything and anything I decided to go big on the bottom bait rod, getting the boilies piled in and a really light float rod for the silvers. Lilly-Grace opted for the feeder with liquidized bread and sweetcorn on the hook and I had a feeling she'd be pasty bashing in no time...
True to form, the initial action was hectic! Lilly-Grace had a good run of 4 or so little carp on the feeder rod using liquidized bread in the cage and real sweetcorn on the hair before Dad and I even managed to get a line in the water! My bottom bait rod rattled off within 10 minutes (no surprise there, that's why we came to Kilcott!) with a little common of around 4lb, about the stamp size of the fish in the lake and a great start.
As mentioned, I was determined to practise my float fishing as I'm really not as good at it as I'd like to be. Using sweet corn on the waggler was only catching me carp so I switched over to some maggots and casters (thank you Dad!) after 10 minutes in an effort to single out a silver. It worked! I missed more bites than I hit but did have a great selection of rudd and roach which was great fun on light gear.
The bottom bait rod had been strangely quiet after that 1st run. I worked through a couple of different popup options and even put a zig out as the sun tried to make an appearance (I'd had great success with Zig's on the last session when it was much sunnier). But the hours ticked by without a bite... Not that it was a problem as a combination of Lilly-Grace catching more fish than Dad and I put together was keeping me more than busy... As was keeping her fed! She can eat that girl... which is amazing as she's skin and bones, don't know where she puts it.
So I Switched the bottom bait rod to Celtic Baits Nut Mix boiles and baited the 'bowl' of water to my left heavily with boiles and a mixture of pellets.
Around 12ish, the bobbin dropped to the floor and the line went slack... Drop back? Just moved the lead? Then the line slowly tightened up! What the hell, struck into what I was expecting to be a liner and realised there was something attached!
To be honest, I didn't think there was much on the end - the fish came in slow and steady and didn't really put up much resistance. But when it came to netting it, we realised it was something of a beast cos it wouldn't fit in the landing net! I'd only brought my small spoon net thinking the fish in Kilcott where quite small but this one was hanging out of either side of the net...
Amazing - a really solid (if slightly sleepy!) mirror carp of 18lb. From a tiny farm lake. too good ;)
Over the next couple of hours I had another 15lb mirror and smaller darker common of around 8lb all on the Celtic Baits nut mix boilies. An amazing result on an great bait.
The last hours were spent with Lilly-Grace and I trying a bit of surface fishing, more practice with the float and just whiling the hours away on the bank. We packed down around 4ish having had a great day. Kilcott never fails to deliver!
The only downer to the day was a couple of fellers on the far bank who had no landing net or unhooking net. They were surface fishing and hauling carp out in the edge using their hands which is just not on. There's no excuse, if you don't have these basic items you shouldn't be allowed to fish, it's that simple. A majority of the fish we caught today were in pretty good condition but that won't last if people don't look after the stop. Shame on them!
The car had been reporting a steady 3 degrees outside on the journey up and as there was no frost on the car, I was pretty confident that the lake wouldn't have a lid on it as it did on my last attempt to fish at Kilcott. The backup plan was to head to Harescombe Fisheries if the lake was frozen over as it's only another 15 minutes on but I was banking on unfrozen water this time!
I arrived in the pitch dark at pretty much 7am on the nose. It's so, so quiet out there... but as the farm has 3 dogs, my arrival sparked a volley of barking! The owners are farmers so I'm working on the basis they're up early anyway? The really good news was the lake wasn't frozen over and as a bonus was completely deserted (from what I could see that is... must remember to leave my head torch in my bag...).
The swim choice is a bit limited at Kilcott: it's only a small lake, probably no larger than an acre and due to its shape and the steepness of the road bank, the options are fairly slim. But I opted for a swim I've fished a couple of times before opposite the road bank, almost into the far corner. It's got a little private 'bay' directly in front (meaning if it does get busy you've always got a bit of undisturbed water), access to open water and a great margin to the right so there's plenty of places to drop a bait.
There's no real approach to Kilcott, you can fish it pretty much how you like and you'll be guaranteed to catch something! So my plan for this trip was to try out some different tactics, namely float fishing (which I don't do enough off) and zig rigs. As the weather was set to be sunny and cold and with the lake being so shallow (the deepest bit I found was around 4ft even after heavy rain fall) I was thinking the fish would be hanging around in the warmer water so a tester session with zigs was the go.
But to make sure I didn't blank and have to take up knitting, the first two casts went out with the ever faithful cell boile on a light bolt rig to the right and a liquidized bread feeder with sweetcorn on the hair into the bay.
The first hour was spent catching 15 or so greedy carp to around 5lb on the feeder rod! Loadsa fun and exactly what I needed ;) The boilie rod was surprisingly quiet... But no bother, I was busy enough, so much so that I decided to switch to the float rod in an attempt to calm things down and maybe target some of the other species. I'd also suffered from one birds nest of line and a hook up in a tree with the feeder rod so it seemed like the perfect time to switch! Gotta get some new line on the reels...
One shocker was the frost coming down around 8ish - everything froze! The hooking mat and rods had a layer of ice and the bait tub of water I'd been using to was my hands had a skim of ice over the top... and I was freezing too... The sun came up behind the hills though and took the edge off meaning by 10ish it was actually pretty warm.
The float rod had been loadsa fun and I'd had carp and roach using sweet corn and fake maggots. Good practice, it's amazing how many bites you miss... As the boilie rod was still silent I switched over to a white popup which roared away 10 minutes after hitting the water ;) Again, nothing massive yet all under the 6lb mark.
By 11am the sun had really warmed up the water and crazy as it sounds, I thought it was time for some surface fishing... in January! There are just so many fish in here, it's mental. I spent a very happy hour or so with chum mixers tempting fish close in. To be honest, it's a bit like fishing in a barrel but it does give an opportunity to see what the fish are up to. The main thing I noticed was that there comes a point where the carp can no longer see the bait and they're homing in on it almost blindly. They miss a fair few! But the knock on is that when they 'commit' to taking the bait and manage to get their aim right, there's really no reason why it shouldn't result in a fish on the bank! Having said that, they're adept at spitting the bait out... One greedy bugger actually sucked in the entire surface controller I was using and promptly spat it out!
After lunch I decided to switch the boilie rod to a zig rig. As it's so shallow here, I opted to start at around 3ft and went for a size 8 chod hook with a washed out pink Celtic Baits popup. On my stalking round the lake I'd noticed some of the bigger fish up in the water over on the farm house bank so that seemed like the best place for a 1st cast.
The results where pretty much instant! The first take was really savage with the rod tip swinging violently round... Only a small one again, around 6lb but I guess the 'take' is different on a zig?
Over the course of the afternoon I had fish after fish on the zig rod, so much so that I gave up on having two rods out. One thing I did do was switch down to a smaller size 12 hook and a much darker boilie. Although bright colours do work well with zigs, I'd heard of people getting good results with darker baits with black foam winning out. In this case, a trimmed down Celtic Baits popup which was a dark red and very fishy smelling did the business (I'll try out find out the flavour as it's a test bait at the moment!). The size of fish went up as well with the biggest hitting around 10lb - not bad for such a small lake! Although I know there's bigger in there... Maybe next time?
I packed down around 4pm having lost count of the takes on the zig rod. I think all in all, I must have had upwards of 30 fish throughout the course of the day, nothing bigger than 10lb with most falling to the zig - loads of fun on a beautiful cold winters day!
The weather was predicted to be brilliant for Saturday and thinking it'd be busy on the bank we decided to leave at 6.30 to arrive at 7. Believe it or not, the car was frosted up! Bit of a surprise but I guess the night had been cold and clear... Couldn't find the ice scraper (may have been packed up for er... the summer?!) so I had to use a CD case to scrape the windscreen ;)
Lucky we left early: got there at 7 on the nose and the lake was rammed! In 3 trips we've only seen a couple of anglers but the long weekend and promise of sun had brought everyone out! Unfortunately for us, the swim we really wanted (where dad usually fishes) was taken by a fella and his grandson so we opted for my usual swim, a treacherously steep shelf that fortunately has its own bay and access to open water. Its ideal for one person, a bit more of a challenge for a dad and his enthusiastic 5 year old daughter!
Ah well, we got the gear from the car and had a quick look round the lake while setting up the rods and getting Lilly started on her first breakfast of the day (a huge apple). The angling pressure didn't seem to be effecting the fish and it was encouraging to see people hauling as mist rose from the water surface.
As with out previous trips, it really is a case of get the feed in and you'll catch fish. As the swim was far too small to get 2 rods out for me and 1 for Lil, we opted to put a sleeper rod out with fake sweet corn into open water and then share a feeder rod in the bay. We used liquidized bread mixed with groundbait, maggots, sweet corn and pellets packed into a small feeder with a maggot ball on a short hair. Plop it in and off it goes! Lilly managed around 20 or so fish in a couple of hours! The ledger was strangely silent but between helping Lil and getting breakfast number 2 sorted (a huge saucepan of porridge and sultanas) I was kept plenty busy.
Unfortunately for us, the weather stayed cold, grey and chilly for most of the morning. Poor Lil got quite cold and in the end I made a tent out of my big fishing jacket... She soon warmed up, think I need take warm drinks next time!
By 11 pretty much every swim on the 1 acre lake was taken but we were still catching fish! I'd been feeding up the margins and having seen one feller across the way haul out a really nice looking 15lb mirror on a white pop up boilie I decided to swap out the fake corn for one of the pineapple pop ups I'd done so well on on my last trip to Harescombe. Nothing massive came out, but I did manage so hook 10 or so fish in the space of an hour with some real rod wrenching runs - lozdsa fun!
The lake is very shallow, at most 5ft and maybe 3ft in the margins meaning that once the sun did make an appearance, the fish headed straight for the surface. Which was lucky as my fav method is still floating baits. We'd brought a big tub of floating chum mixers so I got Lilly busy with the catapult while I rigged up my float rod with a surface controller and a fake doggy biscuit. We spent a good couple of hours catching and missing loads carp around the 4lb mark. They really are crazy in this lake and you can get the water boiling with fish!
We packed up around 3ish having had another great day despite the cold start. I think Lilly-Grace maybe (ahem) hooked...
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.