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?!
The plan was to try and catch some of the bigger carp. I've had some fantastic evening sessions over the summer but as time was always a factor I tended to stick with what I knew would work: method feeder in the margins and a floater rod with chum mixers to nick them off the surface.
So with this session I decided to employ some 'big carp' tactics! 1st job was to get a feeder rod in the margins (I didn't want to blank after all!) with a bit of fake maise on the hook and then it was out with the marker rod. After 10 minutes leading around the results were kinda what I expected: the lake has a silty bottom and is a fairly uniform 5 to 7 ft deep from midwater to the middle. There's a dummy island and an aerator right in the middle a couple of rod lengths apart so I decided to fish in the middle of these features. The line went in the clip, a couple of bank sticks went in the bank a rod length apart and the spod and fishing rod were clipped up at exactly 7.5 rod lengths.
The next job was to get a bed of spod mix out consisting of hemp, sweet corn, a mix of pellets and split Code Red boilies. I'd managed to get 3 loads in before the feeder rod ripped off ;)
The fish went back and I got back to spodding - must've chucked 10 or so out in the end in (what I'm hoping!) was an area around 6ft square. The idea was to fish Code Red boiles and stacks of 2x fake corn over the top of the mix, with the spod mix drawing the fish into the area. The margins are such a feature on this lake but I was banking on the fish moving to open water once the bulk of anglers arrived around 9ish...
I left the baited spot for an hour or so and had both rods in the margins. There were a couple more runs on the feeder but I was keeping my eyes on the baited spot and could see fizzing and swirls... Around 9ish the margins started to slow down so the 'baited spot' rod went out with a 2.5oz lead in a lead clip, short hook link and a Code Red boilie tipped off with a bit of fake corn.
I didn't have to wait long, around 20 mins and the alarm started to beep! But the moment I picked up the rod I realised this wasn't going to be the monster I was after... In fact, as I got it closer to the net it looked like it could be the smallest carp in the lake... and then to add insult to injury, it came off!
Ah well, the concept was sound, there were defiantly fish over the spot as the bubbles and fizzing continued so a couple of top up spods went out and the rod was rebaited with a with a new rig, this time with a stack of fake corn.
Over the next couple of hours the bites came to both rods with the open water spot finally outdoing the feeder. The fish had definitely left the margins the moment the lake started filling up so the baited spot idea was a winner! In the end I must've had 6 or so fish with 2 lost - not bad!
I love fishing at Bitterwell, there's some cracking fish in there and the lake has a really friendly community feel to it. I'm not 100% sure the big fish tactics are the best approach but it was fun to try! I'm going to give it another go, I reckon hitting bite o'clock (7am through 9am and just on darkness) is critical as is choice of bait. They don't really seem to respond to boiles (I don't think a lot go in) and I've had much more success on corn. There's some beasties in there though that I'd love to catch ;)
And with winter well and truely setting in, maybe it's time to change targets and try to get some of the monster perch in there... Watch this space!
My heart sank when I checked my phone in the morning. A mate on Facebook who was heading up for a day session had messaged me saying that he'd ditched the whole thing and gone to Henleaze lake instead as Bagwood was rammed! Apparently, there were 5 people with 2 rods each fishing in the swim I'd had on my 1st session... Mental. A whole load of angling pressure, I could only imagine the fish were huddled up in a scared shoal desperately trying to avoid lines, bait and hooks!
But luckily for me, when I arrived at 2.30pm the lake virtually deserted! The swim from my 1st session was taken, as was the point swim by the bridge but luckily for me, the bailiffs swim on the other side nearest the club house was empty! Winner, I got round there with a bag and a bucket to secure the swim and got the rest of the gear round from the car.
The first job was to clean up the litter - what a bloody awful mess! Empty cans, bottles, plastic bags, all kinds of crap were littered up and down the bank and in the water... Seriously, if you cant clean up behind yourself you don't deserve to fish!
Second job was to get the spod mix done - really simple but very carpy: hemp, different size pellets, sweet corn, chickpeas, tinned tuna and chopped boiles - nothing unusual, but all food they love.
After that I went for a wander with the spod bucket to have a bait up and see if I could spot any fish. One thing that's taking a bit of getting used to on the longer sessions is not rushing - I'm so used to having really limited time that the priority is to get a rod in the water as quickly as possible. On the longer sessions, I'm trying to slow down, think about what I'm doing, watching the water and coming up with a plan of attack. Wandering around with a bucket dropping a bit of bait here and there means you get to 'know' the lake better, set potential traps and have a chat with anyone else who's fishing - very civilised!
The water level is really, really low at the moment meaning that the margins are incredibly shallow, maybe a ft or two at most. Walking down the bank to my right towards the pipes that go under the bridge to where I fished on my 1st session, I could see some fish mootching along the edge. Once I got down to the pipes, a couple of fish had turned into 15 or so just hanging around as close to the edge as they could. There's a couple of overhanging shrubs and small trees around the pipes and the fish were definitely using these as a bit of cover. Interesting. I decided to bait up in front of the pipes so not to spook them and leave them to the freebies for a bit.
The water on the other side of the bridge still had 4 anglers on it with rods out. I could see a couple of fish in the margins and some just under the surface in the middle. I had a quick chat with the lads in the far bank swim and they'd not had anything out as yet but were in the process of setting up a floater rod. The point swim had a couple of anglers in it, one of which hooked into a fish as I walked past - a good sign?!
By the time I'd got back to my swim, I was really hot - the weather was warm and sunny meaning I could stay in shorts and a t-shirt! And I started to see fish showing out in front of me, both in the margins near the tree to the left and in open water. Thankfully, I'd bought a bag of doggy mixers - a real after thought, they'd been thrown in the car at the last minute!
A couple of catapult pouches went out and the fish really responded. Soon I had a group of 10 or so fish all competing for the mixers and I let them slurp up the freebees for 20 or so minutes before I introduced a bait: a Enterprise Tackle mini mixer on a long length of Korda Kruiser Control line to a size 8 hook. It took a good hour or so to get my 1st bite: a really slow take, I don't think the fish realised it was hooked! It felt quite small until it got into the edge when it went off like a train and put up a good account of itself before it slipped into the net.
A nice mirror of around 15lb, a cracking start to the session! I never thought I'd be able to pick a fish off the surface at Bagwood as I'd assumed the fish would be far too cautious to take a floating bait so this was a real bonus!
I spent another hour or so trying to snag another fish but as the sun started to dip the fish moved off. Time to get the marker out and suss out the swim: based on what I'd seen so far, the tree to the left was a definite spot (clouds of slit had been coming up all afternoon from the spod mix I'd put in earlier) and the pipes to the right still held fish but I was interested to see what the point in front of me had to offer. It seemed a bit deeper out there, 7 to 11ft from a shallow margin out to the fountain. After a bit of leading around, it appeared that bank dipped off to a shelf about 6ft from the bank so I clipped up to that spot and got some spod mix out. The tree spot was shallow and an easy cast at a clipped up 8 rods lengths. The pipes were a easy walk down the bank and a drop-in would see the lead close to the margins. Handfuls of spod mix on both spots and it was job done!
Even though I'd been keeping an eye on the sun, I'd forgotten how quickly it disappears this time of year... it got dark really quick! Trying to set a bivy up in the near darkness is a pain, especially when another bloody pole broke on me (the 4th since owning this tent!). I got there in the end and finally had everything set for the night by around 8pm. A bit of dinner and a couple of casts and I was thinking about turning in for the night...
I'd opted to put the rods left under the tree and right to the pipes to begin with and it wasn't until 11ish that I got my 1st run which really surprised me! I thought with the amount of fish I'd seen the action would be thick and fast but in hindsight, I think the fish move out into open water and start patrolling the margins once they know most of the anglers have left for the day...
Not a huge fish by this lakes standards but very welcome! The take had come from the pipes and the fish had run straight towards me so the bite was a drop back rather than the usual screaming run. Only a short fight but loadsa fun ;)
I got the rod back out as quickly as possible and spent the next 1/2 hour being plagued by beeps... which could only mean one thing: bream! And sure enough one snotty.
Ah well, that's carp fishing?! Not bad I spose, I've read some reports of people fishing Bagwood and only pulling out bream. In the end, I got my head down and actually slept! Not a beep during the night and I woke up around 6.30am to a very quiet lake, not a movement and really grey over cast weather. It was much cooler and although rain was forecast, it did look a bit grim...
I got some breaky on and then went for a wander with the bucket on the hunt for the fish. Not a lot was going on down by the pipes but there were a group off fish along the margins on the point next to the golf course.
And then I found them... there must've been 20 or so sizeable fish all shoaled up in the far, far corner nearest the club house. There are a couple of bays there and unless you're a demon caster or have a bait boat, it's virtually impossible to reach the bays. Hiding behind a bush, I started to throw some spot mix and boiles in, only a bit at a time and in a few different spots. The fish dipped down and started to mop up the bait...
Excellent! I rushed back to my swim, got one rod out to the point and then started to think about how the hell I was going to get a bait into the far corner. In the end, I opted for casting to the bank past the tree to my left, putting the rod in the rests with the bait runner on and then walking the lead up the far bank. No easy feat! The lake is really soft clay and a lead gets 'plugged' a good 6 inches deep even on a light cast. I got there in the end though and once a rig was on the line, I chucked it between two shoals of fish. A handful of boiles went in and then I ran like the wind back to my swim.
Cheating? I'm not sure... Worth it? Oh yes!
I'd been back in the swim for around 3 minutes when the bobbin climbed to the rod, the freespool started churning (I was locked up pretty tight due to the distance) and the alarm started to scream! I struck into the run and instantly connected with the fish but realised that somehow, the line was caught in a bush on the left margin! Disaster... After a bit of yanking and pleading with the line, it pinged off the bush and I could start playing the fish. By this time, it'd taken quite a bit of line and had started to head for the other end of the lake - at which point the line appeared to plink, plink on some underwater obstacle and lock up solid! A bit of walking back with the clutch wound tight (don't want to snap a rod!) and the line came free... but no carp was on the end any more... Bugger, Bugger, Bugger!
But it was a run and that gave me hope! I went back through the casting malarkey again (a bit easier this time, think the adrenalin had kicked in) and got the bait back on the spot...
Took a while longer this time, 20 minutes or so but off it went like a train! This time when I struck the result was exactly what I wanted: the line went taught and I could already feel an angry lump on the end. It took a bit of steering as I was aware of the last runs foul up but slowly I managed to pump the fish towards me... A bit of a heart in the mouth moment when it made a dive for the pipe to my left but eventually it was in the net!
A cracking common at 19lb! Under the target weight but so, so good. I was pretty darn happy, to have not had a fish for a good 8 or so hours then to loose one was gutting - but this beasty made up for it!
Once he/she been slipped back, I took a wander round to see if the fish were still there and to have a bait up. Amazingly they were! Unfortunately for me, I spent the next hour plagued by a frap off on the cast, then line twist mangling my main line (need to get new line of the reels!). I somehow managed to get out to the spot again and was stunned when the rod ripped off yet again ;)
But no dice... A snapped hook link. Whatta bugger! One think I need to get in the habit off is getting fresh hook links on the line every 3 hours or so. On the next trip, I'm gonna have a good 15 or so rigs ready to go and swap them out more frequently I reckon.
The clock had been ticking and it was now rapidly approaching packing down time. I'd had a cracking 24hrs and it was a good feeling to have 'cracked' the water to some extent. I feel like I know it a bit better now, have target swims and areas to fish too and maybe, just maybe a 20lb+ maybe on the cards for my next trip?!
Thursday 25 September 2014
I did what was probably my last after work evening session at Bitterwell Lake last night...
Only managed an hour or so before darkness descended but got 4 out with one lost!
Really gonna miss my evening sessions, a real stress buster have had some really great fish out over the last couple of months and it's been great to see the lake go from strength to strength.
Can't wait for next summer!
Cracking time! Lil was a great helper, firing doggy biscuits all over the place (some of them even landed in the water!) and helping out with the landing net. We had three fish and one lost (double hook up - Lil was doing so well but the fish fell off...)