It's half term week which has meant I'm on kid duty for 99% of the time but when a two hour window presented itself I couldn't resist the opportunity to wet a line. The Holiday Inn Lake was the obvious choice as I was dropping people off at Bristol Parkway station and then picking up from UWE and with a good winter form, I was really hopeful it would produce a fish on two.
The weather was all over the place, sunny one minute followed by heavy rain the next and I was greeted at the lake by two soggy looking match anglers who were in the process of leaving. They were shaking their heads and saying it was fishing hard... But I wasn't to be put off! Prior knowledge is so useful and I put mine to good use, dropping in on peg 25 and quickly getting both rods out using the tactics that have done me so well on previous sessions: a yellow dumbbell wafter on a helicopter rig and a feeder filled with liquidised bread and a double sweetcorn hookbait. Both rods were fished as close as I dared to the died back lily pads and I sat back to see what would happen.
It didn't take long before I started to get liners and after 20 minutes the helicopter rod ripped off with a plump common of around 6lb. The feeder rod took a couple of more casts but finally the tip swung round and another smaller common graced the bank. As an extra bonus, I also snagged up on a cage feeder rig that'd snapped off during a session a couple of weeks back and managed to get it back in! Great to have it back in the tackle bag rather than in the lake.
The swim went dead after that and despite a couple of further moves to other productive swims I couldn't raise another bite. But I was pretty chuffed to have caught so quickly on such a short session!
The weather looked pretty good on paper with sunshine and a little rain throughout the day. But upon arriving at the lake it was clear that a very chilly breeze was going to make the going difficult. The first swim I tried at the narrow end of the lake didn't produce a fish and although the 2nd swim (peg 25) has been doing me loads of bites in previous sessions it only turned up one carp (albeit a good size one!).
I stuck with it, moving pegs every hour or so or when the bites dried up but it wasn't until late afternoon that I started to get more regular action. Interestingly, the most productive areas from previous sessions didn't really produce and it was trying new areas that brought the fish. In a 1st for this lake, there were actually two other anglers fishing! It was a bit strange not being able to move round the lake as I have been in the past, I guess I've gotten used to having the place to myself!
The day ended on a couple of better fish but I packed down feeling like I should've had more on the bank... But by that point I couldn't feel my face, hands and toes so I'm going to put it down to the incredibly cold wind! Still a great day on the bank though, I'm already looking forward to this Friday's session which (if the weather stays as it is) will be a pike session over at the river (at last!).
Monday 29 January 2018
We had yet another forty eight hours of rain this weekend... I'm beginning to ask myself, will I actually ever get to fish the river again this winter?! So with piking definitely off the cards I headed out to the Holiday Inn lake (I know, again...) to see if I could tempt a carp or two.
As the weather forecast for Monday was also looking pretty grim I had a feeling it was going to be a tough session. But as ever I was desperate to get out on the bank and determined to put my day off to good use, I arrived at the lake at 9:30am (after a detour home to pick up my forgotten brolly) to find it deserted. As with previous sessions, the wind was hacking down towards the far end so I decided to hedge my bets and start in trusty swim 25 which (so far) had been doing me loads of bites.
I stuck with the same tactics as before (helicopter rig with a yellow wafter dumbbell on one rod and a feeder rod with corn on the 2nd rod) and had a few early fish on the feeder before the bites dried up around 11ish.
Rather than move (it was raining hard by this point) I decided to ring the changes and try some different baits. Bread is a great winter bait and having saved some slices from the liquidised bag I'd made up for the feeder I decided to try popped up bread discs and bread boiles for a while. I sat on my hands allowing 20 minutes for each rod but after no signs, it was time for something else.
Zigs are excellent during winter so I decided to try a piece of yellow foam on a 1ft zig on the feeder rod, my thinking being that some of the liquidised bread would float up through the water column and a suspended bait may trigger a bite...
And it worked! After ten minutes the feeder rod roarded off with what felt like a decent fish. Sadly, I never got it to the bank suffering a hook pull at the net... But it was encouraging to get a bite on a new method.
By now time was marching on and with no indication that the pink popup on the helicopter rig was going to produce a bite I decided on a move to the next swim. It's only five metres down the bank but peg 1 gives you access to the bowl end of the lake and I could still fish the lily pads from another angle. It's a move that'd paid off in the past but with the weather steadily worsening I was beginning to wonder if the conditions were completely killing the fishing...
Twenty minutes later the helicopter rod ripped off followed by the zig/feeder rod as I was slipping the first fish back! So the move was definitely worth it and getting a 2nd run on the zig was a conference booster.
But the bites dried up again, so much so that I decided another move was the go and up sticks round to the other side to try peg 7. The weather had changed again with the wind and rain stopping and a bit of blue sky showing. I only came round with the bare essentials and got both rods out, the helicopter in the bowl but quite close in and the feeder on a longer chuck towards the Lilly's lilies. Sadly nothing happened, not a knock or a tap despite giving three different spots twenty minutes each. By now it was 2:30pm and I was beginning to get a bit desperate for a fish!
I gave it 20 minutes back in swim 1 and lost a run on the helicopter. Another move back to swim 25 where I started the day produced nothing so I moved yet again further up the lake settling in swim 2 where some died back rushes and lily pads to my left looked like they might hold fish. This is also the thinner end of the lake so there's less open water to go at but the right hand side moving down the lake was in the sunshine so with a bit of luck there may also be carp heading to the warming water.
The fact that I spooked one fish casting the feeder gave me hope that the carp had found the 3 bread and groundbait balls I'd chucked in to prime the swim 10 minutes before the move....
I didn't have to wait long to get a run, with both rods producing a couple of fish a piece in the space of 15 minutes. The runs kept coming as I packed down, and I foul hooked a fish while reeling in the feeder rod so the fish had definitely pushed further up to the thinner end during the day. So another good day on the bank, harder than the previous trips but it's still very rewarding to be getting bites in winter from a new venue. A lot of moves really took this session from a couple to lots of runs and fish on the bank!
I'm currently praying to the river gods for a decent week of weather so maybe, just maybe I can head out to the river on Friday...
Monday 22 January 2018
After 48 hours of solid rain over the weekend the river just wasn't an option and although I'd love a pike session it looked like hitting a lake would be the only option to get a bend in the rod... So another session at the Holiday Inn Lake? Oh go on then!
Although it'd been very wet over the weekend, today was looking clear and warm(ish) for the time of year with light cloud and virtually no wind predicted for the whole day. The banks were pretty muddy but far easier than over at the river and I must admit I was pretty excited to be back on the bank. I really felt like I'd 'cracked' it by the end of the last session and already knew the spots I'd like to target so there was no time wasted with both rods going out within 5 minutes of arriving. The tactics were what had proved to be the winning combo on previous sessions: a helicopter rig with a yellow pineapple dumbell on one rod to open water and a cage feeder filled with liquidised bread and sweetcorn on the hair fished right to the died back lily pads on the seconds rod.
And then nothing happened... And then I missed a run on the helicopter rod out to open water... And then I missed another take on the feeder rod...
What was going on?! So much for having cracked the lake, a couple of hours went by without anything to show for it. It was a bit of a relief when the feeder rod finally rattled off but with only a small common to show for my efforts and no signs of a shoal of fish in the area it was time for plan B.
I'd spotted a couple of fish on my walk around the lake up at the thinner end towards the hotel and having primed the area with corn and pellets at the beginning of the session I figured a move was in order. I stuck with the same tactics placing both rods very close to the lily pad storks and sat back to see what would happen. The feeder rod did nothing but the helicopter rod kept running and I kept missing the fish... Either the bait was too big, I was too close to the lily pads or my luck just wasn't in but today's session was not going to plan!
Having given it half an hour I decided another move was in order. Having had a lead around the lake was shallow still at the the thin end and with the hooklinks coming back covered in chod, I just just didn't feel that I was fishing as effectively as I could have. The 'bowl' end of the lake was much cleaner so I decided to hedge my bets and head down to that that end of the lake to a swim (I think it's number 1?) to try my luck.
As it turned out, this third move paid off as the helicopter rod produced two fish within 20 minutes of casting out! The feeder rod was also showing signs of fish in the area although it was still remaining strangely silent...
The feeding spell didn't last long though and the bites soon dried up. I repositioned the helicopter rod a couple of times creeping ever closer to the lily stems but after an hour of no action a fourth move was in the offing. The weather had changed slightly in that a pretty chilly wind was blowing down the lake into the far corner and with nothing else to go on, I decided the peg almost diagonally opposite me on the far bank was worth a go. It would mean I'd be fishing almost the same spots but from the otherside and I wondered if the fish had backed off the lines in the water and maybe I'd be able to find them again from another angle.
Having moved the gear, I quickly found out that the wind was far stronger on this side of the lake and the banks were really water logged. But the rods went out on their spots and I sat back to wait. Nothing much happened for twenty minutes or so and I was just contemplating yet another move when the feeder rod tip went round! Another small common came in and just as I was getting it into the net the helicopter rod went off! Unfortunately I lost the 2nd fish but it was great that the move had been worth the effort.
I gave it another twenty minutes but with no more sings of fish another move was on the cards. The fish seemed to be moving away from the lines in the water and getting a different angle on them appeared to be working so this time I upped sticks and went one swim to the left of where I'd started the day. With only an hour left on the clock, I was determined to get another fish in the net before home time!
With the lily pad storks being the biggest 'feature' I'd found I decided to concentrate all my efforts at getting as close to it as possible. It paid off as 10 minutes after casting out the helicopter rod that had been positioned to the left of the pads ripped off with a nice common on the end! The feeder rod also produced a couple of runs, one that I managed to miss and a second to a small common.
So a bit of a tougher day that previous sessions but none the less rewarding. I really enjoyed my time on the bank and it was fun chasing the fish around - if it was easy, it'd be boring right?!
I'd love to say that the next session would be on the rivers but a quick glance at the weather shows solid rain for the rest of the week... The chances of bagging a decent pike are slowly slipping away, maybe I need to find a lake with some crocodiles in it before the season closes?!
Friday 19 January 2018
Luckily for me the weather was completely different to the beginning of the week: a frosty start with blue skies and little or no wind - perfect for a winter bite! Having learnt quite a bit about the lake on the previous session I decided to fish the same methods (a helicopter rig on one rod and a cage feeder set up on the float rod) and use yellow baits from the off. I'd worked through all sorts of different colours last time and with sweetcorn outfishing anything else it made sense to stick with yellow only this time I was going to fish pineapple dumbbells on the helicopter rod in an attempt to pick out some bigger fish. With the sun already on the main body of water I fished with the sun on my back, putting the helicopter rod to open water and the feeder rod close to he died back lily pads.
I didn't have to wait long... The helicopter rod had been in the water for about ten minutes when it ripped off! I really wasn't expecting action quite so quickly and the bite took me completely by surprise. First fish in the net, too good.
No sooner had I slipped that fish back and got the rod back out and the feeder rod went off and this seemed to trigger a bit of a feeding spell. Over the next twenty minutes I had four more fish to various sizes - the yellow dumbbells and trusty sweetcorn were really doing the business with no clear leader in terms of bites.
And then it went all quiet... I didn't get a knock or a tap for about an hour despite regular casting and baiting little and often baiting using pellets and sweetcorn. On the previous session a move made all the difference so I upped sticks and headed two swims to the my right...
...and it worked! Both rods began produced fish and I had loads of fun jumping between rods, baiting up, tieing PVA sticks and regularly casting to new spots in an effort to keep the bites coming.
3pm came around far to quickly... I could've quite happily kept fishing into dusk. As luck would have it, as I leant down to pick up the helicopter rod to begin packing down it suddenly leapt into life! On the last cast, I'd positioned it right on the edge of the lily pads (possibly right among the storks) and it seemed to have tempted a bigger stamp of fish as the rod was bent and line was stripping from the reel.
To end on the biggest fish of the session was a real buzz which made the final pack down a little easier. I've really enjoyed the last couple of sessions, it's been a refreshing change to the pike fishing and to get winter bites has been brilliant.
It might be pushing it, but I may have to do another session this coming Monday...