Sunday 4 May 2014
Scored an unexpected but greatly received freedom pass for a fishing trip this May day bank holiday. Having visited Bitterwell Lake last weekend for a looksee and been impressed with how much it's come on since the last look around over 6 months ago, looked like a great location to wet a line ;)
Love a new venue, always presents a challenge: you have think about how to approach it, find out how it's fishing, ring the changes with baits, read the water... loadsa fun!
For some reason, I woke up at 3am! Not the best start... just couldn't get back to sleep (excited?!) and ended up dozing till around 6ish. Loaded up the car, got on the road and managed to get the fishery at 6.40am - beating the manager by 15 minutes!
The early start really paid off though as I managed to have a good chat with Terry (the manager) about the lake and get a bit of advice on swims. My original plan was to head to a swim near a tree on the far side of the lake as it looked good for a bite: rushes to the right, bit of sun/shade from the tree, good bit of open water but not a overstretch cast for a feeder out to one of the aerators. But the advice was to try one of the double swims near an inflow (very good advice as it turned out...)
I decided to start the day with my fave set up: a sleeper ledger rod with fake corn, pva stick and a light feed of liquidized bread, pellets and corn and a 2nd rod fished with a feeder filled with groundbait and a maggot ball on the hair. The ledger went out into open water, only 6 or so meters from the right margin and the feeder went infront of the inflow.
It soon became apparent I was fishing all wrong!
The 1st run came to the ledger - it screamed off, grabbed the rod and... nothing...
The 2nd run came to the feeder - again, it screamed off, grabbed the rod and... nothing...
This happened a further 5 times! Bloody annoying! I'd been fishing for all of and hour or so and had managed to successfully miss 7 runs - wtf?!
So a bit of a rethink. Got the rods out of the water, got the breakfast porridge on and spent 20 mins or so munching, watching the water and generally calming down a bit. Something was up: the conditions were great, the swim was great, the fish were there, the bait was working... but something was failing. Which left tackle - perhaps I was fishing too heavy? One of the other fishermen (the chap who was actually fishing in my original swim choice) wandered by and mentioned he was using a smaller hook as the fish were pretty shy...
So I spent 10 minutes tying up some new rigs: a hair rigged bait band on a 10cm braided hook length with a size 12 hook, the idea being to mount either pellets, luncheon meat or sweet corn on the band. I also stepped the rod down, switching out the heavy 2-1/2 test curve carp rod for a much lighter 11ft feeder rod and put a korum method feeder on rather than the original cage feeder. The other rod went out with a similar size rig but this time using coated braid and a trimmed down Cell boilie.
The results were instant... and pretty explosive! The feeder rod had been out for around 5 minutes with two bits of real sweetcorn on the band when it literally jumped from the rod rests and proceeded to be dragged down the platform! Even with the clutch slackened off, the take was so violent that the fish attempted to take the rod with it! It took 5 minutes to get a 6lb common in on the light rod, loadsa fun!
I managed a couple more runs on the feeder (the ledger was silent) when the sun finally poked over the top of the trees behind me and shone on the water just out in front of me. This must've been around 11ish and all of a sudden, the fish started appearing on the surface... Luckily, I'd brought a tub of Pedigree Chum Mixers with me and fired out a couple of pouch fulls to see what would happen. Sure enough, they started to disappear ;)
It got so warm, I was able to shed the bib and braces and expose my lilly white legs to the world...
As the ledger really wasn't producing, I reeled in, got the float rod out and set it up with a really small surface controller running to 6lb mono and a fake chum mixer mounted on the hook. After a few missed takes and a chat to one of the chaps helping out the bailiff on the bank work, I switched to a real chum mixer on a bait banded size 14 hook - a crazy small hook for the fish that were showing, but they kept spitting the bigger ones out!
It took all of about 2 minutes and I was into my 1st fish. And they kept on coming. From 11am through to around 4.30pm it was all I could do NOT to catch fish ;) They we're literally boiling on the surface. I managed to get through nearly a whole bag of mixers, the greedy buggers! The only down point was loosing what I imagine was the biggest fish of the session to a hook pull after a great 10 minute fight... Could've used a bigger hook and a heavier rod for that one...
And after having ignored the feeder rod for a couple of hours (only recasting it every 20 mins or so) it suddenly came to life. I had 3 screaming runs in the last couple of hours of the session that resulted in some really decent fish.
It was difficult to pack up at 5ish, I can only imagine the surface and margin fishing would've really taken off (even more?!) in the early evening but what a brilliant session?! A perfect days weather, a whole loada fish ranging from 3 through to 10lb (there's bigger ones in there, spesh the-one-that-got away!) and I can't wait for a return trip.
If you haven't visited Bitterwell Lake lake yet, it's well worth a visit, you won't be disappointed. It's a really well maintained fishery which has had loads of work done on it recently (with more to come by the looks of it), one of the best in the area I'd say.
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...
Sunday 1 December 2013
Took a trip to Plantation Lakes this Sunday for a much needed fish. We knew this was gonna be a tough one, a last gasp at the lakes before winter really takes hold (there was a plan to go river fishing but 'the one that got away' convinced us to have another go).
So we arrived with high hopes! Nice and early, managed to get into the car park at 7am on the nose, it was still dark but light was coming into the sky. There were a couple of other cars, good to know we weren't the only fishermen to brave the cold ;)
We headed for the same swims again as they produced results on the previous trip and they look so good: marginal cover either side, a good open water stretch and two islands with a channel. I went with a couple of hair rigged pieces of plastic corn on a bolt rig fished over groundbait with chill hemp and corn mixed in front of the island and a feeder with maggots and liquidized bread on the right of the swim in the margins. Dad, in the swim to my left, went with float fishing bread and maggots and a light ledger in the margins.
Five hours of fishing and nothing... Not a bobbin raised, a float dipped or a rod tip twitched. The whole lake was dead! No one was getting anything. To make matters worse, at around 12pm three blokes moved in the swims to my right. What commenced could only be classed as a casting competition! They all had two rods each, one on float and the other on bolt rigs. Each rod was cast on average every 5 minutes?! If there were ANY fish in the vicinity, they we're swiftly making their way to the other side of the lake...
I put up with it for around an hour and something had to give - either they got a shouting or I was moving. Working on the basis that there were no fish in my swim and if there were, they would've swam off after the constant rain of weights splashing down on their heads, a move was the go so I relocated to a nice calm bay on the far side of the lake.
It looked perfect: a bay on my left and right, good margins and open water in front of me. However...
There were two pole anglers on the far right of the swim who JUST WOULDN'T SHUT UP! Unsurprisingly, the main topic of conversation was the lack of fish they were catching... Noise travels very well over water, I can only imagine the fish got as bored of the sound of their voices as I did.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you want a chat, go to the pub. I don't come fishing to listen to what was on TV last night, or what the misses is bitching about, or how 'there are no bloody fish in here' - I come to catch fish and have a peaceful time on the bank side. And your constant shouting between swims is really bloody annoying!
We started to pack up around 4ish as the light was fading fast with out so much as a bite. And then one the three casting champs hooked a fish! There just ain't no justice in the world...
One reason for the dry day could've been that the match that was sposed to take place on the horse shoe lake the previous day was held on the coarse lake. Apparently it fished very well, which would explain the lack of fish gracing our nets!
A beautiful day out though and we'll be heading back. I've a feeling that the lake will really come into it's own in the summer and'll provide a good days sport.
We've a spot of river piking planned for just after Christmas, fingers crossed we'll hook into some fish then.
We took advantage of the clocks going back and got on the road just after 6 and arriving at the fishery around 7...
...only to be really disappointed. The 'lakes' were more, well... small thin canals?! We were going to fish on the North Pool but after a quick scout round, we decided it wouldn't be up to much especially if any other anglers turned up. It's very small, very weedy and the bank sides were a bit of a quagmire. The other alternative was Rushcombe Lake but again, you could virtually reach the other side with an under arm cast. It just didn't look good...
Luckily for us, there are 2 other lakes very close by - the Acorn Fishery and Plantations Lakes. Seeing Plantation was closest, we thought we'd keep as much of the early start as possible and head on there.
We didn't realise when we arrived that there are 3 lakes (course, carp and match). As the course lake was the first we found, we had a good look round and set up in pegs 27 and 28. With two islands, a channel, good bank marginal cover and plenty of water in front of us, we thought the action would be thick and fast.
But no dice. We tried baits close to the islands, in the margins, in open water. We tried method feeders, open ended feeders, floats, ledgers. We tried luncheon meat, sweetcorn, chickpeas, maggots, pellets.... nothing.
The bailiff came round at 10ish to collect tickets and his advice was maggots or corn close to but not bang on the island or in the channel!
We stuck at it though and I finally got my first run around 11ish - which is true style I promptly lost! Story of my weekend I'm afraid.
The good news was it really picked up from then on. Dad stuck with the float fishing and picked up a good size tench and loads of bream. His ledger rod also started to pick up with some nice carp. I stuck with the feeder with liquidized bread and started to build up a swim of bream and got some more runs on the method feeder close to the island using plastic sweetcorn.
Having discovered dad had a couple of pints of maggots, some of which had changed into casters, I decided to really feed up the margin to my right and see if I could get a bit of a feeding frenzy going. Five feeder loads and lots of catapults of maggots in, I started to get run after run of small bream and carp but then it went dead...
I kept the feed going in and then got a massive knock on the rod... Then quiet again. After a minute or so I turned round to grab something from my bag when the rod literally exploded from the rests and shot towards the water! Luckily for me, the reel caught on the railway sleeper at the front of the swim causing the rod to jump in the air giving me a split seconds to reach out and grab it. The whole thing took about 5 seconds - a close run thing.
Needless to say, the fish had gone... The light tackle and 5lb line was no match for it and I guess the hand break effect of the rod hitting the swim must've caused a crack off. I can only imagine it was a really angry carp?!
So, a slow start leading to a busy afternoon, a nearly lost rod and a good days fishing. Think we'll be heading back at some point, maybe once the weather warms up.
Next stop? River fishing. Itching to get a winter chub or a barbel. And then it's piking time. Can't wait.
Bit of a late start, didn't arrive till 9.30 but knew I'd be fishing till last knockings so wasn't too fussed. When the weather gets colder, I've a feeling the end of the day produces more fish? Quiet day, not many people there and the wind was blowing straight along the lake. Took the gamble that the fish would be pushed in the direction of the wind so I set up on the far bank to the car park, almost fishing into the wind.
I decided to fish a light ledger in front on the reeds with luncheon meat on the hair and freebies on a stringer. A light scattering of ground bait and that rod was set. The other rod was set up with a Korum feeder and pellets, the aim being to build up a bit of bait in the swim and then float fish over the top once the fish started feeding.
After 20 mins, the ledger rod tore off, connected with the fish and then... nothing... Got the rig in to find the fluorocarbon hook link was snapped. Chewed through? Snagged? Not sure...
Five minutes after that, the feeder tore off. This time I managed to get the fish almost to the net before the hook slipped. I *think* it was a chub (managed to catch one last time) as it was a sizeable silver.
Unfortunately, my luck didn't improve... The morning wore on, the fish weren't taking the bait, the wind got stronger and stronger and I missed the only run I got before lunch time.
So, a bit of a rethink. I decided the reason I was missing fish was the hook size: I'd dropped from a size 8 to a 12 as the fish in the lake are very fussy about presentation. But the hook holds were obviously slipping, possibly due to the being unbalanced with the bait so I upped to a size 8 again. My hook lengths were short too so these were lengthened and swapped from fluorocarbon to a really supple braid.
The trick to not getting any runs is it gives you plenty of time to watch the water. Everyone was fishing down the wind end of the lake and no one was catching. In the top end however was a big patch of calm water that somehow was just out of the wind...
So in came the rods and I had a bit of a wander round the other side only to find 2 carp playing in the reeds. One was actually tail slapping in the margins...
I shot round the other side, baited the feeder rod with some ground bait and a couple of small cubes of luncheon meat and crept back to the swim. The fish were still there so I gently lowered the bait in, literally 10cm from the bank side...
...and off it tore! Real hook and hold fishing. But, as with my luck earlier in the day, it wasn't to be. Deep into the reeds and the line snapped.
But the good news was I'd located the fish. The gear was moved as quietly as possible, I got into a good swim with plenty of cover from the wind and cast out.
The left rod was still on the ledger with luncheon meat stringers but I changed the right rod to a open ended feeder which was filled with liquidized bread mixed with ground bait. Fill the base of the feeder with the bread and compact it down, tip in some pellets and luncheon meat and plug the top with more bread, chuck it in, leave for 5 mins and give the reel a couple of turns to drag the hook bait back into the pile of food. I hadn't tried this method before but it sounded good.
Within 10 minutes the ledger rod tore off 3 times and each time the fish pulled the hook! Incredibly frustrating.
On the next cast, I fished a slacker line and didn't put the bait runner on. My thinking was as I was sitting on the rod, there was no danger of it disappearing off and the bolt action would be more pronounced meaning a better hook hold.
And it worked! The rod tore off, a nice fight and a 10lb common carp came in. I've a feeling it was the same fish that'd done me 3 times previously...
Then things really picked up. The feeder rod came to life, the fish came up to the surface despite the cold conditions and I spend a good hour stalking carp with bread crust. Only one small fish came out, but on light tackle and so close in it's loads of fun.
The pace kept up and by last knockings, I'd got a good 15 or so fish ranging from 3 to 10lb.
The moral of the story? If you're not catching and you should be, change your tactics, change your tackle, watch the water and move - the fish are in there, you've just got to find them!