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!
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!
Unfortunately, the weather report looked pretty shocking for the Friday but what the hell: we've got umbrellas and fish don't mind rain right?!
We arrived at 7ish and I set up in my favourite swim on the far side of the lake near a tree and dad opted for a swim on the road bank. Luckily for us, the rain held off first thing meaning we could get set up in the dry! I'd a variety of hook baits to try: some cell boiles, some 'special' fish meal and plumb boilies that I'd rolled myself (using some paste very kindly given to my by Terry Smith the fishery manager!), a handful of tangerine dream baits (provided by Bitterwell!), some casters left over from last weeks session, the every faithful sweet corn and pellets.
Amazingly, I got a run on the first cast! The weather actually brightened for a spell and the left hand rod which I'd cast out close to the island with a cell boilie tipped with plastic corn, ripped off within 15 mins off being in the water - this was going to be a busy session?!
But after that first fish the weather got really bad... The rain came down in all directions, the wind was blowing a gale straight across the lake a making casting very difficult and I managed to loose my spod on the first cast when the wind took it straight onto the island!
Dad headed off around 11ish, not too soggy (the new brolly was a good investment!) but only one fish that fell to prawns on the float. Unfortunately, it came off at the net...
The next 5 hours passed with no fish! Constant liners, bobbins lifting and dropping but not a single run and no fish showing anywhere on the lake. Dads barber was saying that now we've had our first frost fort the year (it got really, really cold on Wednesday!) that was it for lake fishing... and maybe he was right?! I tried a bit of float fishing, crazy what with the weather but the margins to my right were relatively sheltered. Not a nibble.
One thing that was feeding was this little rat... He'd swum across the front of my swim, jumped up next to my alarm and started having a much on some pellets he'd found. Then he went and sat in my landing net! Lucky for him that Terry wasn't around with the air rifle...
There was one break in the weather at around 1ish and this seemed to trigger the second and final run of the session. I was pretty overjoyed to get this one in the net...
I had to pack down at 1.30 as I was being picked up at 2 on the nose. It was great to have two fish on the bank in such difficult conditions but I think that this may set the scene for the next couple of months as the winter takes a hold. A tough morning but still loadsa fun!
So the next sessions will hopefully be out on the rivers? We didn't manage to hook any pike last year so with a bit of luck, we'll be fishing for British crocodiles sometime soon ;)
The lake was pretty quiet when I arrived at around 8.30am with only two anglers along the road bank. It was sunny and surprisingly warm, with the wind pushing into the far corner so I decided to set up on the left end of the car park bank in one of my favourite swims. On my last trip to the lake, I'd tried a 'big carp fishing' approach spodding loads of bait in and fishing over the top of an area around 3 metres square. As it resulted in me catching some of the smallest fish I've ever pulled out of the lake, a different plan was needed!
Most of my sessions on the lake have been in the evenings over the summer when I'd found that the fish move into the margins or are up on the surface. But during the day when there's pressure on the water, they seemed to favour the open water spots with the weather dictating the layer they want to feed in. The day was going to be warm and sunny (I found out later the hottest Halloween on record?!) so this time I'd brought chum mixers, maggots and boilies. The plan was to fish single boilies with a scattering of around 20 or so baits out towards and around the island in the middle of the lake and then float fish with maggots and pellets in front of me to see if I could find where the fish were swimming - and also to try and pick up some silvers! There's been some great perch coming out of late...
So rod one went out with a hair rigged Mainline Cell boilie and a scattering of baits and I got settled into some float fishing. The action was very slow... There were fishing showing out in open water but no takers and the float rod was producing exactly nothing!
As there wasn't a whole lot of anything going on, I had a play with the camera managing to snap a huge dragon fly and a really colourful duck who was being chased round the lake by the horny mallards!
The first bite came around an hour or so later when the bobbin on the boilie rod slammed up against the blank and the line went solid! A fish at last - but it wasn't to be... I managed to get the fish in as far as the bank and the hook pulled! Bugger. That wasn't the plan.
By this time, the wind had got a real chop on the water and 5 or so anglers had arrived all setting up on the carp park bank. I'd been eyeing up my 2nd favourite swim on the lake on the furthest corner near an oak tree and right next to a nice margin with lots of cover. The increased angling pressure, lack of fish and the fact that it seemed to be the only area of water that was calm (the float fishing was becoming challenging!) prompted a move.
I got settled into my new swim and this time decided to chuck a method feeder in front of the reeds to my right while I sorted out the the boilie rod. It was really warm by now but as I'd not seen any fish cruising on the surface, the open water out towards the island still felt like a good spot to try. While I was in the process of getting a PVA bag tied, bang, off the feeder rod went - the move had paid off! But again, a bloody hook pull...
This was not going at all well! So I took a deep breath and got the rods out again... While I was lamenting my failure on Facebook, the boile rod screamed off - that was quick! This fish was going to come in even if I had to wade out into the lake to get it...
The result was a short but fat common, quite unusual for this lake as most of the fish I've had are longer and leaner. Banking a fish and getting 2 runs in the space of 20 minutes from the new swim was just the confidence boost I needed and I got the rods out onto the spots asap.
Over the next 4 hours I had fish after fish from out towards the island - all on the cell boilies with the only change being alternating topping with a bit of fake corn, mainly to see if it resulted in a quicker take!
Thanks to Jake Alden for being on hand to take this snap of probably the biggest fish of the session ;)
Things started to slow down towards last knockings. The light starts to fade so quickly at this time of year... I really miss summer! But I was in luck: Terry Smith (the manager) wandered over with a handful of some of the new 'special' baits he's been rolling, handily just as I was rebating one of the rods (I'd swapped both over the bottom baits out by the island as this was where all the runs had come from).
So this time I chucked out a double stack consisting of a single 'Tangy Tangerine' and a 'Pineapple +' mini dumbbell. This was to be my last cast of the day as the misses was picking me up at 5pm by which time it'd be well and truly dark! Marcus was also fishing the new baits, over in the corner of the car park bank and hooked into a stunner on the pole:
And then at 4.45pm on the nose (I know 'cos I was clock watching and packing down!) the rod with the new 'special' bait ripped off!
So a brilliant end to another great day on the bank. If you've not been to Bitterwell Lake, give it a go. I've a feeling it'll be a great winter venue this year ;)
I'm back up for a morning session next week and can't wait!