Hunters Lake is one of the Crosshands Angling Club waters that I've read quite a bit about. The main draw is that it's a mixed fishery i.e. it contains something other than carp! According to the club website there's a good head of tench in the larger of the two lakes which is excellent news as I've been itching to catch a tench since coming back from Australia.
There are two lakes at Hunters, a small stock pond (which apparently has a good head of crucian carp) and a larger lake of around 2 acres. Both lakes were looking pretty bleak today which isn't surprising as we're at the tail end of winter. But I always think it's worth checking venues out in all seasons as you can sometimes get a different view of a water and it's features, especially when the margin cover has died back.
I did a couple of laps of the lake and spotted some likely looking swims. There's a largeish island on the pub side of the lake which is an obvious feature and I've a feeling that the margins and channel will be a good spot to try. Apart from the margins there's a lot of open water to go at and come summer the lily pads will definitely hold fish.
I also bumped into another angler who like me had come down to the lake for a look around. He introduced himself as Peter and as a long-term member of the club who'd fished Hunters for the last 15 years or so he had lots of info about the lake. He'd had tench, double figure carp and good size perch over the years and even told me a tale of a 19lb pike he'd caught on sweet corn! Whether or not the pike is still in the lake is unknown but it would be amazing to catch it if it is.
As it's a bit of a unpredictable drive from Bristol of around 30 minutes I'm not sure it will work for my school day sessions but come spring I'll definitely be heading over at the weekend with a pint of maggots and a feeder rod to try and bank some tench. And maybe a bag of prawns for those perch...
How many weeks is it until spring?!
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!
I've been having a lot of fun pike fishing on the Bristol River Avon over the last couple of months, with multiple hits of jacks on most sessions throughout October and November. Nothing particularly big had put in an appearance though and with the weather making the fishing very tough throughout December and into January I was beginning to worry that the elusive monster that I'd been chasing wouldn't make it's way to my landing net... It's been so bad recently that I've had to resort to carp fishing!
But this week was different: the weather has been cold and clear with little or no rain and the water levels on the flood site have been steadily dropping. All of which was pointing to a potential pike session on the Friday! However my hopes were dashed as on Thursday night, a massive rain storm swept across Bristol... When I checked the river levels on Friday morning, there was a slight height increase but my main fear was water clarity: would the river be a chocolate unfishable soup? Add to the mix an unexpected sore throat and I wasn't feeling too chipper...
Despite all this and the forecast of snow (snow?!) for the morning it was decided that I had to go. It'd been too long and I was desperate!
Stomping through the 1st field it was apparent that last night's downpour had done its work and turned the banksides into a quagmire. The cattle grid swim was a slippery mess of mud and silt and although I managed to get the rods set up and in the water, I wasn't really 'feeling' it. After giving it 30 minutes without a sign I decided to reel in only to find both rods snagged... Whenever the river floods, loads of tree branches and rubbish gets swept downstream adding loads of new snaggs and the trebles had lodged in something. Luckily I got both back without snapping off but the baits were gone. Not the best start...
Rather than dropping into any of the open water spots on my way upstream I decided to head straight to the tree swim that's done me so well in the past (it saved me from a blank on my last session). In terms of slack water, it's probably one of the best spots on the whole stretch and although it gets a bit of a hammering, it's always worth a go - and on this occasion, it really came up with the goods...
Dumping the gear well back from the waters edge, I re-baited my rod with a whole sardine and crept forward to cast towards the snaggy tree. The bait hit the water and I knelt down to put the rod on the rest and tighten up the slack. At which point the braid jumped in my hand... And again. And then started to pull line from the baitrunner. Surely I must've snagged on some debris moving downstream? Just in case, I tightened down and struck at which point all hell broke loose!
Fish on! The fight this thing gave was incredible and it was a real struggle to keep it under control and away from the snags. Most of the fights I've had from river pike have been quite short but this one really went for it, stripping braid from the reel on some massive lunges. It was quite a struggle on the steep bankside to get it into the net but eventually an amazingly looking pike slipped over the net cord.
What a beast! I couldn't quite believe it, the whole thing from casting to landing the fish was a blur and with the bait being in the water for around 10 seconds before it made off with it, this has to be the quickest bite from a pike I've ever experienced! Weighing in at 19lb this was the 3rd biggest fish I've had from the Bristol River Avon and the fish of the season for me - I was completely made up. The head on it was huge and it was quite a struggle to haul it up for the camera but as you can see from the look on my face, I was made up and incredibly glad that I'd decided to make the trip to the river today.
After resting the 'beast' in the margins for 5 minutes it swam off strong downstream and I set about getting both rods out. I had a feeling that after all that comotion that the swim would be dead and wasn't surprised when 30 minutes slipped by without another sign that there were any other fish in the area. Before moving on I baited the swim with a mix of leftover fish scraps, liquidized bream, a tin of tuna fish and thai fish sauce. It completely stinks but I'm convinced it draws fish in!
Over the next 3 hours I moved further upstream and tried four more swims without so much as a knock or a tap. Although the water level was good the flow was pretty fast which made swim options tricky and having sat in the incredibly cold wind for far too long I decided to stomp back across the fields heading upstream. Arriving back in the tree swim, I tried 1st the left hand side and after 30 minutes of nothing moved back to the right hand side. Would my prebaiting bring the swim back to life?
As it turns out yes! The rod cast to the exact same spot towards the snaggy tree signalled a drop back about a minute after casting out and after a strike and a short fight this fine looking jack slipped into the net. Amazing, two fish from the same spot - proving that the river can always throw up a surprise.
I tried a couple more spots on the walk back to the car but there were no takers and I spent the last hour in the cattle grid swim watching the sun go down over the river. To have landed my fish of the season and a back up jack on an incredibly cold day with a dose of man flu has made my fishing year so far but the question is, does the river have any more surprises to throw at me before the 15th of March?!
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...