Sunday 2 February 2014
After so much crazy weather recently, there was no way Dad and I were going to get out on the rivers... Everything is in flood or completely mangled after the rain which is such a shame! I've been itching to get out fishing on the rivers since returning to England in June 2013 but so far, no joy.
So to keep busy we thought we'd try a new water called Lower Kilcott Farm. I've read a lot about it online and done a virtual drive by on Google Street View and although it looks quite small, it seemed interesting enough. The general consensus in the forums was that it a bit of a muddy puddle full of fish (which for some people appears to be a bit of a problem...) and that if you couldn't catch, it was time to take up knitting...
We arrived pretty early at around 7.30ish and found that we had the place to ourselves - a good or bad sign?!. The weather looked good - sunny, bit of cloud cover and surprisingly warm for the time of year. As it's a small lake (an acre maybe?) we decided to take a side each: Dad took a corner swim on the road side of the lake which gave him access to a nice (maybe unfishable?) corner and some open water and I took up a nice edge on the far side with a bay and open water.
My plan was to have a sleeper rod out with a ledger baited with plastic corn and a float rod baited with maggots that I'd 'fish for a bite' with, a tactic I'd been reading up on in the fishing mags. The idea is to bait 3 areas, cast to the 1st and wait till you get a bite. Once you've got a bite (even if it doesn't result in a fish), trickle a bit more bait on that spot, move to the next and repeat the process. It should mean that any fish spooked on the 1st spot will be back in the swim by the time you return to it and with a bit of luck, you can rotate between the swims picking off fish as you go.
That plan kinda went to pot... The ledger rod had been in for about 10 minutes (less time that it took to get the float rod sorted) before the bobbin raised and the rod was off. A small 3lb common, very nice. The rod went back out, a little bit of bait went in, I tried to get back to plumbing the depth for the float rod and off the ledger went again!
And that pretty much set the scene for the day! I did manage to get the float rod out in the end and picked up some fantastic roach and carp, great fun on light tackle. The fishing was going so well, I swapped the float for a feeder filled with liquidized bread and went for a hair rigged maggot ball in an effort to bring in some bigger fish. It got to the point where the water was boiling and we were pretty much getting a fish a chuck - loadsa fun.
The weather throughout the day went from sun to rain on and off but the arvo was actually really warm. I'd seen some fish showing on the surface who'd been scooping up the hemp seed I'd been putting in as ground bait (guess some of it hadn't split or had dried out) so, silly as it seems, I gave floating crust a go...
... in January?! Really? It worked though! To be able to freeline crust in the sunshine, picking off 3-8lb carp was a bit of a treat after the previous one fish or complete blank sessions.
The action was so hectic, I only managed to take one snap for the day!
We've a return session booked in for this coming Saturday which I'm really looking forward to. The weather isn't going to be anywhere near as good (it's rain, rain and a bit more rain at the moment...) but I'm gonna take the opportunity to try out some new rigs and hone my float fishing skills (I missed a lot of bites last time). Then we're off to Harescombe Fisheries on Sunday which is another new venue for myself and Dad. From the sounds of it though, it should be nearly as prolific as Lower Kilcott Farm ;)
Walters lake is out at the Cotswold Water Park. It's a 4 lane commercial style mixed fishery though the focus is carp of between 2lb to 20lb (I've had one tench out in 3 sessions so there's some other fish in there).
We'd fished there a couple of times over the summer and had an amazing time - nearly a fish-a-chuck! With a bit of luck, we might not blank...
There was a heavy frost on Sunday morning, so it took a little while longer to get from Bristol out to the water. The drive was pretty crazy - minus 3 on the motorway and the car was screaming at me about the 'risk of ice'. Luckily the sparse number of cars that were out were taking it very easy. Once I got out on the A roads it calmed down a bit and I had to stop and take a pic of the sunrise - the colours were stunning.
So after stopping off to pic up Dad, we finally got to the venue around 8ish. Took a quick snap of the water as it looked stunning: flat calm water, frost on the grass, sun coming up on the horizon and...
...fizzing on the surface. They were in there! We got the day tickets, reviewed the rules (and man, is there a lot of them...) and got out to the swims.
As there was a match on later in the day, we could get to our favourite swims so chose to get in the opposite side. The water isn't wide and each swim is roped off meaning you don't get a lot of casting movement - which isn't a major problem as the swims are wide and, being winter, we could move as it was very quiet.
The major restriction with the venue is the rule of having only one rod out at a time. This is fine during the summer, in fact I can see the sense in it: the last session the bites were coming within 5 minutes of the bait being in the water! With two rods in, it'd be a nightmare managing the lines...
In the winter though, it's a different story. One you need to find the fish and two you need to attempt to figure out which bait or presentation the fish will actually take. With one rod casting every 20 minutes, fishing from 8 till 4 (at the latest...) that's 24 casts. Work on the basis that you may catch a fish, or get snagged or go for a wander, that's not a lot of fishing!
So maximising time and getting rods in the water presto was the go. I'd set up 2 rods, the idea being to bounce between them. One with a float, the other with a small cage feeder the idea being that casting around with the feeder might help me locate the fish and then sneaking a float in over the top of a bit of feed would help me pick them off. I'd opted for maggots and fake corn on the hook with liquidized bread for ground bait.
A bit of breaky a couple of hours later and still no fish. A few liners and pulls but nothing visible on the surface...
By this time a big bank of cloud had come in and as the sun disappeared the temperature dropped... and the wind got up... and the match started... and still no fish...
...and then Dad hooked one! At last, we'd avoided a blank ;) A good size mirror of around 10lb.
Another hour of persaverance and finally the feeder rod twitched, then the tip sprang round and the reel started to take line. I took it really, really easy with the fish - after all that work, I really didnt want to loose it due to a hook pull on a tiny hook (the size limit for the lake is a 10). A nice fight later and one mirror in the net.
The rest of the day was very, very slow but Dad did mange to land another lump close to closing time.
So, a slow day BUT not a blank! Walters lake really is worth a trip, it's a very well put together tidy lake with a good cafe and lots of fish. I wish they'd relax the rules a bit (spesh the 1 rod limit, even if it was only over the winter) but apart from that it's a winner.
So as a backup plan we decided to head out for a piking session at Watermark Fisheries The Pike Lake - Lake No.6. The last time I'd caught a pike was back in 2004 up at Pixies Mere so I was really looking forward to the session.
Got off to a bad start... The weather report threatened a similar downpour to the one on Monday and then on boxing day, the car decided to blow both the front headlights and the clutch that'd been playing up since we bought the bloody thing finally gave up!
Perhaps we should've taken it as a bad omen... The fishing gods were trying to tell us something?
All was not lost though: Dad very kindly offered to come and pick me up and we decided to risk the weather so we we're back on.
In the end, the weather wasn't too bad - we were treated to a full rainbow. Which was rapidly followed by a massive rain shower, then sun, then a hail storm!
All of which you would've thought would bring the pike on? But no dice...
We tried every bait imaginable but they just weren't up for it. I managed to loose two of the floats I'd brought spesh for the trip on an invisible snag just off to the right of the swim (and they aint cheap!).
It was great to be out - but I would've loved to have seen a fish on the bank!
So the 2nd blank after the last one at Plantation Lakes - really hoping this isn't setting the scene for 2014?!
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.