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...
Monday 15 January 2018
I've not been carp fishing for ages now, the main winter focus being pike. But after my last incredibly muddy session on the Avon, I was craving something different... And as I've joined a new club with lakes closer to home the time was right for a water pig session!
Unfortunately, the weather man had other ideas with heavy rain being predicted all day on Monday... But what the hell, I was so desperate to get on the bank that I decided to dig out my elderly fishing umbrella from the shed and head out anyway.
As predicted it was raining heavily when I pulled into the carpark. Luckily the lake is only a short stomp away so after booking in at reception I headed down to the water and jumped into the first likely looking swim. I wasn't expecting to see much but swim 13 (lucky eh?!) on the ring road side of the lake gave me a good viewpoint to watch the water and plenty of interesting areas to put a rod to. With my back to the wind and the rain hammering down on the umbrella, I somehow managed to get both rods out, a choddy with a pink popup to open water a method feeder with sweetcorn in the margin to the left.
One thing that became quickly apparent was that the lake is a fairly uniform dept of around 4ft and is very, very silty. Not a massive problem for the chod rod but tricky for the feeder... Ah well, I figured leave the baits in place while the rain was coming down (in sheets...) and watch the water for any clues as to where the fish might be shoaled up. Apart from lots of liners and wind bites on the open water rod nothing much happened and as there was a break in the rain around 10.30am I decided to reel in and do a lap of the lake in an attempt to find another likely looking area.
As it turned out, the far side of the lake down towards the wider end was far more sheltered and out of the wind with relatively calm water. The other thing was a 'feature' in the form of a fairly big set of died back lily pads. After another hour of rain and nothing to show for it I decided to upsticks and head round to the other side casting the method rod as close to the lily pads as I dared and what was the choddy rod (now a helicopter rig with sweetcorn) to open water in the bowl.
I didn't have to wait long! Within 10 minutes the tip on the method rod swung round and I had my 1st run of the day. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to lose it... Damn, I am out of practice! Ah Well, it was as good a sign as any that there were fish in the area and it was worth another cast. The only change I made was switching the short hooklink I was using on the method to a much longer mono hooklink with a size 10 hook and a long hair, my thinking being that the method was more to get some bait in the water and that the fish wouldn't be attacking it as they would in the summer.
The good news was that the change seemed to make a difference as I hit a winter feeding spell and landed seven or so carp over the next couple of hours! Both rods produced fish with the method outfishing the helicopter setup. One thing that I did start to do is feed the swim using a catapult, firing small pouches of sweet corn and pellets little and often. And it did appear to work as I was now getting regular knocks and runs, with one fish coming 'on the drop' seconds after the method hit the water.
At one point, the action was so frantic that I ended up with a triple take, the last fish being the largest of the session - not bad at all!
Miracuously the rain then stopped and the sun came out! Amazing. Unfortunately though, this seemed to kill thinks off and the swim went quiet... I've had this before, especially in winter where the fish seem to back off an area and the solution seems to be to either cast a couple of metres either side of where you've been having bites or move one swim to the left or right. As it turns out, moving swims did the trick as a move to the left and casting 3 or so metres away from the previous area produced several more fish in quick succession.
All in all I had nine carp out and two missed runs - not bad at all considering the conditions! It was also great to be out on the bank despite the weather (although the sun in the afternoon was splendid!) and I really enjoyed the challenge of fishing a new water. Don't get me wrong, I've really enjoyed my pike fishing over the last couple of months but it's hard work, especially with the recent weather. The banksides are incredibly treacherous, the water fast and coloured and the pike less than up for a bite...
But today it was all about a pleasure session in relative (if soggy!) comfort and I had a blast. I'm already looking forward to my next session.
Sunday 17 September 2017
With autumn slowly fading I decided to have my annual last gasp carp session down at the excellent Follyfoot Fishery.
The weather was looking perfect as I drove down, still pretty warm with sun, clouds and very little wind. Pulling into the car park I was very surprised to find only one car, amazing for this time of year and for such a popular venue. Gazing down the lake to my chosen hut (number 19, right in the far corner) it was apparent the fish were up near the surface which was perfect! I steamed the gear round on the barrow and set about getting the rods sorted.
The carp at Follyfoot are very wise to floating baits and based on previous sessions, I've found that zigs out fish mixers. So while the left hand rod went out with a bottom bait, my other two rods were fished on zigs at two different depths: one just below the surface and the second at about 6ft (the lake is around 12ft at this end).
Although I had fish all over the surface, it was a slow start... The carp were feeding in sporadic bursts, with five or so fish slurping in mixers and then drifting off only to return again 10 minutes later. I was spodding out a sloppy spod mix of chum mixers, hemp, corn, pellets, porridge oats and rice pudding which was definitely attracting the carp to the area but they were deftly avoiding my hook baits...
The key it seemed was to switch from an imitation mixer to a bright pink trimmed down popup on a much smaller size 10 hook. The results were almost instantaneous with a bite coming on the drop!
I had several fish over the next couple of hours on the zigs with the occasional run on the bottom bait rod. As the light levels started to drop, the wind completely died off as did the surface activity so I decided to switch all three rods to bottom baits and get busy with the spod rod. I've not had a massive amount of success with boilies at Follyfoot Fishery in the past and having emptied the bait freezer on my recent trip to France, I decided to stick to a spod mix of hemp, maize, pellets and fish the ever faithful spam in PVA bags of pellets.
Over the next couple of hours I had loads of small commons. To be honest, they're a bit of plague! I had real problems with them on my last session and the only way to combat it is to use bigger baits and hope you wade through them... It wasn't until complete darkness that the bigger fish muscled in on the action and I had a run of much better commons.
Things were really begining to hot up now, with fish coming consistently on all three rods. I was topping up with a couple of spods after each bite and between that and pre-tying new PVA bags on leaders for each rod kept me pretty damn busy, so much so that midnight rolled around very quickly... I'd just about managed to get dinner finished and was toying with the idea of hitting the sack when the left hand rod ripped off with what turned out to be the biggest common of the session.
What a fatty! This one made up for all the tiny 1lb commons I'd been catching. However the next run produced a fish I'd been trying to catch since first coming to Follyfoot, an illusive goldfish which I'd seen but never managed to hook...
What a fish! I was made up with this one, it's always good to catch something out of the ordinary. By this point I was knackered and after another couple of small commons I decided to call it a night and get my head down for a couple of hours with the plan being to wake up bright and early and get the rods out again.
It was hard to drag myself out of my sleeping bag at 6am the following morning but it was worth it for the sunrise alone. The water looked great in the morning gloom and I quickly got all three rods back on the spots I'd baited before heading off to bed. It didn't take long for the left hand rod to scream off!
Another nice common to add to the tally! The bites came thick and fast over the next couple of hours but the strange thing was I couldn't get a single taker on the zigs... All the action was coming to the left hand rod in open water. Annoyingly I missed quite a few bites so a change of plan was needed... Searching through the tackle bag produced a tub of Scent From Hell pink dumbell wafters which seemed to make all the difference as a quick succession of bites produced a fine selection of commons.
I was into the dying hours of the session now and it was a real struggle to keep the left hand rod in the water. Bites were coming seconds after the lead touched down on the lakebed so I decided to bring the other rods in and pack the gear down and just fish one rod. Amazingly, the two last casts produced two stunning fish with the second bite coming while the first fish was resting in the net!
The goldfish the previous evening would've been enough but to get this amazingly looking orange ornamental common carp on the second to last bite was an amazing end to the session.
So that's it for carping this year! It'll be pike all the way now until spring next year for me and hopefully the Bristol River Avon will be as kind as it was last year. If you've not given Follyfoot Fishery a go, head on down. They've just reduced their rates for winter and although winter carping isn't really my thing, Follyfoot can produce a good days sport even in the toughest of conditions.
Tuesday 22 August 2017
A chance set of circumstances meant I was down in west and east Sussex for a couple of days and with an empty car, it would've been rude not to pack the gear and get the rods out. As the 1st stop on my journey was Lewes my plan was to fish the carp lake at Swanbrough, a venue I've not visited in over 13 years!
But my plans were completely scuppered due to there only being one swim free... Having just got back from the luxury of fishing a 40 acre lake in France with only 5 anglers on it, this was not something I could even contemplate!
So I decided to head down to the Wylands Angling Centre to check out one of their nine lakes. It's a venue I've never fished before but always had on the list so I was pretty excited pulling into the car park. Luckily the 1st person I got chatting to was the bailiff who gave me a run down of all the lakes on the complex. His suggestion was to try one of the two specimen lakes and after a walk around, I decided the New Specimen lake was the one. The fish were apparently bigger, it had less anglers on it and on my walk round I witnessed 3 fish lump out in one of the island channels - signs enough that this was a good spot to try!
As I'd wasted time mucking around at Swanbrough it was getting pretty late in the day so I decided to fish two rods with solid bags of pellets and 16mm boilies tipped off with pink and yellow popups. A couple of pouchfuls of boilies around each hookbait and I was set for the night.
The 1st bite came to the right hand rod just on dusk which was positioned off a set of lilly pads - a nice drop back which then turned into a run to the right. A short fight later and a decent looking common of around 16lb was sat in the net - happy days!
That rod went back out onto the spot with some fresh baits around it and I recast the left hand rod which was close to some far margin reads before hitting the sack. I was pretty darn tired and must've fallen asleep instantly.... so it was a bit of a surprise when a single toner woke me up at 2 am!
Again, it was the right hand rod that decided to rip off with a slightly bigger fish this time, a common of around 18lb. The rod went back out on the spot (which wasn't too difficult as my head torch beam was strong enough to illuminate the lilly pads!) and I was just about thinking of crashing out after having recast the left hand rod when it was off again!
Another 18lb common, excellent fishing! I ran through the same routine, redoing a solid bag and firing out a couple of pouchfuls of boilies over the top of each rod before retiring to my bag.
I must've drifted off because the next bite woke me up from a deep sleep, this time a drop back on the left hand rod. This fish had a good bit of open water to play in and put up a much better account of itself but after a good fight, another common of 17lb slipped over the net cord.
After that, the rest of the night passed without so much as a liner. I woke up at around 8.30am and thinking that the specimen lakes would probably be night-bite waters I decided to pack down and head up to the House Lake to try my luck for the last few hours of the session (I needed to be on the road by 11.30am).
The rating for the House Lake was medium and I'd seen several fish lump out the previous afternoon whilst chatting to the bailiff so fingers crossed I could nick a couple of bites before properly packing down.
I wasn't disappointed! The right hand side of the lake already had 5 or so anglers on it so I decided to head round to the left and cast two rods at showing fish, one just off a set of lilly pads and the 2nd in a channel between two of the islands. The 1st rod in the channel ripped off 20 minutes after casting out and the pads rods half an hour later! Nothing massive, two commons of around 8lb but good fun.
So not a bad session! It's always good to catch on a new venue and it was great to tick Wylands off the list of places that I've been itching to fish. I will return to Swanbrough as it's a complex I have fond memories of and I'd love to catch one of their amazing scaly carp. If the 15lb fish we used to catch are still in there, they should be monsters by now!