Saturday 25 July 2015
My 1st trip to Festival Fishery in Glastonbury and the 1st venue in my 40th Birthday Fishing Week 2015!
Absolutely terrible weather... It rained pretty much solidly on Thursday and Friday... The journey down from Bristol was a shocker seeing me arrive at 9pm rather than 7pm...
But I banked a fish! Which was a real result as the whole lake fished really hard that weekend. Thank you to Innate Baits, you saved me from a blank ;)
It's a bit of a special fishery and although the weather was more than challenging and the fish not forthcoming, I'll definitely be heading back for a return session soon.
It was very windy and although the fish were feeding up on the surface, keeping a controller and bait in position was next to impossible...
So out came the zig rigs! And it worked, 20+ fish in the space of a few hours.
All but one fish fell to surface baits, namely chum mixers as freebees and a enterprise tackle mini mixer on the hook.
The first 5 five where all commons around 9 to 11lb and in tip top condition. The fish continued to feed even once it got dark with the last 3 fish coming in complete darkness (lost a couple too, nearly managed to make it to 20!).
Rio also managed to catch one for the camera ;)
So another excellent session up at Bitterwell - if you've not yet been, grab a bag of mixers and get up there!
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!
Saturday 20 December 2014
I was lucky enough on Friday to get a chance to fish a private water on an overnight session. You may question my 'luck' as we're in the last half of December and the weather is pretty shocking but at the moment, any opportunity to get out on the bank has to jumped at!
As you can imagine, I'd been watching the weather all week. We've had some frosts recently but the major feature over the next 5 days was a warning of gale force winds and torrential rain forecast to hit on Friday... Not ideal?! However, as the week went on the wind and rain moved to Thursday night and Friday was now looking... cold...
I managed to get out of work on time, rushed home, did bedtime with the kids, got all the gear in the car and was at the lake around 7.30pm. It was flat calm and very, very still but surprisingly warm. Or maybe that was the thermals, 2 t-shirts, trousers and ProLogic thermal bib 'n braces and jacket and woolly hat I was wearing?!
Turning up at a lake when it's dark is a bit of a challenge but I'd already done a recky to scope out swims and got the marker float out to find some spots a week or so previous. It's not a massive lake, around 2 acres in size with a maximum depth of around 8ft. My plan was to fish to the middle of the lake in the deepest water and cast regularly till I either found some fish or found a bait that'd prompt a bite.
Bait wise I'm currently testing out the new boilies from Innate Baits. I've never really used popups in my fishing and with it being winter I was really keen to give them a try. For this session, I had 3 different popups to try:
As it wasn't raining I decided to establish base camp in my selected swim (which only took two trips to the car and back - I really need to get a barrow...) and get a couple of rods out before setting up the bivy. Both rods were already clipped up: 9 rod lengths for the left hand rod and 10.5 for the right. To hedge my bets, the left hand rod went out with a Mainline Cell boilie topped with corn on a simple blow back rig. It's a combo I've had success with pretty much anywhere I fish: the rig is nice and simple using a size 8 Korda Kurv Shank hook, a bit of silicone on the hair to keep it in place and 15lb coated braid with around 2cm of the coating stripped back from the hook to form a hinge. The only change I'd made to the set up was to go slightly longer with the hooklink - I usually go around 5 inches for my summer fishing but I'd read a lot about how longer hook links are better in winter so I gave it a go for this session with the rig being around 8 inches long.
The other rod went out with a chod rig and a Pineapple+ boilie. Based on what I found with the marker float, the lake bed was actually very clean for the time of year but my main reasons for using the rig was that it's perfect for presenting popup baits. This is really new one for me as I've never used a 'choddy' and having invested in one of the Korda Chod Kits I was keen to give it a go.
So both rods went out, the left rod with a small dynamite stick of ground up Cell boilie and Sensas black ground bait and 6 boilies catapulted over the top and the choddy as a single hook bait. I had the opportunity of fishing three rods for this session but as it was rapidly getting colder, I decided to get the bivvy up and sort out the camping gear. I had a feeling that it was going to be a long cold night so it made sense to get everything prepared before my hands got too cold and I lost feeling in my fingers! But setting up kept me really warm and by 9pm everything was done and dusted.
Which seemed to trigger my 1st run of the night! It's amazing how the fish seem to 'know' when to bite ;)
Baring in mind it's winter, this fish was really going for it - it put a decent bend in a the rod and was a real a real head banger (always a good sign). But unfortunately for me, it wasn't to be... after 5 minutes the line went twang... There was still weight there so the line hadn't snapped but on reeling in it became apparent a snapped hook link was to blame.
To be honest, it was my bad: I need to get into the habit of tying new rigs for each session, even if the hooks get reused. In this instance, it was a braided hook length that had been in the water
before and it must've weakened it as the snap was in the middle, not near the hook or at the knot end (where I'd expect it to go).
So lesson learnt! As I'm sure you can imagine, I spent the next hour tying new hook lengths and then all three rods went out again to their marks. This time, the right hand rod got a fresh Tangerine Dream boile, the middle rod a new Cell and the new left hand rod a Washed Out Strawberry Pink to a random cast into the lake (I figured with three rods, one could be a 'rover' that could be cast every 20 minutes to pick off a random fish).
By this point the temperature had really dropped and the grass was getting crispy under my boots. But it didn't see to bother the fish as the next run came at around 9.30am! It was the same rod with the cell and this time got it in: a really nice mirror carp of around 14lb, cracking way to kick start the session ;)
The middle rod went out again and after a bit of warming soup, I decided to climb into the sleeping bag and hit the hay. It must've been about an hour later and the right hand alarm sounded which had me hopping out of the bivy. It was really, really cold by now and through my misted up glasses I could see all three rods were now covered in a thin layer of frost. Picking up the rod was like holding a piece of iron, it pretty much stuck to my hand!
The fish put up a really good fight and eventually it slipped into the net. Another mirror, around the same size at 14lb ish.
The rest of the night was a blur... The alarms sounded every hour with all 3 rods producing fish. The cell rod had gone silent so I'd switch everything over to Innate Popups. It was a close run thing between the baits, but the in the end most fish fell to the Pineapple+
All in all, I had another 4 fish before everything went silent at around 4am. Nothing as big the 1st two fish but getting bites in this weather was amazing, a real testament to the quality of the bait I was using. I was incredibly cold by now, jumping in and out of the sleeping bag and blundering around in the dark. The landing net had become stuck to the boards, the unhooking mat had a thick layer of ice on it and the line had begun freezing to the rings... Pretty hardcore!
I manage to get head down for the next 3 hours. The alarms bleeped a couple of times, but I put it down to liners. However, when I eventually surfaced at 7ish I found the left hand rods line had swung right round to the right... interesting?! On picking up the rod, there appeared to be a fish on the end! It was only a small common of around 5lb, I wonder if it'd picked up the bait, kited to the right and then fallen asleep?!
Believe it or not, as I slipped the carp into the net the right hand rod bleeped and line started to spool from the line - a double hook up? In winter?! Again, this was another smallish fish of around 6lb.
As I was slipping the 2nd fish back I noticed the bobbin on the middle rod was up near the blank rather than near the grass where it'd been when I finally crashed out. Another sleeper fish?! I picked up the rod, struk and connected with the fish but within seconds it became apparent it had somehow managed to get me wrapped around a snag and the line locked up solid...
But who's complaining? A winter overnighter in zub zero conditions that resulted in 8 fish and 2 lost is a pretty darn good result in any ones book ;)