A brand new water today for our double hit of fishing this weekend. Harescombe Fisheries is a 4 lake (well, 3 lakes and a pond!) fishery in Gloucester around 30 mins outside of Bristol heading north on the M5. We knew little or nothing about the place other than the chap in the Cirencester tackle shop mentioned it last time Dad went in. He's a keen match fisherman and was singing its praises and from what I could find online, it's a well stocked, well maintained commercial - well worth a go.
After the terrible weather of the last couple of weeks and a wet and windy day on the bank on the Saturday, we were pleased to see the outlook for Sunday was sun, sun and a bit more sun! However, the draw back to lack of cloud cover was a car covered in ice... Our 7am start was put back a bit... Not to worry, scrape down the car, get on the road, pick up some bread and bacon on route and we still managed to arrive at the fishery around 7.30am.
Only to find the Field Lake we'd planned on fishing was closed due to a hosting a match! Bugger. I thought the match lake would have the, er, match on it?! The other options we're Pasture Lake (which turned out to be a small pond... but according to the bailiff, it's got the biggest, hardest fighting fish in the complex?!) or Meadow Lake (didn't fancy the match lake and I think it had a 2nd match running on it later in the day). Based on the info online, we figured Meadow would be the best bet: it looks to be around the same size as Field, only slightly smaller with less tree cover.
One of the nice features about the fishery is that you can drive to your peg. When we finally arrived, there was one fisherman on the bank for the whole lake - even with our early start knocked back by the ice and our garage stop it'd paid off as we had pick of the swims. The lake itself has a big bowl of water thinning out to the top end where it narrows out. We opted for the top end, the thinking being that the run off pipe flowed into the lake there (lots of nice oxygen fed water), there were plenty of died back water lilies and weed beds and (the main thing) the farthest swims were flooded meaning we'd have that end of the lake to ourselves if it got busy (which it did!).
A new water is always a (nice!) challenge - how do you approach it, how does it fish, what baits do they go for. Being a commercial, I figured the fish would've seen pellets, maggots, sweetcorn a plenty so opted for a maggot ball on the feeder out in open water on one rod and 2 bit's of popped up plastic corn on the 2nd rod on a light ledger cast to the far end tight to the weed beds. I've realised this is fast becoming my favourite set up!
Dad went out with the float loaded with sweetcorn and nabbed the 1st bite pretty much 5 minutes after he got a bait in the water, a decent size common. Then my ledger rod wrapped round! I managed to lean into the fish only to loose it as it came to the bank... Ah well, take a deep breath, calm down (the 1st run of the day always gets the adrenaline flowing) get the rod back out and get back to setting up!
The pace for the 1st couple of hours was nice and steady. The feeder rod produced smaller fish at a pace of around 3 an hour. The ledger however was really doing the business: a take every 10 mins or so. The fish were bigger too, they seemed to be responding to the single, smaller hook baits better than the feeder.
Then came my 'fish-of-the-day'... I'd been casting to the weed beds but switched tactics and decided to drop in near a patch of died back water lilies. I'd walked up the bank and dropped the faithful popped up plastic corn with a PVA stick and two balls of liquidized bread with a smattering of sweetcorn and maggots mixed in. The bites had backed off a bit and I wondered if the bigger fish had moved in so I decided to leave the rig out for a bit longer this time... The theory was rewarded about 25min later when the rod tip wrapped round and the bobbin smacked up to the rod!
This fish felt different to the rest: rather than making straight for the weed beds or out into open water it just started head-banging - normally a good sign that you've a bigger fish on.