Return to Bagwood - looking for a 20lb!

Monday 29 September 2014

I was all set for a return to Bagwood Lake this weekend - I'd booked the Monday off work and in an effort to work around the misses and the kids school run, I'd aimed to get up there for 3pm to do a 24 hour session.

My heart sank when I checked my phone in the morning. A mate on Facebook who was heading up for a day session had messaged me saying that he'd ditched the whole thing and gone to Henleaze lake instead as Bagwood was rammed! Apparently, there were 5 people with 2 rods each fishing in the swim I'd had on my 1st session... Mental. A whole load of angling pressure, I could only imagine the fish were huddled up in a scared shoal desperately trying to avoid lines, bait and hooks!

But luckily for me, when I arrived at 2.30pm the lake virtually deserted! The swim from my 1st session was taken, as was the point swim by the bridge but luckily for me, the bailiffs swim on the other side nearest the club house was empty! Winner, I got round there with a bag and a bucket to secure the swim and got the rest of the gear round from the car.

The first job was to clean up the litter - what a bloody awful mess! Empty cans, bottles, plastic bags, all kinds of crap were littered up and down the bank and in the water... Seriously, if you cant clean up behind yourself you don't deserve to fish!

Second job was to get the spod mix done - really simple but very carpy: hemp, different size pellets, sweet corn, chickpeas, tinned tuna and chopped boiles - nothing unusual, but all food they love.

After that I went for a wander with the spod bucket to have a bait up and see if I could spot any fish. One thing that's taking a bit of getting used to on the longer sessions is not rushing - I'm so used to having really limited time that the priority is to get a rod in the water as quickly as possible. On the longer sessions, I'm trying to slow down, think about what I'm doing, watching the water and coming up with a plan of attack. Wandering around with a bucket dropping a bit of bait here and there means you get to 'know' the lake better, set potential traps and have a chat with anyone else who's fishing - very civilised!

The water level is really, really low at the moment meaning that the margins are incredibly shallow, maybe a ft or two at most. Walking down the bank to my right towards the pipes that go under the bridge to where I fished on my 1st session, I could see some fish mootching along the edge. Once I got down to the pipes, a couple of fish had turned into 15 or so just hanging around as close to the edge as they could. There's a couple of overhanging shrubs and small trees around the pipes and the fish were definitely using these as a bit of cover. Interesting. I decided to bait up in front of the pipes so not to spook them and leave them to the freebies for a bit.

The water on the other side of the bridge still had 4 anglers on it with rods out. I could see a couple of fish in the margins and some just under the surface in the middle. I had a quick chat with the lads in the far bank swim and they'd not had anything out as yet but were in the process of setting up a floater rod. The point swim had a couple of anglers in it, one of which hooked into a fish as I walked past - a good sign?!

By the time I'd got back to my swim, I was really hot - the weather was warm and sunny meaning I could stay in shorts and a t-shirt! And I started to see fish showing out in front of me, both in the margins near the tree to the left and in open water. Thankfully, I'd bought a bag of doggy mixers - a real after thought, they'd been thrown in the car at the last minute!

A couple of catapult pouches went out and the fish really responded. Soon I had a group of 10 or so fish all competing for the mixers and I let them slurp up the freebees for 20 or so minutes before I introduced a bait: a Enterprise Tackle mini mixer on a long length of Korda Kruiser Control line to a size 8 hook. It took a good hour or so to get my 1st bite: a really slow take, I don't think the fish realised it was hooked! It felt quite small until it got into the edge when it went off like a train and put up a good account of itself before it slipped into the net.

A nice mirror of around 15lb, a cracking start to the session! I never thought I'd be able to pick a fish off the surface at Bagwood as I'd assumed the fish would be far too cautious to take a floating bait so this was a real bonus!

I spent another hour or so trying to snag another fish but as the sun started to dip the fish moved off. Time to get the marker out and suss out the swim: based on what I'd seen so far, the tree to the left was a definite spot (clouds of slit had been coming up all afternoon from the spod mix I'd put in earlier) and the pipes to the right still held fish but I was interested to see what the point in front of me had to offer. It seemed a bit deeper out there, 7 to 11ft from a shallow margin out to the fountain. After a bit of leading around, it appeared that bank dipped off to a shelf about 6ft from the bank so I clipped up to that spot and got some spod mix out. The tree spot was shallow and an easy cast at a clipped up 8 rods lengths. The pipes were a easy walk down the bank and a drop-in would see the lead close to the margins. Handfuls of spod mix on both spots and it was job done!

Even though I'd been keeping an eye on the sun, I'd forgotten how quickly it disappears this time of year... it got dark really quick! Trying to set a bivy up in the near darkness is a pain, especially when another bloody pole broke on me (the 4th since owning this tent!). I got there in the end and finally had everything set for the night by around 8pm. A bit of dinner and a couple of casts and I was thinking about turning in for the night...

I'd opted to put the rods left under the tree and right to the pipes to begin with and it wasn't until 11ish that I got my 1st run which really surprised me! I thought with the amount of fish I'd seen the action would be thick and fast but in hindsight, I think the fish move out into open water and start patrolling the margins once they know most of the anglers have left for the day...

Not a huge fish by this lakes standards but very welcome! The take had come from the pipes and the fish had run straight towards me so the bite was a drop back rather than the usual screaming run. Only a short fight but loadsa fun ;)

I got the rod back out as quickly as possible and spent the next 1/2 hour being plagued by beeps... which could only mean one thing: bream! And sure enough one snotty.

Ah well, that's carp fishing?! Not bad I spose, I've read some reports of people fishing Bagwood and only pulling out bream. In the end, I got my head down and actually slept! Not a beep during the night and I woke up around 6.30am to a very quiet lake, not a movement and really grey over cast weather. It was much cooler and although rain was forecast, it did look a bit grim...

I got some breaky on and then went for a wander with the bucket on the hunt for the fish. Not a lot was going on down by the pipes but there were a group off fish along the margins on the point next to the golf course.

And then I found them... there must've been 20 or so sizeable fish all shoaled up in the far, far corner nearest the club house. There are a couple of bays there and unless you're a demon caster or have a bait boat, it's virtually impossible to reach the bays. Hiding behind a bush, I started to throw some spot mix and boiles in, only a bit at a time and in a few different spots. The fish dipped down and started to mop up the bait...

Excellent! I rushed back to my swim, got one rod out to the point and then started to think about how the hell I was going to get a bait into the far corner. In the end, I opted for casting to the bank past the tree to my left, putting the rod in the rests with the bait runner on and then walking the lead up the far bank. No easy feat! The lake is really soft clay and a lead gets 'plugged' a good 6 inches deep even on a light cast. I got there in the end though and once a rig was on the line, I chucked it between two shoals of fish. A handful of boiles went in and then I ran like the wind back to my swim.

Cheating? I'm not sure... Worth it? Oh yes!

I'd been back in the swim for around 3 minutes when the bobbin climbed to the rod, the freespool started churning (I was locked up pretty tight due to the distance) and the alarm started to scream! I struck into the run and instantly connected with the fish but realised that somehow, the line was caught in a bush on the left margin! Disaster... After a bit of yanking and pleading with the line, it pinged off the bush and I could start playing the fish. By this time, it'd taken quite a bit of line and had started to head for the other end of the lake - at which point the line appeared to plink, plink on some underwater obstacle and lock up solid! A bit of walking back with the clutch wound tight (don't want to snap a rod!) and the line came free... but no carp was on the end any more... Bugger, Bugger, Bugger!

But it was a run and that gave me hope! I went back through the casting malarkey again (a bit easier this time, think the adrenalin had kicked in) and got the bait back on the spot...

Took a while longer this time, 20 minutes or so but off it went like a train! This time when I struck the result was exactly what I wanted: the line went taught and I could already feel an angry lump on the end. It took a bit of steering as I was aware of the last runs foul up but slowly I managed to pump the fish towards me... A bit of a heart in the mouth moment when it made a dive for the pipe to my left but eventually it was in the net!

A cracking common at 19lb! Under the target weight but so, so good. I was pretty darn happy, to have not had a fish for a good 8 or so hours then to loose one was gutting - but this beasty made up for it!

Once he/she been slipped back, I took a wander round to see if the fish were still there and to have a bait up. Amazingly they were! Unfortunately for me, I spent the next hour plagued by a frap off on the cast, then line twist mangling my main line (need to get new line of the reels!). I somehow managed to get out to the spot again and was stunned when the rod ripped off yet again ;)

But no dice... A snapped hook link. Whatta bugger! One think I need to get in the habit off is getting fresh hook links on the line every 3 hours or so. On the next trip, I'm gonna have a good 15 or so rigs ready to go and swap them out more frequently I reckon.

The clock had been ticking and it was now rapidly approaching packing down time. I'd had a cracking 24hrs and it was a good feeling to have 'cracked' the water to some extent. I feel like I know it a bit better now, have target swims and areas to fish too and maybe, just maybe a 20lb+ maybe on the cards for my next trip?!