Discussing with John in recent weeks, the idea was proposed of creating a monthly diary type piece around my angling exploits during the season. Now, as with most out there these days, my angling is often but very limited to mainly over nighters as and when the work and family life allow. I am fortunate to hold a few tickets for various waters, often being referred to as ‘the bus conductor’ amongst close friends. Although this year I have decided to drop a few waters to concentrate on some very special ones, but will endeavour to try and take you on the journey through the good and bad that angling throws; hopefully, there will be a few fish thrown in along the way…
For this month’s piece, it will probably be a bit more of a re-cap of the year so far along with the early stages of a new venture. As I sit in glorious sunshine on the new pit, we are now coming towards the end of April but the last few weeks nighttime temperatures have been freezing to say the least! There are signs of fish milling around soaking up the rays, slurping at the fresh Caddis larvae that is starting to emerge, but they have not fully woken from their winter slumber enough to take on any meaningful feed.
Talking of winter, it is probably a good starting point to recap on the year so far; and what a year we have all had to endure…probably less said about that the better really! As many of you reading this can more than likely relate to, the advice of ‘Stay Local’ with no night fishing pretty much put pay to most of my waters. As a result, I ended up joining a small local day only water again which offers decent fishing along with heading to the local stretch of the Frome to enjoy a spot of trotting. Both venues allowed me to escape for a few hours after work in the evening or weekend having been cooped up inside for what feels like an age!
The local day only water turned out to be busy, with most people seeking that local fix and in turn, very moody! Tactics for my often short two or three hours in the evening would be very simple, crumbing up the newly released Strawberry Ice to form little stockings and fishing either a Peach, Pineapple & N-Butric or a Chocomalt pop up over the top with both treated to a good soaking of matching Spritz.
Utilising the baits in this way kept the bites coming through some very cold sessions, being fortunate enough to pick up several fish a session sometimes but majority of the time going home with a wet net. There were not any trophy shots, no names, no weights; often slipping the hook in the net and returning with no fuss. It was just a release from the time, simple and fun fishing which is what it is all about!
The news of night fishing that everyone had been waiting for was released but having only dabbled for a few months, I did not seem to have an urgency to get out. Horseshoe reopened and having got the bank holiday period out of the way and let things settle down a little, I decided to head up for my first two nights of the year. Having arrived at a reasonably quiet lake, although saying that, it seemed the famous Winter Bay was with the majority opting for Summer. After a little mooch and a look around Winter Bay, I settled on the renowned Winter Point. A quick lead around I could not believe how clear it was out in front of this swim, assuming it is down to the sheer volume of feed that goes in around this area that keeps it grazed upon. In my mind, it was too clear, and I struggled to find an area ‘dirty’ enough that I wanted to fish. With a few more casts, I found the edge of a big weedbed on the outermost area of the clearing and proceeded to introduce ten spombs of 10mm Ultranut, hemp, corn and crumbed up CR1 and Ultranut. The mix was treated to a bottle of the NutMino along with some CR1 Syrup.
Rigs were kept simple, two Ronnie’s on naked heli setup with Chocomalt and CR1 pastel pop ups over the top. As time was now getting on, it would simply be a case of settling in for the night with the view to keep eyes and ears peeled. Morning arrived and unfortunately no fish, however first light display it was clear the fish were holding up more in front of Big Double/Winter Disabled in the main bowl. I quickly went about pulling in a rod to cast a single at them whilst I tied up some zigs which I felt was probably the plan of attack for the day ahead.
Now on the subject of ‘zogs’ (commonly known as ‘zigs’), I hate the bloody things! Massive self confession here, and you can probably tell already, I have rarely used them which is probably why I do not get on with them. Now, there is no questioning how effective they are, especially around this time of year with many anglers fishing them effectively and having some royal results. Still, two ‘zogs’ were attached at six and seven feet, one black/black and one red/black, being dispatched into the area of shows.
Around an hour later the all black soaked in ‘PPN’ Spritz signalled a steady drop, connecting to the prize on the other end. More importantly, assuming it was landed, this would be my first Horseshoe fish caught on a zig and probably only a handful of carp that I can probably count caught whilst ‘chucking’ one around! A very spirited battle commenced and having tried to do me around the point of the swim, I almost had it gulping air and ready for the net. I was very disappointed to see that the lead had not ejected on the take, making for some very heart in mouth moments before eventually rolling over the cord. Now I must say at this point, I am not a firm believer in dumping lead for the sake of dumping lead. However, in this instance, whilst battling an angry carp on light seven-foot zigs with thirteen-foot rods and 11lb hooklink, this was the time I wanted the lead to have ejected!
With all that said, I had a cracking common of around mid-double resting in the beautifully clear shoe water. Without the need to remove the fish from the water, the hook was removed in the net and the fish was simply slipped back to rejoin the rest of its mates. With the rod redone and back in the area, it was clear the fish had pushed down a little further towards the road bank, holding more out towards White Post but still in front of disabled. Another hour or so later, the second rod again signalled a drop and I briefly made contact before that dreaded moment you know it was all over! Not to be beaten, out it went again which resulted in another very quick bite on the black/red combination. Unfortunately, after a short tussle, this one would also manage to slide the hook a few moments into the battle…carp two, me one!
The rest of the afternoon/earlier evening past uneventful, before deciding to get the rods back on the deck for the night ahead. A new spot found, one rod dispatched and then disaster struck! Whilst firing out the second, the butt guide decided to blow its inner which resulted in a few expletives let me tell you! I was left with a bit of a dilemma, with only fishing two rods I was now down to one! Should I stay, should I go…by this time my mind was made up, I was fuming that I somehow managed to screw the rod so packed up and headed home. Now if the wife should ask, I decided to leave early as the fishing was dreadful, thus earning some browny points along the way to be spent at a later date…truth be told, it was fishing pretty well and I know there would have been a few more fish on the cards should I have been able to stay! Not how I envisioned my first session back from lockdown to go, but on the plus side I went home with a fish under my belt.
The next day I took a trip to see the legendary Tom at Cotswold rods to do a repair job (thanks once again buddy!), have a catch up and then head off for a good mooch around the new syndicate. This pretty much brings us in full circle and back on the subject of the new pit. Wow, what a pit this is! If I am honest, there is not too much really known about it yet. Wild, reasonably a virgin water, deep and full of crayfish. Unknown stock to an extent but the ones I have seen are mint!
I am currently 48hrs in and heading into my last night, with the pit not truly woken yet from the winter slumber. Having arrived mid-afternoon Sunday, I went for a good mooch and found a few fish in one of the bays sheltered from the nippy wind pushing over the pit. I decided to simply flick a lead close in to one of the poke swims, trying to find a shallower drop in this deep pit. With a spot found, ten spombs of hemp, crushed UltraNut/CR1 and whole 10mm bait was introduced with three rods going on the same area, with the plan to see what occurs through the night/morning to show me the way. As it happened, the night was uneventful other than waking up around 3am shivering; I really could not believe how cold it was and unsurprisingly the fish decided to stay put.
Dawn broke and with it a few fish started to show themselves, I quickly pulled a rod off the spot and flicked a single out in the general direction. Again, the drop was massive, was too deep really but had hopes that they may have dropped down; you have to try these things as you just never know what’s lurking in the depths. After several cups of tea, I decided to pack up and move to the next area along which would give me better access to the area they were seen in a few hours before. I had a very quick flick with the marker, working out they were showing in eleven and twelve feet of water so decided on a ten-foot zig and only fished the one rod in the bay for the time being. After a few hours and little else to go on, a quick explore of the swim with the marker I found some very interesting areas of five and six feet which were surrounded by the obis. These spots would get a few spombs of bait in perpetration for the night ahead. Later that afternoon I had an indication on the zig, however lifting into the bite I connected with nothing! On retrieval the lead had ejected from the clip so something must have had a go, maybe only just nicking it, maybe it just caught it with a trailing fin, maybe it was a bird…who knows, but it was something to go on at least!
Upon waking to a glorious but otherwise fruitless and very cold morning, it was instantly clear the fish had done the off from the bay. Although there was one small common that came out over the top of the zig which had me hoping they were still there, but it was clear this was probably the leaving party, and he was in a hurry to catch up with his mates. Kit loaded on the barrow, I spread a reasonable helping of 18mm CR1 around an area the size of a tennis court to try and get them used to picking up bait. Although with that said, I am imagining the countless amounts of crays are having a right dinner party and enjoying some quality tucker!
The car was loaded, I hatched a plan and took a trip to the local tackle shop. I was simply going to be all out on the adjustables for my remaining night. In honesty, it was also nice to get away from the lake for an hour or so and replenish supplies. Upon arriving back, I was greeted with blazing hot sun and very light winds; with some serious movement as the stock came up in the layers to take in the rays of the warming day, picking at the large hatch that was going on with it.
I had an area in mind, but this went out the window having seen the amount oil fish in front of another area. With all the bait left in the van, the plan of attack would simply be to chuck adjustable flip-flops at them and see what the remainder of the session would bring. One thing was instantly clear, they did not like a lead being fired at them in the slightest! It was now a case of putting some foam in and around the areas of patrol, adjusting the depths with minimal disturbance and try to find out where they were holding along with if they are willing to take my little black offering.
Upon dusk my marginal zig fished a foot under in fourteen feet of water signalled a take, connecting with whatever was on the other end. After a short battle, it was clear I was tussling with a reasonable sized weedbed between me and the fish. Unfortunately, and my zig jinx seems to have struck again, the bloody thing ‘fell off’…did I mention that I hated flip-flop chucking! Still, it was a good sign and the right area they were visiting; doing everything right other than being able to see my prize resting in the folds of the net. Ah well, maybe next time!
Following a very enjoyable few days on the new pit, I had some bait left over so rather than re-freezing or it going to waste I decided to head to this local day only water for as few hours. Plan of attack would be simple, CR1 ‘The Whites’ and the new Squid and Plum pop ups being presented over the mix which consisted of hemp, CR1 and UltraNut whole, chops and crumb along with plenty of NutMino and CR1 liquids. I would deliver this nice and tight to some far margin snags with the aid of a baiting pole, making sure the presentation was bang on each time with next to no disturbance. I can say on this occasion all went exactly to plan, ending up with three cracking fish for my short three- or so-hour session including one of the lakes gems in the shape of a cracking fully.
We are now in the last week of April and I am once again sat on the banks of the pit, right on the end of a bloody freezing Northeasterly which is making it far from ideal. However, upon my arrival late afternoon yesterday, and after a mooch on the more comfortable back of it, it seemed the fish wanted to be right on the end having found them a few feet from the bank sat over some very nasty ‘snot’! Not where I would have been out of choice that is for sure, but that is where they wanted to be so who am I to question it. An hour or so trying to present a bait over it was unfortunately unsuccessful, although there were a couple of moments you only get when stalking as you see something approaching the hookbait…talk about heart skipping a beat!
With the fish slowly drifting out, it was time to set my traps and home for the coming night. A few spombs of bait would be introduced on a couple of likely looking areas and it was a case of waiting to see if they were still mooching or maybe came back during the next day. Unfortunately, this session proved frustrating with the fish seemingly drifting off and not returning as expected once the sun came up. Still, I had found where they wanted to be, so it was a case of baiting up ready for my return in a couple of days.
We are back and the rods are out on the area baited a couple of days ago with a few more spombs over the top, very bright this evening and the cold wind is still pushing into this area. I did not arrive till around eight this evening due to football training with the eldest, but doing my homework and knowing the area, the rods already clipped it was easy to get on the money. With the kettle on sat listening, there is not really a lot out there to go on. We are approaching eleven thirty and knowing I have a couple of nights ahead of myself, I have decided to give them a bit of bait on the main area which is a little risk due to the water temp still being pretty low!
My thinking is the crays and tufties are going to have a fair bit of whatever is down there, so want enough left for if/when the carp turn up. We are fortunate that I do not believe there are any other species in the way of Bream or Tench which will clear the spots which is a positive. It is all a guessing game really, without being able to see the spot with a scope you cannot really be sure! So, with that said, eggs in basket time and I would get everything in and out the way early and sit on it for a few nights; topping it up with 14mm CR1 and UltraNut via the stick…unless I see anything else to go on that is!
Buzzing! 3am on the second night and the rod over the bait has ripped off, resulting in a mint common resting in the net. Wow, first blood from the new water and after suffering the earlier loss the previous week, this feels good! With the fish safely resting in the net, kettle on and new rig sorted, the rod went back out sweet in the hope that it was not alone.
Photo’s done and I am buzzing. Might not be the biggest fish and many would probably turn their noses up at it, but 16lb 14oz of mint, potentially uncaught Cotswold common was my cheery popping prize form this gem of a pit. I was happy, the effort to bait and stick to my guns had worked. The decision to fish a tiger topped with a fake tiger that had been soaking in the new ‘Pure’ range which is set to launch soon has worked. The crays left it alone, the tufties probably picked it up several times but the rig reset, and the bait remains intact ready wating.
Instead of going back to sleep, I decided to take the opportunity to sit and watch the world come to life. It was a dank morning, overcast and still a little nippy with the sunrise being a little disappointing. It gave me chance to not only see first light activity, but anything that might have been moving beforehand in that twilight period that is very rarely seen. A few texts went out to a couple of close friends, with a near instant reply coming back in the early hours; someone else was off fishing!
The rest of the morning was spent on the phone having a good catchup with a close friend whilst at watching the water. By this time, the thought of a few mores hours kip before packing up has past, so for the remaining of the session I decided to explore the swim a little more and cast a couple of singles in and around potential signs of activity. Upon retrieving a rig an hour later for a recast to another area, I could not believe the PPN popup has been found by those pesky crays already! The bait and kicker had well and truly been attacked; the hook point had been turned which resulted in next to no chance of hooking anything that may have picked it up.
The rest of the session passed uneventfully, other than packing up during a hailstorm! With everything on the barrow and hiding under the brolly, it was a case of waiting for my moment to make a run for it! With the van loaded I took the chance, in the rain, to plumb up a new swim and get some bait in ready for the mega change in weather due for the start of May!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this as I take you on the journey into my angling.
Till next month