This year I joined Bowood Estate Lake for the first time. For those of you who have not heard of Bowood it is a stately home near Calne, Wiltshire which has a large private lake set in parklands landscaped by Capability Brown. The lake resembles a mis-shapen T with the vertical part short and the two horizonal pieces at a slight angle with the left hand piece being longer and wider than the right. Access is limited to 50 permits a year at £190 but fishing is only allowed on the right hand part of the T (both banks) and the bank of the vertical part that continues onto the right hand piece. (Clear as mud!).
Views from the “arm” looking towards the house in warmer times!
As you can tell there is a long walk involved to get to the fishing, 440 paces in first field, through a gate for another 60 paces, another gate then 60 paces to first platform. To get to the final platform you can fish on the car park side is 1120 paces!!
I had always baulked at the cost as with my other commitments I could not see me getting value for money until now. With retirement it became a very cost effective venue as I live exactly 1 minute from the entrance gate and a further 2 minutes through the estate- so from getting into the car I could be parked and ready for the walk within 4 minutes. This season has seen some fine days of bream and tench fishing coupled with quality roach. Interestingly I seem to attract pike when not fishing for them and to date have had 10 pike (biggest only 8-9-0) on sweetcorn and pole/waggler!
Anyway I had been unsuccessfully piking with deadbaits and had some on lures during November/December and had not been for a bit due to the run up to Christmas and various family visits so a week before Christmas Eve I decided to have a couple of hours down there but to fish pole with pellet (something I had resisted in the warmer weather) and put a deadbait out also. The last platform in the middle field (820 paces) was to be my chosen peg with approx 7-8 foot of water at 10metres. The deadbaiting did not look so clever as the water had turned a chocolate colour with all the rain, so I was unsure how successful it would be.
Anyway I put out a joey mackerel into the right hand margins and set about plumbing up. Rig was a home made diamond bodied float taking a no4, 2 x n0 8 and a no 10, 0.14 Shogun to a 0.10mm Shogun hooklength. A size 18 Filstar gilt hook completed the set up. Groundbait was three bags of leftovers taken from the freezer in the garage that were promptly mixed together.
A ball of groundbait the size of a tangerine, a half pot of micros and a handful of loose groundbait was deposited and as the bells tolled 12 I set off with single bronze on the hook just to see if there was anything about! Bites were slow to come but I began to get a run of fish but then it would go quiet despite topping up and then the bites would return. I suspected that either pike were about (nothing on pike rod!) or there were bigger fish around. I put a pellet (expander) on to see what would happen. Eventually the float buried and I lifted into a solid weight with a large amount of white hydro coming out of the end of the pole. I suspected pike as it kept deep and plodded whereas the bream tend to come higher in the water, 5 minutes later a pike of 7-10 lay in the net!
After returning Mr Esox I had a cup of coffee and potted in another helping of micros and put a pellet (expander) on to see what else would happen. A couple of small skimmers later I was thinking that I would need to pack up soon as the light was beginning to fade when the float buried and the white hydro this time indicated that a bream had snaffled my expander, a few moments later a bream of 3-12 lay in my net. Next put in saw a missed bite and then on my last put in of the day another bream of 3-4 fancied the expander.
This gave me food for thought so I threw in my remaining expanders and groundbait and resolved to return in the morning.
To be continued…