Christmas at Bowood 1

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!).

View of the lake/walk from the car parking area.IMG_0404IMG_0352 IMG_0322

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…

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