More than a week goes by and no fishing, partly down to the weather and partly other commitments but finally I venture out to Blacklands to find it mostly covered in thin ice but melting. I plump for peg 10 and feed sparingly with one swim in open water and another against the edge of the ice. The feed to start with was a bit of chopped worm with a few micros on both lines. A sluggish start, understandable with the conditions , but eventually some bites started and I ended with 17 roach, 5 skimmers and 7 perch, but should have been a lot better as I lost a good fish, probably a half asleep carp that plodded around before snagging me on the overflow, plus I inexplicably bumped 10-15 fish and still can’t work out why!
Three days later I returned to find the ice gone and my worms still on the garage floor at home! A good time to focus on other baits I thought! So it was peg 11 today fishing at 10m with 3 areas fed in a line – to the left a half pot of micros, directly in front a handful of micros and to the right a half pot of wheat. Each area was about 3-4 feet away from the next. Two rigs set up – a standard homemade diamond pattern with bulk down and a second bulk of 3xno10 stotz at the hooklength join, the other rig a 0.4g chianti style, again homemade with strung out shot. Both rigs were on 0.12mm mainline with 0,10mm hooklength and 18 hook. Starting on the middle line, I planned to leave the left line “cook” for at least an hour before trying it, I began to get some roach and after an hour with about 10 fish I changed to the right line with double wheat on the hook and was immediately into a better stamp of fish. Indeed the fish had settled on the wheat and apart from a brief dalliance on the left hand line, most of the time was spent on the wheat line with me swapping between the rigs – both produced, the bigger roach were in the upper layers and were taking on the drop but the skimmers were also waiting on the bottom for the wheat! I ended up with 31 roach, 20 skimmers (best two were 2-2 and 1-12), 6 gudgeon, 3 perch and a tench of 1-12.
All the fish apart from the initial ten roach and 4-5 roach and skimmers were taken on the wheat, approx 21lb. Who says wheat only catches roach in the warm weather!
Two days later and I fancied a change so headed off to Patneys, where I was hoping that I may find the odd carp awaking from their icy slumbers! I headed to the usual bay peg as at least I knew there would be fish in the area.
Fishing 13m with a rig similar to that at Blacklands but with 0.16mm mainline and 0.12mm hooklength to an 18, I started by feeding3 balls of groundbait plus a handful of pellet with a dozen maggots and then fed a pinch of micros via the catapult every 5minutes or so. Maggot on the hook got me a roach and 3 small perch, expanders collared 2 small skimmers in the first hour, at which point I decided to stop pussy-footing around and cupped in a dozen 4mm cubes of meat and put a cube on the hook. I began feeding the micros as before via the catapult but now added a small homemade toss-pot to my top kit and introduced 3-4 cubes of meat with a pinch of micros, all held in place by a plug of groundbait each time I shipped out. After 10minutes I had my first bite, a carp of 2-6, the next three hours went as follows (all carp)- 1-14, 0-8, 1-8, 3-8, 1-0, 5-10, 0-8, 3-8, 0-8, 6-0, giving a total with the silver fish of 27-11. Not hectic fishing but pleasant after the wintry weather.
Back to Blacklands but this time I fished Stans Lake for a change as the heavy rain of the previous days had caused the stream to back up and gush into Heron with muddy water. Setting up at the base of the slope behind the BBQ area. Stans is shallow, about 3 feet, and I opted to fish a Chianti style homemade float of 0.3g to a 0.10mm hooklength and my usual 18 at 10m, in the same style as Heron, ie two swims, worm to the right and pellet to my left. As usual on Stans there was the period were things went dead- mainly I suspect carp pushing the smaller fish out of the swim, but had a pleasant day with 26 skimmers, 5 roach, including ones of 15oz and 12oz, 2 perch, 1 gudgeon and a carp of 4-1 which tested my no 5 elastic! A total of around 12 and a half pounds.
That Friday I returned as I was running a match at Blacklands that Sunday and wanted to check on peg 4 as we had not fished it for a bit. Set up was the standard one for Blacklands with the two rigs set up and a similar approach yielded 24roach to 12oz, 33 skimmers and two perch for a total of 20-14, most of the roach coming to wheat. More importantly I discovered that the heavy rainfall that had created the overflow into Heron on my previous visit had dislodged the willow snag that was between pegs 4 and 5 and it was now most definitely in peg 4!!
The weather gods must hate me as a sharp fall in temperature plus a heavy snowfall on Saturday night meant I had to cancel the match as people were unable to get there! A lot of ringing around ensued and I managed to get the match re-booked for the following Saturday (all being well!). By Wednesday when I returned to Blacklands, the snow had gone and I decided to fish peg 7- the narrowest peg on the lake. I fish this differently from most as I ignore the obvious areas against the island and instead fish at 7m “down the track”, again making use of 3 lines of attack.
While fishing it didn’t feel it was fishing well but at the end I had just under 21lb comprising of 24 skimmers (best 2-15), 23 roach, including one of exactly a pound, 12 perch and 1 tench of 1-14. More than half the fish were caught on wheat, including two of the perch!
Match day arrives and I find myself on peg 2, a large fish bumped on third put in slowed it down for me with only 6 fish in first hour with my usual approach. Moving to the pellet was equally slow and I basically had to get my head down and scratch out what I could, the problem was the fish were of a smaller stamp than usual (I suspect to the cold water going in overnight with the rain), by the end I had 28 roach, 32 skimmers and 2 perch for 13-7 for 3rd in section and fifth overall. Fred on peg 1 had a similar number of fish but his were slightly bigger and more skimmers weighed in 18-10 while Jamie on peg 3 had the same problem as me with small fish and not so many skimmers for 8-8. The match was won off peg 6 by Ali Foreshaw with 22-12 , mainly taken on the whip and maggot, a lot of fish but with the odd exception, small.
April beckons with a Fishomania match at Viaduct and roach at Boddingtons to look forward to.