|How to get a bit more shipping space!|
Bridges Lake at Monk Lakes is 16 acres on its own. For me this was a real eye opener. The lake has a good stock of fish but it is really a place to target some of the larger specimen fish. Although the fish in this lake are not record breakers, they are still big to me.
I had no idea what to expect as I had not fished there before. I filled the van with tackle and made the decision choose exactly what I would do once I arrived at the peg. The first thing I realised was that this lake is not geared up for using a pole, except in one or two places. There is a gravel road that runs around the whole lake making access as good as it gets, but the trade off is there are few pegs with any room behind them. I had looked at the lake, using Goggle Maps, and picked a peg at the far end that looked like a good place to start.
The journey from here, in South East London, is an easy one and takes about the same time as travelling to Beaver. My concern about having to navigate Maidstone town centre was unfounded, hardly having to stop at all on the way there. However, Maidstone at seven o'clock in the evening is a complete nightmare. It was bumper to bumper and took me forty minutes to cover what had taken me four minutes in the morning, coming the other way. Next time I will take an alternative route home.
|As the sun starts to burn off the mist, we await the grand opening of the gate|
The gate opened just after 07:00 and the convoy of miscellaneous tackle haulers made its way to the office like carp cruising the margins. It was at this point that the reason for the traffic queue revealed itself; there were two mid-week matches taking place on a couple of the four match lakes.
|The road runs all the way around Bridges Lake|
|Just a small part of the acres of water in front of me|
I had no intention of using anywhere near all the tackle in the van but it gave me the opportunity to choose. The road behind the peg meant there was not enough room to ship back a long pole and I did not fancy moving pegs so I made the decision to stay in my comfort zone and try my luck at feeder fishing. I had picked a peg with no overhanging branches to give me a chance of getting a nice long cast. I have not been able to let rip with my 11ft feeder rod before so it was time to have a go. There was no way I was going to land on the opposite bank, so I first cast out to where I had left the line clipped up, last time out, and released the line. I retrieved the empty feeder and cast it as far as I could. Don't ask me how far that was, but it was a long way, at least for me. I was certainly far enough to cast to the island I was looking at to the left of my peg. After casting as close as I dare to the island, progressively cast clipping up and letting out a few feet of line each cast. I was checking the travel by holding the rod at 90º to my body as the line reached the clip, a style I find comfortable and I can 'lock' into the same position every time with ease. I am getting better at this, by no means perfect, but a vast improvement on a few months ago. Once I was confident about the distance I filled the feeder and recast, without a hook length, to check that the allowance I had made for the extra weight of the loaded feeder was correct and I was not going to land in the trees. Success.
|The target area for my initial cast|
|First cast produced a nice tench|
I changed tactics and rods to fish closer in the open water in front of me and see what I could fine there. I wanted to try out my new-found knowledge and try fishing a light (15g) feeder using a light quiver tip. I had been trying to get a bend in a 1½oz quiver tip. Last week I experienced one of those moments of realisation, understandings one of those facts that everybody fishing already knows, and omits to tell you (me!). When using a light feeder, I could not get a bend in the tip of my rod using a 1½oz quiver tip because the tip was too strong and moving the feeder without bending. Or at least bending and recovering its straight stance. The lighter (¾oz) quiver tip bends before there is enough force to move the feeder enabling me to maintain a bend in the tip. Simple really, just taken me a year or so to work that out.
I made a few casts and did not even get a single line bite, let alone a take. Time for a rethink. There was not enough room on this peg to use a long pole, but a top-kit plus two (or three) might work. I had no intention of getting the box out so I just put a couple of small rollers behind me, a 'tulip' and rod rest on banksticks in front of me and I was ready to go. I got out my cheap 9.5m Maver pole. and used the top couple of sections. Nice and short and no problem shipping it back.
|My part of the lake must have been small silver soup - I must have caught a hundred of them!|
Now I am bored again. By this time I had realised that I could ship the whole of my 9.5m pole back if I guided it under the van (see header picture), This meant I could ship back over the part of the road the van was protecting. Come on, admit it, the man's a genius!
|9.5m of pole and not even a bite - I got this bit wrong|
My day at Monk Lakes was a different experience. The place has a far more 'commercial' venue than say Beaver, which feels far more relaxed. I think that is because Beaver is nowhere near as big but is set in a natural woodland setting. Having said that, It is not a bad thing, just different. I fished this lake, at least this peg, completely incorrectly. My tactics would probably have been more at home on one of the match lakes. Next time I fish this lake, I will be fishing using the kit I did not have with me on this visit; a couple of carp rods.
Although this place is more like an undulating field with a selection of holes dug in it, it is well kept and the people who run it seem to be friendly and helpful. Once at the peg I chose, the place feels far more intimate than I have made it sound. Bridges lake has a fair bit of cover and a lot of willow trees giving it a natural look, at least from the peg. The access to the pegs could not be better. I will be back and if I fish this lake again, which I probably will, I will know what to expect.