Monday, 26 March 2018

At last FISH!

Maze Lake is just starting to come to life
After last weeks disaster I decided to make the best of what looks like it will be the last good day for a week or so down here in the south, and pay a visit to my favourite Fishery. Yes, I know, some of you think I should get around a bit more but I like the fact that Beaver Fishery is set in woodland and has plenty of well maintained water to dangle a line. What's more the guys there are constantly up-grading the venue by refurbishing the swims, keeping the vegetation under control, restocking and clearing out the lakes/ponds.

Today, I made the decision to leave a little later than I would do normally - late night, last night! I live about 100yds inside London's South Circular Road, meaning that trying to go anywhere outside it is a complete nightmare any time between 06:00 and 09:00. Outside this time, it is just plain bad. I left just after 09:00 and joined the heavy, but moving, traffic on my way to the other road with a reputation for being a pain; The London Orbital better known as the M25. In reality, the M25 is nowhere near as much hassle as its bad press may suggest. That is unless you had intended to travel past junction 8 in an anticlockwise direction today - it was closed for most of the day while the emergency services dealt with a fuel spill after an accident in the early hours. Luckily, my journey along the M25 ended at junction 6 for Godstone. Enough waffling, the travelling was not bad at all and the journey only took about ten minutes longer than leaving home at 06:00.

Another pike!
The problem with arriving at 10:00 instead of 07:00, apart from the obvious loss of fishing time, is that all the best swims can be taken. Today was no exception and my first and second choice of swim was indeed occupied, as was my third and forth! I decided to have a go at the back of Maze Lake, a place I have been lucky in the past. Today it was very slow. I spent the first couple of hours float fishing. I tried all sorts of bait but got nowhere. Others in my view were not getting anywhere either and some packed up and went home. I switched to a method feeder and made a long cast over to where somebody had been fishing earlier in the hope that there might be some bait laying there attracting some fish. Nothing, not a sniff. After three or four casts into the same spot I decided it was a waste of time and began a fairly brisk retrieve of my feeder. About halfway back it stopped dead solid and I assumed I had snagged on some submerged undergrowth. Then it started to move. This was no snag. A fairly lively fight ensued and when the fish condescend show itself it turned out to be a pike. My second pike ever and it was just as surprised as me.

Rod-rest-reeds - Handy
I had hooked it in the lip and it did not manage to bite through my hook length meaning I was able to net it and unhooked it successfully. This was not as big as the one I caught previously on Majors Lake back in January, but I guess it was around the five pound mark. With the pike rested in the net and returned from whence it came, at least I had avoided a blank. By now it was getting on for lunchtime and I continued with the feeder in the vain hope of finding a carp or bream to come and play, while I was devouring my sandwiches. All this was made harder by the fact that I had left all my bank sticks behind and having to be a bit creative. I found a suitable bunch of reed stalks and grass that was perfect for resting the rod in at a convenient angle to get a slight bend in the quiver tip.

Even the Two Dog method feeder mix was not tempting any fish to have a sniff, let alone a bite. I think all the fish were around the other side of the lake. Maze is a snake-lake with plenty of places for the fish to hide, especially when there is hardly anyone fishing it. I made the decision to move lakes. Having not really caught anything other than my couple of pike all year so far I was itching to get a few fish on the line. Ben, the fishery officer on duty today, said that there were a few people on Jeff's Lake but they were not catching much if anything at all. Hmmmm... By now it was mid afternoon and the Fishery is still on winter time as far as the closing was concerned. That means I need to be out of the gate before 18:00 when it closes automatically. This was a bit of a surprise to me as I thought the fishery was in sync with the clocks going forward for BST (British Summer Time). I was wrong. 19:00 closing does not start until 1st April. That also meant I was another hour short on my fishing time.

Jeff's Lake was flat calm just as I was going home
I knew my best shot at getting a bend in my rod was to try Jeff's Lake and try and bag a few F1s. One advantage with taking the van is that everything can be placed in the back made up and delivered to a new location, quickly and easily. Twenty minutes later I was set up and ready to fish on Jeff's Lake. As I arrived one guy was packing up and looking fairly despondent. On the opposite bank there were a couple of guys who were not catching anything either.

Mk II improvised rod rest
I had an 11ft feeder rod set up with a small 30g Preston method feeder and a 1½ ounce quiver tip. My usual hook and bait is a No.12 hook hair-rigged with a push-stop to take punched bacon grill, with Two Dog groundbait method mix on the feeder. This, I cast out to the near edge of where I know the fish tend to congregate. Having no banksticks or rod rests with me my landing net ring was about to become my rod rest as the first of the F1s took the bait and was keen to come and say hello.

First fish landed on the first cast. Not unusual on this lake, but today it was not what others were experiencing. I rebated the feeder and made a second cast. This time the feeder made it to the bottom of the lake and I was having to wait for a bit, 30 seconds went by and then, bang! Another bite, another F1. By now the other guys had noticed me pull out a couple of fish within a couple of minutes. The next few casts delivered no fish but I was happy to build a small amount of feed in the swim. A few more casts and the results the fishing was producing were okay, but not frantic. I was only getting one bite in three casts. I cast every 40 - 60 seconds so after 10 minutes of fishing I had only caught for or five fish. The guys on the other side of the lake were looking restless and there were mutterings drifting across the lake.

First out was a chirpy F1 on Bacon Grill - Hello!
I decided to change the hook as it was not catching on my nail as it should. A look in the hook length box revealed that I had no more No.12 hooks tied up with push stops. As time was moving on I did not want to stop and tie up and more so I opted to use a No.16 hook that was the only one left tied with a push stop - note to myself to tie some more. I also made a change to the hook bait swapping my favoured bacon grill for a nice juicy kernel of sweetcorn. That did it. I catapulted half a dozen pieces of sweetcorn into my target area and followed it out with the feeder. It did not get a chance to sink as it was taken immediately, and that was with only a 4 inch hook length. For the next hour or so I was landing fish on every cast one after the other. I had found the fish. The guys on the opposite bank went home.

The F1s in here are getting bigger.
A smaller hook and a grain of sweetcorn did the trick
I am more convinced than ever that the Two Dog groundbait mix works really well for F1s and especially on this lake. The change to a smaller hook and sweetcorn just fine-tuned the method to something the fish could not resist. I was not counting but I must have landed thirty fish and probably more in well under under two hours.

Two Dog - works every time
Okay, I am now bored with that. Fishing for F1's on Jeff's lake is too easy. Getting the rod bent for a couple of hours is just what I needed after several months of very little success, but next time I am going to make the effort to get there early and fish one of my preferred swims, on the look out for some bream and the elusive tench. Maybe even a decent roach or even...


P.S. My Two Dog groundbait is not for sale but if you want to give it a try I have published the recipe HERE. Please, let me know how it works for you.