Monday, 22 April 2019

Two fishing trips in three days!

As I type this, we are sitting here waiting for the final searches to go through on our house sale. Hopefully, that should be the last of it, and moving dates will follow - Fingers crossed! As this was the Easter weekend, and nothing was going to happen for a few days I decided to take advantage of the time and spend a day at the Estate lake I have just managed to get a syndicate membership of. The lake is close to where we are moving to and will be a great place to spend a few hours this year.

Just as I was planning my day and arranging to meet my mate John there, I received an e-mail from Ian, another mate of mine, who has also featured in my waffle in the past. He was asking if I wanted to fish over the weekend. As the estate lake is a rather exclusive affair, and away from where Ian lives, It was not practical to invite him to join John and me on Friday. After not being able to go fishing, hardly at all, over the past few months, I really fancied going, especially as Ian was suggesting we visit a venue I have not fished before. Could I really go twice in three days?

I mentioned this to Sue, who without hesitation, almost worryingly so, insisted that I go as I had not had the chance for a while and once we get the moving dates, I will not be able to go for the foreseeable future. No more encouragement was needed. The weather was looking good, and I really fancied spending a couple of days fishing with friends. The itinerary was to fish the Estate Lake on Good Friday and Mousehole Lakes, another new venue to me, on Easter Sunday.

The mist starts to clear over the estate lake

Estate Lake

This lake is set in the grounds of an estate that is open to the public at weekends and some days during the week. It is also used as a music venue once a year, and there is the odd wedding held there. As syndicate members, we are allowed access from dawn to dusk from April through to the end of December. With relatively few members it is a very peaceful place to fish. My mate, John, who lives just a few miles from where we are moving to has been a member here for a while and introduced me to the place. This was my first visit as an angler, although I have seen the venue before and been aware of its existence for a long while.

The journey from here in South East London is about an hour. An early start got me to the estate at around 07:00. The lake is situated at the bottom of a grassy slope that runs down from the car park. Permission is given to drive to the lake, unload and return the car to the car park. As this was my first time, I thought better of running my LWB transit down to the lake, fearing I might get it stuck on the soaking wet grass on the way back up the slope. Making a few deep ruts on the manicured slope might not put me in a good light, especially as this was to be my first visit. I thought better of it and decided to carry the gear to the lake. I was not fishing with that much gear, and I had a backpack tackle bag and a strap on my seat, so it should not be too arduous. Going down the bank was easy enough, getting back up at the end of the day was a different matter, this 63-year-old, bloke suddenly realised he was not as young as he used to be. That on top of nursing a leg injury, after the 'Herne Bay' incident a couple of weeks ago, when I took a tumble and spread myself all over the road, meant I was completely knackered (can I say that?) by the time I got back to the van! Next time I will take the trolley, although that might be hard work to push up the slope... Now I sound like an old man - don't say a word!

The floating seeds and other derbies slowly started to disperse
I set myself up with a float rod and a box of maggots, made a cast and instantly hooked a small rudd, the first of many. The lake was swathed in mist for the first hour or so until the sun started to burn it off. Lots of floating debris from the trees and dead reeds had collected at the end I was fishing. As the day went on, this started to slowly make its way to the other end of the lake, leaving my end perfectly clear by the time John joined me, a couple of hours later.

First fish out of the lake was a small rudd
The lake was made by damming the stream that runs through the property, making it deeper at one end than the other. I was fishing at the deeper end, and that is only three or four feet deep at best. The other end is significantly shallower. This meant I was fishing from the dam and the bank is edged with stone. I suspect it was a fair bit dipper originally, but it must have silted up over the years.

I had only taken a float rod and a small tele-pole with me on this first trip just to see what I could catch. It was hard work getting past the small fish, but perseverance paid off eventually, and the fish started to get bigger, not much, but at least they were going in the right direction. First fish worth noting was a nice fin-perfect roach. This was the first of many. Try as I might it was hard to get past the smaller fish at close range, using the short (5m) pole. I decided to have a go with the float rod and cast out to the open water about 20m out. This was more successful in that I was catching some better fish, including some skimmers, but the big fish were hugging the far bank.

A nice looking roach - the first of many...
...and one of the skimmers. All the fish seem to be in perfect condition
Walking around the lake made it evident that ledgering to the far bank would be the way to go. Next time I will bring a selection of bombs and another one of my old rods, passed down to me by a fishing friend from one of the forums. It is a nice looking heavy feeder that will be ideal for the job. The art of this task will be trying to get as close to the far bank as possible, without making tackle donations to the tree-Gods.

There are some nice tench, including some recently introduced golden tench, in the lake as well as a small number of crucian carp. It is early days yet, this was only my first visit to fish, and I have a whole list of possibilities for the coming year.

Never mind John, you'll catch something soon
For now, I was happy to spend the day in a lovely place, just relaxing, taking in the sights and chatting with my mate John. After spending a long time not fishing, and when I did, I had fished alone, it made for a very pleasant day. Although it is an hour's drive away, soon it will be my local, and it will be just a short 10-15 minute trip, door-to-lake. Can't wait!

Swift Lake at Mousehole

Mousehole Lakes

My second day out over the weekend, lead me to Mousehole Lakes, near Paddock Wood, in Kent. Again, this is a water I have never fished before, and it was suggested by another friend of mine, Ian. He introduced me to Beaver Fishery when he lived up here in London too. I had spent several days fishing there with him a few years ago, but after he moved we did not get to meet for a good while. He suggested that we meet at Mousehole Lakes on Sunday.

What a great venue. I have to say, the people are very friendly, and they have beautiful, well-kept grounds and swims as well as excellent facilities. The weather also helped, with one of the best Easter weekends I can remember, Sunday was a glorious day. As usual, I got up and out to miss the traffic on the south circular, that can get busy, even on an Easter Sunday. A simple drive from here got me to the lakes by 07:00. I found the guy taking the money and paid over my £10.00 for a two-rod ticket. He even offered to drive me and my gear to the swim. Although appreciated, I declined his kind offer as I had my trolley with me this time (after Fridays experience). A short walk along the path lead me to the lake, and I picked a spot on the near side of the lake that was in the sun. I like to feel the sun on me these days, these old (ish) bones are no fan of chilly, wet fishing trips!

A small skimmer was the first fish from the first put-in of my cheap tele-pole!
The pegs are boarded and very well maintained. There is just enough bank in front of the peg to get a bankstick or two in with ease. I set up my chair and laid out my tackle and bait ready for battle. The small tele-pole was the first to see action. I carefully plumbed the depth in a couple of likely places and noted that one was only a couple of inches deeper than the other. After marking the pole with the two depths, I started fishing to the right of the peg, drowning a couple of maggots. The bait had only been in the water a few seconds when I had hooked my first fish; a very lovely looking skimmer. Makes a change from a tiny roach, my usual first fish. I had paid for a two-rod ticket, and I planned to try a swim-feeder stuffed with maggots and maggots on the hook. I am not too experienced with this method, so it was all a bit experimental. After a bit of mucking about trying to get the rig so it would not tangle, I managed to catch a few fish, but nothing of any size and I was getting small fish, reasonably soon after casting. I soon realised that the swim feeder was dispensing maggots at a rate far quicker than made any sense, so I taped up most of the holes with electrical tape and tried again. This slowed down the speed at which the little fellows escaped but did not result in any better fish. It soon became apparent that maggots were going to give me small fish all day.

The fish were getting bigger, not vast, but better than the small fish the maggots were attracting
While I thought about it for a while, I went back to the whip. Instead of impaling maggots on the hook, I tried sweetcorn. This was a great success. Instantly the fish got bigger. I started to land lots of decent sized roach and skimmers. The larger hook-bait was selective. I was also feeding dampened pellets. This attracted the bigger fish including some bigger bream in the 3½ - 4lb range.

A nice 4lb bream caught on the tele-pole. A real handful on light gear!
Spurred on by this success, I continued on with the pole catching all sorts of fish in all shapes an sizes. I did notice that I was missing a lot of bites. I was sure the fish were 'feeling' the resistance of the float, as it would dip and bob straight back up again. It was not like a 'liner' when a fish brushes the line, this was a definite tug and let go. I decided to dot the float down, so it was just breaking the water. This seemed to do the trick, and the tugs were all now becoming bites. Every put-in was producing a fish. Using corn was to be the bait of the day, I even caught a nice looking gonk, or gudgeon, to give it its correct name.

Gudgeon. Little fish with a big heart. I do like catching these little fellows
There are plenty of carp in the lake, but none of them were keen to come out and play today. I will target some of them next time. My favourite fish of the day has to be a perfect little tench. There are said to be much larger tench in the lake, but this one will do for now.

Tench - it may be small but they fight like a much bigger fish, and they have just as much slime as their bigger relations!
As well as catching fish, the day was made so much better by fishing with my mate Ian. He was having a good day too. He caught lots of fish, and on bait, he was not usually successful on. Ian is a devotee to float fishing with maggots. On Sunday he caught more fish on corn than he has ever done before. I must say, that the fish in this lake do seem to take corn very easily.

Ian baiting up after returning yet another fish caught on corn
All in all, the trip to Mousehole Lakes was one of the best days out at a commercial fishery I have had in months. It together with my trip to the estate lake a couple of days earlier made for a very enjoyable couple of days and a chance to catch up with good friends. Now with the house move on its last stages, and feeling much better, health-wise, I am really looking forward to my fishing for the rest of the year.