I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Winter League 1
Around the first weekend in November a strange phenomenon happens in the Duchy, local match anglers that have seemingly hibernated throughout the summer month’s wake, and start to congregate in the car park outside the fishing shop at White Acres! This year 51 have booked in for the individual league that is going to be fished every other week until March when the hibernation period once again begins. The atmosphere is great, it’s like a festival with people catching up with each other and really looking forward to some great winter sport. The league once again allows each angler to drop a couple of results and is fished with carp allowed every other match.
I was congregating at the back of the queue, chatting whilst I waited to have my dip in the bag of dreams. I soon found that peg 24 on the Match Lake was to be my home for the day, I didn’t immediately fancy it, I felt it was a little early in the season to be on this peg, when it gets much colder it’s an absolute flyer as the carp seem to ‘overwinter ‘in the deep water and the silver fish especially the Perch love the margins. I was not grumbling mind, I just fancied a nice peg on Twin Oaks as Carp were allowed today. It really didn’t seem like winter at all, the air temperature was around 17C, it was a very nice day. And as if to prove a point that the seasons are all over the place I was joined on the peg by a Mallard and around eight Ducklings, they had clearly been born only a few days previously, perhaps their parents had hibernated through spring and summer!
And the temperature is
I have found the thermometer out again and the water temp was showing around 11.8 which is very warm for November, it put me in a bit of a quandary on how to approach the swim, there are so many options but in the end settled on a meat approach as it was so mild. I planned on fishing this at 14.5m straight out in front of me and at 5m plus a line at 16m against the island, but I chose the deeper water of around 2’ just short of the island. I also set up a couple of caster rigs for fishing the margins hoping for a few VIP’s but I did think it was early in the year for them to show in any numbers.
On the whistle a pot of 6mm meat and hemp went on the deep line and the same on 5m but a few casters were mixed in for this swim. I really wanted to attract anything to this line. I started fishing at 16m with meat on the hook and kinder potting a little bait round the float. I actually fished this line for 30 minutes or so without any real bites. I had a couple of tiny indications but I think they were small fish. I stayed on this line longer than I wanted to without bites as I could see and hear that the lake wasn’t fishing. I figured a nice big carp would be worth a lot of points, I also hoped to see some indications in the way of fizzing on the 14.5m line.
After around 40 minutes I managed a couple of small skimmers on the deep line and eventually I had something that pulled back. It was a Mirror Carp and looked to be over 6lb; it was really giving me some aggravation and just didn’t want to come in. As it came to the net it made a last effort and I pulled too hard and snapped the hook length, what a plonker! I wasn’t pleased with myself, you just know that it is going to cost you in the end. About 30 minutes later I had another and made no mistakes with this one, it was followed by an F1 and a Bream. Things were looking up, or so I thought. Unfortunately I lost two more Carp in quick succession, both were definitely foul hooked, one felt huge, I actually lost it the other side of the rope as it tried successfully to get to peg 9 which is not only under the rope but the other side of the island! This match just was not going to plan and frustratingly the bites just dried up on this line.
My edge lines were just not working I had been feeding casters on a regular basis but the fish just didn’t want to play ball. I could catch 2 or 3 before the bites stopped. I actually started a new line moving away from the bank in about 4’ of water, this worked to an extent and I had a few Roach and Perch, probably weighing around 5lb which was very handy. Towards the end of the match I caught some Skimmers on meat at 14.5m along with another Carp which pushed my weight up to 26lb 13oz and second in section as Chris Bailey won the section from peg 20 with 31lb. The lake was won by Skip McCabe with 33lb, as I already knew those Carp were very expensive on the points front.
Overall the whole complex didn’t fish to form but I have to say it was a very fair match with loads of anglers in with a chance. There were some poorer areas where it was difficult but there were fish to be caught. Carl Pender showed us all the way by winning from peg 15 on Jennies with 49lb followed by Ian Hudson with 41lb and Mick ‘The Breamer’ Kearns with 41lb. My weight leaves me in 14th place, not the start I was looking for as I started the defence of last year’s league win, I really must try harder.
Maggots, maggots everywhere!
The following Saturday I went to Bake Lakes looking forward to the start of a Saturday Winter league, I was expecting around 15 to be fishing. Unfortunately due to some very unfortunate circumstances three anglers couldn’t make the match, there were a couple of other apologies but some just didn’t turn up on the morning which is poor. We were left with 6 in the car park and we decided to have a knock up on Flamingo, which suited me as it is an 80 mile round trip so I definitely wanted to fish!
I ended up on peg 3 which is a good peg but they were all good pegs as we all had loads of room. Once again the weather was absolutely stunning, especially as I was on the sunny side of the lake! My trusty thermometer was showing the air temperature at 18c and it got warmer as the day went on! A third of the way through November and fishing in shirt sleeves all match, fantastic! The water temperature was also high and I had to keep checking, it was showing 15.8c there was the odd fish topping and the lake looked really good, I was really looking forward to the days fishing.
A different approach
I felt like experimenting as there were just a few fishing, I have only previously fished this lake once before but listening to ‘Wrong Lake’ and some of the other local anglers it was apparent that maggot was a really good bait when fished down the margins. I felt that if it worked in the margins it would work in open water, so I armed with 5 pints of South West Baits finest red maggots I decided to give it a go, I wouldn’t get a better opportunity until the spring as the conditions were perfect for it.
Before I go any further with how this match went I have to say that I really enjoyed the days fishing, it was one the best day’s sport that I have had for a long time. I thought it would be interesting to mention in a little more detail the rigs and method I used, plus the mistakes that I made, and more importantly what I learnt from my day on Flamingo. Maybe it will help somebody to have a great days fishing on your local commercial, but I want to give the caveat that the conditions have to be right to fish like this particular method. And, it maybe not right again until the spring, when the water is warmer. As the winter kicks in, I would never advocate using this method as you will overfeed your swim at the start and catch nothing!
As I plumbed the swim I found that it was around 4’ deep getting slightly deeper until 13m line, I never went any further than this. I chose a J range 4 x 12 J8 float, it has a wire stem which helps with stability, I find this patern really good when there is a bit of wind on the water, they are also sensitive with a visible hollow tip. Shotting was a group of number 9 shot on a spread bulk starting just above the five inch hook length. I had around an inch between each shot. The hook length was 0.14 Cralusso to a size 14 Milo T213 hook. The hook size is important as I wanted to present a big bait and I expected Carp, hence the 0.14 line, some anglers would use lighter gear, but my philosophy is to use as strong tackle as I can get away with. I had one rig for the 13m line and one rig for the slightly shallower 5m line. By marking the depth of each swim on my pole I could use either rig anywhere, which in effect gave me a back up rig in case of tangles. Elastic was J Range green which was set soft and through a pull bung. I didn’t want to go lighter as I expected a few carp and wanted some control as they would fight well in the warm water. A size 14 hook also compensated for the stronger elastic. I did set up a couple of edge rigs which were J1 4 x 10 floats with stronger line and again a size 14 hook.
I decided to feed my 13m line and my 5m line at the start as I didn’t know which one would be better, I also thought that I may have to alternate between swims. Initial feed was a full 250ml pole pot of maggots on each line. The idea is to attract plenty of fish into your swim and concentrate them in an area where you can target them easily, that is well and truly on the bottom. Hook bait was three red maggots. I had a large kinder pot on the pole and topped up the swim with a full pot of maggots every third or fourth fish.
The first drop in resulted in an immediate bite and a small Roach was swung to hand. In fact the swim was solid with fish from the start, I caught one every drop in at 13m, most were small but the odd better Roach or Rudd between 4oz to 8oz was putting in an appearance. After 30 minutes or so I was getting plagued by small Roach taking my bait on the drop so I fed another full 250ml cup of maggots to get them back down and hopefully feed off the tiny fish. I also decided to have a look on the closer line. It was also solid with Roach some slightly better sample as well and I was again catching one every drop in. As you can image it is much quicker as well at 5m that actually put me in a slight quandary as I had fed a lot on the longer and that swim was building up nicely!
When the fish started coming up on the closer line I again fed again with a full pot of maggots and that is when I realised I had made a mistake feeding two swims, quite simply I was running out of bait, or rather I could see me running out if I kept the same feeding pattern up. My decision was to fish the longer line until the fish started to come up in the water and then I would abandon that swim for the closer line. I had also been throwing maggots down the edge, which also had to stop. The fish were back in numbers on the long line and I also had my first Carp of the day which was around 2lb it was a loner, which I suppose was fortunate or I may have been reversing my decision to abandon that line! Before long the small fish started to come up to intercept the maggots and once again became a bit of a nuisance as they were around ½ ounce each, it was time to go on the 5m line and stay there for the rest of the match, I had around 3 ½ hours left.
It really would have been quite easy to change methods to the pellet as my next door neighbour Ivan Whetton was catching Carp with annoying regularity; he probably had 8 of them for around 20lb, at that time I guestimated that I had around 10lb. But I knew that I had to stick to my guns and what’s more I was enjoying catching a fish every put in, there was no waiting the rig hit the deck and went under it was fantastic fishing. You didn’t really know what to expect as I was getting fish of all sizes plus the odd Carp was now starting to make an appearance. You really knew when they were in the swim in numbers as bites stopped or rather slowed but the result was a bigger fish!
As the match progressed so did the Carp and at one stage I must have had six on the spin between 2 and 6 pounds, I knew that I had overtaken Ivan who to be fair was still catching but waiting for Carp, he only had a few silver fish in his nets.
With 30 minutes to go I ran out of maggots! In the end I put some 4mm pellets in the kinder pot and fished maggot on the hook as there were a few crawling around on my bait table. I had three Carp in the last 30 minutes and a few Roach to end a really enjoyable days fishing. When the scales came I had just short of 20lb of silvers which equated to loads of fish and represented a good days fishing on their own, but I also had 61lb of Carp giving me a total of around 82lb which for maggot fishing in November can only be described as brilliant! Second in the knock up was Rod Stokes with 49lb narrowly beating Ivan who had 48lb which just goes to show the power of the humble maggot!
Without doubt, I should have concentrated on just one maggot line as keeping three going requires too much bait!
The float pattern that I used was perfect, but in hindsight I wish I had used a 4 x 14 or heavier, that way I could have got the bait down to the bigger fish that were feeding on the bottom.
Make sure you wet your pole cup and kinder pot leaving a very small amount of water in them before filling them with maggots; you will find that you lose less bait when shipping out.
Don’t be afraid to bulk all your shot just above the hook length, it works and the bites are very positive.
Be committed to what you are doing, you have to believe in the method you are fishing to make it work.
I will be committing this to my memory banks and certainly using the method again when the conditions are right, I simply cannot wait!
Are you interested in?
The Saturday winter league is going ahead at Bake Lakes, the next match is on Saturday 26th November, which will be the first in the league, and followed by one on 10th December the remaining matches will be in 2012. I am told it is brilliant fishing throughout the winter, even fishing through the ice, I sincerely hope enough turn up to make the league viable, give them a call on 07798 585836
Unfortunately on the fishing front I have to miss the first round. We are visiting our long awaited first Grandchild. He has just made its entrance into the world and Viv and I are really looking forward to meeting him, congratulations to Alex and Emily on the birth of Jack we are very proud grandparents!