Since I moved to the Midlands a couple of years ago I have enjoyed fishing a lot of different places, but for the month of October I thought it would be a sensible idea to concentrate on just one local venue, to try and get to know it properly. I chose the Match Lake at Woodland Waters because it was showing good form back in September, providing me with a completely different picture, compared to when I fished it during a cold snap last winter.
For my first outing of the month my mate Andy (Epicentre) was in town and with his uncanny knack of sitting on a pile of fish, I thought it would be a good idea to let him loose on the lake. He quickly decided to fish a pellet feeder, while I opted for pole tactics in a peg next door.
Andy set out to feed micro pellets through his feeder and try different banded baits on a strong hook - on a very short length of strong line.
I was still working out my pole approach when Andy latched into his first fish of the day, a decent bream. He had started on maggots but these began to attract small fish attention, so he switched to banded wafters, which brought a savage take from a carp. His swim was a bit of a birdcage amongst the bushes, restricting him to a 10ft feeder rod, but his tackle seemed to be coping okay. It wasn’t long before a double figure carp was angrily struggling in his landing net.
My swim was quite deep, so I selected a 1.0gr pole float with an olivette and a couple of spread number 11s below, set just over-depth in around 13ft of water. I decided to cup in groundbait laced with pellets and casters, loose feeding a few casters and pellets over the top - to try and stimulate some action. I needn’t have worried about swim building because my float tip buried first put in and a skimmer was soon in my landing net.
It’s funny how you can get a wrong impression about a venue. The first time I fished this place it was in the depths of winter and hard work, while on my second visit back in September I caught more fish but again didn’t set the place on fire. On this occasion I was catching skimmers, roach and perch quickly. I couldn’t get a maggot to the bottom without it being intercepted by small fish, and even with a caster I had to dump the rig in to get my hook bait down to the deck.
I soon decided to try a soft pellet on the hook and although it took longer to get a bite on this bait, when one developed it resulted in better sized fish. Some of the skimmers were very close to becoming proper sized bream and the odd better roach turned up to this tactic.
Meanwhile Andy was living up to his Epicentre nickname next door. I could see huge fizzes of bubbles on the surface in the area where he was casting to, plus every time I looked around his quivertip rod was bent into something big!
After catching well for several hours on my full depth rig, I suddenly noticed some big swirls when I catapulted casters out around my float. I quickly set up a light shallow rig to find out what these were caused by. I set my float at 3ft with three strung out number 13 shot and a size 20 fine wire hook, lightly nicking on a caster. The float buried straight away and suddenly I was catching some cracking roach. A lot of fish were in the 8-12oz bracket but towards the end of the session, as the light faded a bit, several one-pound red fins came my way. I was only using light number 4 elastic in my top kit and these fish really stretched to its limits. Great fun!
It had turned into just another normal day’s fishing for Epicentre, even Pete the bailiff couldn’t believe it when I showed him Andy’s catch shot on my camera. It wasn’t just that he had caught a good number of decent carp, along with smaller samples and a load of bream and skimmers, it was the bait he used that surprised the both of us. Chocolate flavoured orange pellets! What was that all about! Was he trying to handicap himself, or had he just hit on a new magic bait formula? Unbelievable!
While Andy had been playing about with exotic baits, I had stayed with standard shop bought pellets and casters. This had resulted in a nice bag of quality skimmers and roach and a very hectic session, boosted by that late rally of bigger roach on my shallow rig.
I returned and fished the same swim a few days later and only fished shallow with casters, taking another big bag of decent roach, with quite a few pushing the one-pound mark.
I came back to the same peg again several days later because my Angler’s Mail photographer wanted to do some on the bank shots with me. I tried a new plan experimenting with shallow, mid-depth and full depth pole rigs. I caught all day on everything I tried, which was interesting, resulting in a great mixed bag of roach, perch, skimmers, bream, hybrids and a few rudd.
For my next trip I needed to test out some new Advanta quivertip rod samples. I fancied a change of scenery and opted for a swim just past where Andy had bagged up. There were lots of fizzes of bubbles on the surface 30 metres out, so I cast a cage feeder into the area, loaded with pellets and a few casters, first trying maggots on the hook. That was a mistake because small fish were snaffling them up before anything big could get a look in.
I quickly changed to a red krill Durable Pellet and had to wait longer for a bite, but when it came it nearly pulled the rod in! A right tussle followed but the new rod I was using absorbed the buffeting with plenty to spare. The lively carp only just fitted into my landing net and what a beautiful, pristine looking fish it was.
After that I played about with a couple more rod samples, catching loads of fish. All the rods were fine apart from a few ring positions that needed changing. I made some notes on my phone and then packed up.
Before I left the lake, I had a bit of fun feeding some ducks. Earlier, a friendly robin had been pinching maggots off my bait table, so I thought I’d give the ducks that had been milling around all day a bit of grub too, especially as they had been well-behaved up to this point. I threw some pellets in and they went absolutely crazy diving after them. If birds like your bait this much, it’s a good bet fish will find it very attractive too!
To finish off my October exploration of the Match Lake at Woodies, as the locals call the fishery, I picked a swim on another bank, where there’s a private lake behind the footpath. It was a Sunday and this area seemed a good idea because its well away from the busiest parts of the complex. It was a bright day but a lot colder, plus there were quite a few more anglers on the water than my previous visits. When lakes get more footfall from anglers I’ve noticed the fishing gets harder and this was the case on this occasion. My previous trips had all been during quiet midweek days and the difference this makes can be quite dramatic.
I went for the pole because as the first frosts of the year begin to develop, I always associate this time with big roach. As the small fish activity dies down a bit with the colder temperatures, the bigger red fins get a chance to find your bait. And the pole is the best way to connect with the fast bites the wiser and older roach tend to give you.
For the first few hours nobody seemed to be catching anything. The only busy part of the complex was a constant stream of cars I could see on the far side of the lake, as people were turning up for Sunday lunch in the restaurant by the Specimen Lake.
Concentrating back on my fishing, all I was getting at full depth was a few ghost bites, where the float slowly sinks away, but nothing is there on the strike. I tried a mid-depth rig and caught a cracking roach straight away.
This session was completely different to the fish filled days I had been enjoying previously. A bivvied up angler to my right landed a good carp and some young lads on the far bank had a reasonable sized carp on the feeder, ending up with an almighty crack as their landing net handle snapped! That will teach them not to try lifting a good fish clean out of the water with the handle fully extended!
I got my head down and kept feeding a few casters every put in, experimenting with a shallow rig, a mid-depth one and having the occasional look on my full depth tackle. I hooked a fair-sized skimmer out of the blue on the latter, then a good roach, before that part of the swim died completely. Back to mid-depth and another pristine big roach turned up.
As the light faded I tried shallow again, but it was hard work this time. I was getting bites, but they were almost impossible to connect with. I did get another corker of a roach before I packed up and took a quick photo of my biggest fish, putting some smaller roach, perch and skimmers back first.
It all added up to an interesting month and I feel I got to know the lake a lot better, learning a lot more than skittling around lots of venues and not getting a true feel for any of them.