Sunday, 21 April 2013

21 April 2013, Harris Lake (Marsh Farm)

Today’s match was a Godalming AS organised open match on my ‘home’ venue of Marsh Farm – however regular readers will know that I have managed to blank on my last two visits to Harris Lake! A total of 27 were taking part today – a mixture of Godalming AS stalwarts and open scene regulars from Milo Bordon and Colmic Apollo.

Harris Lake at Marsh Farm

I’ve written a fair bit about Marsh Farm in the past so I won’t repeat myself here – though it is worth noting that Harris Lake isn’t the one that is normally used for matches (that’s Richardson’s Lake) and is fairly sparsely stocked with specimen sized crucians and tench. As is typical this time of year there was a very sharp frost overnight, but the forecast was for a warm, sunny day with little or no wind to speak of.

Peg 19

On the way to the draw I was thinking a wide peg on the railway bank where I could fish the method feeder would be nice, so of course my hand settled on peg 19 – the narrowest peg on the lake at about 18m and situated under an overhanging willow tree that made fishing the pole the only option! Having said that I did have a spare peg to my right – and two to my left – and as there was no wind to speak of holding 16m of pole was going to be relatively straight forward. (Doing so would put me on the far slope at a sensible distance from the bank given the low water temperature and the relatively clear water.) Unfortunately in the warmer months this part of the lake (the bowl at the far end from the tackle shop) can be notoriously poor with the majority of the feeding fish seeming to prefer the wider pegs along the middle of the railway bank – would today be any different?

Starting components for the Slim’o rig

Before the start of proceedings I set-up two rigs – a 0.1g Mo Brown Slim’o on 0.11 Reflo Power main line to a hooklength of 0.10 into a size 22 Tubertini 808 in conjunction with pink Hydrolastic, and a 4x12 KC Carpa Chimp on 0.13 into a hooklength of 0.11 with a size 20 Tubertini 808 with a blue Hydrolastic top kit. The first rig was for fishing down the middle with a 4mm expander pellet, the second for 16m with worm segments and maggots. (It’s worth noting that a size 22 808 is more like a traditional 20 and a 20 looks like a normal 18.) Despite the target fish being pretty big, relatively light gear is needed to tempt them at Marsh Farm and I’ve found the rigs described above to be a good compromise as there are very few snags to speak of.

Today’s bait selection

My bait selection for today was pretty standard stuff – soaked 2mm pellets and 4mm Sonubaits Fin Perfect expanders for down the middle, plus some dead red maggots, worms and 4mm pellets for the 16m line. (My expectation was that I’d be targeting crucians down the middle and tench further across towards the far bank.)

Balanced tackle for the 16m rig

On the whistle I deposited a frugal amount of soaked 2mm pellets, dead maggots and two chopped worms on the 16m line (which was directly in front of me into about 3 and a half feet of water) and a tiny pinch of micro pellets at top kit plus four sections to the extreme right of my peg. (At Marsh Farm anti-cormorant wires have been fitted half way between each peg that run across the lake to the central islands – these seem to be very effective and have the side effective of forming a clear boundary between each peg.)

I then shipped-out to 16m with a tiny worm segment mounted on my Chimp rig and promptly missed a good bite – annoying but a good sign! No further indications followed in the next ten minutes so it was over to the top kit plus four line with a 4mm expander – again this lead to an immediate bite that eventually saw a decent tench in the net. This was a very hairy scrap on pink Hydro and a 0.10 bottom so rather than continue with this gear I swapped the rig onto a blue Hydro top kit and replaced the hooklength with the same as the Chimp rig (0.11 Reflo Power into a size 20 Tubertini 808).

Two rollers for fishing long

No more bites materialised in the next five minutes so I re-fed with some more 2mm pellets and had another look at 16m. Again this led to another quick bite – I managed to hook into this one but after pulling 10cm of elastic from the end of my pole it pinged-off! Luckily I dropped my worm hookbait back in and I was straight into another fish – this time a small (one pound) tench found its way into the net.

This pattern continued and by the end of the first hour I had a pleasing total of five tench and a nice crucian (over 2lb), the majority of which came from the top kit plus four line.

During the second hour I continued to swap between my two lines, feeding very lightly via a cupping kit (as opposed to a Kinder-style pot) and lifting/dropping my hookbait in order to induce a bite. Doing so resulted in another nice crucian from my track swim and two more tench long on double maggot.

Further to my right towards the low numbered pegs

However things had really started to slow now and the third hour only resulted in a single tench from the 16m swim at 1215 (we’d started at 1000 and this was to be a 6 hour match).

The fourth hour was absolutely dire and I can only remember having one slight knock at 16m (then again this could’ve been the wind that had started to rise slightly) – though the resident grebe was busy about his work up and down the far bank! In order to keep myself amused I attached a plummet to the Slim’o rig and found a suitable spot to my left and fed some micro pellets on the off chance of pulling a fish or two from the spare pegs on that side.

Bits for the edge rig

During the fifth hour I decided to set-up an edge rig to fish the margins in two and a half feet of water on a top kit plus two left and right, both sides having some nice cover in the form of water plants that had just started to sprout. (This rig consisted of a 4x12 Preston Innovations Durafloat 10 on 0.13 Reflo Power straight through to an eyed Kamasan B911 size 18 on white Hydrolastic – as heavy as I go at Marsh Farm but sensible as any tench that come into the margins are likely to be big!)

I did also manage to snare another tench – a fairly decent fish that fell to a 4mm expander on the newly opened top kit plus four swim to the left.

My left hand margin

Into the sixth and final hour now and most people are wondering why this isn’t a 5 hour match as the majority haven’t caught anything for 2 or 3 hours! I continued to swap between my 16m, both top kit plus four and two edge swims but couldn’t muster a bite!

Mark Harrington doing the honours

After a final four hours that were remarkably uneventful it was time for the weigh-in – I was the last to weigh on my bank and top so far was Claire ‘Bagger’ Hollis with a terrific 23-5-0 (mainly caught on the method feeder). Unfortunately my 9 tench and 2 crucians could only register 20-12-0, one or two fish behind but good enough for second on this half of the lake.

Looking across the lake to Gareth and spectator

Back in the tackle shop it soon became apparent that Gareth Phillips had secured another convincing victory and that John Taylor was the best of the rest on the railway bank with nineteen pound odd, leaving Claire second and myself third.

The frame:
  1. Gareth Phillips (Guildford AC), 37-5-0
  2. Claire Hollis (Godalming AS), 23-5-0
  3. Phil Morris (Godalming AS), 20-12-0
  4. John Taylor (Colmic Apollo), 19-4-0
Looking left towards peg 22

In conclusion: despite initially fearing a poor draw today turned into a good day and in the main I feel my approach was correct. The top kit plus four line once again came-up trumps and is a swim that I’d fish on any peg at Marsh Farm – however one small tweak I will make in the future is to set-up two rigs for this line. The first would be a lighter rig for skimmers and crucians with 0.11 main line and a 0.10 hooklength with a size 22 Tubertini 808 (elastic pink Hydro), the second a heavier rig for tench with 0.13 main line, a 0.11 hooklength with a size 20 808 (elastic blue Hydro) – both would feature my favourite 0.1g Slim’o. The long pole also worked well today, but I’d only fish it on narrow pegs where the far slope is in range – otherwise I’d use a small method or pellet feeder (an approach that is already starting to work and one that will become more and more relevant as we approach summer). As ever tight, frugal feeding is the key at Marsh Farm – the fish here simply back away from any volume of bait and its very easy to kill your peg on the starting whistle with an overzealous approach.

Until next time …

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