Fishing at this time of year isn’t always ideal (especially if like me you can’t stand getting cold or you hate - Heaven forbid - getting your kit covered in mud), but after a couple of weeks sitting around eating turkey and mince pies the invitation to fish the prolific Match Lake at Sumners Ponds was one that was just too good to turn down!
The weather leading-up to today’s match had been mixed – generally temperatures have been above average for late December but the lake would certainly have been frozen solid just three or four days ago. On the way to the venue we were faced with patches of extremely thick fog and the forecast for the day was for light winds, cloudy skies and temperatures peaking at a measly 3 degrees Celsius.
|Looking across the lake to the far side|
The Match Lake at Sumners Ponds is fast becoming a favourite of mine – there is an excellent café and the lake is full of hard fighting, fast growing carp that probably average 8lb nowadays with lots of doubles, big doubles and twenties!
Interestingly, if you look at the venue on Google Maps you’ll see it shows three central islands – however when you get there you can only see two! This is because the island nearest the car park is now submerged, with only a rather odd looking tree sticking-up out of the water like King Arthur’s Excalibur. My draw today saw me on the right hand side of the lake (as you face it from the car park), in front of the sunken island, one peg to the right of the tree.
After setting-up my box and having a good look at the peg for 5 minutes or so I settled on a two pronged attack – a pellet feeder rod to be cast into the deeper water in front of the sunken island for carp and a pole rig to be fished at 14.5m slightly to my left for skimmers. (During the summer I would definitely have set-up rigs for fishing at 5m and in the margins, but given the fairly tight pegging and the time of year I decided such tactics were unlikely to be viable.)
Kit for the leger set-up consisted of a 24g Guru pellet feeder free running on 8lb Daiwa Sensor main line, stopped by one of the new Guru speed beads. Hooklengths were all 10cm of 0.22 N-Gauge – with a size 16 QM1 and a hair-rigged band for 6mm pellets, with a size 14 QM1 and a hair-rigged band for 8mm pellets and with a size 14 QM1 and a hair-rigged bayonet for 8mm pop-up boilies. (The final style of hooklength also included two number 8 stotz an inch from the hook to stop the boilie popping-up too far.)
The pole rig was made-up on 0.13 N-Gauge main line and featured a 4x14 KC Carpa Chimp with a strung bulk of number 10 stotz. The hooklength was 15cm of 0.11 finished off with a size 18 Tubertini 808. Elastic was yellow Hydro.
On the whistle I feed 4 small balls of Old Ghost Green Alga and soaked micro pellets on the pole line and settled down to fish the pellet feeder. First cast went to the mark at about 30m and after 10 minutes I reeled in and repeated the process – I did this for the first hour (rotating hookbaits as I went) without even the merest of line bites. Happy days!!!
A quick look on the pole with a 4mm expander pellet didn’t produce any bites either – this pattern continued through the second hour, so by 12 o’clock I was still fishless and staring down the barrel of starting 2015 with a Blankety Blank cheque book and pen!!!
By this point I was getting a right old battering from the anglers on the pegs opposite (including my travelling partner Claire ‘Bagger’ Hollis who had gotten off to a flyer and was winning the match at this point with 4 or 5 proper munters) so I decided to try something different.
To this end I set-up a straight lead rod and started pinging 8mm pellets to about 25m. Frankly this didn’t work at all, but a half ounce roach on the pole and the smallest carp in the lake (at about 0-15-8) on the pellet feeder at least got me off the mark – though with just a pound in the net with only 2 hours to go it was highly unlikely I was going to trouble the scalesman’s lumbago!!!
With nothing left to lose I chose to focus my efforts solely on the pellet feeder through until the end of the match and decided to take a few feet out of the clip each cast in order to cast closer and closer to the sunken island. (I had been loathed to do this earlier as from where I was sat the shallow bar (which was clearly visible when the skies brightened) seemed very, very shallow and as it was early January and the water fairly clear I couldn’t see it holding any fish.)
Anyway, after a few casts and fishing closer and closer to the sunken island I was finally into one of Sumners Ponds’ proper carp – well at least for the few seconds before the fish swam across the bar and shredded my 0.22 hooklength!!! After a slight lull I then hooked and landed four big old boys in a row – I’d learned my lesson from that first fish and started standing-up and holding the rod over my head in order to keep the fish away from the rocky sunken island until they were into open water. I also managed a further 3 decent carp in the final 75 minutes, giving me a total of 7 proper fish in the final 2 hours to go with my pound from the first 3.
|... and volume 2|
Regular visitors to Sumners Ponds won’t be surprised to hear that my fish weighed a total of 76-14-0 – not a bad average considering that two of the proper carp were probably only 5 pounds each. In the end it turned out that my closing efforts had shot me up the leader board into fourth place, just ahead of Bagger whose match faded away after that good start.
Top 6 overall:
- Mark Tester, 131-8-0
- Phil Tubb, 89-14-0
- Kev Parker, 79-1-0
- Phil Morris, 76-14-0
- Claire Hollis, 75-5-0
- Steve Tubb, 71-4-0
Silver fish pool winner:
- Paul Ward, 16-12-0
So congratulations to Mark Tester for winning the match with a convincing tonne and thanks to Adam Tester for organising the match.
|The fog starts to descend again|
Conclusions: at this point I’m split between using the phrase ‘location, location, location’ and the phrase ‘a game of two halves’!!! Fishing where the fish are happy to hang out is certainly the key to success in the winter – in the summer it is definitely possible to get the fish to come to you with the right feeding pattern, but in the winter such an approach never seems to work. And whilst I’m happy to have salvaged my match and snuck into the frame I can’t help but think I should’ve tried fishing the obvious feature in my peg much, much sooner – isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!?!?!?
Until next time ...