Saturday, 30 January 2016

30 January 2016, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Despite an intense bout of ‘man flu’ during the week I somehow managed to pass a late fitness test and it was soon time to load-up the car with a mountain of unnecessary fishing gear and head-off to Gold Valley for another go at winter fishing bingo ...
Next to Will Raison, who was 13 pegs away!
There were only eight of us fishing today and the way the venue (Middle Lake) was pegged meant that half of the pegs in the bag would be corner pegs and half wouldn’t – basically 50:50 odds of drawing a flyer! However I made the fatal mistake of joining the queue immediately behind England international Will Raison and immediately in front of ‘lucky’ Luke Sherriff, so with hindsight it’s no surprise that the sequence of pegs drawn was: 61 (corner peg, flyer), 75 (open water, Bob Hope and no hope), 85 (corner peg, flyer)!!!
In all fairness my draw (75) put me just to the left of where Giovanni Barbato had won from last week with a cracking bag of skimmers, and as there were only 4 anglers on each bank I had 13 spare pegs to my left as I was actually next to Will Raison (who was on 61).
Hopefully after having learned a thing or two from last week’s match (where I went for a one rod approach and had nowhere to go later in the match) I decided to cover three lines today: straight lead/PVA feeder to the central rope for carp, 13m of pole straight in front for skimmers and a line at 13m to my left (but effectively at 5m had I been sat on peg 74) for carp.
Liners, but no pulls in the first hour
I started my match by feeding 20 or so grains of corn and a ball of micros on my 5m line, quickly followed by two full pots of soaked micros (with a few expanders) at 13m in front (I only planned to feed this line once so I fed a decent amount of gear).
I then went straight onto the 5m line with single corn looking for an early carp – I did have two or three indications, though at the time I wasn’t sure if these were caused by the weight of the corn dragging the float under or small fish having a peck. After five minutes (which upon reflection may have been a little hasty) I switched to the straight lead with a Ringers chocolate orange wafter cast towards central rope – this did result in a few liners, but unfortunately no proper pulls, so I ended the first hour fishless (not ideal as in previous matches most of my weight had come in the first 60 minutes).
Winter essentials
At the start of the second hour I changed over to a 36g Hybrid feeder with a PVA bag full of 4mm hard pellets smeared with tutti frutti Goo attached – some promising liners started to appear after 15 minutes, but just as I started praying for a proper pull they disappeared!!!
As a result I decided to have an earlier than hoped for look on the 13m pole line with a 4mm expander. (The rig used here consisted of yellow Hydro, 0.13 mainline, a 0.2g SconeZone V8, 5 number 10 stotz spread evenly between 20 and 40cm from hook, and a 15cm hooklength of 0.10 to a size 18 Tubertini 808.) To my amazement I had a nice skimmer first drop, followed by another bite on the next put in. Unfortunately this second fish fell-off just after being hooked – this really seemed to upset this line so I decided to switch back to the straight lead again allow some skimmers to regroup. As luck would have it I had a screaming pull after a just few minutes (on a chocolate orange wafter), the result being a nice 5lb carp in net.
No bites on the micro pellet feeder
Just prior to the start of the third hour a terribly strong left to right wind started to blow down the length of the lake, turning the previously calm Middle Lake into something resembling an Atlantic swell. So whilst I really wanted to get back on the 13m pole line I literally could not hold pole at that length – when I could hold it I had little control over the float meaning I was unable to generate any bites from the shoal of skimmers I was sure was feeding over my soaked micro pellets.
Out of frustration I tried fishing over this line with a 24g Guru micro pellet feeder (short X-Safe stem fitted with white Hydro, 10cm hooklength of 0.17 to a size 16 QM1 with a 6mm pellet hard pellet on a hair-rigged pellet band) but couldn’t be sure I was being accurate enough with my casting and had no signs as a result. With no other option I returned to fishing the straight lead to the rope (though I had to swap to a once ounce lead in order to have any chance of getting the rig to land even remotely close to where I was aiming for) but such tactics where fruitless.
The Malman Roob
When the wind allowed I’d continued to trickle a little bit of bait onto my 5m line and at about 13:30 it eased enough for me to have another go at this line with a single grain of corn (the rig used here consisted of black Hydro, 0.17 mainline, a 4x14 Malman Roob shotted with a spread bulk of number 9 stotz and a 15cm hooklength of 0.13 to a size 16 LWG (eyed) attached with a Palomar knot).
The float immediately dipped and I cursed my luck as I lifted into nothingness – luckily a few minutes later the float dipped again and this time I felt the reassuring weight of a decent carp attached to the other end of my rig. After a good scrap another 5 or 6 pounder was soon in the net and I was left to reflect that I’d made the right choice in going for black Hydro (as opposed to the lighter white Hydro that is often recommended at this time of year). No further bites followed from this 5m line but a switch to the 13m line in front produced another nice skimmer, though once again the wind was up and down and holding the pole was a real struggle.
Looking towards 'lucky' Luke Sherriff on one of the corner pegs
Heading into the fifth hour I decided to fish the 13m pole line when I could, have a dabble on the 5m line now and again, and basically fish the straight lead to the rope when I couldn’t hold the pole! In the end no further bites came from the 5m line or the straight lead, though I did hook a carp on the 13m skimmer line (which was probably on the other side of the rope when the hook eventually pulled-out), so the only fish to hit the net in the final 60 minutes was another nice skimmer from the same line.
In the end my two carp and three chunky skimmers went 16-4-0, not a huge weight but to put things in context Will Raison ‘only’ landed six carp for 30lb from what can be one of the best corner pegs on the complex – a tally that I feel was well within my grasp had the wind allowed me to hold the pole properly enough to sneak another carp from my 5m line and 4 or 5 more decent skimmers from the long line. (I’m still not sure if feeding micro pellets is as effective as feeding joker for skimmers, though I’m blaming the wind at the moment.)
Having said that, my main aim today was to give myself options outside of the straight lead or feeder – so in that sense today was a success (as most of my weight came from the pole lines), getting bites and landing a carp from my 5m line on corn especially interesting given the time of year.
Until next time ...

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