The last few weeks have been very busy for me, both with work (I’m supposed to have retired!) and fishing. I’ve been out and about on trips to local waters and also on my first visit to the famous Bluebell Lakes complex near Peterborough.
The trip was organised months ago by Paul who’s the bailiff at one of my favourite waters and, along with his wife, Sue and my fishing pal, John, we decided to take a two night break there.
The plans were simple. 1: Get there early on Monday morning. 2: Have a good breakfast cooked by Sue. 3: Catch fish! Points 1 and 2 were simple and easily achieved. However, point 3, was a little harder to tick off.
Upon arrival I was very surprised at how clean, tidy and well-maintained the whole complex was. There are five lakes to choose from, all with varying degrees of difficulty and we chose Swan, mainly because it was the quietest. We actually planned on going on Bluebell itself because it’s reputation as a ‘runs’ water was what we really wanted for a first trip. Swan has the honour of being one of the harder lakes but it was the only one that we could comfortably get all of us next to each other. I know that’s not the way it should be done but we’d gone for a good social and mainly to check out the waters. Fishing and catching fish was, actually, secondary.
There’s not really much more I can say about the complex really. It’s not really my idea of fun, being too commercialised for my liking, but the ease of getting around the lakes, the general cleanliness and the promise of some good fishing is a winner for most people.
Did we catch anything? Not a sausage! In fact, there were virtually no fish caught for the three days we were there. The regulars put this down to the incredibly high water temperatures and the fact that the lakes were extremely busy. All I know is that between us we had nine rods out, we’re all (supposedly!) experienced anglers, and we are confident in our tactics. But it didn’t work out! We tried our best, fishing deeper water, close-in margins, with pellets, seeds and all sorts of baits and even wading in to put baits down by hand. Nothing worked!
I guess it just wasn’t our day(s) but we’ll be back later in the year for another try.
The next session was back on one our local club lakes. The lake has been very quiet of late following a small fish kill earlier in the year which resulted in a spod ban. This has not gone down well with a lot of anglers but personally I’m all for it. I’ve mentioned before that I cannot see the point in spodding out buckets of all sorts of stuff when you’ve no idea what’s gone in the swim before and how the fish are feeding but that’s what quite a lot of the anglers fishing seemed to do.
The result was that, at the end of winter, coming into spring, the fish were highly-pressured, a little bit weak after a cold winter and not ready for the onslaught of kilos of seeds being put into the water. The water turned a distinctly black colour, took on a smell akin to something distinctly dead and a few carp went belly up.
The subsequent closure for a few weeks and the spodding ban has worked wonders. The water is now looking fantastic, the fish are feeding well and catch rates have risen tremendously. I’m not saying it’s all down to spodding but it does seem to be too much of a coincidence to me.
Anyway, I’ve had two overnight sessions in the last few weeks and caught some good carp both times. I’ve been fishing over my usual PVA bags with a mix of Skrettings Halibut and Protec Carp pellet all topped off with a few boilies. The difference has been that I’ve been trying ground pellets as well. Please don’t tell my wife but I’ve been using her Nutribullet blender/juicer to make powdered pellet. I’ve been adding this dry to my PVA bags and also making some into Method mix balls which I’ve been firing out at range with a strong catapult. I’ve also been putting the powder into PVA bags and firing them out with the catapult over the bait. The bags float and burst, sending a cloud of fine pellet into the water. Some of this sinks and some just hangs in the water creating a very enticing cloud of attraction.
It’s been working very well indeed and I’ve had several carp to low 20s on both sessions. I’ve noticed several anglers with binoculars watching what I’m doing so I assume that, once they’ve sussed me out, that my secret edge won’t be that secret for long!
Finally, John and I had another trip or two to our syndicate water. As many of you will know, we’ve been really struggling with weed on this little venue and, despite many hard day’s work, we’ve been fighting a losing battle. We’ve had a growing (excuse the pun!) problem for the last few years but this year we’ve had Canadian Pondweed, Hornwort and Duckweed to contend with! It’s been so hard to fish the pool and so disheartening to see a water that we’ve all spent so much time on just getting more and more unfishable day by day.
But, having paid our money, John and I decided to have a couple of sessions. Picking a swim was easy. Just set up in the spots you could actually cast a rod into! Nothing more complicated. No checking on whether there were any fish there – just if you could actually get a bait in. The problem has been made worse by the Hornwort which floats around the lake in huge rafts. One minute you’re fishing in a small open hole and the next – it’s all closed up and unfishable.
However, and quite remarkably, we’ve actually had a few fish! I had a 22lb mirror on one session and John had two fish over the last weekend prior to us swapping back to the club lake for a session. Only this last weekend we decided to have another crack and settled into two swims that looked fishable. It was then we found we had yet another problem – blanketweed. This stuff is the fine hair-like algae/weed that just coats the lakebed and grows up the weeds to make a huge thick raft of weed that’s not only impossible to fish safely in but also virtually impossible for fish to swim through! It seems just about everything is against us on this pool and we’re seriously wondering whether it’s time to call it a day.
The last trip saw me fishing in a tiny little hole in the weed, John fishing the most open spot on the pool, and another angler, Lee, fishing at the other end of the lake in the shallow area. I was using the same tactics that had served me well on the other venues recently with the addition of hooklengths made from a coated braid that looks like weed. It’s remarkably good in weedy water and the human eye simply cannot distinguish between it and actual weed.
John was fishing with Skrettings Halibut pellet and he caught a decent scraper 20. It was Lee who had the best session though with three lovely fish to his name, the best one being a gorgeous 25lb common. He was really pleased with himself, and rightly so, but he did comment that getting the fish out of the weed spoiled any excitement catching the fish may have given him. There was weed all over his swim, in his bivvy, on his gear and even in his hair!
I think I was just along for the ride and blanked although I cannot find fault with my tactics. The water was so clear I could see my bait on the lakebed and it was perfectly positioned. All that was needed was a fish! I didn’t see one for the 36 hours I was fishing but 100 yards away where I couldn’t fish, they little monkeys were basking in the security of knowing that we couldn’t fish for them!
Such is life I guess but it’s very frustrating. Over the next weekend or two I’m hoping to get out but I’m sitting looking at paint peeling off the window frame and my wife is becoming suspicious about my interest in her Nutribullet blender! I think I’ll just sit quietly for a while ….