The old saying ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is very apt for my friends and I at our syndicate venue in leafy Cheshire. I say ‘leafy’ with tongue in cheek as, to be honest, the trees and bushes look very sad indeed with droopy leaves and fading flowers. It’s all due to the current heatwave which has locked the UK in its grip for several weeks. In short, it’s been a disaster for us!
I’ve been a member of our syndicate pool for over 25 years now but never, in all this time, have we been faced with what we are at the moment. Regular readers will know that the little pool in the grounds of a stately home has been taken over by a mix of Canadian Pondweed and Hornwort over the last few years. Come late June the pool has been like a meadow with virtually the whole lake covered in weed growing up from the lakebed. However, this year we’ve an additional problem – Duckweed.
Duckweed is the tiny, single-leaf, bright green plant that covers some waters, notably small ponds where the water is still. This year it’s taken hold on our pool and we now have the double whammy of bottom weed coming up to the surface and floating weed trapped in it to the extent that parts of the pool are just a bright green carpet.
There is no way to treat the weed with chemicals because they’ve all been banned by the EU so the only way to remove it is either mechanically (too expensive and impractical) or by hand. So, having said that, guess what we’ve all be doing instead of fishing?
As a group we have now spent weekends of our fishing season trying to clear enough weed out to even wet a line, never mind catch a fish or two. It’s been demoralising, backbreaking work and at the end of the day the lake looks – well, pretty much the same to be honest. As soon as we drag out the bottom weed and pull a rope boom across the surface the weed just spreads and fills the gaps.
We’re having yet another work party weekend shortly but, for the first time in many years, I’m wondering whether it’s all too much trouble. It’s a never-ending battle and when you combine all this with dozens of ducks that spend all day just waiting for you to have a nap before diving on your baits, swans that insist on swimming through your lines and fish that have so much natural food to eat they just laugh at our baits, I’m seriously wondering whether to carry on.
Wow! What a way to start this blog! I hope that the waters you fish are not suffering as we are but it’s not all bad news.
I’ve been out only once or twice in the last few weeks, partly because of the work party days, and partly due to housebound chores. When I have been out I’ve actually been quite successful.
My first trip was to one of my favourite lakes that had a fish kill earlier in the year but has now recovered to the point where the fish really seem to be getting their heads down. I don’t know what’s changed but the general opinion is that the lack of angling activity has helped the water quality improve and the fish are having a real happy time. It was thought that overbaiting was one of the problems that caused the fish deaths so a spodding ban was introduced. Since then the water quality even looks better to my eyes and the fish seem to agree.
On one session I had three small carp followed by a scraper 20, then, on the next session another two upper doubles. The lake looks absolutely gorgeous at the moment with lillies blooming and the reeds a lovely bright green.
Tactics that proved fruitful were PVA bags of Skrettings Halibut and Protec Carp pellets with a little air left in them, catapulted out at range so they floated. The idea is that when the bag bursts, the pellets will sink to the bottom to create a carpet. On top of this I put my popped-up boilie in a bag with more pellets and a few crumbed boilies. This bag has the air taken out so it sinks immediately and dissolves on the bottom to create a little pile of goodies in amongst the carpet of pellets. It’s worked a treat for me over the years and it’s a hard tactic to beat on the right day.
The other good thing about this lake is the shade. You fish facing north with the sun at your back. The whole bank is tree-lined so no matter how hot the sun every angler will be shaded – heaven in this hot weather. It’s been a joy to fish this lake and it’s been pretty quiet of late with anglers fishing elsewhere for some reason.
Back on our syndicate pool I’ve had two sessions. Both were rather half-hearted to be honest as the weed problems are just so demoralising. The reason I’ve fished it and not other lakes has been purely because, having paid my subs, I feel I have too at least try to get some value for money.
Actually, on my most recent trip, I actually caught a fish! Amazing to say the least. I was astounded! I was tucked into a tiny little swim underneath some bushes, with no room to even cast a bait, a carpet of green in front of me and lines of ducks just looking at me. It was not the best start to the session I can tell you. I had to really push myself to even unpack the barrow.
Once settled in with a brew on the go things didn’t look to bad. I eventually managed to find a clear spot on the bottom although I really struggled to get a bait and the line down through the floating duckweed. I baited up with a few bags of pellets weighted with stones so they sank through the duckweed, followed by another bag containing my baited hooklink and some additional broken boilies. The whole lot was swung out, underarm, only a few feet from the bank and the second rod was placed by hand under the edge of the bush, only two feet from the bank.
Normally you can see if there are any fish under the bush, a very popular place for resting carp, but due to the duckweed I couldn’t see a thing. Very occasionally the back of a carp would rise like a submarine through the duckweed but the pool looked lifeless apart from the ducks which were having a hard time forcing themselves through the duckweed, it was so thick. Underneath wasn’t too bad as our weed-removal had cleared some areas but the duckweed was a killer.
When the alarm sounded and the rod screamed off at 3pm I just sat, staring blankly at it. It took me a while to realise what was happening so surprised was I that a fish had actually taken the bait.
The 20.5lb carp on the end struggled in the weed and, although I could not say it fought at all, I eventually got it, and enough weed so sink a ship, into the net and out on the bank. There was was weed and little green duckweed plants everywhere – all over the fish, the gear, my bedchair and sleeping bag, even on my arms, shirt and hair!
A few quick photos, then a wash down to get the weed off me, and the rod was back out. The ducks, meanwhile just sat, eyeing me up, waiting for the kill.
Around early evening, when I love the anticipation of dusk and a possible feeding spell. I decided to get more stocks of biscuits from my barrow which was around 20 feet away in the bushes. In the seconds it took me to get to the barrow the ducks moved in. Quicker than you can say Jack Flash they were down on my bait and one managed to get the hookabait. It tore off taking the lot with it and tangling up both rods to the extent that I had to cut the line then manhandle the lot back to bank. There was so much weed the water was churned up like mud as the weed was wrenched from the lakebed. It was a total mess I can tell you.
By the time I’d retackled both rods, cleared up the mess and got the rods back out it was dark and I was not happy with life again. The baited spots had been destroyed. I was covered in weed and soaked and the activity must have frightened every carp for miles as I didn’t have a bleep nor see a fish for the rest of the session.
I went home with a mix of happiness at actually getting a carp in such conditions but tempered by the knowledge that, if I go back again, it’ll be ten times worse! I wonder if we’ll even be able to use aquatic weedkillers again, which I doubt, but that really is the only way we’ll ever manage to get the pool back to its former glory unless the estate cough up some money to help – and I’ll be long gone before then!
So, that’s it. A bit (lot?) of gloom and doom tempered by some great fishing. It just goes to show that even in the worst conditions unless you get tough, get going and make the most of it, you’ll never know what you’ve missed.