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In Memory of Keith - December 2022

Hi all, firstly I have to apologise for the lateness of this blog, since my return from Parco the time has just run away with me. So, what’s taken up so much of my time? I had a few one nighters on the Willows, then a trip to France.

I was in the process of writing those up when I got the terrible news, one of my closest friends passed away suddenly, which to be honest knocked the stuffing out of me fishing wise. In the last few weeks I have written obituaries for different magazines and websites, as well as contacting a lot of anglers who we knew jointly to let them know. I’m only really just getting back into thinking about fishing and articles again.


So, with regards to my overnighters on Willows at the Approach fisheries. The plan was to get a few nights in before the Autumn set in properly. Just to try and get an idea of the fishing and maybe a few spots identified and hopefully a carp or two on the bank. It can be daunting starting on a new water, I always make a point of spending some time walking the lake before fishing, just looking out from different swims, and speaking with other anglers, this gives different views of the lake as opposed to just the arial map, also taking note of angles of line, areas rods are pointing at etc.

Some anglers will quite freely give info, some won’t, but that’s ok. It’s just a matter of putting effort in at the start until a bite or two occurs, then I will have a bit more to go on. How did those plans go then?
 

Catching upon work from my Parco trip and getting ahead for my French trip and then having some long-awaited building work done at home meant I got just three nights in September and early October, as opposed to the several I had planned. I did bank a few carp though, but all high doubles, nothing of any real size. I attached a picture of one of them on the mat just for posterities sake and also just in case some unkind soul suggests I didn’t catch anything. All the carp caught came to solid PVA bags of chopped ASM along with a small ASM Wafter, which had been cast to fishy looking
spots. I had been warned about cut-offs being an issue on here, it didn’t take long to see why, as you can see from the photo, there are a lot of mussels in here, which can shred line easily. These sit in the weed and along the tops of the very shallow bars, so had put 80lb leaders on, which meant no lost carp due to cut-offs. It was a big ask though, catching on a single night’s fishing on new water, but a few trips have given me some idea of the layout of the lake, and I have also been able to watch other anglers to see how they fish on here.

 

To be honest, I had thought that fishing Sunday or Monday nights might mean the lake would be a bit quieter, but it wasn’t the case. The going swims were occupied for many days at a time. If you are fishing for four or five days, you can afford to blank for two days and then move if needed as swims become vacant.

I’m not complaining, it’s just how it is, no point moaning about it, but then you have to then be realistic about your own results when comparing against others. Still, at least I had an idea of how I should be fishing the lake upon
my return from France, little did I know…

 

My trip to Etang des Deux Pierre’s wasn’t long in the planning. I was making one in on another groups trip as someone had dropped out. So, the third week in October saw me heading to the champagne region of France.

It was all pretty straight forward, Les came to my house, we left at 1am and were on the Train across to France at 6.30, arriving at the lake at Midday.

 

There were 6 of us on the trip, which is a good number for this lake as it gave everyone plenty of space. The water level
was down on its normal levels, and there looked to be more weed along the far side and in the corners, which is where the carp seemed to be spending more time (getting my excuses in early).
I don’t usually read up much about lakes abroad I am travelling to, rather than get any pre-conceived ideas, I prefer to turn up and take it from there, fish it as I see it. I ended up with the Beach swim.


The first night was quiet, I say quiet, I had a long tussle with a swan at 3 am that swam through my lines!

After breakfast on Sunday, I got out into the boat and spent a few hours with the prodding stick.

The key with these types of waters is to find the clear spots in the weed that the carp might be visiting.

So, it’s trying to identify the spots the carp will visit on their normal travels round the lake even though they may not be inclined to feed on them, unless they are really going on a munch.

The lake had been dyed so seeing the bottom was hard even with a viewer. So, it was just painstaking prodding around with a prodding stick to identify the areas to fish. My chosen bait for this trip was the ASM, I was using dumbbells and 12 mm boilies as loose feed along with crumbed ASM bait, soaked in the ASM Glug, as well as some of the pellets the lake supply.

 

One of the things I tend to do on long trips is to put some boilies to soak in a bucket of lake water the first day I am there. This means that when I top up the baited area, I am topping up with baits that will be similar to what is already on the lakebed, this has really worked well in the past. As I was fishing over a really clean area, I was using combi rigs with wafter hook baits, comprising of a Hardened ASM Hooker and a 10mm ASM washed out pop-up.
 

My side of the lake was quiet all week, after seeing a show on the second day away from my baited area, I dispatched a PVA bag to a spot at 50 yards. It wasn’t even in 15 minutes when it rattled off, excellent…after I short but spirited fight, I netted what turned out to be a mid-twenty mirror, which was ok but really needed to be twice that size…the problem I had now was that carp came from a spot I wasn’t fishing. I left a rod on that spot for another 24 hours but wasn’t really feeling it.

 

During the hours of darkness, I could hear carp moving around the lake, predominantly they seemed to be moving up and down the far bank from corner to corner. Born out by the fact that carp were been caught on that side.

The lake had been averaging 25-30 carp a week leading up to our trip.

The catch rate for the week we were there was well below that, which seemed to indicate that the carp were
not feeding that heavily, this did seem to be the same around the general area we were in for the whole week, certainly talking to others back at the tunnel, some groups had gone a whole week without a bite at all.


That was it for me for the week for any action. Rich ended up the top rod with three fifties and a sixty, which was excellent fishing and the sort of trip we all hope for. I usually do end up with a bite in the last 24 hours, so I fished hard right until the end, with just the rods left against the mat with stones on the handles, but it wasn’t to be.

Overall, it was a good week, the days spent chilling out, the nights hoping for a bite. Looking back, I feel I fished fairly well, though with hindsight I should have maybe changed things a bit mid-week, but that’s fishing heh? One thing I did manage to do, was after 30 years of trying to get a close-up picture of a Kingfisher on my rods, I finally got one.

He had landed on the rods the previous 2 mornings at a similar time, so on the Wednesday morning I had my camera to hand with the zoom already set, just as the sun was coming up. So, I managed to get a few good pictures.


After my return from France, I had planned to have a busy week catching up, then getting out on the bank again, I had sent the pics in for this article, planning on sending the text within the next few days. It was then I received the terrible news that my long-time friend Keith Napier had passed away very suddenly.

As I said at the start of this piece, the last few weeks have been spent letting folk know, writing obituaries for different groups and speaking with his family. Fishing wise, it knocked the stuffing out of me a bit.


As I’m sitting typing this, it’s 2 now weeks away from Christmas, so it’s unlikely I will get out on the bank before Christmas now. So, I will probably start day fishing sessions in January through February as part of my winter fishing, just to get the rods out. I’ll also be starting to think about preparing for the start of next years fishing sessions on the Pits, which is usually late February. As I only joined the Key Baits team mid-year, looks like I will be continuing with the ASM next year.

Wishing you all a great Christmas and New Year, make sure you tell your loved ones that they are
loved, you never know when it will be the last time you see them.


Catch you next time.

Andy

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