It couldn't have been a more perfect morning for where we were heading on this the first day of the fishing season. As we walked through the woods laden with tackle, my step quickened by excitement to see the old estate lake again after leaving it wearing it's autumn colours late last year. My eagerness had only been heightened by the fleeting glimpse I caught of it through the trees as we passed by only a short while ago.
She never disappoints
Some things we see as anglers are a real honour and seeing an estate lake with mist rolling off the hill side over it on June the sixteenth is a sight I have etched in my mind forever, and one I know that I will never tire of seeing as long as live.
There were patches of tench bubbles fizzing intermittently along the bank as some of the residents had an early morning feed. As I took a somewhat delicate Jeff for a early morning tour around the lake, pretty much every swim looked likely to contain fish. My original plan was to go for some points for the challenge but that was soon forgotten as the obvious signs of feeding Tench and the idea of having a go on my all time favorite method, the lift float, crept into my head.
It was not long before I found myself staring through the mist at a red float top next to a patch of lily pads, eagerly awaiting the slightest ripple to emerge from the float to indicate the presence of a hungry Tinica.
This lake was once renowned for its tench fishing and attracted the anglers from miles around. I have even read a few things by Richard Walker were he makes mention of the lake and its numerous residents. But sadly now the hey day has long passed and like so many other estate lakes it finds itself in a different part of its life cycle to the tench stage. But! a small number of relatives of those fish that 'Dickie' once angled after still remain and those prepared to risk the dreaded blank and commit themselves to the cause, can still find one or two fish if in the right place at the right time.
Having fished this lake for a few years and having tried just about every possible way of catching these illusive fish, I have discovered that old methods are far more likely to score than new, and the same goes for baits.
Yes the odd Tench falls to the carp anglers whilst they attempt to catch a monster at range on boilies but as far as I am concerned corn, meat, bread and maggots have been much more successful for me in the past.
After sitting on my hands for the best part of a hour as I watched three distinctively separate fish mooch around, leaving a tail of fizzy bubbles every time they dipped to feed all within feet of my float. My chance was at hand as a ripple shot out in circle from the float. Something was close by, then a slight dip, then the money shot came as the peacock quill float lifted half way from the water then dropped onto its side before sliding away to be met by the strike. My first thought was that a marauding roach had crammed my two grains of corn in it's mouth as there was little resistance, but then it woke up and my fourteen foot power waggler rod was set to work as a tench powered away. With a patch of lilies on ether side of the swim and a second rods line dipping into the edge I tried to be as careful as I could with an angry tinica boring round the swim, but soon she was on the bank. My first fish of the new season a 4lb estate lake tench.
Does life get any better?
My second cast produced a bream around 2-3lb but the fuss caused by the previous tench had sent her companions back into the depths. Switching to a waggler set up I continued catching smaller fish hoping this normally roach filled lake might give me enough for a roach point, but strangely this year there seems to be a even split of roach and roach bream hybrids in the lake, so my roach point would have to wait for another day.
My hopes of some pike getting on the small fish shoals seemed a little ill founded too as not one single attacking splash was seen all day, which compared with last years whole sale slaughter by the pike on this day seemed rather perplexing to me. But on the other hand I have given up trying to predict how this lake will fish as the fishing itself is as changeable as the moods of the lake.
A half time break was in order and the suggestion of a pint and a pub lunch was welcomed by Jeff. A short drive later we were sitting in the beer garden of the Castle pub at edge hill awaiting a home made ham doorstep sandwich whilst enjoying a cold pint looking over the Warwickshire country side from this unusually high vantage point. Whilst on about it I would certainly recommend that should you pass by it is well worth going into this castle based pub. The home cooked food they serve is both reasonable and tasty, there is always good range of traditional beers available, and the view is unsurpassed for this part of the country.
After lunch we headed back to the lake for round two though I suspected the fishing would continue on the same vein. For my own part I must admit that my early morning was beginning to catch up with me and most of my afternoon was spent dozing behind the bite indicators and carp rods. Jeff on the other hand had spotted some carp drifting in and out of a bed of lillies and was determined to bag one, which he did not long after getting back onto his jungle like peg; a nice mirror of 12lb sadly with some serious mouth damage caused by what looked like a trailing hook link, which judging by the sores on it's sides had probably been torn out during spawning. But still I know several anglers who have been fishing seriously on this lake for years and not actually caught one yet so 'well done Jeff'. As the afternoon drifted away the old estate lake grew quieter with every passing moment and by 8pm the only thing that seemed to be moving was the local mozzie population. We could have stuck round until last light but both Jeff an myself got the feeling that the fishing was not about to suddenly improve and reached the unanimous decision to drag our weary bodies home.