There’s nothing more exciting than the prospect of a new challenge. The chance to unlock the secrets of a new venue, gathering information and building the puzzle piece by piece. The only thing for me that makes this even more special is sharing the success in good company and being able to reflect back on the memories with friends.
The planning for my current venue began in earnest, when I knew I was moving to the Hampshire area. Serving in the military has its ups and downs, but the next few years were going to be swayed heavily in my favor, leaning towards angling.
It was a natural progression from my previous venue that I had fished. I had reached that familiar stage we all inevitably come to, when you know it is time to move on to the next chapter. My sessions had become like dé jà vu. Arriving with the rods clipped up to the spot, ready to deploy proven tactics. Consequently, I had not changed anything in terms of my approach during the last 6 months, and for good reason. I had figured out all that I needed to and was reaping the rewards, but the one downside was that I was not learning anymore. Repeat captures were a regular occurrence and I really needed to sink my teeth into something new.
I’d had the ticket for around 18 months but was preoccupied elsewhere and hadn’t really looked into it enough to realize what gems the venue held. Being married and living in Army housing you are given a choice of properties. Luckily for me, one of these was but a mere 300-meter walk from the lake and 3 doors away from my angling partner in crime. After convincing my wife this was the best choice of property, for obvious reasons, the house was secured, and the plans began to form.
After moving in and getting settled, Rob and I lapped the lake whilst having a good catch up. Rob had been a member for a while longer and dipped his toe in and out, with the odd session over the years. He had banked some of the known fish, so we had a good basis to start from. After talking tactics, we decided to campaign it together, completely non-selfish teamwork angling. Every fish on the bank would be a result of putting our heads together and striving for the end goal. The plan was to bait heavily and often, whilst keeping rod hours down by maximising our efforts during bite time. This approach fitted perfectly with my angling style and helped to keep a healthy balance between fishing, family and work, whilst also allowing plenty of time to get in the gym, which is critical for my job.
The venue is a park lake of approximately 10 acres, with an estimated stock of 90 fish. Average depths are around 10-12ft and there is a large plateau that surrounds the island, dominating the central body of water. This is a natural magnet for the residents and holds fish in all weather conditions. After plenty of observation, benefiting from two pairs of eyes we decided on a few areas to target. The rods were clipped up and the Burco’s switched on. Amongst the obvious advantages of living a literal stone’s throw from the lake was that we were able to walk a lap at last light to see what swims were occupied. This gave us the chance to pre-bait in darkness and avoid popular areas. We initially went in with a heavy mix of particle, pellet and boilie. The aim was to bring in all species and establish the feeding spots.
The lake was busy, with many of the members keen to get their rods out after the long winter. It is however notoriously slow to get going given the depth of water, often other lakes in the area draw the anglers away, distracted by the more productive fishing on offer at the shallower lakes. Given our prior knowledge of this it was not a concern, and in fact played right into our hands, as we managed to keep our success under wraps, meaning the lake remained quiet for longer.
We were soon off the mark with a few stunning scaly fish banked. The details of each capture were documented, and a few subtle tweaks made. As we were starting to build up the picture, bite times started to emerge and certain approaches outshone others. Not being one for messing about with rig mechanics, I refined my options to three reliable presentations, all of which I reached for over the next few weeks.