What a fantastic start to the season on Cosgrove Park. All the lakes have been fishing really well - I believe as a result of the very mild winter and an early spring - early in that the temperatures have stayed higher than average without too many really cold nights and the wet weather has dropped right back. Also because the fishing has been so good there seems to have been more anglers actually putting the 'time in'! There has been more pleasure anglers out on the bank especially with the weather being so good. Of course the good weather has meant that the whole of nature has woken up - including the fish. I've never fed so much bait this early in the year. Particularly the carp and the tench fishing has been outstanding, not only for individual size of fish but also in numbers caught.
'The Park Grapevine'
As I said above most of the lakes have been on good form. The Residents Lake was in great form right off the bat. On one of his first sessions of the new season Paul Hickson took 5 lovely double figure carp to 15lb made especially pleasurable as he took them on home made boilies! Anglers were also taking loads of nice bream to 6lb with a few early season tench. Highlight of the month was a 31lb 12oz mirror carp taken by Dennis Jones. Dennis is a relative newcomer to the big carp scene and he was delighted with his catch. I was doubly pleased - having seen the pictures of Dennis's fish you can clearly see that it is definitely a different '30' to the one I took in November last year (see Winter's blog).
Fountain View 1 was in great form. Gary Osbourne opened his account early in the month with a 12lb 8oz common carp and continued to catch on a regular basis with his catches topped by a 21lb 8oz common - the best I heard of from the lake. Ozzy's son Rob made some great mixed catches including some big roach and perch.
Fountain View 2 was in steady form. Graham Jake took some nice carp into double figures with a best being a 14lb common as well as a few bream, tench and roach, but he reports having to work particularly hard to catch them.
Willow View/Banks was in very good form. Richard Mason took several carp into double figures with his best being a 19lb common. Richard's Grandson Mathew continued to hone his method feeder skills by taking numerous bream to over 6lb.
I had a very enjoyable after work session on Willow View (although in the pouring rain) with top matchman Tim Jolley, we both used the deadly method feeder tactics and between us we had several bream, tench and carp.
Tim had a double figure common carp take right under a bush tight into our own margin after he had continually 'pinged' in grains of sweetcorn all evening!
Heronsfield was in great form for the tench. Lots of the residents took some lovely tench on a variety of methods including method feeder, maggot feeder, and float tactics. It did seem that as most of the tench came from out in the lake although new resident Mr Pearce had a lovely 12lb common carp on a grain of sweetcorn float fished very close in. Along with numerous tench Micheal Dodds took a 19lb mirror carp. I also heard of an unconfirmed report of a carp about 20lb but I have no more details.
The Ski Lake was in particular good form for its carp. Early in the month Kev Mansfield opened his season with an 18lb mirror carp. Young Jacob Harris definitely followed the old adage of 'effort equals reward' and fished hard over the weekends and the Easter period taking a stunning 15lb common carp early in the month and followed this up with numerous doubles with a best a 24lb common.
A little further along the bank Darren Stones who also works very hard at his fishing was rewarded for his efforts with a brace of '20's' to be proud of. Although Darren said he lost a much bigger Ski Lake carp at the net.
Mallard, Grebe, Lilly and Teal lakes were in good form especially with the recent stocking of small carp in the 1lb to 3lb class. Although small they are very game fish providing good sport on light-ish match/pleasure tackle. Canada Lake was in great form, not only with the stock fish but also with some of the older fish to double figures. Not only were numerous tench also taken but there were some lovely sized rudd taken on float fished sweetcorn.
'The 1st Match Of The 2014 Series'
The first match of the new season was highly anticipated due to the recent stocking of small carp in the match lakes. 24 anglers turned out and were greeted with mild, but dull and overcast conditions. Although the match was won with a great catch there were still only 10 anglers who weighed in so there was quite a few anglers, myself included who were disappointed. It sounds a little like sour grapes, but it was very much a case of if you were on the fish you caught - if weren't you blanked.
In 1st place was Dave Tysoe. Dave has been having good success on the local Milton Keynes canal match circuit this winter and having drawn peg 27 on Mallard Lake fished it as he would the local canal with pole and waggler tactics and it paid off with the best catch in recent years. Dave took 30 or so of the new stocky carp for a superb 40lb 11oz.
In 2nd place was Tim Jolley. Tim drew peg 12 on Grebe Lake. This peg is one of only two where the island can be fished with the pole. Tim had a slow start but by using long pole tactics tight to the island and with careful feeding when the new carp moved in he took several to weigh in 15lb 8oz.
In 3rd place was Graham Johnson. Graham was pegged on peg 14 tight in the corner of Grebe Lake. He found lots of carp feeding but initially lost several using tackle the really was too light for the situation. Once Graham had scaled up he started to take some nice fish including a lovely 10lb 5oz common carp that took him a timed 23 minutes to land.
My own match was a bit of a disaster. I drew peg 17 that has been pretty good in the past as it has water that is a little deeper than the average depth for the lake, this I thought would be an advantage. I started on my usual method feeder to the island tactics, but not before feeding a couple of pole lines at 13m, one for silver fish with pinkies and one for the bigger fish with chopped worm, pellets and dead maggots.
Just on the hour I had my first line bite followed almost immediately by the '3 foot twitch' I was waiting for. On lifting into the fish I could tell it was a decent carp, but it was attached for all of 2 seconds then it was gone, nothing wrong with my gear but I was particularly gutted as in these matches you often don't get a second chance and this proved to be the case. I tried the pole lines even scaling down to a single pinkie on a 22 but couldn't buy a bite. I was not alone in blanking. The anglers for several pegs either side of me all blanked. Mick Linford fishing on peg 13 on Grebe Lake lost a good carp even before id finished baiting my pole swims! On playing the fish he received the usual banter about cutting his line etc. You could have heard a pin drop when he lost the fish at the net as all the banter stopped. Unfortunately like me Mick had no further action.
'Combating The Cray's'
I forgot to mention in my Winter blog of the Cray Fishing in the Ski Lake by a commercial Cray fisherman. As a lot of anglers will testify the American Signal Crayfish have become a real problem on most of the lakes on the park. Particularly when the fish are not that active and the fishing is slow the 'crays' seem particularly active. It doesn't really matter whether you are targeting big carp or me taking the kids for there 'Introduction To Fishing' lesson in the summer the cray's are a real pain in the 'ar-e'.
Because of this problem we called in a commercial cray fisherman who initially targeted the Ski Lake. It was hoped that he could also get to net some of the other lakes, but like a lot of things this Winter the bad weather and associated flooding curtailed a lot of his fishing. However he did 'fish' the Ski Lake and I was amazed at the numbers and quantity of cray's that he caught. I spoke to him after his initial haul and he was delighted with his 90 odd kilos that he estimated to be in excess of 10,000 individual animals. He had several mores hauls nearing 100 kilos. That sort of catch must have a positive impact on the numbers in the lake and consequently on the angling! Numerous anglers have already spoken about the lack of Cray activity in the Ski Lake. Unfortunately the rest of us have to put up with the same problem. I fish Heronsfield alot and in this lake they have become a real problem over the last few years. Particularly when carp fishing I like to use boilies and they absolutely love them. For some strange reason they like nothing more than a fruit flavoured pop-up!
For me April has been pretty good having taken lots of fish, although it has been tench, tench and more tench. I've not caught anything I would call special but ive had tench to over 6lb, but I have struggled to find any carp from Heronsfield where I have fished most of the month. Fishing four Thursday night (after work) to Friday afternoon sessions I have taken over 30 tench but only one small 8lb carp! For my first session I used feeder and maggot tactics and although the night was pretty quiet, daylight produced 7 tench and several lost to the thick weed that is growing quickly in Heronsfield.
For my later sessions I changed to my proper carping gear using buzzers and boilies. I had several very good sessions topped on the 25th April when I took nine tench in darkness to over 6lb, then an 8lb common carp at first light followed by another 5 tenchduring the morning, I also pulled out of 7 fish. Now I have caught lots of tench during the dark hours but I would say ive caught lots more in daylight, especially during the morning period. On this night for reasons only known to themselves they remained on the feed all night and I got next to no sleep. Most were taken on a mid-lake spot over low lying silk weed using a pop-up on what is known as a 'Multi Rig'. On the best spot I only fed loose boilies starting with about 75 baits then catapulting 20 or so boilies out following each fish. One interesting thing was on the Friday I had a run of smaller than average tench in the 3lb class, at this time I was pulling out of lots of fish and I believe it was because these smaller tench were struggling with my 15mm pop-up and a size 6 hook!
'Looking Forward To May'
May is one of my favourite months. As long as the weather stays good and we don't suffer any silly frosts or prolonged rain etc the fishing in May can be as good as it gets all year. By now the fish will be wide awake after winter and really up for a feed. I regularly pre-bait. Now I know that easy for me working on the park and I regularly pre-bait up during my lunch break, but it is worth the effort even if its over the 3 day bank holidays which there are two during May. Often if you've fished all weekend Bank Holiday Monday is the best day and thats because you have fed the swim all weekend and eventhough you've fished they have only really got on the feed on the 3rd day. It needn't be expensive, I often make up my spod/feed mixes for carp, tench and bream using cheap bulk baits such as frozen sweetcorn.
I my opinion its not so good as canned corn but its much cheaper. I also buy my pellets in bulk preferring mixed halibut and carp pellets in different sizes for different breakdown times. I've even had success using layers pellets that are sold cheaply as chicken feed pellets. They are great to bulk out the other 'fishy' pellets. The basis of my mix is nearly always pigeon conditioner and hempseed that is a superb mass seed bait that can be bought fairly cheaply from Jolley's the pet food store in Milton Keynes. Seed type baits must always be soaked overnight and then boiled in a pan for 30 minutes. I always add some chopped boilies and anything else I have handy such as dead maggots (kept in the freezer) and groundbait. I often freeze leftover bait from my matches and this all goes in my spod mix. The only issue there could be during May is if the weather stays good we could see some of the fish spawning and when they do they turn off the feed big time until there nuptials have finished! Anyway enough of my ramblings - get out on the bank and get fishing, May can be a brilliant month.