Fields End (94)

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Fields End (94)

Not a very auspicious start and quite a wait before I caught anything worthwhile. But a surprise barbel made up for earlier disappointment.

Arrival time: 07.30
Weather: A bright day that started quite calm with little wind, but light clouds came over in the afternoon with a freshening SW breeze..
Swim: Reed End
Tackle: 14ft Shimano Speedmaster match rod, Shimano Exage 1000RC reel with 5lb line and 12 hook.
10ft Fishtec Compact Float, Shimano bait caster, 8lb line, 8 hook.
Bait: Tulip Bacon Grill, bread and bread crust.
Fish: A barbel, two carp and a few small roach.

The pleasant surprise when I arrived was the absence of anglers. When I first started fishing this lake in 2006 there was one small field for touring caravans. Now it's a complex, with multiple caravan fields and more recently lodges. And the latest addition, which categorically confirms the venue's holiday credentials, a small café on the east bank, complete with a terrace, tables and chairs. Fortunately it's closed on Fridays, so today it didn't add to the bank-side activity. The fact that I was, it seems, the only day visitor perhaps shows that the local anglers, who once were the majority, have decided to leave the lake to the holidaymakers.
  •  Barbel 7lbs 1oz

    Barbel 7lbs 1oz

  •  Scaled carp 7lbs 13oz

    Scaled carp 7lbs 13oz

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Being it was so quiet I made my way to what I call the reed-end swim. After a strong westerly the day before, and a continuing westerly breeze, this seemed to be the place to be. Fishing into the wind, as they say. With high expectations I dropped a light leger down the side of the reeds with meat bait, a tactic that has in the past been an almost dead cert for a carp or a tench early in the morning before there is too much movement on the banks. On this occasion, however, not a touch, save small fish having a nibble. After a while I decided to change to the float, only to suffer bite after unhittable bite on bread flake. The few I managed to hit were small roach. I changed to meat bait only to be broken by what I assume was a carp as I tried to stop it careering into the reed bank. I also hooked a couple of other fish, by the feel of them both probably crucian carp, but they shed the hook very rapidly.

Reverting to the leger, with the more powerful compact float rod, I placed some meat on a free line close to the reeds. As is always the case when fishing, the moment I turned to check out some splashes to my left, a carp had taken the bait and was well on its way into the reed bank, my rod bent over in the rest. Needless to say I couldn't extract it and had to break off. It was now hours since I had arrived and I really had nothing to show for my efforts, other than tales of lost fish, which is always a cop out.

Then at 14.00, back on the float, something took the meat that didn't feel like a carp, but was none the less very powerful. On the match rod with 5lb line it was a while before I saw what I had, and when a barbel broke the surface I was both pleasantly surprised, while also in a way not surprised as the way it fought had planted the idea of a barbel in my head. Finally on the bank, it weighed in at just over 7lb. A superb specimen in fantastic condition.

At this point it wouldn't really have mattered if I hadn't caught anything else, but I persevered, still missing most of the bites on bread. I had tried catapulting crusts to the edge of the reeds and finally a carp had sucked one in. Cue the time to take my compact float rod and free line a crust to the same spot. It worked and at 15.00 I bullied a carp out of the reeds and after a hectic close-up battle landed a partially scaled fish of around 7½lb. The next one I lost after a few minutes as it shed the hook, often a problem when taking fish off the surface. Then, at 16.20, I took a nice-looking fully scaled carp of just under 8lb. I had already decided to pack up around 16.00, so this was my last fish.

So, it was a bit of a mixed day, but the barbel, a personal best for this species, was well worth the trip. I'm not sure if the carp anglers with their long casting and hair-rigs (i.e. everybody else on the lake!) pick up barbel from time to time, or if this is a bonus for us rare and rapidly diminishing breed of margin fishers. I would like to think that this more classic approach to angling offers the occasional reward that the carp fraternity miss out on, although I doubt that they care.

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