Borwick Fisheries – Catch -2C

We installed a Bait Bank back in October 2014 and since that day I’ve been eager to give these 9 Gold accredited fishing lakes a try. Needless to say it has taken me a while to find the time to get on the banks fishing these beautiful waters, set in many acres of stunning Countryside close to Carnforth, Lancaster, the site is steeped in history and a perfect setting for this popular fishery. Formerly one 30 acre gravel pit holding natural stocks of Coarse fish, the Pike and Carp grew to over 30lb with Tench in excess of 10lb, sadly the fishery was left to fall into disrepair and as a result the fishery suffered, with stock levels dwindling due to a number of factors including the well known Cormorant predation of years gone by.

Luckily the fishery is now lovingly owned by passionate people who have developed the site and restored the lakes over the past 20 years, to a standard much higher than previous. The main changes have been the creation of 6 lakes from the main 30 acre gravel pit with an additional 3 pools around the periphery & a massive restocking programme. A highly skilled and knowledgeable team run the site on a day to day basis to ensure the fishing is optimised throughout the year and for many years to come.

The site also boasts a fantastic onsite cafe & restaurant called Catch 23, Best Peg takeaway and onsite tackle shop, plus obviously our magnificent Bait Bank service for convenient live maggots to keep you catching all day long! Excuse the blatant plug, I am the editor after all.

Anyway, finally I managed to take the Team at Borwick up on their kind offer to fish the waters on a rare day off, Tuesday 26th March 2015 as it happens, forecast the day before looked promising with mild weather expected, sadly the Weather team didn’t factor in the minus 2.5C start to the morning, notorious for putting fish off the feed. Despite this factor, I had the time to go fishing and wasn’t planning to miss the opportunity to fish Borwick, I readied my gear first thing for an early start.

I arrive at Borwick Fisheries via the M6 which is conveniently located just off the main traffic route to the North West of England around 8am just as the fishery opens at this time of year and was warmly welcomed by Dave, one of the bailiffs who man the fishery on a day to day basis.

Now I have had the pleasure to meet all the bailiffs at Borwick over the past few months and every single one of them are so very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, above and beyond their call of duty. Dave is an avid fisherman and match Angler, so as I often advise, research into any water you plan to fish is the key to success. Taking my own advice, I elect to spend my first 15 minutes picking Dave’s brains for any tips, tactics and insight he might have which could help me bag another fish on what could be a potentially tricky day (bearing in mind the overnight cold snap). Dave duly obliges with a wealth of tips and options, honestly my memory is terrible and I should have taken notes but I manage to hold onto a few key points which should help me catch, coupled with my existing experience and desire to see what the waters can produce despite unfavourable conditions. (Secretly I’m hoping for a decent Bream, although any fish will do)

Opting for a peg on the match lake where I have been told there is deeper water, I dip my nets and head off in the car, parking right by my spot for the day! Many of the pegs can be accessed via car, I suppose you could fish from your boot given the chance, which might have been a warmer option as the Temperature creeps up to -2C. I’m wrapped up warm in thermals and waterproofs expecting the worse that the Great British weather can throw at me. Today I’m going to fish the feeder as I desperately need the casting practice for a fishing trip to Ireland planned for later in the year. Some advice is to set up your gear into a comfortable position for the day, especially in the cold it can prove distracting & lose valuable time should you need to move position half way through a session. To keep things as simple as possible, I opt for a medium Drennan feeder on running 6lb mainline straight through to a size 17 Kamasan barbless hook. It’s a tried and tested method I use throughout the year, simply thread the feeder onto the line, add a ledger stop and whip on your hook about 6 inches away from the ledger stop. Ground-bait for the feeder is Sensas Bream which I darken with some black ground-bait the type and brand doesn’t really matter to me, I think colour is more important at this time of year, so I match it close to that of the lake bottom to help prevent fish getting spooked (which can happen when fish are feeding over a bed of lighter feed in clear(ish) water).

Starting the session by casting around to find the depth, utilising visual markers on the opposite bank I find a comfortable distance and area of slightly deeper water in front of me. I use the line clip on my reel to ensure I get an accurate distance on each cast. That’s not to say my casting is accurate, far from it, having not fished for a while its inevitable I will spread my feed across a fair area, but this is not so much of an issue if you have clipped up the line. The tendency is that throughout the day an area of feed will build up in an arc at the same distance from where you continually cast, this allows you to pick off fish from various areas of the arc and on this occasion gives me options in the swim, as this is the only method I am opting to fish.

I plug the feeder with ground-bait, on the hook I attach 2 red maggots punching the feeder out in front of me. (Don’t ask what distance as I’ve never been very good at judging, perhaps 30 metres?) I wait eagerly for the tip to go around, nothing after 15 minutes so I wind in, and re-cast to the same area, this time I leave it 5 minutes before re-casting if a bite doesn’t develop as I am trying to gauge any fish activity in the swim before deciding how much feed to introduce. Nothing develops and no signs of a bite, patience and sticking to a plan often works, so I recast every 5 minutes and change baits each time, single maggots, double maggots, triple maggots and various colours to try and tempt a bite. I also vary the tail length from the ledger stop to the hook from between 3 inches to around 1.5 feet. Eventually it works! I tempt a good bite after 1 hour with triple red maggot and a 1.5ft tail length, unfortunately the cold has seized my joints and I’m too stiff or slow to strike in time and the bite is missed. I’ve found its often an hour before bites develop when fishing this method and often I will introduce a carpet of feed quickly and leave it an hour whilst I try float fishing in the margins or the pole close in, then alternate between the 2 lines to catch extra fish.

My casting so far has been good and surprisingly consistent with each cast landing roughly in the same area which is good and the next cast follows suit, almost immediately the feeder hits bottom, the quiver-tip is wrenched round violently and this time I hit into a good solid fish which runs off to the right before slowly working its way towards me and the waiting landing net, a minute or so later and a fin perfect 5.5lb Carp is on the net. A great first fish, after around 1 hour 15 minutes of patient swim building. I’m eager to weigh the fish and return it before getting back amongst the action, which I do, the next cast lands a little wayward but close enough, I only have to wait 10 minutes before the tip pulls round into a harder fighting fish, after a short battle I lift the net on a 4lb Tench which fell to double red maggot, not a bad start at all. Eager to get back in again I recast, at this point my casting ability completely leaves me and I spend the next hour trying to figure out where it’s gone. I’m still in and around the arc which I mentioned and this still produces the odd bite, but they are shy, possible liners and its cold, windy, raining and I’m feeling dejected. A snack from the Cafe and hot brew perks me right up as does some sunshine, this wasn’t in the forecast either! I’m roasting now in my thermals but daren’t take off layers as I’m sure it will be short lived….it is and back to the freezing cold.

I finally manage to sort my casting out and continue to plug the same spot with the feeder full of ground-bait and the occasional free offering of various coloured maggots to keep the fish interested and looking for my bait. Bites at this point are plentiful but again some seem to be line bites, suspecting the fish are hitting the line, I shorten the line on the clip by a couple of turns and continue to hit the spot within the arc, alternating around the arc to locate the fish (on purpose this time, this produces another fantastic bite which didn’t really require a strike to hook the fish. I latch onto something which is much heavier than the other fish and appears to be powering its head down onto the bottom and makes some strong long runs around the lake, gentle persuasion and care see the 3rd fish of the day landed at 8.5lb this Common Carp was in beautiful condition aside from its mouth, which certainly didn’t prevent it from snaffling my triple red maggot hook bait.

The danger with fishing one method or line, is that if bites dry up you are pretty much left waiting, which isn’t so much of any issue in a pleasure session such as this, as I have time to take in my surroundings, the wildlife and watch the water in between bites and catch the odd smaller roach which keep me entertained for the next hour or so. On another day or in a match, I would have set up a pole line which I’m pretty certain would have been producing better than the feeder line at this point, as I could see plenty of movement and fish rising at around 8-10 metres out right in front of me. Never mind, I stick to the plan as I’m actually hoping to hit some Bream to potentially build up a good weight before the day is out. Usually the method I use is for catching Bream, although it will pick up all kinds of fish on the way, I don’t have to wait too long before I am rewarded with my Bream, a good confident bite on triple red maggot again fools the slab weighing 2.5lb which is quickly followed by another of exactly the same weight, sensing there could be shoal in the area, I decide to perform a succession of quick casts into the area for the last hour or so to introduce more feed to hold the shoal – BIG mistake, I should have tried increasing the size of my feeder and casting less often as my actions appear to scare off the Bream and leave me catching the smaller Roach instead, oh well it was worth a try and with around 25lb of mixed species caught in 5 hours in unfavourable weather conditions I’m very happy with the result. I its understandable why the Match record is over 170lb on this water.

Next time I come to Borwick Fisheries I will know differently & adapt accordingly, you never stop learning and the first session on a new water is always a steep learning curve, hopefully this report might help inspire you to give Borwick a try & even land you a few extra fish, I certainly hope so and I for one look forward to returning to Borwick later this year, especially after receiving an image of a 4lb 14oz Crucian Carp the next day from the lakes. I imagine the Spring and Summer months must yield some unbelievable catches, I for one hope to be in on the action. Hope to see you at the Bank soon – Tight Lines. Neil

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