Aug 16

First time fishing – Borwick Fisheries, Jimmy’s Lake

So, its Summer, well…….. so the weathermen & ladies say, with variable temperatures and inconsistency being the order of the day in recent months, it seems hard to believe!

If you have read my recent posts you will know I have been eager to get fishing on Borwick fisheries, Carnforth since my winter session on Fingal’s fishpond which resulted in some great fish despite the subzero temperatures.

In true form, time hasn’t been on my side as i’m sure many of you find these days with the pressures of life and work, however God loves a trier and persistence prevailed and my wish finally came true.

Chatting with the bailiff’s at Borwick it appears that many Anglers have forgotten the art of Hemp & Tares fishing, with this in mind I thought it would be helpful to prove just how effective this method can be.

Electing to fish Jimmy’s lake on the advice of Dave the bailiff which hold a massive head of quality Roach to over 3lb plus specimen Carp, Tench, Catfish plus much more, I target my quarry armed with 13m Pole, some hemp & tares fresh from the biat bank onsite at Borwick Fisheries.

Peg 5 is the chosen swim and upon arrival, its evident the shear volume of fish in the lake with plenty of movement close in to far out, with some quite frankly massive Carp moving around the margins.

Electing to try and avoid the lovely Carp in favour of catching the quality Roach held in this water, I plumb the depth at 6-8 metre’s just past a slight marginal shelf and elect to fish here with a simple on the drop float rig, relatively light tackle considering the specimen fish in the lake.

When fishing hemp & tares its important to avoid using split shot as these can easily be confused as bait by teh fish and have you striking into thin air all day long, using olivette weights strung equidistant along the 4-5ft length and fishing just off bottom I begin to feed.

Initially a small handful of hemp with a few loose offerings of the tasty tares I will be fishing on the hook are thrown with deadly accuracy into the line, this if follow with a steady trickle of 10-12 loose offerings each cast.  It doesn’t take long (15 mins) before a small Roach snatches the tare on the size 6 hook and the fish fish of the day is in the net. (A good quick start is what you would expect with this method)

Rhythm is what you are after when fishing for quantity, as this will build a weight quickly and eventually attract the bigger fish into your swim, increasing or decreasing the trickle of bait being added will often result in the change of target species you might require in a match (I’m told) .

Now bites on hemp and tare can be fast and furious, its important to keep a relatively short line between pole tip and float in order to make contact with the fish quickly, making sure you can fish comfortably taking into account wind and extra length required to lay on should you decide to target bottom feeding fish such as the Carp or Tench.

A steady procession of small Roach continue to grace the net and with constant feeding for around an hour the fish size gradually begin to increase, all Roach being caught on single Tare fished on the drop, as the fish get bigger I try to increase the amount of bait being added each cast to 20-30 freebies, this works for a while with several fish of over a pound coming regularly until the swim goes awfully quiet.

Watching the water I notice some disturbance under the surface which indicates some larger fish have moved into the swim, not ideal as I’m targeting quality Raoch on light gear I don’t want to risk drawing in the very large Carp which have been swimming close by, a piece of sweetcorm as a change bait produces a lovely 4lb Tench which put up a great scrap on light gear. Fearing for my tackle I elect to ease off on the feed rate to attract the Roach back into the swim and up in the water which seems to work for a while, around 2 hours in and the weight in building nicely, with a mixture of smaller to medium sized Roach and a bite a chuck.

Suddenly a quite spell as the sun glares onto the water the mild breeze stops and lunchtime is upon me. Seems to be the case sometimes so I decide to try the feeder to a few hours, groundbait and maggot around 30m out, into quite weedy water about 5-6 feet deep, it produces an eel, a small Roach & a thumping bite which I missed by a mile! Time wasted really as if I was in a match I wouldn’t have stuck this out for quite as long, at least it gave me a break from fishing he pole which can be quite intense at times.

Whilst fishing the feeder I should have been continuing to drip feed the pole line as if I was fishing it, however I got lazy, not good if you want to keep catching and I pay for the mistake in the last few hours, effectively I have to start building the swim again, resulting in small Roach to add to the weight and very finicky bites, I opt to call it a day and take a look in my net to see what I have ……. not bad, i’d estimate over 30lb good Roach with the bonus Tench and no lost rigs to Carp, success of sorts, although next time I hope to catch the specimen Roach in this water which are present in good numbers, on another day with full concentration this could well be in excess of 100lb Roach, a red letter day if ever there was one.

Why not give hemp & tares fishing at try at Borwick Fisheries, its frantic action, has great potential for a specimen and relatively low cost at under 20 quid for your day ticket and bait (which can be bought onsite from Bait Bank) Tighlines.

Mar 29

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

Jun 05

Hemp & Tares Fishing Wrightington Fisheries

Occasionally I manage to find the time to do what I love, coarse fishing. Often I prefer hard waters which can give good rewards if your patient, however with the rise of the Commercial fisheries its hard not to see the appeal of going womewhere you are pretty much guarenteed to catch. Off to Wrightington fisheries in Wigan it was then, surely there is no better water to catch than the 3 lake complex nestled on the hilltop overlooking the surrounding countryside?

Upon arrival there are 3 lakes to choose from and all look perfect for a days fishing, all are stuffed full of fish which run to specimen sizes and all can be fished with the whole range of methods which will produce good hauls, pleasure sessions often yeild double figure weights with 100lb easily acheivable on the right day.

Hot Peg Wrightington FisheriesAs I said I like to make life difficult for myself so my choice is the pole fishing Hemp & Tares with the target species being the nice stock of roach which the lakes hold yet are seldom fished for. Opting for a hot peg on Wrightington’s Horse Shoe Lake with a lovely large lilly bed, and overhanging tree’s seemed a good choice.     I begin to set up, plumbing the depth reveals around 3-4ft of water pretty consistently across the swim, I opt for a simple float rig with strung out Olivette weights to allow a slow sinking hook bait, presented on a size 16 barbless hook to any fish lurking in the chocolate coloured water.

When ever fishing a new peg for the first time I always like to try a few different swims and methods to improve my chances of catching, especially during a pleasure session, as if nothing else it gives you the chance to try something new if things go quiet or get too repetative, believe it or not catching fish sometimes gets boring for me, I like to catch a variety and to see if I can tempt a particular type by varying my method, bait or fedding pattern, just to stop myself falling alseep and into the water!Nice Roach Wrightington Hemp & Tares

Three lines, two really close to the bank either side of the swim and one further out at about 8 metres next to the lilly bed. I like to feed one close swim with a few loose offerings throughout the day which I will fish for the last hour or so, leaving an area undisturbed can bring some nice bonus fish later on, which can be really useful in a match situtation.

Hemp & Tares the bait and Roach the target species, I pot in a couple of pots of hemp into the 8 metre line and throw and few grains into the righthand margin swim, lightly piercing a plump cooked Tare on the hook I flick the rig into the margin swim, immediatley the float slides away, unfortunately my reactions are far too slow as I underestimate the speed of the bites when Hemp & Tare fishing on the drop. Back in I go to be reward with another quick bite and a small roach of about 3-4 ounces comes to the net. repeating the drip feed produces a bite a chuck and plenty more small Roach whilst building the swim for the chance of a bigger fish. Introduction of a few tares into the loosefeed and a pot of mixed Hemp & Tares on the lilly swim gives me the chance to try this area whilst resting the inside line. Bites are a lot slower on the 8m line and patience pays off with more small Roach, a switch back to the inside line produces some better Roach and a steadier catch rate over the next couple of hours and a nice weight of fish building up.

Wrightington Fisheries WiganWith the inside line producing consistently well I step up the feed rate and start to notice the fish boiling in the swim as they seek out the free offerings, a few large swirls indicate the presence of bigger fish probably Carp and then a snatched Tare on the drop and a lighting fast run into the lillies result in a lost fish and broken hook, snapped clean in half which shows how hard they hit the bait on this method, a quick change to a stronger hook gets me back amongst the fish and dropping the feed rate bring the Roach back. TThe fishing is good at Wrightington and the bonus with so many fish is you can experiment, so on goes double red maggot, instantly Rudd to about half a pound start to grab the hookbait, I assume the slower descent allowing the surface feeders to intercept them before the Roach, stepping up the feed rate brings back the Carp and a hrd fighting fish gives me the run around before gracing the net, several bigger fish from the 8m line run me into the lilly bed and escape capture, making me wish I’d set up the float rod!

Wrightington Fisheries CarpSticking with the general plan of feeding hemp & tares but wanting to see what else can be caught from this heavily stocked water I start to try and experiment with larger baits, 8-10 white maggots – the maggot ball, proves too irresistable for the Carp and another 3 to around 5lb come in quick succession, dropping to double red maggot produces a succession of Skimmer Bream to around the pound mark which makes for a nice change from the hard fighting fish I was becoming accustomed too.

After a while the Fishery Owner Paul shows up, he’s never far from the fishery and is constantly improving the waters for the benefit fo the Anglers who spend their time and money at the fishery, added to the fact the he’s one of the nicest guys you are likely to meet, the chat we have is a nice break from the fishing which has been frantic since the off.

Wrightington OrfeDuring the day so far remember the left inside line which has been drip fed with corn & hemp throughout the session, the end of my session is approaching and I’m keen to try the area i’ve eagerly been waiting for, sticking with the theme I try a single Tare, first cast results in another good sized roach, second cast a Bream of a pound, a change of bait to sweetcorm produces another Carp and another skimmer, double red or white maggot produces more roach and rudd, resting the swim revert back to the inside right line which has produced consistently throughout my session, back on the Tare an Orfe decides to get in on the action, pretty fish but you need sun glasses just to look at the thing without blinding yourself, still its a nice treat to have the variety of fish in a session and its keeps things interesting, several more Carp fall to sweetcorm on the lilly line and as the light fades I decide to call it a day, all in all the total weight of my catch was around the 40lb mark which is not bad for a 5 hour evening session, although much more could have been caught if I was quicker at striking or stopping the Carp from running into the lillies, I said early it seemed a good idea to fish near the lilly bed however I wasn’t geared up strong enough to handle the runs, a lesson learnt and next time I will take a rod and line, but thats why fishing is so good, each time is different and each session is a lesson. Tight lines if you try any of the waters at Wrightington, i’m sure you will have a good session and see the hard work & TLC that the owner Paul has put into this first class fishery with very reasonable ticket prices.


May 06

Bait Bank Attracts Media Attention

We have all had a phone call from an unknown number and generally ignore them, well whilst taking a well deserved break for my birthday, sat fishing and enjoying the beauty of my surroundings, my guard was down and with bites in short supply I picked up the phone and answered. Luckily for me it wasn’t PPI or someone with a strange accent asking for my bank account details and pin number, turns out it was a call for an interview about Bait Bank from a budding star interviewer named Prudence Ivey, very polite and professional, Prudence asked if it would be ok to discuss the maggot vending Bait Bank, to which I duly obliged, I hope you enjoy the article and all the best Prudence with your future work.

Maggot Vending Machine Interview with Prudence Ivey

Jul 27

Summer Carp Fishing

In stark contrast to winter temperatures, temperatures in summer can vary dramatically which can lead to disappointment when heading to a fishery with high expectations, often the killer blow can be a heat wave, like humans fish too are less inclined to gorge themselves when the weather is hot. Carp particularly, often become very lethargic during summer and can often be seen basking in the sunshine, always seemingly just further out than you can cast! All is not lost though, finding the right time of day will often produce and if conditions are right then you can be on for a session of a lifetime.
Early morning and late evening can be deadly for catching good weights during hotter periods of the year, if permitted on your chosen fishery a night session can also be a great way to get hauling whilst spending a night under the stars offers a majestic experience that is not to be missed.
 Summer Fishing BaitBaits in summer tend to be much more varied, as the fish generally become more active, they are constantly on the look-out for anything that is edible, weed and lily growth is often at its highest with many insects and water born critters blooming in amongst them, the fish have lots of natural and Anglers baits to choose from.
Hemp A Great Summer BaitHemp is great as a loose feed as it can be easily regulated going in, it attracts quality fish such as Carp and is the cheaper end of the market, as too are pellets although I do feel some pellets pollute the water, causing more damage than good. Using good bait as a base to fish over, can yield great results. The fish feed at all levels in the water during summer so having a selection of baits for the hook which sink at differing speeds is essential and will help encourage additional bites and if you play your cards right, big lovely fish like Carp.
I’m still a firm believer of the running line float fishing of old, as in my opinion, it offers great versatility when fishing, allowing you to cover all depths with very little tackle, whilst it does lack a little finesse the pole offers I think summer is probably the time when you can get away with poorer presentation and is the time to dust off your float rod for a session stalking your favourite Commercial Carp water.
Now some if you will be gasping at the thought of stalking your local commercial water, perhaps at the thought of paying the full day ticket price for just a few hours fishing, but trust me a late evening session good be well worth the money, often other Anglers have enjoyed the day sat in the bright sunshine with a small amount of success often leaving hot bothered and sunburnt a little earlier than they would have liked. This is the perfect time to bag some big Carp.2lb Crucians These day time Anglers tend to bait heavily for the last few hours of their session or even discard their excess baits in the margins and the fish become aware of this. Have you ever noticed the fish coming closer in later in the day? Well they are expecting those Anglers are going home and that a free feed is on the cards.
A simple float rig with small part loaded float, with sinking shot, some decent strength line & hook is all that is required for this type of fishing and the great thing is that this can be used to stalk those basking fish too which might just fancy a snack if you drop your bait right under their noses.

Summer Fishing
Summer Fishing

Tackling the fishery is easy, ask the people fishing, bailiff for where people have been fishing during the day, or just have a quick walk and look for the evidence, trampled grass and that tell-tale bait dropped around the peg. Stay low and below the skyline and you will often see you target fish milling about in the margins. A pair of good polarised glasses will help with this although they can be expensive and are not essential as the fish will give their location away with signs such as bubbles, swirls and even completely clearing the water like a possessed Dolphin. Bait your hook with a large bait or big bunch of maggots (particularly Dead Reds) and drop it in as close to the bank as possible amongst the commotion.

Margins are great for Carp

It won’t be long before your into a fish, if bites are not forthcoming quickly, try differing bait until you find success and if nothing after 30 minutes then move on to the next boiling swim. You are likely to find that you catch more in those few evening hours than those who have endured the heat throughout the day. Tightlines and please send us your catch reports, photographs and stories if you would like to be included in the website gallery.

May 19

Bait Bank Link With The Angling Trust

Angling Trust

Bait Bank are committed to supporting Anglers and making coarse fishing more easily accessible to all by providing convenient bait at fisheries in the north west.

The Angling Trust are an organisation which works tirelessly throughout many years to promote all kinds of Angling in the United Kingdom. This year is no different with several projects aimed to get more participants out fishing on the banks this year.

We are pleased to be able to help where we can and hope to have your support by using our machines, after all, we all want the same thing, in that we’d like to preserve our sport for the future generations to enjoy.

May 03

First Time Fishing –Wyreside Fisheries, Fox’s Lake

Tackling a fishery for the first time can be an exciting but equally a daunting prospect for many of us Anglers, for anyone else I’m sure you will find some useful information, as it is knowledge as well as experience that helps you get the best from your chosen fishery on any given day.

Seldom is there better knowledge available, than that of the fishery owner or bailiff. Their constant observations of us Angler’s coming and going, listening to stories of our successes as well as our failures, combined with a bankside presence of a professional fisherman (or woman) and often a real passion for their livelihood, often means that the information they can provide is worth its weight in, let’s say fish…. As, in my opinion catching that first fish in a session is certainly more precious than gold, especially when combined with the anticipation and mystery a new venue holds.

With this in mind, we arrive at Wyreside Lakes Fishery in Lancaster to be warmly welcomed by owner Bob Birkin, for over 20 years Bob has been present at this establishment and his intimate knowledge of the waters soon becomes apparent as he directs me to a peg on Fox’s Lake.

Fox's Lake - as viewed from the car.

Fox’s Lake – as viewed from the car.

With temperatures recently rising to above 10 degrees, from around zero only a few days previous, a blustery south easterly wind and large clouds looming in the air, conditions are not ideal. I head down to Fox’s Lake ever hopeful of a decent session. I arrive at the peg Bob has recommended and the first glimpse of the lake looks good, nestled amongst well established tree’s and foliage that surround the lake and more to the point, if was totally lazy I’d probably be able to fish from the car, as the parking is nice and close.

Fox's Lake Wyreside FisheriesThe swim looks enticing, Bob explained that water levels are a little down on usual, due to recent work carried out to remove snags from around the island. I settle into the swim, seat levelled and all tackle within easy reach. I peruse the water for any signs of fish, a few swirls which could just be the blustery wind are noted before a large swirl, possibly from a hungry Carp only a few feet from the bank, my heart racing with eagerness to get started and I set up hoping for some close in action.

The Wyreside complex holds some massive fish and with the Fox’s lake record Carp at over 30lb, the advisable 6lb minimum breaking strain line and no fixed leads rules seem fair enough to me. As I am fishing for any species of fish, I opt to use a hook length of just 4lb on the pole line. As this should to improve my chances of catching some of the quality Roach this lake holds, whilst serving to reduce the chance of losing all my rig should a larger fish prove too much of a handful.
Fishing just one rod, I opt for 3 lines of attack, firstly quiver-tip and running ground-bait feeder at distance, short pole line at 2m and another at 8m. Plumbing up the swim reveals a depth of around 4 feet pretty consistently across the swim, with a slightly shallower 3 feet on the 2m line. I opt for a simple strung out shot rig to float fish on the drop, allowing me to work the bait through the water and pick up feeding fish at all depths. My thinking being that the fish, particularly roach, tend to move up and down in the water throughout the day, also it’s a rig that I have caught consistently with at other venues of similar depth and I’m a firm believer of fishing to our strengths in order to increase your chance of catching.

Cooked HempseedChoice of bait, crushed hemp based ground-bait as a base for all my chosen lines, on the feeder I opt for dead reds and cooked hemp in the mix and a combination of red and white maggots on the size 16 barbless hook. Now I will tell you, this method proved to be totally ineffective on the day yielding zero fish, that’s not to say it didn’t produce bites, as there where quite a few. The twitches on the tip indicated that fish where attacking the feeder as soon as it hit the water and a method feeder set up may have been more productive on the day, perhaps worth a try for the next session? The important thing is trying, if you try something and it doesn’t work then you are learning and when we are learning we are increasing our chances of catching, the day I stop learning is the day to stop fishing forever, and that isn’t going to happen. Anyway, with the pole I was having more success, so my focus was directed here. Feeding maggot and hemp little & often on the 2m & 8m lines I add the occasional walnut sized ball of ground-bait throughout the session. After about 30 minutes of alternating between feeder and pole lines, bites start to come regularly to double live maggot, mainly Roach all a good size and pretty much one a chuck at 8m. A switch to double or triple dead reds produces better quality Roach with several immaculate fish around the 1lb mark, they make for great sport and start to add some good weight to my catch.

One of the smaller Roach from Wyreside

One of the smaller Roach from Wyreside

So all is going well, a steady rhythm is building and so is the weight of fish, until I put on a red and a white maggot, the float sails away, I hit into the fish which moves towards me with ease, suddenly it turns parallel with the bank and starts to motor, the hollow core elastic stretches increasingly as I frantically add pole sections, keeping the pole low I try to turn the fish but it keeps going and going and going way to the left, I actually think it must have been staying in one of the log cabins up the hill as it seemed to reach there before it finally snapped my hook length! Needless to say my heart sinks, filled with promise and excitement I’m eager to repair the damage and get back fishing, feeling the benefit for choosing the lighter hook length, I’m soon back up and fishing again.

Swim ruined it takes a while feeding little and often to kickstart the swim again, eventually the Roach and occasional Perch grace the net. By switching between live red, white and dead red maggots I manage plenty of bites before I try the days lucky combo of single red and single white maggot, as soon as I put in the float thumps under and the elastic starts to stretch once again, at this point I start to think “perhaps I should have fished the 6lb line straight through!” the fish feels big and its making its bid for freedom, it appears it is heading the same way as the last one, after a pretty lengthy run the fish eventually tires, turns and heads back, hope comes back to me and with each passing second I appear to be making on the fish, it’s a hard fighter and makes several nerve racking runs into open water, eventually it rolls just below the surface and a flash of green is seen, a nice Tench it seems, just a few more feet that seem to take forever, then I have it, as I slip the landing net under her. Tench Wyreside LakesThe scales go round to 5lb which is not bad for a first try, the rest of the session continues with the Roach until begrudgingly I have to leave this beautiful place. As if the fishing Gods where watching over me, I pack up just in time before the rain came belting down, result dry and a net catch of fish too.

Now I have had a good go and understand a little more about this water it won’t be long until I’m back to see what else I can catch, they say you can learn something new every day, I certainly did and it will help me the next time I’m go fishing perhaps you could too, tight lines, let us know how you get on and if anyone finds my broken 4lb line with size 16 hook in a 30lb plus Carp??

Feb 18

Winter Coarse Fishing Tips – Catch fish, not a cold!


When the temperature plummets and the days are at their shortest, Stillwater coarse fishing takes a noticeable change in direction and can leave many Anglers scratching for bites as well as their heads. With a little careful planning and knowledge you can make the most of your fishing session on even the coldest of winter days, here are a few things to think about and try next time you decide to brave the elements at this time of year.
Fish Activity – It’s probably the single most important factor to realise that in cold weather fish tend to become lethargic, moving around much less to conserve energy than they would in warmer weather. The result is they need less food and are likely to feed less often. To save energy fish will often “hole up” in a spot they know is beneficial to them, places which are warmer, contain natural food items or plenty of cover are all likely sanctuaries you will locate fish in the cold winter months.

Find the fish holding features in your peg.

Good knowledge of your peg will help you find the fish holding features

Locate the fish – A good knowledge of the water you intend to fish can pay massive dividends, fish holding features in summer are often great fish hideouts during winter, however it is at this time of year that vegetation such as weed and lily beds die back, leaving their root systems submerged well below the water and often invisible from the surface. If you know such features existed in summer then give them a go as these are great natural food sources for winter fish. Other great areas to look for are deep water and drop offs as these too can hold natural food stocks which the fish will take advantage of during harsh weather. Areas protected from cold winds or that get the miniscule amount of sunshine available at this time of year may also hold a few extra fish. Try to find areas of the fishery that have some, if not all these options available to you when selecting your peg.
A pre-bait can be great – As we know fish are less active and need less energy when temperatures are low, so it follows that fish need less food in lower temperatures. That said fish will feed and feed harder if conditions are right for them. To give yourself the best chance of catching fish at this potentially tricky time of year you may consider pre-baiting your swim in advance of your session, by introducing a few loose offerings into your chosen spot over the course of a week or so you will effectively create an artificial larder for the fish to feed on. If pre-baiting is not a practical option for you, choosing pegs which are fished regularly are a great alternative, ask the bailiff, other people fishing, walkers or anyone who might be able to indicate recent fishing activity, in the absence of this then look on the bank for discarded bait, mud patches, brolly holes or dare I say even litter. Fish these pegs and find to the fish holding features within them to increase your chance of catching.
Tackle – Keeping your tackle light where possible will help get extra bite’s, the reason is that as fish activity drops, so does the water colour. As the water clarity improves, fish rely less on their sense of smell and more on vision to locate food items and avoid potential threats, so keeping rigs simple and small will prevent the fish from spotting your trap. Identify the size of your target species to give yourself the best chance of landing the fish when you hook them, scale your line and hook to your target fish. For example if the fish you are after are Carp and the majority of Carp in your fishery are around 3lb, use a 3lb line with say a size 18 hook, for fish double that size, say 6lb line with size 14 hook, there are no hard a fast rules and you can change to smaller hooks if you fail to get bites, you can even reduce the line breaking strain or diameter although it is advisable to use hook lengths to avoid leaving large fish trailing rigs should you have a break off, particularly when fishing swims with snags hook lengths are better for the fish and will save you the cost of losing your whole rig.


Live bait like maggot can produce bites on even the coldest winter day

Food for thought – Whether Carp fishing or general coarse fishing, giving yourself several options to catch fish will always increase your chances of a result. Choose your swims carefully and fish as many as you feel comfortable with, not forgetting that you will need to feed all the swims little and often throughout your session. Starting to introduce bait into your swim can make or break the swim, the old adage you can put in but you cannot take out is extremely important in winter and starting with very small amounts of bait say 3 maggots or casters every 5 minutes is plenty to start, you can always increase slightly as you start to catch fish, introduce too much feed and the fish that are in your swim may well become full and not feed for several hours if at all.


Caster a great winter bait for specimen fish

Hamper not Hampered – The correct choice of bait is another critical factor in ensuring you catch well, a good selection of baits in your hamper will not hamper your catch. Smaller more natural baits will work better in the colder clear water conditions, as the fish are more wary and feeding more by vision, smell will play a factor too, the use of highly soluble additives may help although natural baits that move such as worms, various colour maggots or their smaller cousins pinkies are essential, once you start to catch on these then increasing the bait size and use of static baits could produce larger bonus fish. Particular bright baits such as bread and corn can catch the eye of fish as they drop through the clear water and tempt a few extra bites on even the hardest day. Ground-bait can be a great attractor in winter and tailoring your ground-bait to the colour of the lake bottom is key to prevent wary fish from being an obvious target to its predators, imagine a white whale on a black background, obvious really that a lethargic fish wouldn’t want to waste un-necessary energy escaping from a predator that it could have hidden from, had the bed of ground-bait not been so bright.
By taking into account some or all of the points mentioned you too can increase your chances of catching in cold weather. Rather than put off that fishing session until the weather improves why not grab your tackle and go, as a wise man once said

there is no such thing as poor weather only poor clothing

so wrap up warm and get yourself on the bank. Tightlines

Dec 31

They’re Here! New Machines Ready for 2013

New Bait Vending 2013After many months of preparation and hard work, we have a new machine ready for the North West market.  Our exciting new venture aimed to make it easier for Anglers to go fishing and most importantly go fishing more often has taken another step towards reality and is expected to be the first of many machines across the North West of England.


We are currently in discussions with several fantastic fisheries about siting our machines, these are likely to be in rural areas where live bait like maggots are more difficult to obtain.  Ever conscious of the fact that recent years have seen the decline of our local tackle shops we hope to help such local businesses with advertising space on our machines.  By encouraging extra participation in our sport, in the areas close to our Bait Banks we expect to increase the demand for fishing tackle and promote the use of local suppliers.

Anyone interested in advertising with us should contact Jennie direct via email or telephone, details are on our Contacts page.

Wishing all our 2000+ supporters a Very Happy New Year and all the best for 2013, we look forward to seeing you at the BANK and on the Bank throughout next year.  Tightlines from us all at Bait Bank Ltd.

Sep 27

Autumn – Bream Fishing at Arley

Late September, the days get shorter, the temperatures plummet and the wind and rain start to drive, for many Anglers is a time to stay in bed rather than venture out in search of fish.  Its this time of year when my mind turns to a spot of Bream fishing, unluckily for my Dad who detests the snotty devils I manage to convince him to accompany me, our chosen venue Arley reservoir, one lake of the choice of 3 at Worthington Lakes, Wigan.

Now we have never fished this venue before so fully expect a blank on this trip, especially when my internet search turned up rumours of fish deaths in the venue just a few years ago, on a plus note some kind Angler had left some fishing tips on a Angling forum which came in handy.

After a slow start, namely getting the car stuck in some mud on the way to the venue, we arrived around 10am, temperature 10C with a strong wind in our face and heavy cloud cover – perfect Bream weather in my opinion.

We both set up, occasionally getting a drenching by the regular rain showers whilst observing around 8 Cormorants perched on the blue pipe on the next lake, now I know that blank was looking even more probable!

Ever the optimist I continue with my plan, groundbait feeder around 30 yards out just where the bottom levels after the drop off.  Bait of choice, dead red maggots and corn.   I start with 5 feeders put in the same spot by using the line clip on my reel, then bait the size 16 hook with 4 juicy dead reds, trap set I sit back and wait eagerly.  In the mean time my dad is getting bites, fishing the way he only knows how, don’t ask! No fish, but bites none the less, the blank is looking less likely.  On my second cast the tip hammers round only for me to miss the bite, back out to the same spot the feeder goes, after a 15 second count to the bottom I settle the rod only for it to be nearly wrenched from my grasp, this one was in the bag – a lovely Bream around the 3-4lb mark, mission accomplished although not the personal best I hoped for, although a good start for me. Meanwhile dads bites have dried up and fishing closer in has him getting snagged on the rocky walls of the reservoir, after a few lost feeders I try to convince him to fish further out, turning to see him bend into something huge – well I’m sure you would say the bottom is huge!  Another feeder lost and its time for him to change to the float, as I said don’t ask, I leave him to it and soldier on with my plan.

Since the Bream it has gone a little quiet with only the occasional bite, I decide to add a few loose offerings to the groundbait, just dead reds for now, this brings a bite a chuck from Perch around 4-8 ounces. Whilst they give a good account of themselves on light tackle they are not my target species, so another change as I decide to put corn in the groundbait, big mistake, as this kills the swim for a good couple of hours, I try every hook bait in my armoury without success, I’ll I can do is keep casting regularly in the hope the Bream come back on the feed, eventually I start to get bites and hit into a fish, skimmer around a pound, I’m overwhelmed with relief but as I can only get bites on the dead red maggots I have to stick with them, its a bite a chuck at this point but the Perch are back, after around 10 of the prickly predators I decide enough is enough.  I add more dead reds to the mix in an attempt to feed them off, it takes a while but it works with a lovely Roach just under a pound coming to the bank.  Then a dead patch as the sky clears and the wind drops, this gives me chance to chat to the thoroughly nice baliff who tells me the double figure Bream are in the Cormorant lake, he has caught them to 6lb from Arley and also informs us that the Carp run to over 20lb with rumours of much bigger fish, with renewed optimism I continue plugging the same spot and with the return of the wind and driving rain manage the squeeze a few more skimmers from the swim before the Perch plague strikes again and its back to a bite a chuck. Eventually we call it a day.  By the way, that was about an hour after my Dad packed up, he managed the blank I had predicted.  Just goes to show a little knowledge can go a long way and if something isn’t working then a change can bring results.

We will be back the Worthington Lakes again in the future, maybe to try for one of the double figure Bream or Carp.  Good luck if you decide to try your luck at this venue.  My advice is keep the feed going in throughout the day, this is no easy commercial water, it is challenging, however the rewards are there if you work for them. Tight Lines. Neil