Like I said, quick stop off to refuel and get the brekkie in. ‘Don’t catch, you don’t get mushrooms’, Coops tells me! Bit quirky, but I could live with it, after all I was the guest! Anyway, it went down a treat, and next stop was the bait factory. Inside the walls were a calage of proper big lumps all caught over the years on PGB gear, and the majority probably taken on the original Chocolate Orange mix which seemed to have a bit of a cult status. Now whilst it was a favourite with some serious top anglers, I never warmed to it but when Al mentioned the new revamped Co2 earlier in the year, I knew I had to have a bag! And a bag I got back in April. What appealed to me straight away was the sweet Scopex flavour and creamy taste enhancer, an old favourite of many from years ago. Another thing that took my fancy, was the fact the mix is died white, giving a washed out appearance(which I think is a major contributing factor to Mainline’s Cell being such a success). Anyway, enough waffle out of me as I’m far from being the bait buff!
So with 10kg of Co2 and 5kg of choc orange pellet, we set off for the famous Roach Pit! Sat at a set of traffic lights, I notice the pack of painkillers the missus had thrown me just in case. The barrow trip from the Long lake was already taking its tool, and I knew in the morning, pain was going to be plentiful! Two down the hatch, rock on! We soon arrived at the gates, and as we exit the motors, coops had a text on his mobile to say that Orange Scale had been out at 40.10! Pics were done and dusted with the fish gone back, but hopefully I’d get to see another before my time was up. That was my goal this trip, if it was just even to see a roach pit carp on the bank. To bank one would of been a dream come through.
Myself and Coops started ‘the walk’, and soon saw one cruising by itself up the top end where we started. You’ll have to excuse the lack of swim names as we carry on, particularly the top end as I pretty much wrote that off from the start. First stop after the top end was to congratulate the captor of Orange Scale, then around the corner to the photographer – Simon Croft. Si used to be a Yateley regular, and captor of the iconic ‘Bazil’ from the North Lake. Brief chat with Si revealed just one other angler on , a guy called Mark Drake, who was set up on the far bank in a swim called The Rat. Next stop was the observation tower, a solid structure of scaffolding, covered in camo netting and a ladder running up the centre. The view was incredible, looking out over the bottom half of the lake which included the island. To the left of the tower was The Caravan swim, and this was probably one of my best chances of a fish. We continued walking around, checking snags for signs of life and reached the bottom bank which was once an out of bounds area when Cemex owned the pit. The first proper swim was probably 100 yards up, and as we walked past that and into the next one coops explained this was called the Wind Tunnel. ‘Good swim to be in on the end of a Southwesterly’, and that was all I needed to hear! My mate Rob was on a week session down Monks pit and had told me the winds were due to swing round SW on the Wednesday. I could feel a bit of a plan coming together as Coops explained there was a large plateau out infront (similiar size to the island), roughly 6-7 ft deep with it dropping off to about 12 over the back. Going past this another 20-30 yards was the main weed bed in the lake. Roach had apparently never been a weedy water until this year, so the fish were completely taking the Michael and spending the majority of their time lying up in it. I was praying inside that this forecast was going to get them moving, as they were due a big munch up coming closer to the winter. Bare in mind, the place had been fishing pretty pants with just 6 or 7 takes in the previous 5 weeks, and a couple of them had dropped off. Fish being overdue was understatement 😉
We carried on, I had a couple more swims to look at but my mind was set. Around the corner, up the hill we came to Jean’s house. There’s a few houses that back onto the lake(some seriously plush), and amongst them lived Jean. 80 yrs old, living alone and can talk the ears off the most patient of anglers. I could tell coops was trying to avoid her because he was strapped for time, but who better to have a moan with but the owner of the lake! Lucky for me, Drakey’s swim was just in front of Jean back garden so I left Al to it! Mark had a nice bit of weed in front, and was just fishing 1 rod as it looked a bit hairy from a landing perspective, even with access to a boat. Mark was only too willing to point me in the right direction, and his enthusiasm was second to none. It was now cracking onto 3pm, and I had to start getting my arse in gear.
Back at the car, filled the water butt and made my way down a little country lane(passing another few plush pads), and pull in to the Ivy car park. The painkillers were thankfully numbing the aches, and fear of the barrow was easing. I hadn’t even loaded the bloody thing when Big Si rounded the corner to say Mark had bagged one! The lake has been fishing pants, and there’s two out within a couple of hours! My leisurely stroll with my barrow turned into another near heart attack experience as I tried to quicken my pace to the Wind Tunnel, drop my barrow and that pace turned into a Homer Simpson type jog which resulted in a groin strain! Was it worth it?! All day long!
Mark was buzzing, and rightly so! He’d only gone and nailed ‘the baby fully’, a proper old scaley. You really didn’t see carp like this everyday, well certainly not in my world. We did the snaps, and a few returners back in the pond.
Mark recounted the events, when I noticed the rig that done the damage on the picnic table. I’d forgotten 3 items coming over – a pot, my Polaroids and Brazil nuts. Needless to say you can guess what Mark had the fully on. My head was all over the place and I hadn’t even started! Back to the swim and tried to get sorted before the light faded. I’d seen ‘the feathers’ in the fence where the lads had marked their distances for the plateau and had a bit of a lead about on that line expecting the lead to be cracking down on the spots. The softer bottom was possibly because I fishing a fence post too short for the opening night! I got the 3 rods out, aiming for the tree line in the distance. The middle rod was at the dip in the tree line, and the other two went either end. One thing I made sure to do, was make the buoyancy of each hookbait different. I knew these fish didn’t suffer fools gladly, and I planned to make them work for their grub. Just before dark I got out over the plateau in the boat, and spread roughly 4kg of pellet and boilie over the size of a tennis court. Back on dry land I was happy, but still felt like id rushed everything a little. If you were marking me out of 100 for confidence, I was on about 80.
Scotty, one of the Ringwood lads and all round nice dude popped in for a quick walk round , baiting up for the following morn when he’d be back down. He highlighted my fence post error(I blamed coops!). Another visitor was another local legend Andy Muir. Andy has pretty much caught them all from Roach apart from 2 that still evade him. I was starting to get a little overwhelmed with how eager and encouraging everyone was to see their friendly neighbour bag one. If only more lakes were like it..
The day had been a proper eventful one and after staying up watching for shows, I turned in close to midnight with the hope of an early start…