Friday, 3 June 2011

South Lake Sizzler

If you’re looking for a day ticket water with a chance of banking a beautiful British 30 then Cemex’s Yateley south lake is the venue for you. This was mine and Jacks first time on the water and to say we were excited would have been an understatement. We’d heard a lot about the lake and after seeing photos of the quality fish that frequently grace its banks we booked a 24 hour session. After a busy bank holiday weekend, where the lake was fully booked from Friday through till Monday, we arrived at the gate on a warm Tuesday afternoon to find only one other car in the car park...result! With the cars parked, we whacked out the Polaroid’s and headed off round the lake. The south lake is about 8 acres in size and it’s packed with features. We came across a group a fish ‘sunbathing’ in the shallows of the lake but with 300 plus carp in this water we decided to complete our lap. With only 2 other anglers fishing at this point we pretty much had the lake to ourselves so we made the most of this and grabbed two of the well known swims on the pin. Jack parked his barrow up in a swim called the boss and I jumped into the twin bars. From these two pegs we could cover a lot of water between us and with numerous features and good signs of fish we were quietly confident.
Both armed with Pina Colada Steamies and a selection of pop ups from the Individual Baits range we set to work finding our spots and baiting accordingly. With the two main islands on the lake about 70 yards in front of us we had obvious fish holding areas to cast to but as the name of my swim suggests there are a lot more features hidden in the depths of this beautiful venue. The recent warm weather has meant that weed growth has excelled in waters across the country and the south lake is no exception to this. After playing around with marker floats we both found clear spots (both silt and gravel) between the beds of weed. We didn’t have a problem fishing in the weed but the majority of the weed was thick and had grown to with inches of the surface of the lake so rig presentation was near impossible. Fishing in depths of water between 5-7 feet we felt confident that the 4 spots we had found were areas where the fish would definitely be on the feed. We both used basic bottom rig setup ups with small stick mix bags to cover the hook point so we knew that our rigs were presented properly. We chose to scatter bait with throwing sticks and the 16mm  Pina Colada Steamies were wizzing out a treat  .It had taken longer than expected to set the traps but by 8pm we could finally sit down and relax. With a quiet, but beautiful Yateley evening we hit the sacks hoping for an action packed night...
...And what an uneventful night we had. Not even a pick up. We were both up at the crack of dawn to check the rods and recast.  After having a chat with Jack we decided to keep the rods out the water for a while whilst we went on the search for feeding fish. It didn’t take long to find the fish, once again they were sat in the top layers of water in the shallows of the lake in and amongst the weed. As quickly as possible we got back to the gear and started to make a few rig adjustments. 20 minutes later we were armed with zig rigs and choddys to tackle the weed and the fish sitting up in the water. We felt that we had made the right choice in moving into the shallows and had confidence that the rods were now in on the fish. After a few hours of fishing it was obvious that these fish weren’t getting their heads down and we were beginning to think that these fish were still in the spawning mood. We had now been fishing for about 14 hours without a single bite but we hadn’t given up yet. I nipped backed to the bivvy to grab a few mixers just to see if the fish would take a bait off the top and to the amazement of us both a few fish took these with great confidence. Once again we changed our tactics; we took all the rods out of the water and went back to the feeding fish armed with just a rod, line and hook. The bait of choice was a TNT pop up, cut down and hair rigged to a size 8. Me and jack teamed up using just one rod between the pair of us as we didn’t want to risk spooking the fish with too many lines in the water. Jack took on the roll of mixer distributor and before long a couple of fish were nailing the mixers. I decided to wait for feeding fish before casting rather than flicking the bait out blindly. With the fishing taking mixers on a regular basis it was time to cast out and the action was explosive. With a few fishing missing the bait and a couple spooking of the mainline we thought our chance had gone but then...Bang! we were in to our first south late carp. With the shallow water the fish couldn’t go down so there only escape route was across the lake and that’s where this fish proceeded to go. Stripping line off the reel with ease, this fish was on a mission. After turning the fish I was now faced with my second obstacle, the weed. This fish knew what to do and buried itself in deep beds of the stuff. After a 15 minute scrap she was in the net and what a fish to open the account with. Weighing in at just over 24lb we had banked one of the pristine mirrors in the lake, get in! Me and Jack then switched roles, I gave him the rod and I took over with the feeding. After a lot of commotion with the first fish, the rest of the group had moved out of range so we modified the end tackle my adding a bubble float to get the extra distance. Before long the fish were back in the swim taking the free biscuits but just ignoring the hook bait. This is when we made our final tactical change and swapped the TNT pop up for BTC pop up as this matched the colour of the biscuits better. With better presented hook bait it was now just a matter of time before the next take. It took longer than expected but perseverance paid off with Jack hooking into his first south lake fish. Once again the fight was eventful with the carp making the most of the weed and other snags but after another great battle our prize was in the net. Jack had waited 16 hours for this fish but my god was it worth the wait, another South lake cracker! After landing a mirror earlier in the day we were both looking forward to seeing a common and Jack didn’t disappoint. An absolutely stunning fish weighing in at just under 24lb, a long golden common that looked even better in the sunshine.
With one fish under the belt each we were now hungry for more and with only an hour or so left on the ticket we knew that time was against us. We made the most of every opportunity and were both able to bank another fish each, both just making it to double figures on the scales. Although these fish were not the monsters that Yateley so often produces, the sense of achievement after banking these fish is second to none. We worked incredibly hard for these fish and to say the lake was fishing hard would be an understatement. We didn’t catch them exactly how we had planned either but I think being having the confidence to try a variety of rigs and techniques is one of the best tools in the carp fishing armoury. Many a lesson was learnt in just 24 short hours on the South Lake and we will be sure to visit again in the very near future. I find it odd that you can fall in love with water after just one visit (‘love at first sight’) but that is certainly what happened to the pair of us. The challenges it threw at us were unexpected but we found ways to deal with them and I would advise anyone to tackle these waters as I have definitely come out of the session a better angler and Jack has too.
As I locked the car park gate up behind me and headed for home, I took a moment to think about the session that we had just had. In football terms it’s called a game of two halves but in fishing talk, there was only one winner...Team Steamies!
Hope you enjoyed the read, tight lines!
Josh and Jack
(Individual baits)
For more information on the Yateley South Lake visit or nip into Yateley Angling centre.

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