Well one of my long standing targets has been a double figure bream, with my personal best standing at only about half that.
Gary's suggestion was to try the Lower Maynard, part of the Walthamstow reservoir complex in North London. A number of the reservoirs do stay closed during the close season, but the Upper and Lower Maynards are open all year round.
With a variety of species present, including tench, bream, pike, perch, but mainly known for the large carp, which reach over 40lbs, the complex even offers barbel and chub fishing from the famous Coppermill stream that flows through the venue.
Our set-ups would be simple, with us both fishing maggot feeders, with a short hooklink and a nice bunch of maggots on the end. We felt this would target the bream slightly more than boilies or pellets that most of the carpers would be using.
The fishery opens at 7am, and I met Gary in the car park. Out came the barrows, on went all the tackle, then it's a quick bit of traffic dodging as you cross the busy Ferry Lane to get to the Maynards!
Once at the water side, we stopped and checked out what was happening, and the first thing we noticed was the wind. There was a fairly strong breeze blowing straight up the water, to the far end... so that's where we needed to be.
A brisk walk along the path, and Gary and me are working up a sweat, is this supposed to be good for us???
We get to the other end of the water, and after looking at a number of swims, we decide to be very social and fish together on the 'point' swim. It juts out between the dam wall one side, and the tree lined corner of the water on the other.
Gary asks which one I prefer, and to be honest I not really bothered, but choose the dam side. We're both fishing 3 rods, and the idea is to fan out the 4 feeders in front of us, then I'll put my last rod out in front of the dam, to intercept anything patrolling there, and Gary will mirror that with his other rod just off the tree line.
We start setting up, the barrows are unloaded, chairs out, then the rods... I hear a faint 'click' and turn to see Gary sitting in his chair pouring a cup of coffee from a flask, 'What?, I'm just checking where I'm gonna put my baits', yeah right!
Coffee break over and it's banksticks and buzzers all set, then we put the rods together. I notice we've both sorted out our feeders overnight, and interestingly, chosen slightly different set ups.
Gary's chosen inline, whereas I've gone helicopter style. They're both self-hooking rigs, with the theory being that once the fish picks up and swallows the bait, it then feels the hook in its mouth and runs off trying to eject the hook, but with the weight of the feeder, it only helps pull the hook more firmly into the fishes lip.
Both rigs are fairly straight forward. Gary's feeder slides up onto his mainline, with his hooklink attached via a swivel, that then clips into the bottom of the feeder, securing it in place.
Mine has the hooklink threaded up the mainline, again using a swivel, it's sandwiched between two rubber beads, with my feeder then tied to the end of the mainline. The hooklink is held tight to the feeder by a rig-stop above the top bead.
Anyway, they both have short hooklinks, keeping the hook bait within the spread area of bait from the feeders. We both have a couple of easy casts to choose our distance, then its clip up, and run out the line on the bank, match rod against rod, so they fish at the same distance.
So what about the fishing, you're probably asking, well it was interesting.
The rods were cast a few times in the first hour or so, with us both trying to build a good carpet of bait... and not long after, a run!
Gary's away, and it soon becomes clear, this ain't no bream! With his rod nicely curved and nodding sharply, he plays in a fiesty little mirror. It's no more than 3 or 4lb, and not the target species, but an enjoyable catch, and it's not long before I join the action, with a scream on the buzzer I'm in.
And guess what? It's another blooming pastie! And that's the way it goes through the session... well, to a certain extent.
I pick up two or three fish... but Gary? He gets regular runs, and at times it's a fish a chuck, and I'm thinking, hang on mate this is Walthamstow, you're lucky if you get a couple of runs here???
Also we've proved that even with great planning, nothing is certain, and not a bream is seen all day!
As we finally pack the rods away, and Gary's run out of fingers to count his catches on, my 'lucky' fishing partner reminds me... 'I did let you choose which side to fish on'... yep, that really makes me feel better. I'm getting the feeling that Gary thinks he's giving me a whopping with all these 'tiddlers' he's caught over the last few weeks... well just wait till we go for the big 'uns mate!