After a couple of years on their waiting list I finally got accepted for another local angling club, which is always great, especially with the anticipation of new waters to fish.
Gary's already a member and wondered whether I fancied a go at one of the new club's venues... of course I did, so we're giving Brooke Lake a rest for the moment, and heading a few miles down the road.
We've picked a water that is well known for its carp, with fish in there up to mid-thirties, but what also had my interest tweaked were the sizes of the other species... bream to around 11lbs, tench to double figures, and a few 'cats' to over twenty pounds.
As most of the regular readers of this blog will know I've been chasing a double figured bream for a couple of seasons now, so even though Gary and myself are in the midst of our summer carping, I might just have a go for more than just the carp this time.
Amazingly I arrive first, mid-afternoon as usual. It's park up, then off for a walk around the lake. There's a few guys here already, but that still leaves plenty of room to pick a good swim.
Gary arrives as I'm half way around the lake, so I finish the circuit, and report back on what I've seen. The lake is roughly rectangular, with a spit coming off the middle of the far bank. I've seen plenty of carp on the top, and the odd bream rolling, mainly up the right-hand arm of the lake. Trouble is, that's where 2 or 3 of the lads are already fishing, and so we do another tour of the water.
We now see fish along the other arm, and in the main body of the lake, so where to fish?
It's going to be the near bank, there's a couple of swims just along from the car park, with fish moving in front of us, and access to a large area of open water, which is where I will target the bream.
But first of all it's the 'get all the gear moved' ritual, out of the car, onto the barrow, then along to the swim. As the weather's good the first thing I set up is the rods. Out comes the pod, on go the buzzers and butt rests, and now the rods come out of the holdall.
Next I sort my groundbait. With a good helping of method mix, Expo, crushed hempseed, a tin of red sweetcorn, a tin of hemp, a few large handfulls of pellet, and finally a good squirt of Active Ade particle syrup, all mixed up with a bit of lake water till it binds when squeezed together. I then shape it into tangerine sized balls.
After nicking Gary's groundbait catapult, I fire out a couple of balls as far as possible to get my range. Then I cast out with my rod to match the same distance.. Gary always has a go at me as I'm not using a marker float to get the distance spot on, and he's right, but as we're not talking huge distances here, it only takes a cast or two to hit the spot. Then I clip up and tie a distance marker on the line.. perfect!
The rest of the groundbait is fired out, creating a bed of bait I'm hoping will attract plenty of fish. For my hookbait I'm using an 11mm pellet, fished on the hair, and tipped off with a grain of red artificial corn. With everything launched in line with a feature I've picked out on the far bank, an electricity pylon in this case, I should be accurate every time I cast.. even in the dark.
Then I bet you can't guess what happened next? Yep, that's right.. we get the kettle on! Gary tells me he's got a reasonable patch of weed in front of him, about 30yds out, and there's fish moving around it quite regularly, so he's putting a bait next to it. His other rod was going to be a long chuck toward the end of the spit, but as there's so much activity right in front of him it's now going on the other side of the weed patch!
Tea over, and we both set about getting our brollies up and our bedchairs in.. you've got to be comfortable during the night, and organised. The landing nets are laid out within easy reach of the rods, the unhooking mats open and positioned with plenty of space around them.
Now it's time to relax, enjoy the warm weather, read a book... then have another cuppa!
Time has passed, and it's all gone quiet over in Gary's swim... that's it then, he'll be zipped up in his sleeping bag and out like a light! So with it getting to dark to read I follow suit, and settle down to check the back of my eyelids.
It seems only minutes have passed, when a couple of beeps have me sitting up and peering into the darkness. Yep, there are my two latching lights flashing away, but there's no movement on the line, and I settle back down.
Of course, as soon as I do, a few more beeps greet my ears, and this time I'm up and kneeling by the rod, as my indicator first drops away, then lifts back up again! In fact, a typical bream bite, which after a minute or so, I lift the rod and make contact with... well, not a lot really!
I wind in with minimal resistance, and even when the fish is under the rod tip there's only a half hearted effort to escape, but that's bream for you. Saying that, they're a fairly impressive beast if you catch a big one, and this was bigger than any that I'd caught before... weighing in at 9lb 14ozs... and yes, I'd missed getting my 'double' by two ounces!
But it was a nice way to start on a new water, and the night was still young. So as the kettle built up a head of steam, I re-baited, clipped up the line, and fired it out into the darkness, knowing it would land right on the same spot.
More jittery beeps from my buzzer have me winding in the line a couple of hours later, and I'm thinking bream again. But no, as it gets nearer there's a flash of creamy underbelly, and then this fish decides it fancies a look under the overhanging branches of a nearby tree, not that I let it!
Once safely in the net, I reach for my headtorch, well how about that, it's a cat!
Not that it's going to break any records, it's only a foot and a half long.. but another 'first' for the new venue.
The session's action finishes in the early hours, with a final take, followed by another limp retrieve. It's bream number two, and looking in the net I'm starting to think I've done it. This fish is definitely bigger... but it seems, in length and breadth only, in profile it has to be slimmer, as it only goes 9lb 3ozs... shame!
Gary's been quiet, but then he's kept going for the carp, and good for him, but it's done him no favours as he's not had a touch all night. With my second rod also targeting the carp, and having nothing, we'll need to up our game there, but I'll go home almost happy with a couple of nice 'snotty's'.