It was never going to be easy... this is known as a hard water.
And so it's turning out to be, as I haven't banked a fish in the last 7 or 8 outings now! But let's go back a few months first.
With our plan to start the Spring hunting the large bream that lurk within these waters, we embarked on a lengthy pre-baiting campaign which began back at the end of February.
While piking through the Winter on the same water, Gary and myself made use of the last few minutes of each session to plumb our swims for any features. After a few visits we found a couple of swims that were close enough for us to pre-bait a central area that we could then both put a bait on… and in easy reach of the kettle, when the tea was brewing!
With a bar that ran parallel to the bank about 35-40yds out, we baited the deep trough just before the bar, hoping it would be an obvious path the bream shoals would follow.
So the Spomb was put to good use, and a pellet, corn, and vitalin bombardment took place at the end of each pike session now, but as the weeks went by and the weather stayed cold, we did start to wonder if all we were doing was fattening up the tufties!
Now at the end of March and the pike season finished, it was a quick decision to start fishing for the bream straight off. If only the weather had realised that!
With the first few sessions we had a gale blowing right in our faces, we were on an open bank and it blew straight off the water, it didn't make for comfortable fishing. But we're hardy chaps, and kept at it, although 2 sleeping bags each definitely helped!
Not that we were rewarded for our efforts, as in those early visits, nothing came out, let alone any fish being seen.
It wasn't until Gary chucked one of his baits out to a shallow area one week that he finally made contact and brought in a 7lb'er… and on a wooden ball at that!
Yep, we're fishing with artificials. Trying plastic corn, pellets, and wooden balls, that have become our stand in for boilies. With the venue rife with those ravenous clawed beasts, the signal crayfish, anything vaguely edible doesn't last long, as we'd already found out when piking.
But the bream turned out to be a solitary catch, and the following week we were back to the norm... with empty nets.
By now April had passed and we were well into May, but as I'm sure you remember that didn't bring a break in the weather, with it staying cold, and we had the pleasure of some nice downpours to go with it!
We finally decided to leave our baited area and try further round in an adjacent bay. We could both still reach the same bar, but from the opposite side, and I could also fish into the main part of the bay, which might hopefully attract the odd bream.
Well the move seemed to work, as during the night Gary banked a better 'slab', which nudged the scales to just over 9lb.
Gary then had a couple of weeks off, so after his recent capture I returned the following week to fish the bay again.
Beside a few liners nothing got me out of my bag, but I did hear a couple of fish jump during the night, so with that and the liners it seemed like the fish were finally starting to move.
Through all these weeks we kept chatting to the regular carpers, and also to a good mate of ours who's a long time angler on this water, and the general consensus was that the venue, and of course it's occupants, were 4-5 weeks behind where they should be for the time of year… not that that helped us in the slightest!
I had another outing on my own and moved to the next pit in the chain, it might give me the chance of a tench as well as a bream, and if nothing more it was a change of scenery.
It didn't do me any good, and I got a good soaking to boot… oh, how I love packing up in the rain!
May was now fast disappearing, and at last temperatures were slowly starting to creep up, once Gary was back on the scene we chatted through our next move, and with news of a few captures now coming from the final water on this complex of pits, it wasn't long before we headed that way ourselves. This was already part of our plan with our thinking being that as the weather warmed up we'd start to target the tench in earnest, as well as possibly pick up the odd carp… I'm afraid the bream were now becoming a distant memory.
The pit is the smallest of the three, but possibly has the most features, and it definitely seems to hold the larger carp and tench.
We'd had a good look around the water back in September of last year, and even had a couple of pike sessions on it during the Winter, but now it was tench time.
On our first visit a couple of the 'top' swims were already occupied, so we headed along to one corner of the water and settled in two swims that we thought could be promising.
With islands dotted around in front of us it certainly looked the part, and our first task was to start laying down a communal bed of bait on a gravel patch to see what it might attract.
So a rod each on this and the others were placed tight to the islands, or in the channels between them, depending where we could find a clear gravel bottom.
Even though the crays infested this pit just as readily, we were now starting to experiment with hardened boilies. Either air drying them, or leaving them to soak in a glug.
With a normal bait only lasting a couple of hours, these 'hardened' boilies were coming in the next morning well chewed but still enough remained for us to think they would attract fish.
And yet again, it was Gary who proved this point, when at 7am on our third visit to these swims he hooked a good fish off one of the islands.
A bit of careful playing and we have it in the net. It's a mirror, and goes 20lb 8ozs.
Well that's us almost up to date, and with our last couple of trips being in this gloriously hot weather, we've finally seen lots of carp… but of course they're not interested in any bait, they're spawning!