Well most people go to Lakeside to shop... but not me and Gary, we went there for a pike!
And that maybe not as crazy as it sounds, as a fair few years back now this was a serious predator water, with even the stocking of a couple of 'thirties'. But waters change, and in recent years... well, not much to shout about.
So Gary mentions it, I check it out, and with a visit to the Diving Centre, I get all the details... and get told a few stories of large fish checking out the divers!
Sounds interesting, but beside the possibility of something pulling our strings, we were after a bit of practice in a boat, as we've got a trip planned on some serious water... but you can read about that in the coming weeks.
With the lake sitting adjacent to the main shopping mall, you head for the Diving & Watersports Centre at the South end of the lake. You'll be kitted out with a bouyancy aid (lifejacket!), and your boat will have an electric motor mounted on the back. A quick chat on how to operate it, and once your gear is on board, you're off!
We glided out to one of the first bouys, tied up, then sorted out our rods. We'd both set up trolling rigs, and I started with my usual mackerel deadbait, and Gary tried a roach. Out they went, and off up the lake we went. The electric motor on low throttle pushed us along at the perfect pace.
The rigs were simple, using locking trolling floats up the line, down to an uptrace with a small lead at the bottom, and our traces coming off paternoster style.
We punctuated each run with a short spell of static fishing, with both of us throwing out a second rod. Three quarters of the way up the lake you pass a big island, and just beyond, the lake opens up into a wider bay, there's plenty of bankside swims all around this area, and we spent a couple of hours dropping the baits in a number of places.
With no action it was back to more trolling. We started working our way back down the other side of the lake. It's along this side of the lake that you're fishing near to Lakeside's boardwalk, which houses lots of it's restaurants.. always nice to be sitting on a boat while shoppers look out at you while they're stuffing their faces!
It was early afternoon when we tied up to a very small island halfway down the lake. Chucking a couple of rods out into deep water, and our others rods either side towards the bank, we were sheltered from the wind, and enjoying the weak sunshine.
The sound of my baitrunner whirring soon stirred me into action... I'd actually got a bite! I click it off, tighten up and strike. It's a good fight, and after a few minutes I steer a reasonable pike into the net that Gary has waiting. Smiles all round, we've got our first Lakeside fish.
It's only as we handle the fish to remove the hooks that we notice the strange shape of it's mouth.. it seems to have a seriously bent jaw! We didn't bother to weigh it, but it was in the 10-12lb range. It was hard not to laugh, with the fish almost grinning back at us as we take the pics, but it obviously didn't stop it feeding, and getting on with its life. Have you ever seen a fish like it?
So with a bit more trolling, and trying a few more places, we end up back at the Diving Centre and have a last half hour fishing from the dock. No more bites, no monsters, but an interesting venue, and you never know what might still be in there?
For more info on Lakeside Diving & Watersports Centre go to www.lakesidewatersports.co.uk