David Sacker, Fenland Fisheries, Willow Lake
Posted on 22nd June 2018 at 20:50
The First Session - Planning
On the day Uwe and Sally confirmed me as the latest team angler on the Successful Baits team, I immediately started to research and plan my first session using Successful Baits. As I cast my mind over the location possibilities I quickly decided upon a lake I had admired from afar but never given a go. Having fished some of the other lakes on the Fenland Fisheries complex many times previously, Willow Lake had always appealed and now it seemed fitting to give my new baits a real test on a difficult lake
I was fortunate enough to be able to book a session on the lake within a few weeks and so I then turned my mind to choosing the baits I would use from the extensive range that Successful Baits hold.
As is always the case with a visit to Uwe and Sally, I was welcomed in and spent an hour chatting with Uwe about baits, tactics and fishing trips planned for the upcoming year.
Having already seen and used VNX+ I knew that it was a must for one of my bait choices, the creamy coconut and tigernut smell coupled with the texture and makeup of the bait really is something special. If you haven’t tried it yet then come see what you are missing, you won’t be disappointed!
Over the last few years I have been getting more and more extravagant with my bait preparation compared with the basic approach I first started out with. Watching 'Thinking Tackle' and seeing the extent that some anglers go to has certainly given me food for thought, so I too have started to incorporate this into my angling. With so much angler pressure and competition on some lakes, being able to attract and keep the fish in your swim can really turn a good session into an outstanding one. My mixes generally contain boilie chops and crumb, pellets of varying sizes and, depending on the nuisance fish stock in the lake, a blend of various particles. After a good stir I then add a nice amount of the matching Bait Activator liquid and leave it to soak in for around 24 hours so that the pellets and boilies can really infuse, perfect for pva sticks and bags in the coming session.
The other preparation I do is with regards to examination and analysis of the lake itself, using Google earth and similar programs I like to get an overview of the lake size, shape, wind direction for the time of the session and also work out approximate distances from swims to potential lake features. Although this can never replace watercraft and watching over the lake for telltale signs of carp on the move, it at least gives you a starting point as to what you can expect when you arrive on site, invaluable when it’s a new venue and time is short.
I also search on the internet for any reviews that other anglers have completed, again a good tip if you are new to a lake as they may give you a good starting point for swim choice and tactics. Fortunately there were plenty of video reviews from a resident angler and I was able to get a good idea of the lake setup, tactics used by others and what has worked well in the past.
Willow Lake sessions run from 1pm onwards and so I arrived at the complex at midday, signed in at the shop, checked the rules with the attendant and then made my way to the lake for a walk around. There are 20 swims on the lake and 7 anglers allowed on at any one time, so there’s always plenty of choice. As I made my way along the west bank of the lake I was presented with one swim after another of absolute jewels, all provided something different from the last but all had the similarity of being spacious and very well maintained. As I reached the end of the west bank I came across swim 6 and I immediately knew it was what I was looking for. I had plenty of space for my bivvy, clear overhead for ease of casting and the lake itself gave me opportunities for open water, snags and overhanging trees along the north bank as well as a nice bed of reeds further along. There was also a light ripple from the breeze pushing down into the corner. Despite the obvious appeal of the swim I did not want to jump in head first so I talked myself into continuing around the lake to view what else was on offer. Heading along the north bank provided a further view of swim 6 from another angle and it wasn’t a disappointment. What I was presented with was some good access areas between the trees that would provide very easy baiting up spots and my first glimpse of a carp sunning itself in the midday sun. As I continued to look over the spot a further 3 nice sized carp swam into view and circled around quite contently, that was all I needed to see in that swim, but I still continued around the rest of the lake and saw more lovely looking swims but nothing that grabbed my attention like this one, so my mind was made up.
The west bank swims cannot be accessed by car but all other banks can be driven to. Given that my choice was in the corner I was able to park up within 50 yards of the swim and went ahead and unloaded my gear, keeping a check on the carp that were still circling around the area. I already had an idea of where I wanted to cast my baits to but gave the area a quick check with the marker set up and found some nice solid feeling patches in amongst the minimal amount of weed on the lakebed.
My left hand rod was going to be as close to the overhanging trees as I could get, middle rod over by the reeds and my right hand rod out in open water where I had seen some carp topping out. I catapulted a good amount of 14mm and 18mm Nasty Shrimp boilies along the bank for 2 of the rods and then VNX+ in the same sizes over the open water spot, around ½ kilo for each spot although, with the gulls diving down with every catapult, how many made the lake bed is questionable. A PVA stick of the matching mix on each spot complimenting the 16mm VNX+ wafter on the right hand rod, 18mm Nasty Shrimp bottom baited topped with the 16mm pink pop up on the left hand rod and a 14mm Nasty Shrimp with an orange 12mm Krill Black Pepper pop up on the middle rod, all perfectly balanced. The distances were marked up and I took a note of the wraps so that I could hit the spot again and again. With the sun beating down and the temperatures hitting 25C I wasn’t holding out too much hope for a daytime bite, but was hopeful that once it fell behind the trees the dropping temperatures may bring them onto the feed. The one thing that did come on the feed as the afternoon wore on were the bugs, but that was a minor inconvenience given the peace, view and anticipation of the night ahead.
As I settled down and streamed the evening entertainment on my phone (yes, I had picked a fishing trip on the day of England’s World Cup opener) I kept at least one watchful eye over the lake and saw more fish topping over my spots, which gave me renewed hope of some action through the night. Unfortunately the only action I got was limited to quick tugs on each of my rods at 12:05, 1:14 and 2:29 but nothing more, and certainly nothing worth striking at. That fact still didn’t stop me being out of bed and rod-side within seconds on each occasion though - if only my alarm for work had the same effect!
Waking up just before 6am I was presented with the sun rising behind the far bank tree-line and the vision of a windless millpond in front of me, mirroring my World Cup predictions it would appear that the weatherman had got it wrong again!! I was supposed to have a morning of overcast skies and a cooler day but was faced with another day of the sun baking down through near cloudless skies.
Not fancying a long morning of cooking myself whilst the carp sunned themselves, I decided to pack my gear away and call it a day. Having spoken to the other 3 fisherman on the lake before leaving, it was clear that we had all had the same experience, clearly the carp just didn’t fancy it that night.
I may not have had the carp catching session I had hoped but I did have a fantastic time all the same and will definitely be looking for a longer session there in future.
Willow Lake really is worth a visit if you’re ever in the Cambridgeshire countryside and, although I didn’t have any luck this time around, I’m confident that Successful Baits will bring me some on upcoming trips.
Tagged as: David Sacker
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