A Winter's Day on Yateley Sandhurst Lake
Ian Gemson sets out his stall for a winter thirty
Cemex Bait-Tech Yateley Sandhurst Lake is situated in the leafy suburbs of Sandhurst just outside Camberley, Surrey. The lake was originally dug for gravel extraction many years ago, however, it is the youngest lake on the Yateley complex. Cemex have worked hard over the years and have managed to create one of the UK’s leading day ticket waters.
With 31 swims spaced around the 14 acre lake, everyone has plenty of room to fish in without encroaching on their neighbour. It is a relatively shallow lake with depths from 2ft to 8ft, with an average of approximately 4ft. There is one island from which fishing is permitted, and numerous sand bars and features that can be easily located from a wide choice of swims.
The current stocking level ensures that careful anglers are often rewarded with some of the most spectacularly beautiful specimen carp. At the current time, it is estimated that there are over 400 carp present in the fishery, the majority resulting from a 1998 stocking of fish averaging some 3lb in weight. These young fish now average over the 20lb mark and there are stacks of 25lb-plus fish and quite literally dozens of 30lbs, with more and more coming through every season. With very good water quality and large natural food sources the carp, tench and bream have been able to put on a lot of weight with tench being caught to over alb, along with double figure bream.
There are several carp over the 40lb mark, with the lake record now standing at 42Lb.I set myself a target this year to bag a big 30lb common. To catch a fish of this size, I first need to find a venue that stocks fish of this calibre and one of the best places to find this information is the Internet.
Cemex have their own website http://www.cemexangling.co.uk where you can find information regarding venues, stocking levels, current lake records and catch reports, as well as other useful information. The forums on this website are also full of very useful information from anglers who have recently fished on the Cemex waters. Magazines also provide information about these better known fisheries as they include features on these waters and they can give out valuable tips on baits and rigs that are working well.
The tackle shop local to Cemex Bait-Tech Yateley Sandhurst Lake is Yateley Angling Centre and it is the hub of everything carping in the area. I put a phone call into the Head Bailiff, Paul “Bidders” Bidmead, to ask him how the venue was fishing and what rigs and bait strategies were working well. With my choice of baits and rigs now sorted, it was off to meet Ruth and her team in Yateley Angling Centre, to buy my bait and a Cemex day ticket. Ruth informed me that I was only the second person booked on the venue that day, so I had virtually the entire lake to myself. The lake had been frozen for the last three weeks, like all others in the area, and had only thawed out the previous week. Therefore, there had been no angling pressure on the lake in recent weeks, which is always a good sign.
With the maggots purchased, all that was left was to buy the day ticket. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the cost of just £15 for 2 rods for a 12 hour session. I consider this to be good value for money considering the quality and size of the carp you can expect to catch. If you have more time available, you can also purchase tickets to fish for 24, 36 or 48-hour sessions during weekdays and weekends.
I arranged to meet up with “Bidders” for the venue who was able to put me in the right areas on the lake to maximise my catching opportunities. He suggested that I settle in peg 30 which had the cold north-easterly wind off my back. The swim was sheltered by the trees behind me. From this swim I could also be able to watch the majority of the lake to see if any fish were showing which would enable me to move swims if there were no indications of fish in my swim.
Peg 30 is a swim known as “The Pipes” and I lugged my barrow full of tackle around to it. “Bidders” and his bailiff team had done a great job of cleaning the path around the lake so it was easy to navigate with my barrow which was a great help due to the amount of tackle I had with me! The swim was nicely laid out allowing me to watch virtually the entire lake.
Using my Greys marker rod, I set about looking for any features in my swim that would be good spots to target for hungry winter carp. I found a uniform gravel bar at 60M, running parallel to my bank across the front of the swim. This bar transitioned into a nice soft deep silt bed with a depth of 5ft which was sure to hold plenty of natural food. This would be one of my target areas for the session. I would carefully bait up with just two spods of maggots, low oil pellets and Mistral halibut ground bait plus a little tuna in brine.
In recent times, the main bait used at Sandhurst has been maggots fished in either a Medusa rig or a Mag-Aligner style. I took half a gallon of maggots with me and some small bright pop ups plus a few plastic baits as way of a change if the maggots failed to produce. The first rig was a maggot Medusa rig tied with a Korda size 10 wide gape hook and a small Korda maggot ring. First on the maggot ring was one of the new Enterprise tackle soft rubber maggots followed by ten real maggots topped off with another fake maggot.
I added a piece of fake corn to the hair to add visual attraction and some buoyancy to the rig.
On the second rod, I used a Mag- Aligner style rig using the same Korda wide gape hook and hook length as in the Medusa maggot rig. The Enterprise Mag-Aligner fake maggot is used over the eye of the hook and down the shank helping to disguise the hook and give a good turning effect.
With the lines clipped and marked and the PVA mesh bags of maggots mounted upon the rigs, I then cast them out into the lake. With the rigs hitting the line clip I then removed the line from the reel clip and set about sinking my line. Using fluorocarbon main line meant that I was able to sink the line out of the way with most, if not all, of it resting on the bottom of the lake, out of the way of the wary carp. With the line sunk, I then placed the rods on the Delkims and clipped the light bobbins to the mainline before switching the alarms on. The traps were now set.
The un-baited rigs had been cast out to the marker float and the line placed under the line clip. A small amount of size 4 pole elastic was tied onto the main line just above the line clip using a Palomar knot. This would ensure accurate rig placement time and time again. With my rigs completed, all that was left for me to do was to put some maggots into a PVA mesh bag and carefully attach them to the rigs.
Because I was using a running rig set-up and fishing at 50M range, I was able to use small bobbins which I rested upon the floor to ensure that there was little tension upon the line. This ensured that the main line was not held up off the bottom.
The day passed by in a flurry of cold blustery winds and bright warming winter sunshine, interspersed with warming cups of coffee. Every hour I reeled the rigs in and checked that everything was OK, re-baited the rigs and casted them out onto the spots once more.
The day passed all too quickly with nothing moving on the lake apart from the ducks and coots who had managed to find my feed area and were having great delight in diving on my rigs, often causing the Delkims to burst into life. Eventually, the alarms went off with a fish rather than a duck! As I lifted the rod, something felt wrong. The rod had been cast at 50M range but the line felt like it was pulling far closer to the bank. A few quick turns on the reel handle and I still was unsure what I had hooked. It was to become clear all too soon as a large and very angry pike surfaced with my line in its jaws. The water swirled. My line was broken and my rig was lost.
As the maggot rigs had been quiet so far, I decided to try a couple of Mistral Vanilla Spice pop ups which are one of my winter favourites. Two baits were mounted upon the hair with a BB split shot helping to counter balance the buoyancy of the boilies. A Korda Wide gape size 8 with a small heat shrink kicker finished the rig. This was quickly attached to a Korda 20Lb fluorocarbon leader and a 2.5oz inline lead set up in a running rig style. The rigs were all reset and the waiting game began again but all too quickly I ran out of time and light. My session had not produced the winter 30 I would have loved to catch but that is real fishing!
The venue is home to some stunning genuine UK 40Lb + fish and for the price of a day ticket could be your new UK PB. I am already planning my next session at this lake soon and I hope to catch one of those monster Sandhurst carp.
Ian Gemson Smart Carping www.smartcarping.com
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