Report on Furzebray Lakes, Devon
Not quite a French trip, Dave (Frothy) Rothery has to satisfy himself with a trip to a fairly local lake and gets lucky this time.
My annual autumn trip is here and for a change I’m not going to France! Childcare means I’ve got to stay in the UK, but I managed to get a 36hr trip in.
I’m off to Furzebray lakes, where I’ve been doing a few (largely unsuccessful) overnighters. It’s one of those lakes that seems to either fish it’s head off or not at all and I am so in tune with the lake that I can always pick the “not at all” nights!
I get down at about 3.30pm, so have an hour and a half before dark to have a mooch about. I chat to a couple of people, and one of them loses a fish as I’m standing there, so the location is sorted! I have a quick walk around just to check for anything I missed and nip back to the car for the gear. Unfortunately, when I get back, I hadn’t noticed that some gear had been left “reserving” the swim for someone else so I jumped into the swim that they were vacating.
I’m going to be fishing 3 spots. One an obvious snag spot that most will put a bait to, one mid-water gravelly spot in about 3½ foot of water, and the other the far margin (about 65yds) which is the dam wall and there’s no fishing along that bank. I did spook a fish from the area when I walked around, so whilst it’s a bit “typical carp angler” thing to do, the fish were there!
I don’t normal like fishing “obvious” spots as they are normally quite pressured and often don’t produce as well as they should, but on the other side the fish know that there’s always a food source around them, and will often visit them – it’s just a case of tripping them up. Tactic for the spot was a big bag of maggots, and the “magaligner” with a couple of real ones on the hook. No freebies apart from the bags used.
The open water spot was a 1½” silt rig pop-up (oh, ok a chod rig if you prefer!) fished over an initial ½ kilo of freebies, with frequent pouchfull’s to hopefully generate a bit of interest. I’d made the bait a few days before and after letting them dry overnight, left them in a sealed bag to “sweat” a bit. The far margin was a method ball with a 10mm pop-up fished tight on a longshank hook and critically balanced by using a shot on the hooklink and then pushing lead wire inside the shrink tube until it’s balanced.
I’ve played around with my presentation lately, dropping all the tubing, leadcore, etc and just fishing straight through. I’ve changed the line to 17lb X-Line as I want it pinned right down – X-Line can be springy, so I don’t fill the spools to the lip, I leave it well short as they are only short casts anyway. Leads are little ½ and 1¼ oz jobs – just enough to get the bait out there, and as the line sinks so well it won’t have any difficulty holding the bottom.
So it was rods out for the night, brolly up and after listening to the French beating the Spanish 2-1, I drift off to sleep. Well, until about an hour later when the snag rod was off, producing a stunning little mirror – can’t wait to have this one about 10lbs bigger! There really are some stunning fish in here, just have a look in the lakes gallery.
I recast the rod, but landed it 5yds or so wide of the snag to give me a bit more leeway – you often find at night you don’t have to be as tight anyway. Back into bed, and about an hour later there’s a couple of bleeps on the open water rod, then after a couple of seconds the bobbin hit’s the top. Well, it does, but on the snag rod again.
The fish feels much bigger, and powers off into the lake, but unfortunately the hook pulls seconds later. On winding in, I find the braid snapped right next to the hook, must be my fault for not tying the hook properly, though I test them pretty thoroughly. I have always wondered about doing that, it must weaken the braid slightly when tugging it hard.
As I’m up, I also recast the far rod, before climbing into bed again.
3.30 - the snag rod is off again a small common is the culprit – still, quite chuffed as I haven’t heard anyone else catch a fish and I’m having a much better result than normal! Nothing else occurs, and I wake up at 5-ish and as it’s so mild I sit out and watch for movement. It’s incredibly mild, almost November, 5am and I’m sitting there in a t-shirt!
A few fish show further down to the right in front of someone else’s swim, but I decide to cast all the rods again. With the open water rod, I re-balance the hookbait that has been out all night and after casting out put a couple of pouches of fresh bait around it, a little trick that can often trip the wary fish out.
Just after it gets light, I start getting a few bleeps on the long rod, and finally it roars off. A solid fight and I net a fish that I have down as a low twenty as it goes in the net, but I did notice it had few scales, unlike most of the fish in here. Up on the scales and it bounces up around the 29-30lb mark, so I get the lad who earlier vacated the swim who’s come down to see the fish to call the weight – 29.08, a new lake record he says (I thought it equalled it).
I pretend to go to put the fish back and he said “Aren’t you going to take a pic?” I reckoned it was just a little ‘un and he looked at me a bit wide eyed until I laughed. Pics were done in unfortunately poor light and the fish slipped back. The lad was fishing with a friend and I felt a bit bad about them moving out of the swim and me having a few, so I gave them a few bits’n’bobs and told them where to cast (always easy to look like you know what you’re doing with a fish on the bank!) and off he went.
An hour or so later, and the snag rod was off again, this time a 17+ mirror. It’s worth noting that people often talk about spodding maggots over the top of bags, but I prefer not to as I think it makes the fish a bit harder to catch. With bags you get a nice little area as even maggots will only go a foot or two away, so it gives the fish a nice small area to rummage around in. Spodding will spread them out and arguably you get less competition for the hookbait.
On recasting the rig went a bit tighter to the snag, so I sit right next to the rod listening to the iPod with the remote on vibrate and an hour or so later the tip started bouncing so I leant into the fish - which wasn’t there. I must’ve dragged it out of its mouth! Unfortunately, this was the last action of the trip, which was a bit annoying as I agonised about doing another night, which I did, but blanked.
I didn’t really do anything special on this trip. Maybe the baiting was a bit different as everyone else seemed to be spodding a fair bit out and fishing boilies over the top, which isn’t always the best thing to do as it’s a bit obvious. Especially towards the end of the year when they’ve had 9 months of it; I just got lucky with the location.
As an aside, they’ve nearly finished building a couple of holiday homes - proper “houses” rather than glorified caravans – which should be open next year. Well worth a look for anyone looking for a holiday down here and a bit of decent fishing.
A view from the veranda, very promising!!!
By the Same Author
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