David Sacker, Willowcroft Fisheries, Cafe Lake
Posted on 11th July 2018 at 21:26
After a difficult first session on a roasting hot day using Successful Baits, and with another couple of scorching days forecast, fellow Successful Baits team member Marc Johnson and I decided to visit a lake that we knew was well stocked and fishes fairly consistently in all weather conditions. Café Lake is where I had landed my PB68lb Catfish (as well as a good selection of Carp) last September, we were keen to see whether our new bait range could be as effective this time around, so thought this was as good a time as any for a long session on the lake.
It’s just over 4 acres in size and is in the shape of a guitar, our plan being to fish the section shaped like the hollow chamber at the southern end of the lake. We were due to fish from 7am Thursday, when the complex opens, through to the Saturday morning, escaping before the masses arrived, as is generally the case at weekends. On arrival we were not surprised to see a few of the swims already taken by anglers from the previous night, however, our initial swim choices were still free so we started to walk around the lake with a couple of buckets, the usual choice for anglers to reserve their chosen swim. Instantly we could see fish showing all over the lake and it was clear that, even at this early stage, some of the fish were going to be up in the water sunning themselves, it was just after 7am and already around 24C. We reserved the swims and started to head back to the van for the rest of the gear, stopping to view other swims and chat with a couple who were in the process of packing up. There’s certainly no harm in asking fellow anglers how they have got on and these guys were very happy to share information with us, describing how they had had numerous Carp and Catfish over their own 48 hour session, many of which had been taken from under the rod tips and 3 of which were Cats exceeding the 30lb mark.
It was clear that there were fish all over the lake but this information, added to the fact that we had some natural protection from the sun in the form of willow trees, was what we needed to have a change of heart and set up here instead. Our new spots were on the west bank of the bowl, around a 3rd of the way along, Marc's swim giving him access to the bay where the main part of the lake joins the long thin stretch, and my swim giving me the choice of open water and also a couple of nice reed islands close in.
As we started to set up the rods, I threw a few handfuls of VNX+ boilies down the right hand side of the reed island and a few handfuls of the Nasty Shrimp boilies down the left hand side, both 14mm and 18mm going into the chosen spots. I also had a good amount of my VNX+ boilie, pellet and particle mix left over from the previous session, that I had defrosted the previous evening, so a few handfuls of that also went out along the right of the island.
The dinner bell had definitely been rung, within minutes I saw the first few signs of Carp in the area, tail swells working along the reed bed and the first dorsal breaking the surface right where my bait had gone in. I quickly got my buzz bars screwed down to the deck and the first of my rods set up, a glugged 16mm VNX+ wafter and a golf ball sized PVA bag of the VNX+ mix on the business end of a size 8 IQ D rig. I broke up a few more boilies and threw them onto the spot, hopefully pushing the carp out for a few seconds whilst I underarmed my rig into place, just off the reed edge. The same was done with the Nasty Shrimp setup, however on this rod I chose to fish a KD rig with a critically balanced 18mm bottom bait, achieved with around 2/3rds of the boilie being drilled out and replaced with a section of cork. The PVA bag on this rod contained a few halved/crushed boilies and a nice sprinkling of the Nasty Shrimp stick mix, a lovely attractant in any swim! The rigs were out, the nets were waiting and all there was to do now was setup the bivvy and rest of my gear until I heard that first screaming run.
In the first 10 minutes of my rigs being out I was getting little tugs from fish swimming into the line and it was clear that our swims were well populated, at 8:10 the evidence of this was confirmed as my right hand alarm went into meltdown. Dropping the bivvy pegs I ran to my rod and lifted into the fish. After a few minutes of scrappy fighting, a chunky 5lb mirror graced the net, not the biggest fish but very welcome all the same, especially with the apple slice scales running along its flank, such a pretty fish to start things off. On returning the rig with the same PVA bag mix as before, I also decided to add a back lead in an attempt to remove as many of the liners as I could, essential as the left hand rod was already being plagued by tugs and knocks every few minutes. This seemed to have the desired effect and so I also added one to the other rod. After that, every beep from the alarm was a lot more positive with fish coming out every 45 minutes or so, increasing in size each time. At 12:30 I hit my first double figure fish, a cracking looking golden coloured common that gave me a nice tour of the swim before eventually succumbing to my gentle persuasion. The scales were out and confirmed a 10lb 12oz capture.
Marc had been doing equally well across the morning and this tied the score up at 4 fish a piece, all of mine coming on the VNX+ wafter and all of Marc's on his Nasty Shrimp setup. Funnily enough, I hadn’t had anything on my left hand rod so decided to double up on the VNX+, an 18mm critically balanced bottom bait going out on the size 8 KD rig. It seemed to work, within minutes of the rig going out the left hand rod bent round and the line ripped off the reel at an incredible rate. Another 10 minute battle commenced and at 13:29 we slipped the net under my 5th fish of the day, a lovely mirror of exactly 14lbs.
After that our friendly competition became rather one-sided, VNX+ accounting for a further 11 fish of 5-8lbs across the afternoon and evening for me and although Marc was catching, it was clear that the VNX+ was the preferred bait of choice. My baiting method had been to throw in a small handful of baits after every run as well as producing dozens of PVA bags so that one could go out with every cast so, despite bringing around 4kg of the VNX+ with me, I was fast running short. Uwe kindly offered to do a bank side delivery for me (not even pizza takeaways offer that service!) but I decided that I would switch and see how the Nasty Shrimp would perform for me.
As midnight approached I had my first take on the Nasty Shrimp, a 5lb mirror, taking my days total to 17 fish and although I had a few runs through the night, I started to be plagued by rig failures and hook pulls. A few years ago I had similar issues with the mass produced rigs and so started making my own rigs.
As rig complexity increased (and therefore the making of rigs became harder and more time consuming), I decided to move back to ready-mades for ease. I had a lot of success and put the previous failures down to a manufacturing issue, but with 3 failures in the same section of the rig across 1 day my mind was quickly returning to making my own again.
My next fish arrived at 8:25 on the Friday morning, a Nasty Shrimp 18mm bottom bait accounting for a 6lb mirror, and then a 10lb 10oz mirror an hour later. I had similar success across the rest of the morning, with a further 4 carp scoffing down the VNX+ bottom baits, the best being another 10lb 10oz mirror. As the lunchtime sun beat down upon us and with the action starting to slow, I decided to adopt an approach Marc had been having relative success on, a 12mm orange Krill BP pop up presented on a zig rig around 6-8 inches below the surface. In an attempt to promote a feeding frenzy I crushed up some of the Nasty Shrimp boilies into small pieces and added a good handful of the matching Ready Made Stick Mix, balled it up and threw it over the spot, the idea being to spread a lot of particles in the water column around the hook bait, hopefully convincing a carp to take that down too. Sometimes best laid plans do come to fruition and within a minute the zig rod was screaming off, another hard scrapping 6 lber falling into the trap. The afternoon wore on and the sun seemed to get hotter and hotter, a few more fish coming to the zig and bottom baits but definitely at a slowing rate.
Throughout the late evening and overnight the action was limited to a few aborted takes and a couple of hook pulls, it would appear that our session was winding down and with a 4am wake up I decided to give the VNX+ wafter one last hoorah before calling it a day. With both rods on their respective spots I started to pack things away and chatted to a guy in the next swim, discussing our respective successes over the last few days and showing him the range that Successful Baits had to offer. As if to prove the baits credentials my right hand rod screamed off again and the last fish of the session was mine, a 6lb mirror which took my total up to 28 fish in around 46 hours of fishing. VNX+ accounted for 22 of my fish, Nasty Shrimp 4 and Krill BP 2.
There were a few things that I learnt from this trip that are definitely worth considering in future.
1. You can always take bait back home with you so whatever you do, always ensure you have plenty available, because when the fish are on it and your baiting tactics are working it’s a real shame to slow your catch rate because you have run out.
2. The mass produced, ready tied rigs can be excellent and certainly show you how well presented rigs can and should be, but there is no substitute for the care and attention to detail that a dedicated angler can put in to their own rig making. It may take some time to perfect but it may mean the difference between landing that dream fish or not.
3. Mixing up your approach even when things are working quite well can be beneficial, both of my zig captures were within a minute of casting and it may have been the unexpected change of presentation that caught out an otherwise wary carp.
Overall a great session and certainly showed the rigs and baits were working well. Here’s hoping our next venture sees the bigger fish being engulfed by our landing nets. Tight lines everyone.
Tagged as: David Sacker
Share this post: