I had been thinking that the teams of 5 winter league might be a bit different this year, given the mild weather, but those thoughts were dashed by the cold snap leading into it, I guessed it would be pretty tough in some areas, as the fish have started to shoal up as the colour drops out of the lakes.
Same team as last year, although as we have no real connection with MFS, a name change was required, so “2nd Time Lucky” was the only thing I could come up with on the spur of the moment. I drew for the team this round and pulled out peg 17 and then the sections which saw me on peg 69, Mike Walker on peg 50, Paul Faiers on peg 19, Genn Calvert on 130 and Fred Roberts on 99.
On paper it wasn’t a disastrous draw, my peg, 69 has a lot of previous form for skimmers, but they haven’t shown there quite so much lately and in all the sections you need a couple of carp to get reasonable points. I had spent a couple of hours on Friday evening, tying hooklengths for the lead, which would stay in the box unused, as on this league, Lodge lake is float only.
Two waggler rods set up, Normark Microlite II with a Drennan Glowtop waggler on 2 1/2lb Maxima, 0.10 hooklength and a 20LWG. In case it got good…. (hopeful as ever!!) I also set up a Normark Titan 2000 with 4lb reel line, a middy straight waggler and a 16LWG on 0.14.
4 Topkits, a margin rig – really didn’t expect anything on that as with 68 and 70 in, you don’t really have a margin to fish on 69 – the non-expectations were well founded, as I never had a bite on it. I set up two similar rigs for the open water, but on had 0.12 and a 18LWG hook, the other 0.10 and a 20LWG. Final rig was a double bulk, just in case those big skimmers fed and they wanted it laid on the bottom.
On the all-in I cupped two tangerine sized ball of GB with caster and dead maggot in at 14m, in the deepest part of the swim, then went out on the waggler with a grain of corn. I started getting indication and the odd bite, all of which I missed, before finally connecting with one, it turned out to be a 4oz skimmer. After 40 minutes and another skimmer on the corn, I had a look over the GB, this produced bites, but it was small skimmers and the bites were too spaced out to achieve anything with 2-4oz fish. I did drop down to a No6 elastic and a 0.08 hooklength with a 20 808 hook on the double bulk rig – first drop in with that I hooked a carp, no idea if it was hooked fair and square or fouled, as it charged off and kept running until the 0.08 parted.
By now, Tony Rixon who was opposite had a carp on the waggler and had lost a couple, so back out on the waggler and after a couple more missed bites, I hit into a carp, took a while to land on the 0.10, just couldn’t put the pressure on to get its head up, just over double figures, so most welcome. Next cast, float buried again and a decent skimmer was netted, I then hooked and lost a fouler, before the waggler got tangled. I switched to the heavier waggler rig and this saw the number of indications and liners drop, I shallowed it up, so the corn was 6” off bottom and had another carp very similar in size to the first, I thought that was the answer, but I didn’t get anymore bites off bottom.
After a quick and fruitless look in both margins, I went back on the pole line, again the skimmers were small and few and far between, I did think that the bigger skimmers might switch on in the last half an hour, but gambled on going back on the waggler and getting another carp. With 10 minutes to go, I hooked another on the light waggler gear and all seemed well, but after a short while, just as I thought I had it under control it came off…… I didn’t swear too much!! I think it cost me three points, which just shows how tight this league is. My two carp and meagre collection of skimmers going 21.02 and 5.10 respectively for a total of 26.12. Had I fished that last ½ hour for skimmers I am sure I would have had at least 1 more point, maybe more – but that’s hindsight and not much use on the bank in the freezing cold and wet conditions that we endured.
On the team front, we were pleased to have done enough to come 5th on the day:
I had 11 points, Glenn had 13 points, Paul and Mike had 11 and Fred topped the team score with 14 points. Fingers crossed for a decent draw next round.