Sessions 27 + 28 + 29 – Holiday Park Fishing

This entry in my blog covers three sessions that I fitted in during a week’s holiday at the Lakeside Holiday Park, Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. We’ve been here probably 7-8 times, always in October, over the years as a Sun Newspaper £9.50 venue. A small compact site with the added attraction for me of a residents-only fishing pool of probably 2 acres in size with the usual species resident – perch, pike, roach, carp, bream, tench,… and usually also tip-top entertainment on the evening including the obligatory, for us, the evening bingo session. However, due to the current pandemic all entertainments (other than the fishing) were off the cards – no bar, no restaurant, etc – and was thus an accommodation-only break. Usually you just took your own towels and bedding covers although even these were hireable but this year you had to take not only your covers but also your own quilts, pillows and towels. However, despite the lack of provided facilities, etc it was still a great holiday and great value – I mean, where would you find even a basic hotel double room for £150 for 3 nights – probably be pushing that for 2 nights even? And yet, for that price, we had a really nice 6-berth static caravan with all needed facilities for cooking, etc for 7 nights – and free fishing!

So, to the fishing….

OK, as I said, Liz and I have been to this park around 8 times or so and we usually arrive early so I can spend a few hours lure fishing pre the van being ready to access – vans are always ready by the official 1600 booking in time, but often become available at 1500 …. but we arrive at 1200 so I can do my lure flinging stuff. Then the following day I’m out about 0630 (still dark at this time of year) setting up my gear ready for the first light to cast in and fish until around 1100 before returning to the van for a bacon/sausage butty or similar and then Liz and head off to the town for the afternoon. The following day is usually a full day session on the pool for Liz and myself… and I usually manage one more early morning session later on.

And our results for our 8 years of trying? Well, Liz has never even had a bite and myself, a couple of years ago, did have a pike take my sweetcorn bait as it was being retrieved but then bit me off at the net. And that’s the total action in the 8 years! But a guy did show me where the bream are a couple of years ago – and he pulled out 5 or so bream of 4-5lb in as many casts as I recall!

Anyway, we come to the latest trip…

The early arrival was not possible this year as we were warned that no facilities, including toilets, would be available until access was allowed to the vans at 1600 and that a contactless sign-in system would be in place. It actually suited us as the later arrival meant that we could take the cats to the cattery on the day pre-setting off from home thus saving one day’s fees rather than taking them on the previous day. However, the on-arrival lure session had to be given a miss. But three short sessions were made over the week…

For all three sessions I fished the same way – same tackle, same bait, same presentation – float fishing sardine deadbaits for pike. One 12’ 2.75lb TC rod, 20lb mono line, 25g cigar float, 15g quick change lead and a 30lb wire trace terminating in the standard size 6 twin treble snap tackle. Liz fished one session (Session 28 – 16th October) with a groundbait/maggot feeder.

Session 27 – 13th October 2020

I set out at 0630, still dark, to my swim of the day at the left hand corner of the pool, the location where I’d had that previous pike take. The water depth around there was a more-or-less level 4’6” and the banks were populated with overhanging bushes. By 0700 all rods, nets and mats, etc were setup ready and the light was just perfect to start. I discovered that I’d forgotten to pack my injectable oil and liquid attractors but I had brought my bag of old baits that had been sliced up and I catapulted some of these pieces all around my intended area of attention. The weather at that point was ok, and I had been warmed up by my prepping movements … but then several short showers passed along with a breeze picking up and it went quite chilly. So, 0945, without any action being apparent, the thoughts of a bacon butty in the warmth of the caravan became quite enticing and I decided to start to pack up… but at about 1000 the float slid away and a pike of 5lb 1oz was successfully landed. However, by this time I’d put away the camera/tripod and scales so I had to rest the fish in the water within the landing net whilst I unpacked them (although I didn’t bother with the tripod) …

At this point, still cold and damp but nevertheless elated with the result, I decided a warming and celebratory bacon butty was definitely needed!

Session 28 – 15th October 2020

0800 Liz and I ventured from the van intending a full day’s fishing together. This time we decided we’d try the right hand corner of the pool, an area that we’d never fished before but looked good. A few small fish moving also seemed a good sign. Water depth was between 7’-8’. I fished as the previous session presenting baits on the bottom and up to mid-water but by 1200 I’d not had a touch – and neither had Liz on her feeder rod – and as a cold breeze picked up we decided to put discretion before valour and called it a day.

Session 29 – 17th October 2020

Another 0630 departure from the van saw me back in my first swim of the week. However, during the week, I’d managed to obtain, courtesy of Tesco’s, some Cod Liver Oil and Fish Sauce (basically blitzed anchovies) for injecting into the bait which I did… and also put out small fish pieces for further attraction. 1100 – after no interest being shown in my bait I decided to cast very close to the bushes running away from me up the left end of the pool … the cast saw my bait land where I wanted it, however, the breeze took my line up over some branches of a tree next to me. I tried to clear the line but in the end the terminal tackle became lodged solidly and the line snapped …. leaving my float and terminal tackle (inc the snap tackle) blowing about in the breeze … luckily the bait itself had fallen from the hooks so the resident seagulls were safe in the short term … but, as is the norm, the ensemble was about 6” further out than I could reach with my landing net to try to recover. I was in a bit of a quandary as to what to do then but soon remembered the small 6” Gardner rake I carry attached to a good length of the orange twisted nylon cord often used for camping or for crab lines. So, after a few throws, I managed to get the rake in the right position and managed to remove the tackle from its location albeit that the float landed next to me and the rest of the kit fell directly down into the water but safer than dangling up in a tree I think… BUT somewhere during the procedure the line had been pulling on the rod tip and 6”+ of the tip had snapped off! So at this point I decided – time for a butty!

So, I’ve been searching the ‘net for a replacement rod – I needed a Ron Thompson Desperado 12’ 2.75lb TC to match with its remaining twin as when I use two rods I always use matched pairs (rod/reel/line) so it was either locate an identical replacement or buy a new matching pair. As it turned out, the Desperado is no longer a current model and the only ones I could find are being sold by Angling Direct … at £39.99 … and as I only paid about £20 each for them originally from Go Outdoors I wasn’t chuffed about that! So I’ve now got two new rods on order from Amazon for £11 each! 🙂 The remaining Desperado might be set up for a new purpose or even car booted in the spring along with other unneeded rods and other fishing gear …. and general extraneous household stuff.

WATER TEMPS:

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AIR TEMPS:

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Session 26 – First Day Of Pike Season – And AWAAAAAAAY I Went! Incorporates A Couple Of Surprises Too …

Thursday 1st October was a very special day for me – also enhanced by the fact I’d not been able to fish the previous week due to family commitments – due to it being the first day of MY new pike season – and also further enhanced by the fact that, due to my health issues, I’d missed the whole of the 2019-2020 pike season completely. So to me, to whom pike are the superior quarry, the day was like all my Christmases rolled into one – regardless of whether I caught or not … but did I?? Umm, AWAAAAAY!… and wait and see! A lot of rambling to be done before I get to that point LOL!

I mention ‘MY’ season. Legally these days there is no official pike season but in days past pike fishing was only allowed from 1st October through to the end of what was then the start of the general coarse fishing season on 15th March. However, myself, I do almost observe that old season albeit ‘my’ season is extended a couple of weeks until March 31st. There are several reasons for my choice. At other times there are other, spring, summer, autumn species to fish for – I personally feel I’m contributing to maintaining the health of the pike population in that despite their macho image they are actually fragile fish that can suffer from excessive exercise in the warm air/oxygen depleted water of warmer periods – and looking forward to 1st October replaces the old magic of the arrival of the old coarse season on 16th June. Anyway, my main pike water club agrees with me and NO pike fishing is allowed in any of its water by any method at all between 1st April and 30th Sept.

So, the days previous to the outing was mainly prepping and checking my gear was all intact and in working condition. I do try to maintain separate sets of ‘general’ gear and ‘pike’ gear but I still find that I need to transfer items between bags especially if I intend to livebait as I need my float rod and light tackle (floats, hooks, shot, etc) for the catching thereof – and then there are items like cameras, scales and thermometers that one needs. I do buy and add items bit by bit over the years to try to make each set of kit self contained but not reached that point yet. And after the session (or at least before the next session of the ‘other’ type) it has to be ensured that the borrowed items are returned to its proper bag… something that sometimes goes wrong! This year’s intended addition, and being actively researched for, to the pike bag are scales – looking for digital ones that will display in ‘LB:OZ’ format of some kind really as I’m ‘old skool’ and ‘KG’ and ‘JIN’ are as useful and as meaningful to me as a knitting pattern printed in Japanese! And I *HATE* scales that display in that bastardised unit, the ‘decimal LB’… the decimal point has NO place in imperial measurements! So, although I can easily recognise 3.75lb as being actually 3lb 12oz, and convert other less value-to-value recognisable values reasonably accurately and quickly in my head, the sight of a decimal point makes my teeth grate! And if I’m going to be paying good money for the item I want to be comfortable with it. End of this edition’s rant! LOL!

So, come the day, I’m up at 0530 – get deadbaits from freezer, maggots from fridge and finish the loading of the car. And then have a bite of breakfast and an eye-opening cup of coffee… and leave the house to head for the pool (Pike Water 5) bound at 0645 arriving at 0700. On arrival the gate is closed and still locked on the combination – good sign, I’m first there and able to get the swim I wanted!

The usual tackling up, prepping the ‘station’, etc and I make my first cast with my maggot baited float rod in search of live baits at 0800 … and 0825 the first fish is landed. Not what I really wanted this time – a 6oz bream – as too large for my needs of the day and so it is slipped back …. and AWAAAAY!

Next fish is landed at 0850 … and this is the first of the surprises alluded to in the title … its a perch!! Now that may not seem strange in the usual run of things but…. two or three years ago I said to Liz that in 6-7 years of fishing at this venue I’d never seen nor heard of a perch being there – and I usually fish with worm/maggot at least for some part of a non-pike session. Actually, having said this to Liz, on the next session on this pool when I lifted my landing net from the water there was a minnow sized perch nestling in the bottom! However, since then I’d still not seen another perch there although I did hear a couple of times of a 3lb’er that appeared to live in the vicinity of one certain swim. So the capture of this perch was a big surprise and although bait sized I returned it with reverence …. as I did the other 6 perch I caught (biggest about 6oz) on the day … so from one seen perch in the best part of 10 years, I suddenly encountered seven in the one session! AND the second of the surprises – all of them came to RED maggots and red maggots only! Nothing on white ones other than bream and small silvers. Now in 60+ years of fishing I’ve always found that maggot colours didn’t statistically make any sort of noticeable difference to catches – back in the day when you could get bronze and yellow maggots (can you still get them? I always order mixed red and whites) I never found if you switched through all the colours that anything changed at all – if you were catching you still caught at the same rate with whatever colour you put on the hook, if not catching then changing colour made no difference. So I had put down ‘preferred colours’ to the whim of the angler rather than fishes choice… but on this trip its made me think again… SPOOKY!

Anyway, back to the day’s fishing …

0855 – I managed to capture my first bait suitable fish – a roach of a couple of ounces – and by 1100 I’d managed to catch 3 more.

1100 – the float rod was wound in and the 2 pike rods set up to fish the livebaits under floats with changing depths throughout the rest of the session (between 4’ and 8’ generally) along the marginal slope/shelf where I find the pike tend to patrol – and I’ve yet to have even one take in open water over the 10 years I’ve fished this water..

I hook my livebaits carefully in order that I can release them after  use by lip hooking to the middle hook of a dual hooked trace and have enough trace twixt the two hooks to place the second hook, without tension, into the dorsal fin itself instead of into the fish’s body. I also try to limit the use of a bait before release so as to try to preserve its life.

I say hooks as a generic term as I make traces up to suit my needs for both live- and deadbaiting – some traces consist solely of one large single hook, others one treble hook, others have various dual single/double/treble hook combinations. On this session my traces had a mid wire single hook for lip hooking (bait held on by use of a bait flag) and a size 6 double hook on the end to connect into the dorsal fin. By choice but it is also a club rule, all my hooks are (a) barbless or (b), specific to the case of non-barbless trebles, have crushed barbs on two points with the barb kept intact on the third point which is solely used for bait attachment.

So…. there I am fishing my baits … and the float wavers … and skims along a bit … I pull into it and feel the resistance … and then the hooks come adrift… so I cast to same spot and a few seconds later… float bobs again … pull into it … resistance … hooks pull free again… cast out again and nothing for 15 minutes or more so I retrieve line in stops and starts … and right as I’m about  to lift bait from water a big swirl as a pike grabs the tail end but not hooks … bit of tug-o-war before pike releases again! Another 30 minutes passes without incident and I recast very tightly to the reeds bordering the bank to my right…. few seconds later float bobs and twitches … a bit harder strike is made this time …. and its firmly attached this time… and eventually I slip the net under a 5lb 7oz pike! Ecstatic am I or what!! J Not a world breaker and not long out of pikey nappies but the feels the best of starts to my new pike season for me!

So I fished on until 1415 with deadbaits I’d taken along with me but without further ado despite trying other swims and heading AWAAAAAAY! home a very happy bunny….

PLANS:

No more fishing for me now until at least 12th October as we are away on hols for that week and so I need to prep for that. However, the holiday site does have its own fishing pool for residents only so hopefully we’ll make use of that 2 or 3 times over the hols especially as all the other onsite facilities are closed due to covid and I expect cancellations made due to covid have lowered the site’s income appreciably ie no clubhouse/bar, bingo, shows, etc… I’ll probably have at least one pike session and one general one. For me water temps are still a bit high for pike fishing. I like temps of below 7/8’C for my serious pike fishing and the past few years have meant its been late December/January before that’s come about.

TEMPS:

AIR:                  MIN: 10.3’C       MAX: 16.2’C
WATER:           MIN: 10.6’C       MAX: 14.8’C

WATER TEMPS:

2020-10-01 WATER TEMP

AIR TEMPS:

2020-10-01 AIR TEMP