I plonked my rucksack in the swim and trotted back to get the rest of the kit from the car. Once in the swim it was obvious where the first rod was going, around 15 yards along the left hand margin was the entrance to the jungle. About 5 meters across and roped of this was the only was in and out for the carp. I dropped the first rod just off this rope with the aid of a little sideways cast. I clipped up and marked the line to make things easier in the dark. I then got the marker rods out and after a few casts found a nice hard gravely spot about 30 yards out between some weed beds and another spot round to the right a bit at around 20 yards which was also gravely. The rods were cast to their sots and a few free offerings were introduced. Time to build the house, get settled and have a nice long awaited cuppa and a Bacon sandwich. The sun was shining intermittently, often hiding behind small clouds and the wind was blowing down the lake straight at me.
9 pm and the lake was dead still, the odd Duck and Goose were still active but the wind had dropped and all that could be heard was the nearby road. At 9:30 pm I received a slow take on my middle rod but nothing came of it. It started to get dark, all I could see were the silhouettes of the trees on the far bank were all I could see, a Goldcrest,
’s smallest bird visited me that evening along with a pair of Jays. Optimism for the night ahead was high. Britain
Saturday morning and what a morning! The rods were still but this was the moment The Match Lake showed me its magic for the first time, not fish but the atmosphere. I woke a little after 6 am very cold and when I first looked out I was greeted by a thick, heavy and extremely cold fog.
…… Lake Magic
Then I saw it……a more wonderful sight you will not find, a spell had been cast across this fabulous place. It was a view to behold, the perfect morning. I re-baited the rods, got the kettle on and sat back in total admiration for the lake that had completely stolen my heart. As the Sausages sizzled I watched ghostly columns spiralling higher and higher, to the left a large fish leapt clear of the water and landed with a loud crash shattering the tranquillity, and as the ripples subsided all was once again back to its former glory.
I was expecting the sun to rise, burn away the mist and for everything to become much clearer and the morning progressed, but as it was by 8 am it was just the same as it was when I woke. The spirits of the lake were very busy. For almost half an hour I watched a Nuthatch scale the Birches in search of its breakfast, by 9 am the fog had started to lift, blue sky’s appeared and all at once I could see the surface of the lake surrounded on all sides by green.
At midday, with the rods still quiet and the sun shining I decided to go for a wander, explore a few marginal spots and have a natter with the other lads. I wound in and put the marker float back out just to re-calibrate the spots. With a little more effort I now had all 3 rods fishing on or just off the gravel bar leading into the jungle in the hope to trip them up on their way in and out. I walked around the lake looking into likely looking areas but saw nothing. I got to the Party swims and where I met Spike and Adam, proper good guys with more than a few stories to tell. After a brief chat I left them and peered over a bramble and into the
, there was a big dark mirror happily sunning himself in the afternoon sun. I walked on and came across a group of 5 fish, again in the Copse basking over a shallow gravely ledge. I observed for a while and made my way back round the Copse Lake and back towards my swim; I got to the jungle and peered in. There they were, I counted a dozen or more Carp lazily drifting around. This made my heart race, their in there and I have their patrol route covered in case they decide to come out. Match Lake
With new optimism I returned to my swim, re-baited the rods and cast them onto their respective spots. Lunch was a Bacon Burger with a cup of tea and some footie on the radio. The temperature was high and the lake was as flat as a mill pond. It was 6 pm, I had enjoyed the first 24 hours of my session, however, I was wondering if this was going to be a productive trip, was my first session a fluke? I sat on a tree stump watching the water when at 6:15 my indicator on the left hand rod flew up, I bent into a good fish which tried to gain sanctuary back in the jungle. With a fair amount of side strain I got the fish out into open water and slipped the net under a mint condition mirror. She weighed 23lb 9oz, a Carp at last! I returned her, cast back on the spot and introduced a few more baits. Time to sit back, relax and watch the evening draw in.
It was another cold and quiet night, no fish crashed and no liners came to the rods. I woke to the sound of my alarm at 5:15 am on Sunday morning; I slipped on my crocs and found my right hand rod was away. Fish on!! After sinking the other two rod tips I managed to play and safely net a fine looking Leather Carp of 23lb 12oz. A fairly old looking fish with a few scars. It caused me a fair bit of hassle during the self takes.
She was returned, the 3 rods repositioned and a celebratory cuppa was in order. Sunday morning was amazing, clear sky so I awaited the Yateley sunrise. Mist danced upon the surface and the world started to materialise out of the dark.
Yateley just before sunrise…….
…and just after.
After a breakfast of Sausages and Tea, I re-hydrated my baits and then kept myself occupied by watching a Perch and Swan Mussel in the margin, observing Woodpeckers and keeping a close eye on the lake surface for signs of fish. By 9:30 am the sun was out and it looked to be another glorious spring day. Sunday brought an uneventful morning, I had gathered by now that the best times for a bite were Tea time through until early morning. So, the afternoon was about relaxing in the sun, footie on the radio and the traps set to intercept any fish moving through.
As the evening drew ever closer and the sounds I’d grown familiar with had started, the sun was gradually blanketed by the Beeches and Elms behind me and the air felt a little cooler, out with the fleece and on with the kettle. I sat and drank that Tea close to the rods, just in case. Through the night the wind increased and was pushing down into my position, it was a chilly wind and to be honest I wasn’t sure what effect this would have on the fishing. As it turned out I received a few liners throughout the night but by the morning the rods were as I’d left them.
I woke up on Monday to a different kind of day, the cold breeze was still there, albeit a little less strong, and the sky was overcast with the odd brief sunny period. At 8:30 am I saw a good fish roll in the jungle entrance, I was thinking that with the clod wind blowing in there they might be reluctant to hold up. Maybe the deeper spots would produce during the day today so fresh baits were cast onto the usual spots and the first brew of the day was made.
A view towards the first island.
At around 1:00 pm I decided to rest the swim for a while, I wound in, baited the spots and popped round Stewi’s swim for lunch. At 2:30 I returned to my swim and set the traps ready for my last night of this session. It was a warm afternoon, the light breeze had swung round to the left a bit and I sat by the rods watching another episode of “Coot Wars”. At 7 pm the sky darkened and it looked like it we could get a shower. 8 pm and no rain but the sky was still ominously dark. I sat in the bivvy thinking about a cup of tea when my right hand rod burst into action, I ran out and struck into nothing. Just then a Coot surfaced looking very guilty!! I re-cast the rod and sat back, 5 minutes later the same rod was off, once again I struck into nothing and once again the same Coot surfaced. A pouchfull of Mixers saw him on his way and he left me alone after that. The rod was repositioned and I got back to the fishing. Then the rain started, only a shower but with it came enough cloud cover to ensure a much milder night.
Monday evening was the most calm and still of the session, apart from the odd bird singing and the distant church bells all was quiet. I was laid out on the bed happily watching the rods when something caught my eye, on closer inspection it was a Carp, not 2 feet from the bank cruising under my rods with its dorsal and tail out of the water, cheeky git!! I was stunned, what on earth do you do in that situation? I tossed a few Mixers up the margin a bit just in case he came back and got hungry.
At 11 pm I felt the urge to do something, I stood in my swim catapulting pieces of bread roll around and once the ripples subsided I returned to the bivvy, made a bacon roll and a cuppa and sat back to listen out for any slurps, the night was eerily silent and the fish would easily give themselves away. The odd scurrying in the dry leaves on the ground and my ticking watch were all that could be heard, even the Owls slept. At midnight the church bells rang 12 times. I started to doze off. At 1230 am I received a fast take on the middle rod. Upon striking I could tell it was one of the Catfish by the amount of line being ripped from the spool. After a 15 minute tug of war I netted the Cat somewhere around 20 -25lbs, unhooked it and watched it swim away. The first couple I had last weekend were a novelty and good fun, but it was down to the serious business of searching the Carp out. Any future Cats, unless huge will be unhooked in the water.
The rod was re-cast and I climbed back into the sack. 2:30 am and I was up to another run, this time my right hand rod. The fight felt more like Carp this time, I played it gently but soon caught sight of another Cat in the headlight beam of similar size to the last one. Another swift un-hooking in the margin and the rods was cast back out. Now the Owls were awake. I had a few more liners throughout the night but no more fish were forthcoming.
I woke at 6:15 am to the sound of a Woodpecker very close by, I was tired and it sounded as if he was perched on my shoulder banging my head. I crept out quietly to try to get a quick picture of him but he flew off as I stepped on a twig. The sun was shining and the
looked splendid. Match Lake
I set about making breakfast and began to start packing a few things away. The best time for a bite was now gone and I had things to do at home. This session showed me two things, the first being how this place can be so rewarding with its effortless beauty and stunning residents. The second being how moody it can be making you wait long periods where you can see but not catch them. It is safe to say that I am well and truly hooked on Yateley’s magic, needless to say I’ll be back for round 3 on Friday, just two nights but I will be exploring a different swim trying to build a picture of the lake and work out the various spots. With the barrow loaded I thanked the spirits of the lake for a fascinating 4 days and for being so hospitable.