My angling in 2019 is going to be a bit varied, after my target dying the previous season I have committed not to get drawn in to another target fish in a circuit water and just to enjoy my angling with the limited time I have available. Spring so far has mainly been focussed on a gravel pit in the Witney area of Oxford, typically known for its busy day ticket waters this particular pit was forgotten about for many years, I had fished it in the early 00’s when Vauxhall AC controlled it; now under Embryo’s management Stanton (as it is now known) is becoming a phenomenal water with a stock of mixed original fish and later stockings reaching close to 40lbs. In addition to my angling in Oxford I have also flitted around a bit on other waters which I’ll cover too.
My spring started at the beginning of March, I managed to get up to Stanton on Dec 23rdand lost a fish for my efforts, well I didn’t exactly lose it but rather struck a 9” drop back and when I made up the slack the fish had gone, but a bite in Dec is a result none the less. In fact some special carp came out from other waters that week and I recall a friend landed 3 from Pingewood, conditions really were perfect.
The first spring trip was a 24 hour trip to Oxford at the start of March, the weather was blustery with a strong south westerly wind pushing down to the bridal bank. I wanted to be fishing the deeper water in the middle area of the lake as the which had proven fruitful for other members in March 2018 but the wind was gusting 30+ MPH and making the range was impossible so I opted to move round to the far side and fish the back of it in to the same zone. The night was quiet but I had a few liners through the morning period and saw a few show at range in the centre of the lake, they were certainly awake but not playing ball just yet. I packed up with nothing to show for my efforts.
As every year I visited Germany for my mother-in-law’s Birthday (as well as mine) and Nowruz (Iranian new year) to celebrate with my Wife’s family. On the 20thI flew back leaving my Wife and Son for a few weeks to stay on with family, giving me some proper angling time.
I arrived back in to Heathrow and headed straight to the south coast (I have a syndicate ticket for a shallow pit in Chichester with some very big fish in), I fished the night in Chichester but the fish were evident in the out of bounds area and just waking up. I managed to foul hook a big Eel in the night on a choddie but otherwise nothing to report. Not feeling it I decided to head to Reading for a night then oxford for Fri/Sat night. Arriving at Pingewood on Thursday the lake was quiet, I chatted with a friend who was at the end of a week session and the fish were evident running the motorway bank, we watched them show in a bay where 2 banks met in a corner, not wanting to encroach I set up 2 swims down the bank from the fish, at right angles to my friend’s plot. As the day wore on the fish moved out in to the centre area of the lake and could be seen showing at range. During a brief break in the westerly wind I could see a back glistening in the weak sunshine, the Pingewood fish love a zig so I quickly tied up a small aligna with a size 12 on 10lb double strength. My friend had seen the same thing and as I stepped in to the water to make my cast I saw his lead land in the zone, lining up I sent my 7’ zig out a rod length behind his at around 100 yards. He didn’t look happy but what are friends for.. less than 20 minutes later the bobbin that rod inched down to the floor and I hooked my first fish of the year. I played it like my life depended on it, luckily the fish didn’t do much, mainly because it was a small stocky, and was quickly lying in my net. I couldn’t quite believe my luck, 3 hours at the lake and I had banked one of the first of the year, absolutely buzzing!
The night was uneventful and I packed up very early to get up to Oxford for the start, the weekend ticket at Stanton starts at 1000 on a Friday so to have a choice of swim I like to be there by first light when able.
Arriving in Oxford around 0730 only one other was looking around the lake, it had produced a few fish the weekend before while I was in Germany, up to 34lb, so we were buzzing to start. We saw a fair few fish show in front of the bridal bank in the middle swim known as the stile. Andy who had arrived before me plumped for the Stile and I dropped in to the drain which is in the centre of the Meadow bank and fishes the same zone. The fish were slightly on Andy’s side on Friday and he managed 2 and lost one by mid-afternoon. I was fishing 5-Alive and Pear and Banana pop-ups on Ronnies spread at 100 yards in the deep water behind the bar which runs the length of the lake.
On Saturday the wind swung slightly and the fish came my way, we were only 30 yards apart but it can make all the difference. At around 11 the middle rod produced a small stocky mirror, one which had been stocked at the start of March (I would meet a few more in the coming weeks). 2 hours later the same rod was away again, this time a better fish was responsible and after a decent scrap I netted a lovely long common just over 20lbs.
On the Sunday the fish seemed to push back to the Bridal path side and Andy had a third fish to close the weekend. We had seen a good number show and I had some interesting areas to explore further as bait became more of a factor in the later weeks so overall I was pleased with the weekend.
The following week I was back out on the Friday, the lake was quiet with only a couple of us on Friday night. I fancied the Style as the fish seemed to favour this side but after setting 3 singles in the middle zone 24 hours passed without occurrence. On Saturday morning the weather changed from cloudy and overcast to warm and still, the fish hit the surface by 11, cruising with their humps glistening in the sun. I packed up and barrowed round to the Drain, fishing zigs at various ranges in their paths to no avail. They seemed more interested in sun bathing than eating. I had to visit the shops that afternoon for Gas and a few bits, on the way I passed the main snags at the end of the meadow bank, there were several good fish in residence so before going to the shops I moved the kit round to the point (which best fishes the area).
On my return from the shops I set traps for the night, one fished tight to the snags at around 105 yards to a shallow margin, this rod was fished on an MC nut cork ball. The other 2 were spread out in to open water toward the same zone I had fished from the Drain, each with a PB pop-up, as yellow had produced both bites last week. The wind increased through the afternoon, blowing an Easterly straight toward me, at 2am I was awoken by a 20lb stocky on the snag rod. After taking some self takes I slipped him back and re-positioned the rod, climbing back in to bed. Waking up again at around 4am I was freezing, the wind had increased to 40mph and was cold! I immediately packed up; sure they would be backing off this in to the centre of the lake. By 6am I was making a bacon sandwich watching the sun rise from the other side of the lake, just in time to see the first few shows in the teeth of the wind I had just moved off. Trying to ignore it proved fruitless and my mistake was evident, I packed up again and moved back to brave the day in the Point until I had to leave around 3pm. The fish weren’t tight to the snags but showing about 10 yards off them and out in to open water. I spread 3 rigs with PBs in the area; at around 2PM I was rewarded with another small stocky, not what I had come for but another 2 fish weekend was a good result and hard earned!
This was also the day the clocks changed which meant the hours on my local club water also change, allowing you to stay later in to the evening for the first time in the year. I decided to drop in for the last few hours and see whether I could trip one up, to cut the story short I managed to nick a 23 right at the end on an 18mm MC Nut Snowman
The following week I was back at Stanton, the fish had responded to bait during the week and one angler had managed 5 in an evening. I had fished two nights previously at Pingewood without success despite being on the fish. I had booked Friday as annual leave so arrived at the lake early to see what was happening, to my surprise I was the only one looking around, Joe was packing up on the Point so we chatted and had a few Teas. It transpired the fish had been caught from the Drain on a Westerly, but the wind had swung to a South Easterly now and they were showing slightly further up the lake, I set up in the Barbel and decided to fish over a little bait as they had clearly been feeding the day before. My mix was 50/50 MC nut halved and pellet with some corn for colour. I scolded the mix to get it down in the wind. Over the top I fished PBs. 2 rods were fished to a clean silty area at 100 yards and the last was a clay spot at 70 yards. Just before dusk I saw a few show in the middle zone from the drain, including a huge fish close to that bank. I had been very reluctant to follow the results from yesterday but the fish were telling me they wanted to be there. That night I had and lost one, probably both small stockies. The next morning I saw a few good fish show in front of the Drain again and decided to move before someone else did.
I fished the morning on singles without success so decided to have a feel with the gripper lead and check my spots, apply some bait and then go for lunch to get off the lake for a while. My spots were at 80 and 100 yards, the best bits were very clean but soft while the harder areas had onion weed and candy floss growing on it. Once happy I had the best areas marked I put 15 Spombs on the 100 yard spot and rested the swim for the day. I also checked the right margin where the large fish had shown before, after finding an area in the zone I baited lightly with the same mix. That afternoon after returning from the shops I spend a little time fishing the close spot from the neighbouring swim, the sun was on the water here and it looked perfect but the fish didn’t seem to have returned.
Around 4pm I re-positioned the rods, with two over bait and the third as a single on the 80 yard spot. I had only managed to get the first two out when the middle was away, I watched it for ages before striking to make sure it wasn’t a liner. The fish held it’s ground from the off and I could feel it wasn’t a stocky, it kited right over the other lines and hung deep in the margins, I had seen the flank and knew it was one of the older scaley ones you really want so played it as if my life depended on it. After a few more moments she was in the net, I recognised her as one I had caught the previous year but a lovely fish nonetheless and at 27.12 she was a little bigger this time. I re-positioned the rod and we photographed her in the afternoon sun before slipping her back.
The final rod was cast to its 80 yard mark, I had only just set the bobbin when it was away! This felt another decent fish, charging angrily to my right before weeding me short of the spot. I couldn’t move her and eventually put the rod down on the rest, after a few minutes she was moving again and I managed to get her away from the weed and other lines to the right of the swim; while in the water playing her to the waiting net my middle rod on the bait beeped twice and roared off! I was panicking a bit now with what I could see was a nice common on the end and a fast take on the other rod, I managed to bundle the common in to the net and grabbed the other rod which was now firmly weeded at very long range. A couple of the other lads came to give me a hand and we decided the boat was needed, while Russ the bailiff went to get it I transferred the common in to a sling and re-cast the left rod.
The weeded rod showed some movement, grabbing it I managed to knock the other two, I was unable to move the fish but seemed to have picked up the left hand rod in the process which was up tight and ticking slowly. It took us a few seconds to realise it was another take, swapping rods I felt a good fish on the other end, this one came in without too much drama and by the time Russ re-appeared in the boat I had a lovely linear in the net alongside the common in the sling. Russ managed to free the last remaining fish from the weed a long way out in the lake, shouting back to the bank ‘ you really don’t want to lose this one’. After weeding me again I managed to steer the fish in to the waiting net alongside the linear, this was a good fish which dwarfed the upper 20 it sat next to. We photographed the fish in the last of the afternoon light, the larger of the fish was known as Tyson at a top weight of 37.05 while the other 2 were both 27s.
I managed to lose another in the weed that evening at 930 which was frustrating as it seemed the better fish were certainly in the zone but it had been a phenomenal session nonetheless. I stayed until 10PM the next night in the hope of the fish returning but without success.
I had set myself a target of 20 fish in my first season at Stanton, Tyson was my 20thand fittingly one of the A team. Spring 2019 was shaping up nicely with April and May still to come!