This week, it was an easy decision returning to the old Estate Lake on the Essex/ Suffolk border. I must say, I love the challenge of this water and am enjoying my fishing more than I have for a long time. Although, I’ve had an increasing level of success each time, I walk away feeling I could and should have done better.
This time my bait choice was based largely around my previous sessions, although my focus this time was more towards the resident Tench. I arrived around 4am, armed with 4 pints of freshly cooked hemp, 2 pints of fresh-flaked maize, 2 kilos of 6mm gravel pellets, 1 kilo of 12mm crushed and halved gravel boilies, plus 1 kilo of silt ground bait serving as a loose binder. I also added to my mix some Good-Hemp’ milk available from Tesco’s. My choice for hook baits was whole maize, pre-soaked 12mm pop-ups and 12mm boilies. All my bait, excluding the hemp and maize was from the SSP Baits range. My chosen area was around 40 yards out, close to a dense, large lily bed, and in a channel running near to a semi-submerged island. I baited with 20 big spods.
Casting my rods out at around 04:30, I set up my bivvy, sat back with a coffee, and watched the water. I love fishing for Tench when the water is like a millpond, and you see the fish fizzing over your baited area.
Today the water was just how I like it, flat calm. Around 5am, a couple of decent fish rolled, soon after those tiny pin-bubbles appeared. A half-hour later, and just as the early morning sun showed through the trees, I had my first indication on the rod baited with a 12mm SSP gravel boilie. Soon after, my other rod – baited with 2 grains of maize, tipped with half a 12mm pop-up – beeped a couple of times. By now, I had at least four fish blowing in my swim, but my alarms sat motionless.
That’s when the questions start for me – were my rigs sitting okay, is my hook bait right, and so on. I never stop thinking like this, even when I am catching fish, always looking for improvements.
I did not have to wait long; the SSP baited rod produced a single toner. After a good scrap, including a couple of lunges into the lilies to my left, I slipped the net under a 5lb pristine Tench.
I know many anglers do not like baiting over feeding fish. I personally think it can work well on some waters, and here I know the fish respond positively. It had been an hour since my first fish, and I hadn’t seen a sign of anything moving. I decided it was time for more bait. I put out three full spods and re-cast my rods. The fish quickly responded, and I netted another decent Tench around an hour later.
This pattern continued until around mid-day, when the fish – as they often do here – went quiet. The evening produced one more Tench around 6lb. An hour before dark, I decided to put out another twenty spods, sure that the Tench and marauding Rudd had cleared my swim. I then replaced my rigs, as I do without fail, especially after a couple of fish. Having cast out, I put the kettle on and settled down, hopeful of a busy night. As the light faded, the Tench started blowing and rolling over my baited area, increasing my anticipation. In fact, there were fish active all over the lake, including the odd Carp crashing the surface as if to remind me they were there and shouldn’t be ignored.
I didn’t get a lot of sleep – but then I can catch up on that later – finishing the session with nine Tench and a 7lb Bream. To make it a perfect session, I topped it off with another amazing Estate Lake common, weighing in at 17lb 8 oz.
As with every session on this lake, I walked away, having so enjoyed my fishing, knowing I really should have done better. This place is like that though, promising a great session. It is hard to explain, but when you visit here, you just get a feeling that it’s going to be a red-letter day. It is a very special place.
By the way, I don’t normally net Tench, but I wanted you to see how stunning they are. The four in the photo were in the net for just a couple of hours until it was light enough to show them off at their best.
One thing I do know, the fish in here love SSP Baits, having had 7 fish on 12mm gravel boilies, 2 on 12mm gravel pop-ups and 2 on maize. Even the maize was tipped off with half a SSP pop-up.