Having had more than my fair share of fish at Alton, I decided upon a trip back to my beloved Hemingford Grey.
I arrived in the carp park swim at around 4pm on Sunday, ready for a 48-hour session. I had heard there had been more than the average amount of people fishing it, so checked with Chris the bailiff to see if my fancied swim was free – and it was, which was a surprise considering it was a bank holiday.
I know this area well and am reasonably confident the fish will be there or there about at this time of the year. I also thought I had a good idea of where the gaps and channels in the weed would be – wrong haha. Ninety minutes of marking up, and I eventually found a clear spot around 35 yards out of to the right, not where I expected. Interestingly, this area is normally solid with weed.
You do see a lot of light changes at Hemingford, unlike anywhere else I’ve been.
Just as I was about to put my bait out, Chris turned up, telling tales of many people blanking, having pilled in enough bait to last the fish a month. In actual fact, all you are doing with this heavy baiting campaign is feeding the tufted ducks. Make no mistake, once you’re gone, there are in your swim hovering up every scrap. Now I am not saying my approach is best, not by a long way. However, I have been fishing it for 20-years, and as such have tried every approach. I apologise here and now if that comes across as know-it-all. All I am trying to do is offer up what works for me. I will also try to explain why I believe some aspects of my approach works. If you can gain something from this, it makes writing this blog worthwhile.
The place is virtually devoid of small fish. On top of this, it is full of weed that contains enough natural food to fill the fish, without any need to eat our offerings. The fish here live in a 5-star restaurant, and we are throwing McDonald’s at them. Thank goodness, we all fancy a MackyD’s every now and then.
So, the trick is to set a trap for them as they pass your area. Enough to stop them for a while, graze on your free samples, and hopefully take your delicious ‘Big-Mack’ hook-bait. Over the years, I have noticed definite patrol patterns in some swims, to the point you can set your clock by them.
With this in mind, my approach is a loose ground bait mix that contains small samples. My mix in the shallow part of Hemingford will include 2-3mm pellets of various flavours, crushed, and I mean crushed boilies, liquidized sweet corn, chopped worm, and just enough fishmeal powder and bread crumb to bind it together.
Then I will cast 6-medium sized spods, and as it hits the water, I drag it back towards me, thereby spreading the bait out over a bigger area. Hopefully, this will trigger their interest enough for the passing fish to find you hook-bait. Trust me; they won’t stop for long because they don’t need to. Fast food if you like hehe. Word of warning here, put maggots in and you will be pestered by eels all night. However, the good news is, the eels in here are not so partial to a worm.
Next, I am going to discuss my tackle and bait approach. The fish in here have seen is all before, so your big hooks and heavy line will just spook them. I have found – and I have tried it all over the years – the best way is to keep it small. I start with a size 10 hook, 10lb line, and a 8, 10, or 12mm bait. I will drop down if need be.
I am sure some of the mirrors in here have scales made of actual gold… 😉
You can land big fish on light gear comfortably, providing you are using rods that match your line diameter and hook size. For example, if I drop down to 6lb line and a 14 hook – which I often do on here – I use 1 3/4lb test curve rods. For sure, it will take longer to get the fish in, but you will if you are patient.
So how did I get on during this last session? I had a stunningly beautiful mirror and a proper tench. There was also one of those un-miss-able bites, which I missed. In total over 48-hours, I put of 10 spods, six to start, and then 2 and 2. The fish were in front of me three times for an hour or two each time. Sounds madly hard, well it is, but the place is an amazing environment, and the fish are always stunners.
Keep is tight and Go-Catch SteveD