After hearing and reading good reports on Church Gardens all season i was very keen to give the place a try with over 100 lb nets of carp and 60 lb winter nets of skimmers coming out regularly , after speaking to Dave Machin at my last Autumn-winter league at Lathom he kindly arranged for me and John to fish the open match on Thursday with him on their . With the limited knowledge of the venue gained by searching the fishing forums on the net , i decided to target the supposedly prolific head of skimmers thinking that the carp might have shut down in the recent cold snap .
The draw was to take place at 930 which would hopefully give us enough time to drive through the rush hour traffic in Bolton town center , after getting a bit lost on the way their and first ending up in a housing estate before finding the wrong car park for the lake , we finally arrived at 9 am just a bit stressed but at least we will know for next time we visit here .
Before it was time to do the draw we went for a quick walk round to have a look at the lake , it was an old natural venue in the shape of a large tear drop it was tree-lined on two-thirds of it and a brick wall around the rest which would make shipping back a problem . Their was about thirty pegs on it but today their was only 12 of us fishing the open match and hopefully we would have a bit of room , i had heard the day before that the paths were very bumpy with tree roots going over them so i was advised not to take my Preston shuttle but with me taking so much gear fishing these days i couldn’t cope with out it and after filling it high with tackle and struggling down the steps to the lake , i just hoped i didn’t get a long walk because the path wasn’t very wide with a drop down to a stream to one side and a bigger drop to the lake on the other .
When the draw started i ended up in what i was told was a good area for skimmers but just my luck i also got told they hadn’t been showing for the last few days and i had set out my stall for them but today was another day so you just never know they might want to feed today ( fingers crossed ) On a side note the pools was 10 per person paying out first and second , they then have a silver fish pool paying winner takes all for an extra 5 which i thought was a good idea and might try to carry it out in my club matches next year .
On my way to peg nine which was towards the bottom wider area of the lake and the inevitable happened and my shuttle tipped over but fortunately i didn’t suffer any major damage but as a result it meant three trips with all my heavy gear to the bottom of the lake and i can safely say i was tired by the time i got to sit on my box .
The forecast gales had finally materialized but with the lake being in a dip the worst of the wind went over the top of us but it was still a bit gusty on water level , it wasn’t to bad at my side of the pond and i just had the low sun to contend with only in Winter can you be sat wrapped up like a Michelin man wearing shades .
As i mentioned earlier i had set my stall out for the skimmers , so after putting both my nets in which was required to keep the carp separate from the silvers , i proceeded to mix my ground-bait up and i had settled on some green method mix because it was very deep here at over 12 ft and i wanted the balls to get to the bottom intact , it also contained fish meal which as we all know skimmers love .
I decided on just the one line to target today which was at 12 m and because it was just a touch over my top four deep , i used a 0.8 gram float with a 0.6 olivette and two droppers my main line was 0.12 garbo with a 0.12 hook length attached was a size 18 gamma pellet hook .
I also set up a rig for mid depth which was 6 ft deep , i used a 4×16 malmams speedy float with the same 0.12 garbo line and 0.12 hook length attached to a size 18 gamma pellet hook .
After riddling my ground-bait i added ;
1/2 pint soaked micro pellets
1/2 pint dead red maggots
1/2 pint soaked 4mm pellets
and i then made four compact orange sized balls , i intended to top up with one smaller sized ball every thirty minutes.
As the all in sounded i cupped in the four balls over a one meter area and went over the top with three dead maggots on the hook , now the wait started for the skimmers to turn up and thinking about it after the match i should have fished another line for the first hour while the skimmers settled . But i would say that 3/4 of the anglers where all doing versions of the same thing , apart from the guy to my right who was catching the odd carp on the slider at 20 meters .
The first hour was pretty non existant apart from the odd twitch from fish swimming through the line which was only expected in the depth that i was fishing at , i was on the verge of thinking that i had made a big mistake and over fed when my float dipped and i was attached to an angry carp which was wrecking havoc in my peg and my soft set orange matrix wasn’t coping at all well , after what seemed like an age and with my top six stuck up in the air i finally had a 3 lb carp in the net .
A change of elastic was in order to a more stronger 13 hollo and i went back out with a pellet on the hook for hopefully a few more carp , but no more bites ensued so i re fed with a tangerine sized ball of ground-bait and after ten minutes i had my first skimmer around the 1 lb mark quickly followed by a few smaller samples , but i was having trouble with my float settling properly and no matter how i changed the shotting pattern it wouldn’t sit right ( not got a clue why ) one minute it would be settling to the tip just right and then it would be showing a cm off bristle .
At first i presumed that they was lift bites but i couldn’t connect with any of them and to try to rectify this problem i put a lighter 0.10 hook length with a smaller size 20 hook on and by also going six-inch over depth , this kind of solved the problem because although i was catching skimmers again a few of the bigger ones were deep hooked , which meant i was getting bites that i just wasn’t seeing .
Another quiet spell ended with another 3lb carp in the net and they certainly put up a good account of them selves in here , at this point of the match i was going nowhere fast and to make matters worse i started suffering a run of bumped fish , not sure why though because ;
i would strike
fish on and elastic out a foot
start shipping back
then fish off !!
I yet again changed shotting patterns and even put on a bigger hook but to no avail , i did land a few of the small skimmers but was still losing more than twice than what i was catching and just before the all out i latched into some thing a bit bigger that i couldn’t stop and after a few minutes it snapped me . This topped off what was one of my worst days fishing for a good while and yet again the scene of my disappointment was on a big lake , i am really struggling to get my head around this type of water .
As the weigh in began their was a 16lb net of silvers from the far side and i had the best weighed on my bank to the left with 9lb of silvers and two carp for a total of 14lb , but to my right came the winner and second placed angler both catching over 60 lb of carp . One guy fished the slider for 22 carp and the other fished the pole at the side of a submerged tree catching a dozen lumps , as a whole the wider area of the lake fished the best .
My match was like i said before a bit of a non starter and i fell into the trap of waiting for some thing to happen and not trying to make it happen , i thought about going on the feeder but others that were fishing it weren’t catching on it , so don’t think that would have worked . I will be going back to try it again soon and hopefully the skimmers will be back in a feeding mood , they are running a winter league on here starting Sunday 17th Nov and fishing six matches the 1st and 3rd week-end of every month , if your interested ring Tonge moor tackle for more information .
Off back to fish the Partridge open on Sunday lets see if things have changed since my last visit six months ago , thanks for reading and keep coming back to see how i get on .
Cheers Gary .