The catch return book showed that there are two distinct types of pike in the Carp Lake - long thin ones and short fat ones. Regulars will know that last winter's pike fishing confirmed this. The only species present in this lake are carp, pike and eels, so perhaps each type targets different food? Anyway, I was happy that the predator/prey ratio seemed about right to grow carp to their maximum potential, although this will continue to be monitored.
For the last few seasons on the Coarse Lake though there's been less pike recorded than in previous years. At the same time there's been an explosion of 6 to 12oz perch (that seemingly disappear in winter and spring!), whilst eels have made it impossible to fish animal baits at night in the summer. Additionally there were huge shoals of roach fry evident this autumn.
All this points to a change in the predator/prey ratio, possibly due to better fry survival, possibly due to decreased predation from cormorants. I set this predator/prey ratio to maximise the growth rates of the tench and bream etc, and so may have to increase the stock of pike even if this puts the average size of the pike down. Luckily this is no problem as I have another pit on site where I don't allow fishing.
Unfortunately early results from the Coarse Lake were very disappointing, both for myself and Alex, who's a brilliant angler and went when I couldn't. For instance my first 4 deadbaiting trips produced just 2 jacks, whilst lures produced more pike but still only jacks to both of us. Of course it might be that the conditions have been all wrong, especially as one of my members who runs a tackle shop reports poor fishing for all species this autumn/early winter. On the other hand it might just be that we hadn't found the fish. Interestingly, my fishing partner, Peter Rogers, also got off to a slow start on the Carp Lake, but on the run-up to Xmas began to catch pike up to low doubles.
On my fourth trip when I had a jack I was accompanied by a guest, who managed 5 fish, one being a jack the others all between 8 & 10lbs. Interestingly 4 of these came on herrings and sardines, baits that I had little success with in the past at Wingham. The other came on a smelt. Food for thought! The increased head of silver fish may mean a rethink. However I'll continue with my normal offerings and get Ron when we comes again to stay with herrings and sardines so that we can compare results.
Last winter on the Carp Lake Peter soon stopped using herrings and sardines, and I did the same with smelt. By far the most successful bait for both of us was lamprey, followed by blueys. Mackeral came a distant third, despite being fairly similar to blueys. However blueys ooze blood as well as oil, although not of course as much as lamprey.
Yesterday Peter returned to the High Bank on the Carp Lake and had a 12lber and an 11lber in the morning on blueys but was biteless for the rest of the day. Regulars will remember this pattern from last year, when dawn was the best time on the Carp Lake and afternoons rarely produced except on the days when the pike were really on. You can see the story of last winter at http://www.anglersne...D...&pid=797692.
I fished the Point on the Coarse Lake and my experience was the opposite, although 10am to midday is usually the peak time on this water. I was fishing from just before sunrise but, despite moving baits around and changing depths on the rods that were on sunken float paternosters, had no action until 1.40. The result was a 14lber on bluey from the margins. At the time the sunken float paternoster was set at 11ft in 13ft of water. An hour later I had a rare dropped run on the same rod, interestingly in the exact same place. This need for accurate bait placement, especially at Wingham, happens so often that it certainly can't be a co-incidence! Just six feet away and you get next to nothing!
I've found from experience on all sorts of waters that pike are often at the same depth and so set my drifter float at the same 11ft having experimented with lots of other depths before then. I've also found that on days with dropped runs it often pays to switch to a smaller bait. The joey mackeral on the drifter rod was beginning to break up so it was the obvious candidate for a change. And when I say small I mean small as you can see from the picture!
Another excellent time on the Coarse Lake (but funnily enough not on the Carp Lake a few yards away) is dusk. Often though this is just a single fish, but frequently the biggest of the day. Sure enough at 4.10 the drifter float started bobbing. With the size of the bait I assumed it was just a jack, and indeed it didn't feel heavy. That is until it decided it didn't want to come up in the water. Hoping that it was a double I poured the pressure on in the failing light. It came grudgingly into the deep margins, still well down in the water. Then all of a sudden it tore off and nearly pulled me into the water! Luckily that seemed to tire her out and she was soon over the net.
She looked to be an upper double but as I lifted the net the hooks dropped out and I realised she was a fair bit bigger. Getting her onto the unhooking mat I could see why. Although she had a small head she was exceptionally deep - just like a trout reservoir fish!
Peter, who was by now in the Car Park, very kindly came all of the way over and together we recorded a weight of 22-08. She was just over 39ins long, but had a girth of 20ins! Peter's first thought was that she was in spawn, but the pike at Wingham spawn late, just like all the other species. For instance last year it was the first week of April on the Coarse Lake. Given that none of the other pike showed any sign of spawn I think she was just a fatty, which isn't uncommon at Wingham.
I'd certainly like to meet her again in the spring!
Hopefully the lakes won't be frozen and we'll have more to report shortly. However, being big and deep and near the sea it takes a long time for Wingham to cool down. Yesterday for instance I recorded a water temperature of between 43 & 44F, whilst the air temperature reached only 37F.
Edited by Steve Burke, 10 December 2012 - 07:54 PM.