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Croix Blanche Lake - March and April 2012 : Catch Report

Following the excellent winter results on the venue, which saw a good number of forty pound fish banked, including two to myself, the big freeze that lasted over three weeks put an abrupt end to the feeding spree, and a downer on the fishing and any high hopes I'd have of a productive start to the main season.

One or two of the anglers who had been here in January were keen to get back. This was the case in point of two you Dutch lads Gert- Jan Wijnhorsdt & Sjoerd Wildschut, who fresh from success in January were back in early March once the lakes were unfrozen. Fishing the sampe tactics that had been successful to others and to myself they used PVA bags and pellets on the plateau of the Tortue Lake, and in the deeper water of peg 13 to back 8 carp to 17kg in four nights. The second week of March saw my good friend Andy Lears and three of his friends, Tim, Mark and Chris on the venue. Andy returned to peg 11 where he had done well last May, Tim fished the next peg down while Chris chose peg 14 and Mark opted for peg 3 on the Croix Lake. This week sort of set the scene for the days and weeks to come, with fish being very localised. Andy struggled on 11 and eventually moved onto peg 5 where he was able to bank a few 20lb plus carp and a catfish. For Tim again the fishing was slow in the deeper side of the lake, but he did managed a PB mirror of 32lb 2oz. Mark caught fairly consistently with fish to 31lb. Best result of the week though was to Chris on 14. He managed around 10 fish with the best being a new PB 42lb Mirror.

The later part of March saw poor weather with very cold conditions some early morning ground frost and despite a fair amount of sun the eventual degradation to rather wet conditions was able to get the fish feeding hard. The catfish were now on the move with a few getting landed on boilies and pellets. François Van Hooft managed a few nice fish both carp and cats, topped off by a cracking 47lb common. Paul Jones opposite in 13, managed 7 fish including 4 thirties to32lb.

April Shane Hames and a group of five fished the Croix Lake. The weather continued to be unpredictable and remained very cold for the time of the year, with the rain becoming more present daily. The groups mostly fished PVA bags and 18mm boilies. They totalled 18 carp between 20lb & 30lb and one 30lb catfish.

April continued with no real improvement in temperatures, but a considerable increase in rainfall. The tracks around the lakes became muddy and the water levels, although low for the time of the year started to rise. Dutch anglers Jan de Jager and G. Bruisma on peg 11 managed a 50/50 mix of carp and cats on boiles, with the best carp going 38lb and cats to over 50lb. Their catches were more consistent than others on the venue. Stu Rielly and his mates, Ian & Dan struggled early on, but still managed a new PB cat of 60lb to Stu, carp to 25lb for Dan, but Ian coming good in the end with carp of 28lb, 32lb, 42, and topped off with the twotone common at 48lb 13oz.

During the same period on the Croix lake, venue regulars Harry Van Leuwen and his mate Dennis de Vries managed a couple of carp per day finishing the week with a dozen fish to just under 30lb.

The last day or so of April saw the weather warm somewhat but the heavy rain has not abated and the consistent temperatures and conditions that are really needed for the results to be consistent have yet to materialise. The Spring weather has been all over the place and so have the catches. Curiously enough things were better in January.

Cheers Gareth

Posted by Gareth Watkins on 03/05/2012 23:33 Categories : Croix Blanche Lake, Catch Report

Croix Blanche Lake - I Guess Winter Finally Arrived!!

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It’s amazing that in one week the weather can change so radically. Just one week ago I was packing up after landing my second biggest common ever. The outside temperatures were in the 5°C and it was fairly overcast. The water temp was 6°C during that weekend.
What a contrast to today, with the lakes frozen solid and covered with a dusting of snow. The day time high here is -6°C with it plummeting to a bone chilling -14°C at night. I was only wondering less than a month ago, when we were going to finally get a winter.
After the New Year we were still experiencing temperatures in the 10-12°C, and no overnight frosts. It was hardly surprising then, in those conditions that the carp continued to feed, and get caught.
But now winter is with us and the picture post card landscapes are all around.

I decided to walk the dog and take my camera around the frozen venue and shoot a few photos to record the chilly but picturesque scenics.

Here is a small selection of lake views that I took, in the same vein as those I shot in 2010, when we had a heavy snow fall. With bright blue skies and bare trees they feel cold just looking at them.
Roll on the warmer weather!!!

Posted by Gareth Watkins on 11/02/2012 10:55 Categories : Croix Blanche Lake

Croix Blanche Lake - Last Session for January and my Second 40lb+ Common

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With the weather forecast announcing the arrival of a prolonged cold snap next week, I felt that I had to get back out and do a couple more nights before the cold eventually put an end to the carp’s willingness to feed in winter.

The first few days of the week had been very wet so I was waiting for a 48 hours window of fairly dry weather in which I could wet a line. I really don’t like fishing in the rain. The odd shower is okay, but constant rain I just find depressing.
So Friday dawned bright and dry with a reasonable weekend in sight, and I loaded the car to drive down to the Tortue lake.
I elected to fish the same peg (14) where I’d caught all my fish so far this year. Why change, as the fish were obviously visiting this area? I know from experience they often don’t go far in winter. The water in the lakes was a fairly uniform 6°C.

I’d made up a half a dozen PVA bags the night before, filled with 5mm carp pellets and broken Proline Red Devil boilies, so getting the lines out was a very quick affair this time. I had been using Quest Baits Pineapple, as I wanted a smaller & instant bait for winter, but having run out, I only had the lake specials to use. My hook baits were hi viz tutti fruitti pops fished snowman style. I was hoping that a fluoro bait would give me a chance in the day time, as all the fish so far, had come at night.
With the baits in place and the hammock set up I made myself some dinner. I climbed into the sack at around 8pm. I lay there reading before eventually dozing off.
At about 5am, a couple of bleeps and a steady run, on my left hand rod, signaled that I’d had a take. The fish did nothing special before rolling into the net. At 25lb it was a nice start. I did a couple of pictures and slipped her back.

I hooked on a new PVA bag and cast it back out. I had just got back into bed when the right hand rod tore off. After a spirited fight a very chunky mirror was landed. At just 21lb I didn’t bother with a photo and put her straight back.
The day was quiet, spent making up a few more PVA bags and reading my book. The HiViz baits dind’t seem to be making a difference.
Not long after finishing my dinner, I had a fast run on the left hand rod. As soon as I made contact the fish took more line. A sign that is was a better fish. And after a plodding fight, typical of a big kipper in these deep margins, I managed to bank a lump of a common. I struggled up the bank to the unhooking mat. As I hoisted her onto the scales the needle went round to 41lb 8oz. I was over the moon my second forty pound plus common this month.

This time the skies were clear, so I was able to take a couple of shots of the fish before I let her go. The rod was cast back out and I was back in the sack, as the night was getting cold early. The skies had cleared after an overcast day with occasional drizzle. I could tell we were in for a frost. Again I’d not long been back in bed when the right hand rod was away again and a 24lb mirror graced the banks.
I then managed to get a few hours sleep, warmly tucked up in my sleeping bag. Around 5am a very large bream woke me up. Despite it being a real specimen, I could feel the cold coming down, so I unhooked it in the edge and got back to bed.

As the sun came up I could see that the morning was indeed clear and crisp, with white frost over the swim and surrounding margins. As I put the kettle on I had to tip the ice out of my cup, and could hear the frozen water rattle around inside my water bottle. Winter seemed to be with us.
Its funny, running the fishery commercially means I don’t really get much chance to fish in the warmer months, and the last three winters have been very cold, with snow and ice for prolonged periods. This year has been a very different scenario, as I’ve already pointed out in other posts. It just goes to show that if you get out there the carp remain catchable. My tally for the month ws now at 9 carp to 46lb a large Crucian and a bream.
One thing that has puzzled me though is why, bearing in mind the large number og 30lb plus carp there are int he lake, my catches were only modest sized fish or big ones. The same was true for the few clients who have fished here this winter. I guess its just the lottery that is carp fishing!

Posted by Gareth Watkins on 11/02/2012 10:54 Categories : Croix Blanche Lake

Croix Blanche Lake - Another Nice January Brace and a Monster Crucian

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I managed to get out again this week for an overnighter and once again got amongst the fish. Since my last trip a week ago, in unusually mild conditions we’ve had something of a cold snap the last few days with several heavy frosts, and cat ice in the edge of the lakes. I’d guess the night time temperatures got down to -6°C.
So Wednesday morning, with the frost still on the ground and ice still in the edge, I set up on the Peg 14, where I’d managed the fish last week. I reasoned that if they were active they may still come on the plateau in the Tortue to feed.
Again tactics were the same, a PVA bag of pellets and chopped boilies & some 14mm Quest Pineapple, with a Pineapple/Crab snowman combination.
As we settled in, things didn’t look anything like as promising as the previous visit. There I’d seen activity right away, but here with a cold wind and spitting rain, nothing was visible.

With my mate Laurent we settled back in the shelter of my tarp to enjoy a couple of beers and some dinner. As the night and the cold came in we decided to call it a night and Lolo went off to his bivvy, while I climbed into my comfy hammock and was soon out like a light., wrapped in a toasty down sleeping bag.

I was awoken around 2:30 am by a couple of beeps in my central rod. Before I could get out of my bag and put my boots on the fish was motoring. Once I made contact it plodded a bit but came fairly easily to the net.
It turned out to be a nice clean looking mirror of 29lb. I was well chuffed, as I really thought with the frosts I’d missed out on the feeding fish. After recasting as I lay back in my bed listening to the rain patter on the tarp a large carp turned over in the margins with a big splash. Less than an hour after the first fish, I was off again. This one really did motor. It had taken probably 30 or more yards of line before I leaned into it and continued to pull hard once I had made contact. It gave a spirited fight before going into the net. A smaller fish this one at 25lb 8oz.
Anyway another bag was lobed back out into the blackness and I was off to the land of nod, waking at after 9am when Laurent popped his head into my swim and looked chuffed when I suggested coffee.

A couple of cups each later and we were talking of packing up… Two Dutch chaps came round for a chat, and my centre rod dropped back before tightening up again. I struck but with 3.5lb rods only felt a slight resistance. I suspected one of the large bream was the suspect…. But no it one mighty big Crucian carp of 7lb 8oz. The biggest one I have ever caught.

I was well pleased to get a couple more nice carp. I’ve only rarely fished the winter’s here, but have always done quite well. This year looks to be no exception.

Posted by Gareth Watkins on 10/02/2012 17:26 Categories : Croix Blanche Lake

Croix Blanche Lake - First Forty of the Year

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As I said in my previous blog post, with the mild weather, until now anyway, and relatively high water temperatures the carp have been very active. I spoke about the pair of young Dutch anglers who fished from the 2nd of January. I now have a couple of photos to add. Here is a brief resumé of their session.
Jimmy Heijink and his mate set up on pegs 5 on the Croix Blanche and 13 on the Tortue. The used a bait boat to drop PVA bags of pellets and strawberry boilies to the shallower areas where fish were showing. The water levels were quite high so that would be around 12 feet deep.
Within 24 hours they had managed several fish to upper 20’s, which is pretty good for a month of January. Despite being mild the weather was quite extreme with gales force winds and heavy rain showers.
The lads stuck it out however, with Jimmy moving up to peg 15, due to the activity he had observed in front of that peg.
The last night saw one more fish out of the Croix lake and the icing on the cake for this early season session a superb 20.5kg (45lb) mirror.
The lads did very well and it goes to show that good results can be had year round in the right conditions. While we saw poor results in the autumn, I sure this was down to the unusual weather. January temperatures were more like November and the carp seemed top respond in the manner of an autumn session.

Posted by Gareth Watkins on 10/02/2012 17:23 Categories : Croix Blanche Lake, Catch Report