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Joe Chappell

Reservoir Diaries Part 1

Rochford Reservoir is a venue I have fished a lot this year and a place I’m going to be putting some good time into over the course of the year, so it’s likely there will be more reservoir diaries to come.  It’s a day ticket lake, however they do offer a set number of memberships each year (I was lucky enough to secure one) and you must be a member to fish nights. The stock mainly consist of small commons. I’ve only ever caught 2 mirrors (and lost one at the net), but recently Nick, the owner, and Graham, the head bailiff, have introduced quite a few new fish up to the 29lb mark. It also has a good stock of bream, roach, perch, chub, eels and catfish up to 48lb.

The lake record carp and catfish

I’ve fished the res three times since I last wrote about it (https://essexanglers.co.uk/day-ticket-action-and-tidal-river-blanking/) blanking the first time but managing to catch the other two times. When I blanked, all my favourite swims were taken, so I opted to fish the shallower end by the inflow. There were lots of fish on the surface, but any time I put any bait out I was plagued by the gulls and ducks. I opted to just cast my bait past cruising fish and slowly bring it in front of their path in the hope that they might be interested. After a dozen or so casts, one fish came up and mouthed the bait but failed to hook itself. After another hour or so, I finally managed to hook one. It was an explosive take and the surface erupted. It wasn’t a big fish, but I was thankful to finally get a bite. Unluckily, the fish came off after a minute or so. I tried for the rest of the day and switched to fishing on the bottom, but I had the same result as most people fishing that day, a blank.

Climing a tree to gain a vantage point

On my second visit it was a bit cooler. I arrived around 9am and set up by the outlet. I didn’t bring any floater gear, so I set up the bottom bait rods. The morning passed uneventful and by about 2pm I was ready to move. I moved to the other side of the lake and cast one rod to the island and lowered one in the margins with a scattering of pellets over the top. It wasn’t until 4 hours later that my rod to the island burst into action. I was rewarded with a small common, probably around 7lb. With no one around, I had to do a self-take, so please excuse the fact I’m half headless.

This brings us to my most recent trip on Tuesday. I got to the lake pretty late as my mum wanted a lie in so I wasn’t too confident I’d get a good swim. Thankfully, most anglers were either at work or too tired to wake up at 9 o’clock and I managed to get the whole road bank to myself. The wind hand blown a load of scum into the corner, and I was certain the fish would be feeding on the naturals within it. I set up one rod with a catfish rig and cast it midwater. With my other rod, I cast it tight to the island with a 12mm sticky baits signature wafter, and a little mesh bag of pellets. Whenever I’m fishing, I can’t sit still. So I was walking between two sets of snags, watching the water for a few minutes while waiting for a bite. I saw movement in the snags to my left, so threw a few mixers in. Sure enough, after a couple minutes a hungry carp came to the surface and slurped them up. I rushed to set up my other rod with simple freelining tactics. I rubbed some Vaseline on the last few feet of line (this helps the line float and prevents the fish from spooking off of the sinking line) and reeled in my other carp rod. I dropped the floater into position and waited. It didn’t take long, maybe 10 minutes before a carp had slurped down my hookbait and I was in. It was only a small fish, and this was probably for the better as I’m not sure I would have been able to keep anything decent from tangling up in the snags.

After that fish, the spot went dead. I crept up to the right hand snags. There were already swirls coming up and I could see the odd tail. I tried my previous approach, a freelined soft hookable floater but the fish weren’t on the surface. I had some bread that was rock hard and 2 weeks old in my bucket, so I got it a bit wet, then mushed it around the hook. I dropped it in place and before long my rod hooped over. It was another small common. I was gutted because I had seen a really nice fish on the spot. I did a self-take, slipped it back and I stuck my carp rod back out to the island.

About half an hour later, Jack turned up. He hadn’t planned on fishing, but he was stuck inside and thought it would be better than staring at four walls all day. Not long after he turned up, I had a bite from the island. The reward was a nice double common, with a nasty scar which had obviously been there a while. It fell to a 12mm wafter on a German rig, tied using 20lb Fox Camotex Soft and a size 8 curve shank hook. I’m not saying something else wouldn’t have worked, that’s just what I used.

We stayed in the swim for a couple hours and Jack had a couple of missed bites that we think may have been bream. I was confident where I was, but Jack wanted to move so we moved to the other corner on the road bank. I switched my catfish rig over to a carp rig and fished both rods in the margins with a scattering of pellet over each. It was about 5 and I was getting hungry, so I reeled my rods in ready to pop down the road to Sainsburys. As I passed the next swim, some man had caught a nice carp and couldn’t find his scales, so I ran back for my scales and weighed it for him. As I was putting my scales back in my bag, I noticed massive swirls over my spot. I lowered my rod back in, but after a few minutes the swirls disappeared and so did I, to the shop. When I got back, it didn’t look like there was anything on the spot. I lowered my rig down and saw a giant swirl as something must have swam away. I can only think I must have spooked whatever was down there. I fished until about half 7, but the only other thing I caught was a stinky, slimy bream about an hour before packing up.

I was starting to get hungry, and I had some lovely soup waiting for me at home. I called my dad and he picked me up. My search for a Rochford twenty continues.

Find Rochford Reservoir on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/markshallfisheries

My instagram: @joec.carp

Jacks instagram @jacks_angling_life

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