Pads Lake persistence pays off for Craig!

After the festivities of Christmas wore off my attentions were soon turned to a trip to Yateley Pads Lake. Five good friends - Lee, Mike, Jay, Craig Andrews and Carl - were to join me on a winter social. During this period every year we book out a lake on an exclusive basis. This year we decided to try the famous Yateley complex so the calls were made and the money paid at Yateley Angling Centre! The lake has some good winter form and is a very interesting complex. Pads Lake is an average of 4 ft deep and with the weather being so mild leading up to our trip, we all felt extremely confident of a fish or two.

The day arrived and after a quick breakfast we all headed off in convoy in search for the lake. We all pulled up in the car park a little before 10am and could see there were still anglers on the lake. A quick chat with the lads who were packing away revealed there had been no fish out for over a week, the four lads who were packing away had not managed a bite between them over two nights.

Instantly we all looked at each other slightly worried. The lads who were pulling off had seen very little in the way of signs of fish feeding or showing fish. Instantly I had a idea in my head of using zigs being such a shallow lake and with the sun out briefly it looked perfect for the tactic. We all huddled round to do a draw before getting the gear out of the cars, yep you guessed it I had last choice. Great, I thought to myself. I didn't know the lake and hadn't seen anything to go on during the lap of the lake so I figured I would go in the quietest area of the lake away from everyone.

I set up in a corner on the back of the chilly wind, it felt perfect to try the zigs. I flicked out all three rods on different colours and different depth zigs and sat on the bed chair watching the water. To my surprise around 2pm a decent fish showed to my right two swims up next to Mike. Over the next two hours I see a further two shows in the vacant swim. I figured I would give the zigs a night and stuck to my area and move in the morning if nothing happened. The temperatures plummeted that evening down to three or four degrees - it certainly felt chilly compared to recently.

I set the alarm on my phone for 6.30am so I could get up and watch the water as it started to get light. I woke to the wrong type of alarm going off and reached for my phone to turn the rather annoying sound off. I flicked the kettle on and sat on the bed chair, staring into the dark watching the wind rippled surface hoping to see or hear one show. After the second cup of tea the light was now a lot better and I could make out the far bank. I sat staring at the rippled surface for two more hours seeing absolutely nothing the lake appeared dead.

I wandered next door to see Mike to see if he had any action during the night. Unfortunately he was in the same boat as me with nothing to go on. Around 1pm during a heavy rain shower a small mirror showed in the same area as the three showed the day before. That was enough to make my mind up. After the shower stopped I started to pack down and cleared it with Mike and Lee to ensure I wouldn't be bothering them. They basically told me to get in there or one of them would instead. I didn't need telling twice.

The area the fish were showing I knew would be heavily weeded. I didn't want to have a dozen casts to get the rods out and ruin my chances by spooking the fish. I opted to set up the rods on naked chod rigs and hope that I could present the rigs in the weed with only one or two casts with a light lead. I went with my usual naked chod set up consisting off super sharp size 6 Choddy hooks, 25lb Mouth Trap and a 1.5oz lead. Hook bait was a 15mm Cell Kodapop cork ball. I fished one on a white, one on a plain brown and one on a dull pink to cover all choices.

I flicked the light lead the thirty odd yards trapping the line with my finger just before the lead landed, sweeping the rod upright. I never even felt the lead go through the water instantly locking up in weed. It took another three casts before feeling the lead down through the water and onto light weed. After around hour I had all three rods fishing in light weed in around four foot of water. Over each rod I spayed around 20/30 baits to complete the traps.

In all honestly I really felt I had blown my chances after the amount of casting I had done. I had hoped it would only take a couple of casts but due to the heavy weed unfortunately it took a lot more casts than expected. That evening everyone came round to my swim and we all devoured a KFC courtesy of Craig Andrews. After a good laugh and a good feed everyone went off to their swims for an early night. We were all praying for a bite nothing had been out so far so we were all incredibly eager.

Around 9.30pm my left rod pulled up tight with the clutch slowly ticking I picked up the bent rod and instantly was forced to give line, the fish had probably made 20/30 yards of line on me. I knew I would be in trouble at this point as the fish had ploughed through three or four weedbeds at this point. I gradually pulled the fish back through all the weed. I knew I was attached to a decent fish I was just praying it would stay on after all the pressure I had put on the hook hold.

Around twenty yards out the fish turned and went on a slow plod back out into the dark after ten yards everything ground to a halt. I kept the pressure on and slowly the fish began to break through the weed, at that point the rod sprung back and everything went slack. Instantly I had that sick feeling of loosing a decent fish. On retrieval of the rig the hook was still super sharp. I just got a bad hook hold, which I wasn't entirely surprised about when fishing over weed. I licked my wounds and tied a new pop-up on and sent it sailing back out the thirty odd yards, feeling a drop first time. I topped up the spot with a few more Mainline Cell 15mm baits.

Around an hour and a half later the right hand rod was away - jumping out of the bag I picked up the rod and was met with a solid resistance, the fish instantly finding sanctuary in a weed bed just past the spot. I kept the pressure on and slowly I gained line, I managed to gain around twenty yards of line before I picked up the middle rod’s line and everything ground to a halt again. Once again I kept the pressure on and after a few seconds once again I was left with a limp rod. This time on inspection the line had been cut. The savage weed proving to much for the line. I was totally gutted and wondered if my bad luck would ever end. I made up a new set up attached a new pop-up and got it back out on the spot first time. Slightly peed off, I got into my bag and fell into a deep sleep thinking I had my chances already.
Once again at around 7am the right hand rod was away - I fished the clutch locked up and could see the rod shacking in the rests. I picked up the rod and was instantly forced to give twenty odd yards of line before everything ground to a halt. I was praying third time lucky would come into play and I may land this one. I could hear the fish wallowing on the top out in the half-light as I extracted it from weed bed to weed bed finally the fish began to get closer. In the half-light I could make out it was a long fish as it tore up and down the clear margins. With a final swoop of the net the fish was mine - I punched the air and gave out a shout of happiness in typical Yateley fashion. I felt truly overwhelmed to have landed this one after the loss of two fish prior. I felt my chances had gone.

I need not have worried about the hook hold as the size six Choddy was over an inch back in the lower mouth. The lads slowly drifted round and before long we had a great chance of a social shot. With the shots done, the 27lb 4oz common was slipped into its watery home. With some great shots done, everyone vacated my swim to allow me to tidy up all the mess everywhere. I heard Mike next door call out and after looking up I could see him bent into a fish. I rushed next door to help out with the net. After a very nervy battle a ball of weed came into view, unsure if the fish was still attached I scooped up the whole lot. After clearing the weed a plump, rather unhappy simmo stared back up at us - at over 26lb it was a great end to the trip.

Even though the fishing was tough going we all really enjoyed the trip and highly recommend the Pads Lake at Yateley. We ended up with four bites between us with three falling to my naked choddy set up.

For bookings on the Pads Lake, check out: http://www.yateleyangling.co.uk/social/fishing-venues/lakes/yateley-pads-lake