Sunday, 29 July 2012

Stonar Success

Stonar Lake in Sandwich is not a water I have spent much time fishing but has always captured my imagination. Since joining CDAA, who manage Stonar, I have heard a wide variety of reports about it being really tough, some saying it's dead easy, others spoke of its depth and hidden snags such as abandoned trains. Most curious of all is the brackish quality of the water which hosts not only course fish but sea fish as well, including mullet, bass, flounders and shrimp!

Wednesday 6th June 2012 was a warm day with a strong north westerly wind. I took myself over to the far bank so the wind would be directly in my face. A good friend recommended very strongly that I should try a certain spot and so my confidence built when I saw that it was available...
There were reed beds either side of a small opening and open water ahead of me. I had been told of a plateaux out ahead which I cast one rod to and the other I dropped virtually beneath the tip of the rod on the corner of the right hand reeds. It was not long before this rod was bent right round with a very hard take from my first ever fish from Stonar. Over the next 21 hours another 23 fish were landed and less than an hours sleep was had! None of them were monsters or PB's but all quite respectably between 5 and 18lb aside from a 2lb chub and a 4lb bream. First some pictures then we'll look at rigs, tactics and what was different this time...

I had two 'double takes', one in the night and this one in the early morning...
12lb mirror

18lb common

So what was the key to this success? The conditions were favourable, I was in the right place at the right time but there are 3 factors that I was in control of that previously I have not mastered:

1. Simple rigs
I am as guilty as the next angler of copying the latest rigs from magazines and wondering why they don't work for me. On this occasion I stuck with a simple bottom rig with single baits and a bit of rubber corn to make it stand out. I believe this rig will present the bait well in most situations other than really deep silt or thick weed.
Simple combi-rig: Size 10 wide gape hook with a little shrink tube kicker. The line is coated braid with an inch stripped back for the supple section. I put a sinker on to keep it pinned down and help with hooking.
2. Consistency
Another bad habit of mine is to cast here, there and everywhere when my first choice of location doesn't produce bites quickly. The problem with this is I end up baiting over a very wide area instead of drawing the fish into one location. On this occasion I got this bang on I think and fed little and often in just 2 concentrated areas.

3. Quality bait
There is a big part of me that believes that if your bait is in the right place at the right time it will catch but this session taught me that having a quality bait really does give you a massive edge. I was fishing right next to another angler who was dropping his rig just a few feet from mine in the same reed bed and yet he only landed 4 or 5 fish in the time that I managed 24. I don't believe that I'm a better angler- evidence suggests this guy (who I shall not name) has caught many decent fish way bigger than my PBs. However, on the day the 'Fatfish' boilie, available from Fat Fish Tackle, near Canterbury came up with the goods and was obviously the superior bait.

NB - I will endeavour in these blogs not to name drop or promote brands as I find that so tedious and really resent articles pushing products down my throat. I'm making an exception here as the Fatfish boilie is not widely known but is an awesome bait and the guy who makes them, Andy Reynolds is an all round good egg. Nuff said!

So now I am left asking a) will I be able to repeat this success on my next trip if I apply these basic principles? and b) how could I adjust my tactics to tap into some of the bigger fish that this water holds?
Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on these questions or this blog in general...
Thanks for reading.
By Richard Naylor