Thursday, 29 March 2012

Hanningfield - My own perspective

As regular blogger readers will probably already know, several midlands bloggers made the long trip to Essex last weekend to fish Hanningfield reservoir in an attempt at catching one of its stripey leviathans. Jeff and Lee have already written great accounts of how our collective session panned out so ill keep it brief and try not to go over old ground.
After arriving in Basildon and spending a pleasant evening talking fishing and sinking a few ales with Lee, Keith and Jeff on the Saturday, i awoke on Sunday morning refreshed and eager to get down to the lake. So many times ive been on 2-3hour journeys on the day of a session and ended up spending most of the day feeling knackered, There really is something to be said for the luxury of stopping in a hotel prior to fishing when out any distance from home!
After a quick breakfast we arrived at a very foggy Hanningfield and the carpark was already heaving with a throng of anglers eager to get out and fish. Most were Eastern European and although some of the tackle on display was somewhat 'agricultural', the fact that they were all willing to pay Hanningfield prices was most surprising to me. This was a different side of the coin to what i am used to encountering on the Trent where the foreign nationals try every trick in the book to get something for nothing so to speak. Once out of the car we met up with two more of our party in the form of Andy and Jan.
The fog made going out in the boats a non starter so we headed around to the far side of the lake for some bank fishing till the fog lifted. The banks were solid concrete with steel mesh platforms dotted about, a far cry from my beloved Derwent and Soar! After walking around a quarter of a mile i came upon some fish topping within casting range. It was obvious they were Trout but i was eager to get a fish under my belt and went through a range of lures to try and induce a take, eventually i had a pull on a tiny Mepps but the fish came adrift. I decided to stick with the spinner and after adding a small weight to aid casting distance, a few minutes later i caught a hard fighting Rainbow of about 2lb or so. Lee and Jeff joined me and they too experienced a few pulls before Lee got off the mark with a Trout of his own.

Looking from the tower arm towards the dam end with Keith fishing in the mist

Eventually the fog lifted a little and it was time to make our way back around to claim our boats for the day. Lee was my boat partner and neither of us had used a boat with a petrol outboard before, my own inexperience was soon plain for all to see as i proceeded to crunch our boat into the jetty and few surrounding boats including Jeff and Keiths! Red-faced i regained my composure and quickly steered the boat out onto the main body of the lake.
It made sense to start in the area we had been bank fishing as a few fish were still showing there. Both Lee and i had a few hits on the spinner but no solid hookups and soon enough these dried up so we decided to move a hundred yards or so down the bank to where we could see a few showing.

Jeff and Keith setting up near the tower

 The sun was well and truly out by now and what breeze there was happened to be blowing up to the far end into the nature reserve where fishing is not allowed. If the Perch were spawning , i had the nagging feeling they wouldnt be in the featureless and deep area we were in, they would be where we couldnt get to them in the nice looking shallow reedy bays of the top end. Lee and i being impatient types we were soon in full Trout mode attempting to make the most of our 8 fish bag limit which we had paid for. We both caught another Trout each from the new area before sport slowed and another move beckoned.

First one from the boat

Lee at the helm, the hot area was along the bank either side of the tower in the background

We tried a couple of areas but even though Lee caught another fish from a spot near an inlet, no area produced as much fish activity as the area where we began. We kept heading back over but space started to get a little cramped as other anglers cottoned onto where the fish were. We headed as near to the out of bounds area as we dared and let the boat drift naturally on the wind into the area we thought the fish were. We worked the area as we drifted and once we reached the bank we motored back around and started the drift again. I managed another fish but it was tough going, we had lots of plucks and tugs on the lures and even some follows but they simply werent hooking up.

 In action with what proved to be last fish of a frustrating day

Eventually the wind began to get colder and stronger and time was getting on. We did briefly meet Steve (watery reflections) as our boats passed in the lake but soon it was time to head in and fill out our catch returns. My three fish combined went 5lb on the scales and Lees two went over 3lb. Although it wasnt great in terms of fish caught id had a very enjoyable day in good company and whats more it didnt rain either! By the time we were headed back up the M1 i was knackered, its amazing how much a day arsing about in a boat can take it out of you!
It was great to meet all of you lads and particular thanks go out to Lee for organising things and doing all the driving, if you ever need a future boat partner count me in! oh, i nearly forgot, happy birthday mate!

Trout for supper, the fruits of a hard days work!

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