Thursday, 21 February 2013

Meanwhile ..back at the palace

A trip down to Blenheim Palace with your mates is a great day out, messing about in boats and flinging a few hopeful baits into the water. However the day had started off with a bit of a rush down the M40 to get there as I managed to completely  misjudge the journey time and arrived 30mins late meaning Andy my boat partner had already loaded up the heavy motor and battery onto our vessel, and was waiting ready to go when I  eventually turned up with my kit ( oops !).  We set out onto the eerily misty lake with thoughts of monsters as we headed to the Grand bridge to meet up with the the lads in the other two boats in our group.

The bridge attracts pike and perch at certain times of the year, but not today it seemed as we all failed to find anything despite the whole area being well covered for a hour or so by our three boats.

Having the Fish finder on board helped to confirm where the depth changes were but I was a bit surprised how shallow and uniform the bottom is in that area, but still with an average four to five feet it's quite deep enough to hold fish of any size. We searched for the old river bed channel under the main arch to find a change in depth to fish to.

it's gotta be a whole inch deeper here !
After a certain amount of inactivity you do tend to get the inevitable itchy feet and then a move is usually called for. We were soon headed back towards the boat house to check depths along the margins. Parallel to the tree line we found depths now in excess of 10 ft and some nice humps and drop offs down to about 14ft were noted as we headed down towards the deep end of the lake near the waterfall.  

We anchored near the dam wall and chucked out the float ledgers whilst casting about with the lure rods.  It wasn't too long when Andy remarked " I never feel that these soft jigs are going to work"  just in time for his rod to hoop over right on cue. "Fish on" came the shout and he wasn't even winding me up ! The fish broke surface and in my head the expected jack suddenly turned into a large perch ? no, surely that's not a carp is it ? no no hang on it's a feckin Trout !

Andy was pretty mortified to catch a trout but I thought it was quite a nice brownie and must have been a good 3lb or so.
After that little bit of excitement the fishing was slow again and we were soon heading back up the lake towards the arm. We saw one of the other boats ahead of us but reports confirmed that they had not had any luck, however Dan on the third boat had chinned out a nice scraper double on the lure rod which was encouraging news.

the dead cormorant tree

We stopped at various fishy looking spots and found more humps, bumps and drop offs that "felt right"  but didn't produce any signs of a fish.
Dozens of spots like this along the way - but all appeared devoid of fish ?
Finally we turned left and headed up the left hand bank of the arm, but hang on what was that ? The fish finder just indicated some fish by bleeping at us!  Then it did it again. We cast around with the lures only to constantly snag them on the sunken branches littering the lake bed a few feet below us. Luckily I managed to get my jig free each time as with strong braid you can simply pull the boat up to the point it's snagged and yank it free.  Andy wasn't so lucky though and lost a couple of wormy type jigs including the trout catcher. After a fruitless search of the arm, and deciding that the fish we found tight to the snags must have been a shoal of bream or silvers and not a shoal of four pound perch, we headed back to the bridge and found Dan working the area meticulously with his light lure set up.

A bit of R&R time

After a chat with Dan and a little siesta it was decided to head back to the boat house for last knockings, The other lads were already in position on the right side of it so we manoeuvred over to the left side allowing room for any boats to come in that wanted to.

Andy soon piped up again with a Cyril Chauquet'esque "Fish on" and landed a jack of 3 to 4 lb.  It was now pressure on for me to get on the score board and try to maintain my clean sheet of non blanks at Blenheim. The other lads looked like they were giving up, but I was still optimistic of a late take especially as we were just into the last hour of light, the witching hour, which is always a special time. Then my float twitched, the bow in the line pulled tighter from tip ring to the float. It fell slack again, I thought it might be from boat movement, then the float moved to the side and line started to tighten "Shall I hit that" ? I asked knowing I was going to anyway and wound the slack up and felt the rod bend into a fish. It was soon up on the surface but was not the hoped for big girl,  just another jack.

However all was not as it seemed, this was only the same bloody fish Andy had just put back 15 minutes before. It must have swam away from the boat up the lake and towards my waiting bait.

on a lure
Or on half a herring  - this was one hungry Jack
( check anal fin and eye pattern in both fish)
 That was the last of the days action as we soon hauled our gear from the boat and back up the hill to the cars and headed up the motorway.  No big pike were landed but one of the lads on the other boat reported a good solid run that didn't connect, whilst the other had a run that did connect but unfortunately to a diving cormorant ! I presume it spat the bait and flew off a little surprised !
I expect I'll be back again at some point in the future as it's such a serene place to fish, difficult yes, but even if you blank you would do in surroundings that are certainly easy on the eye.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great blog mate, only just found it, will be following from now on

  3. I've been eyeing up a return trip there for a number of months now and for various reasons it just hasn't happened yet. You've confirmed what I was expecting though - it's still far from easy, but there's always a chance of catching something special.

    It's a nice place to just while away the day though - assuming the weather is playing ball. I still hoping to make it there before the season is out.

    1. Sean It's worth a go, yes it's hard but like any large still water, if you catch it "on" you could be one run away from a special day. They can't all be hiding in the Queen pool ! I'm not ruling out another go myself before the close.

      Good luck if you decide to go for it.