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17 Oct 2016
by Jerry Hammond
How to make the most out of 24 hours
Jerry Hammond has 24hrs fishing ahead of him, but with a snap of cold weather on its way can he do the business in his allotted time?

9.00am

We join Jerry in the car park of an intimate lake called The Meadows in deepest, darkest Essex. Jerry explains that the venue is run by a friend of his and having fished it before in incredibly cold conditions, he is confident of a bite or two during the 24hrs that he has at his disposal. Jerry is realistic with his venue choices during the colder months and the mission for this session is to get a few bites - and stay warm! The lake hasn’t been heavily fished recently and he’s totally clear in his mind that a blank is a possibility with the temp due to drop extremely low overnight.

10.00am

With the gear barrowed down from the car park, Jerry decides to go for a mooch before he contemplates setting-up. Earlier this morning it was lashing it down with rain, so Jerry is happy now that the cloud has disappeared and the sun has made an appearance. Although the weather is due to get very cold overnight, the temperatures are on the rise this morning. Jerry spots lots of decaying weedbeds and lily beds and he feels that these will be likely holding areas.

10.15am

One area in particular that takes Jerry’s fancy is the bottom corner of Meadows Lake and Jerry decides to scatter a handful of mixed-sized boilies around some likely-looking areas. He locates some signs of feeding fish, so the decision to introduce a small amount of bait and gauge the reaction of the fish, seems a wise choice.

11.30am

With the carp house erected and everything sorted, Jerry flicks out three white Chod Rig mounted hookbaits out - one positioned close to an overhanging tree, his right-hander close in just in front of the decaying weed beds and the same on his left-hand rod, directly in front of his chosen swim. His plan is to watch the water and get a firm fix on where the carp want to be and then adjust his approach accordingly. Jerry reveals that he has visited the lake only on one occasion before and due to his limited knowledge of the lake, he’s going to take the day as it comes and keep his eyes on the water at all times.

14.30pm

No occurrences to report so far in the first three hours of the rods being in the water. Jerry is conscious that with limited hours of daylight at his disposal, if he’s going to make any drastic changes in his approach, it needs to be done soon as daylight will be lost in the next three hours. Although Jerry often relies on his white Chod Rig hookbaits, he feels that with the cold weather forecast for the night ahead, he might need to get a little more tricky with his rigs to try and induce that all important first bite. He concedes that simply re-casting his hookbaits isn’t the one as it will cause unnecessary disturbance and the last thing that he wants to do is foam his swim when there are some signs that there are fish in area.

15.00pm

After weighing-up the options Jerry decides to hold fire on introducing any more boilies and reverts back to scratching tactics on two of his rods. He decides to tie-up two 360 Rigs fished with ultra-buoyant 10mm Orange Citrus and N-Butyric pop-ups with three maggots glued onto the pop-up. Jerry has found considerable success over the years fishing his hookbaits with mesh PVA bags of maggots, and this is exactly what he chooses for the night ahead.

15.30pm

Jerry fires out his two rigs and drops both in different areas of the lake, but just in front of the decaying marginal weed beds. Fish have been moving within the weed all day, but so far they’ve not been troubled by Jerry’s offerings. Jerry is convinced that the introduction of maggots is exactly what is needed and with the temperature already dropping quickly he retires to the bivvy to fire-up the stove and get the kettle on.

18.00pm

Frost has already descended and Jerry’s Tempest has an icy covering already! Resisting the temptation to slip into the comfort and warmth of the sleeping bag. Jerry sets-up his brew station on a handy picnic table and with him huddling around the stove to keep warm, tonight is certainly the coldest night of the winter so far! With no signs of any fish so far, what started off as a realistic chance for a few bites has turned into a tricky 24hr session where the maggots will have to
bail Jerry out.

22.00pm

The weather has gone totally calm now and the sky is completely clear, and while no bites have been forthcoming, Jerry has heard some signs of moving fish behind the dead weed beds. After one more cup of tea, Jerry decides to retire into his bivvy for the night.

04.00am

Jerry receives a few bleeps on his right hand rod and he’s away! After stumbling out into the chilly early-morning mist he does battle with a nice mid-double common that is safely housed in the Retention Sling until first light. Jerry re-casts another maggot bag into the close vicinity and climbs back into his bag to try and warm-up – it is absolutely freezing!

07.30am

As the sun starts to rise, Jerry realises how cold it’s actually been overnight. His Tempest is completely frosted over and his landing net has frozen stiff. Temperatures dropped to minus-five overnight - that explains it then!

07.35am

With the mist rising from the lake and the sun burning through, the scene looks amazing and a very happy angler has some trophy shots taken and then slips back the fish into the near-freezing margins. His hands soon warmed-up – nothing like a cold carp to give you cold hands on a frosty morning!

08.05am

With the kettle receiving some more punishment, Jerry’s other maggot rod is away again and another similar-sized common is eventually tamed and netted after a spirited battle. Although the action hasn’t exactly been fast and furious, to get two fish in such cold conditions is very pleasing for the big man.

09.00am

After a slow and steady pack down, the frosty start to the morning has already departed and a nice sunny day beckons for the day ahead. Two bites and two mid-double commons landed conclude the 24hrs on the bank – job done! The gear is loaded into Jerry’s van and it’s time for home and a trip to the gym for the big man!

What I've learnt

1) “The maggots really made the difference on this session and with the two bites coming on the 360 Maggot Rigs, that’s no coincidence. Just using a small PVA mesh bag of maggots is a deadly option in cold water conditions.”

2) “Keeping disturbance down to a minimum certainly made a difference on this session. The fish weren’t particularly active and bombing them with leads wasn’t the way.”

3) “Watching the water constantly and walking the lake before I set-up as ever gave me the whereabouts of the fish. I was able to position my rods as close to fish activity as I could and it obviously worked.”

What if I had been there for another 24hrs

“If I’d been there another 24hrs, then the maggot rigs would have been despatched on all three rods. I certainly wouldn’t have upped the baiting at all - sticking with the maggot bags so that there was just enough attraction to get a bite.”

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