A Hidden Gem-Brian Skoyles
Most years I like to try to visit a couple of venues I’ve never fished before. I just like the process of getting to know a new water, finding out its potential, how best to fish it etc. This year trying my first new water came very early in the year, 7th of January in fact.On a local fishing forum I’d come across the name Westerly Lake, and checking out its website it seemed to offer the sort of fishing I was looking for. In winter I like a bit of variety in my fishing, and most winters I’ll mix it up a bit, fishing for carp at times, but also having a try for pike or one of my favourite species, perch. Westerly seemed to tick two of those boxes with some decent carp and specimen perch, so I added it to my worth a look list. That look was an eye opener, but not in a way I expected.I arrived approx. 9-00am, said hello to the owner, got permission for a walk round and went for a wander.
First impression, a small water, very well kept, immaculate in fact. The main area of the lake features a central island with lovely weeping willows reaching down to the water. The far end a bit more open, with pitches for several caravans and a second small island. I liked the look and feel from my walk round so went back to the entrance and purchased my day-ticket.I opted to fish one of the pegs that gave me access to the larger island, fishing one rod on a glugged boilie and one on a couple of grains of corn. Soon after setting up two more anglers arrived and set up in the two pegs to my right. I was really happy with this as I like to see how other anglers fish a water, when I personally know little about it.I sat enjoying just being out and fishing on what was for once a calm, sunny winter’s day. Like, I suspect many others, I was getting fed up with rain lashed gales.
My carp rods were also just sitting enjoying the weather, but the two anglers to my right were bagging up on roach, and what roach. Fish that required a landing net, in pristine condition, I was seriously impressed. As the day progressed I started to think I was targeting the wrong species, when out of the blue my left hand rod was into a fish that seemed to want to do a lap of the island. I had my first Westerly carp, not large, but very welcome.
At some point during the afternoon I got chatting to one of the roach anglers and in his opinion Westerly has some of the best roach fishing he had ever experienced, I could well believe it. I had another carp, a common of about 6lbs, so packed up well pleased. Back at the car I had a very pleasant chat with the owner and he also mentioned the perch potential, one of my favourite species. I drove away thinking it would not be long before I would be back.
I mentioned my visit to angling friends Graham Drewery and Charlie Cater, they were interested in giving Westerly a try, so my next visit was “mob handed”. Charlie wanted to sample the roach fishing, Graham the carp, and myself the perch potential.I had opted to fish a light waggler set-up with large raw prawns as bait, and was looking forward to some big “stripeys” action. I chopped up some of the prawns and flicked them out into the margin. Set the float slightly over depth, turned the reel spool slightly to sink it nearly to the tip and relaxed to sit and watch it. I hadn’t long to wait as it dipped then slid away … magic! Well sort of, as I wasn’t attached to a perch, but a lovely roach. 6lb mainline, 4lb hook-length, size 10 wide-gape hook and a large chunk of prawn, did this roach not know I was perch fishing! Anyhow to cut a long story short I failed on my large perch quest, although I had a couple around the pound mark, but I had one of the best days roach fishing I’ve ever had until I ran out of prawns. Charlie also had a successful session on the roach, fishing up in the water using maggot and caster, a day he described as “amazing”. Graham managed one small carp, and lost a much bigger one at the net.Since then we have been back several times, and so far Westerly has never disappointed.
Our best carp session produced 12 hard fighting carp to Graham and myself, all the fish in excellent condition. I haven’t found a way to get past the ravenous roach to the perch yet but that’s a project for the future.It’s several weeks now since I first fished Westerly and I reckon it’s a “Hidden Gem”. It’s well maintained, the owners could not be more helpful and the fishing from our experience so far, superb ... Now, back to those big perch!
Brian Skoyles (March 14)