If there was one bait that I had to pick for fishing snake lakes at this time of year, it would be maggots. When I heard on the grapevine that the Oaks Lakes at Sessay, North Yorkshire, was responding well to the bait, it was a no-brainer as to where I’d be going this Saturday!
Every Saturday, Oaks Lakes holds its open matches on Cedar Lake, which is the best-designed snake lake I’ve ever seen. It’s relatively fair, everyone has an equal 13 to 14 metres to the island, and above all it's absolutely lifting with carp and F1s, with the odd ide and barbel scattered across certain areas.
At the draw, I managed to draw fairly well 'again' – Peg 45, which is at the top of a central arm. It’ an area I’ve never fished before, but I know from the recent form in that area, you’re definitely on a few fish.
As I walked up to my peg, I noticed that I had quite a lot of room as well, which is always a plus. Anyway, without going into too much detail, I decided to set up just two rigs on the day, and make my approach ultra-positive. I’ve been doing really well this year fishing heavy rigs across in shallow water, big-potting up to the mud with groundbait. This is a very positive way of fishing the 'mudline', which works better for mirrors and commons, but I’ve recently noticed that it’s starting to work for F1s as well, especially on pressured venues where the fish have seen it all before.
So I decided to set up a rig up on the mudline at 14.5 metres, in 13 inches of wate., I could have found shallower water than that, but, for me, 13 inches is the perfect depth for this method. This rig was also duplicated in case of mid-match nightmares or breakages. The second rig I decided to set up was a margin rig to my left, where I managed to find the same depth, which I would feed with groundbait and maggots for the last 90 minutes.
Both rigs were made up of an MAP IS3 4x14 float, 0.14mm main line to a 2.5in 0.12mm hooklength, with a large bulk of No9 Stotz just above the hooklength.
At the all-in, I kicked my peg off with a 250ml pot of 40 per cent groundbait and 60 per cent maggots on the mudline, and shipped over with three maggots on the hook. Within five minutes I had a mirror of around 4lb in the net. This set me up for a good flurry of carp and F1s in the opening 20 minutes of the match, before bites subsided and I had to re-feed. So the same amount was fed again, and within around five minutes I had another run of carp and F1s, and the odd small barbel.
After the first hour I had nine fish, which included three carp, four F1s, and a couple of small barbel. My target for the day was 50 fish, and I was certainly on track.
The second hour was much slower, as the sunlight was beaming over where I was fishing, and I knew that it was causing fewer fish to move in and feed confidently, which meant fish that were coming in were spooking really easily, making it difficult, even with three feet of line between my pole float and pole tip, they still seemed to know the pole was there. So I shipped back, re-fed again, and switched to my duplicate rig, which has a white number-two section, to give myself a slight advantage over the fish. This worked, and I was soon catching F1s again steadily; however, the mirrors and commons had vanished.
The match then started to right itself, and a slight pattern started to emerge. Every pot of groundbait and maggots that I fed would bring enough fish in to catch at least one fish, then I would have to repeat the process before feeding again.
I was slowly but surely starting to build a weight up; it wasn’t solid, but I knew I’d probably only need around 90lb to frame, as I knew from what people were saying it was fishing really hard, with some people catching literally nothing at all.
The next couple of hours were quite slow, and I was having to feed loads to draw fish in, I tried feeding through a pole pot, but it was no good as there was nowhere near enough bait, the fish seemed to want a carpet to move in on, and feeding through a small pot was just not the way forward at all.
By 2.30pm I had 26 fish, and the sun had gone behind the clouds completely. I estimated I’d have around 45lb, so I knew I needed an awesome last hour at least. I was relying on either the mudline or my edge coming solid with mirrors. With an hour and a half to go, I put eight pots of groundbait down my left-hand side, and a big pot of groundbait and maggots across.
This was a good decision as I went on to catch another 10 fish across and five down the edge, which meant I ended up with 41 fish, for second in the match with 83lb.
In summary, I feel that I did make the right decision in terms of feeding, as I don’t think feeding through a small pot would have been positive enough, in fact I think I would have really struggled to draw fish in. The next day saw me at Langwith Lakes in York, where I carried out the exact same approach and was second on my lake and third in the 30-peg match with 99lb.