Burghfield Gold lake with Sean McKinney

We join Sean McKinney down at Gold Lake on the Advanced Angling complex at Burghfield. The lake is around three acres in size, very intimate with lots of spots at close quarters; the perfect lake for catching them down the edge! We met up with Sean part way through his session, during an intense heat wave that hit the UK at the time during July. This didn’t phase Sean though, and thankfully, where he had chosen to get set up had plenty of shade. We sat down, had a brew and caught up on how the trip had progressed so far…

Sean McKinney: “I got down here Sunday morning, a few of us had decided to book the lake out for a little social and we met at the gate after a quick stop at McDonald’s en route. As we pulled into the car park, the excitement began to build; I had done as much research about the venue as possible before this session, just so that I had an idea of what the lake was like beforehand so I could do some pre-planning. On these longer trips, I do like to do ensure I have plenty of rigs tied up for a number of different situations.

“We had a lap of the lake when we arrived, and straight away I got a good feeling about the far end of the lake, a lovely tree-lined marginal area that was of out the blazing midday heat. I have often found on venues like this, the carp will seek sanctuary during the day along the cooler margins and this swim gave options to fish down the edge and also out into the lake where there were a number of weed beds present.”

How did you go about choosing the spots you wanted to fish?

SM: “Initially, I spent a bit of time looking about and trying to determine if there were any obvious margin spots to fish; due to the shade, it wasn’t easy to see, but with my polarising sunglasses I could pick out a few lighter areas along the tree-lined bank. Due to where the swim was positioned, it wasn’t going to be easy to get a rod down on to the clear spots I had found further down the margin, so I would need to utilise the baiting pole in order to get the rig presented.

“This gave me an option to fish one rod and I also liked the look of an area out in front close to a weed bed. When we arrived, the fish were showing in and around the weed bed, so I wanted to investigate around the weed to find an area that was presentable. I cast a simple, textured lead to investigate the area further and it became apparent there was a silty gulley close to the weed that was smooth enough to present a bait on. Everywhere else close to the weed was a soft drop when casting out, so I didn’t want to risk placing a rig here and not being presented.

“That was it, I had hatched a plan and now it was a case of getting my rods prepped ready for the first evening on the lake.”

So, you had the spots determined, what did you decide to go with on the rig front?

SM: “When it comes to rigs, wherever I fish I always start with rigs that I am confident with using and then adjust from there. With that marginal spot being so firm, a clean, clearly polished gravel spot, I knew that my chosen rig would need to be short and incorporate an inline lead for maximum effectiveness. Having fished many clean marginal spots in the past, I have witnessed just how cagey the fish can be when feeding at close quarters on clean spots. You need to be cute about your rigs, fishing wafters close to the bottom and short, semi- stiff or stiff hook links to ensure any pick-ups are converted into bites!

“The spot with the silty gulley was different; here I was getting a slightly softer drop and therefore I decided to fish lead clips and short Ronnie rigs over the top to ensure that if there was any debris or strands of weed present, I could rest assured my hook bait and rig were presented ready for those feeding fish. The silty gulley was big enough to place two rods on to, so after rigging two rods up with Ronnies and one with the faithful D-rig on an inline setup, I then went about getting the marginal rod sorted first.”

You mentioned earlier that the marginal rod was tricky and would require the use of a baiting pole, what did you mean by this?

SM: “Due to the nature of this margin and the rules at this lake (no wading), it would require the use of a baiting pole, but not in the conventional way. Along the bank there was a cut through to where the spot was located, this allowed me to ship the pole out from this gap, leaving it out in the lake while I went back round to the swim to cast the unbaited rig over the back of the pole.

Once I had done this, I then walked back round to the gap, shipped in the pole and attached the rig along with some additional bait into the scoop before shipping it back out again to the spot. Once I was happy it had dropped on the spot, I then went back round to the swim, tightened up the slack line to ensure a good, direct line lay before placing the rod on to the sturdy buzzer setup and we were fishing!

“This technique can be a little tricky to master to begin with, but with practice it does get easier. I would just mention that you should only do this if it is safe to do so and the chance of safely landing the fish from the spot far outweighs not! So always assess the situation beforehand!”

Sounds like an interesting method, we hear it paid off pretty quickly too!

SM: “It certainly did! After getting that rod in place, I then went about baiting and getting rigs in position on the silty gulley spot in front of the swim. Less than an hour later, that margin rod down to the right was away and a tense battle followed, resulting in a lovely 29lb mirror for my efforts! I was over the moon to get off the mark so quickly and it was a lovely fish to start the trip with. My little Pacific Tuna wafter over crumbed Tuna and pellets was just too much to resist!”

How did you go about choosing the baiting mix you were going to use?

SM: “To be honest, the baiting mix I use throughout the year changes very little… at Gold Lake, these fish are fed on CC Moore’s Betaine Ultramix pellets, so it made complete sense to include these in my baited mix. I also included my favourite Bloodworm and Belachan pellets in 6mm and a good helping of mixed sizes of Pacific Tuna, including 10mm baits and crumb. The mix was finished off with a good dash of Marine Amino 365 for good measure, creating a hugely appealing mix, packed with food signals and rich in salts, perfect for those post- spawning fish!”

How did the rest of the trip pan out?

SM: “It was eventful to say the least! I actually didn’t manage another fish off that margin spot, experiencing countless problems with the crayfish that are present in the lake! I simply couldn’t keep a hook bait on as the crayfish would claw away at it. I persisted with it, but in the end I decided to fish that rod during the day and re-do every few hours, which I don’t think helped with the added disturbance!

‘Thankfully, the silty gulley didn’t seem to attract any crayfish problems and the fish certainly loved feeding there! I baited heavily with the mix using the Spomb every evening, and it produced bites throughout the night and during the early hours. The fish couldn’t get enough of the bait and every morning when I woke up, the spot was like a jacuzzi with bubbling and feeding fish! I managed some lovely fish during the trip, including some amazing looking mirrors, all displaying lovely colours!

“Unfortunately, we had to cut out Gold Lake trip short due to the fish starting to spawn again. We’ll be back to this lovely little venue no doubt and it has been a great time having the lake exclusively booked between the four of us! If you are looking for a great little venue with some lovely carp to book between a group, visit the Advanced Angling website!”