My last trip to the Kent lake coincided with the fish being totally preoccupied with natural food, and it was incredibly frustrating, as time after time they would jump and roll, but it was impossible to get a bite. I moved twice that trip, and even after these moves and getting my baits out perfectly it was worthless, as no one had anything that week at all. However, as the weather became warmer it was clear a bout of spawning was on the cards, and sure enough this commenced soon after. As a result the lake was closed to allow the fish to get this done and recover, so for a couple of weeks I left it well alone.
I had one single night trip to a local water just to get out really, and managed a small stockie from a swim that had been cut out by a recent work party. It was satisfying to get one from a swim that hadn’t been fished for several years, but my heart wasn’t really in it, and I even packed up early rather than stay another night there. I had actually pencilled in to go to another water, one that I had fished the previous summer and holds a seriously big mirror that is a really tricky one to catch. It was clear from my efforts last year that this fish doesn’t play by the usual rules, in fact it would be all over the lake on certain days, first up at one end and then right up at the opposite one soon after! That said to me it made it even more special, as it’s one that is really top of the tree as a target in my mind as it’s never fluked out.
I had been over there on the Friday afternoon before my planned Sunday afternoon trip for a look round, and within minutes I had found the big one in the snags at the car park end. What was clear was how active it was, it wasn’t sat sunbathing like all of the others, but instead was in and out of the snags and clearly looking up for a feed and therefore a capture. This certainly fired me up, and I couldn’t wait for my trip in a couple of days. However as I was leaving another friend Terry arrived, and he went into the snags swim for the weekend. As I left we talked about how well up for catching it looked, and I asked Terry to let me know if it came out before Sunday. I wasn’t surprised when I had a text the following day from Terry telling me he had lost it after hooking it close in. One look at the shape of that fish tells you it would be a fighter, and Terry described how he was unable to stop it before his 20lb line parted. I was disappointed for him, as he has certainly put the effort in for that one. However for me it meant a last minute change of plan, and after one night on the other lake I really felt like I didn’t want to be there, so I left early praying for the Kent lake to re open soon.
The week after I hastily booked a couple of days off work and planned for a late Sunday arrival. I got there about 5pm to find only one other angler there, it was hot though and the forecast was for warm sunny days. I had one walk round and was disappointed to see nothing fish wise, so I thought I would pick a swim that looked like the fish would pass through it at some point. I dropped my bucket in a swim that I had fished once before, but forced myself to do one more lap, as I had that feeling I must have missed something. The lake has a couple of shallow bays, and I was sure in these high temperatures the fish must be in one of them at least. As I came to one end there is a long wooden jetty that goes out into the lake, which although you can’t fish from, it does give a great view of the shallows of the lake in front. I’d been stood on the end of it for a while looking out at the weedy water there before I actually looked down to see half a dozen fish lying in the weed right below me. This end is seriously weedy, but from this elevated position I could see several clear areas in between the weed that I could easily hit from the first swim next to the jetty. I hadn’t fished here before, but it was a nice swim and had the added advantge of the wind pumping into it. It was shallow though, as the close in clear spots that were only a couple of rod lengths out looked only about 2 feet deep. I quickly bought the car round and unloaded, before the owner came and sat in the sun with me for an hour or so talking. His conversation about the lake and it’s residents certainly had me fired up, and when he left it was getting late, so I hurriedly began sorting my gear, only to realise that I’d left my tackle bag containing all my buzzers, cooking gear etc at home! That really was a first for me, and typically it had to happen when I was on the furthest venue from home that I’ve ever fished! I didn’t know weather to laugh or cry, but after 10 minutes calming down there was nothing else for it but to drive home and get it. I did spend an hour clearing weed from the swims margins and locating some spots before I left, so as to cause least disturbance when I got back.
After an hour and forty five minute drive home I was so shattered I couldn’t face driving straight back, so I set the alarm and went straight to bed, before leaving again at 4am. By 6am I had my rods out, one on a shallow plateau to the right that I could easily see from the bank, and the other two flicked out underarm on little clear spots in the weed. I could make these out too, and they were so shallow it was impossible to feel the lead down even that close in. I was on my favourite stiff rigs again, but have modified it in a couple of ways. I’ve begun to use bait screws instead of tying on my pop up hook baits and have found them superb, as well as giving the whole rig another stealthy edge. Gone is a big piece of floss biting into the bait, and now with these screws the bait looks exactly the same as all of the free baits. They easily stay on too when screwed directly through and into the cork centre.
I’ve also started using Gardner Drop Out Chod Safety Clips now the weed is up. These are simply a plastic C clip that hooks between the lead and a ring that I put on the end of my helicopter set up. A buffer bead sits over everything, but even with light 1.5oz leads this plastic clip discharges the lead easily. This is a distinct advantage when playing fish in heavy weed, and is certainly the best method I have found when using a helicopter/rotary rig, which are more difficult to use lead discharge systems with.
Gardner Drop Out Chod Safety Clips now the weed is up. This is a distinct advantage when playing fish in heavy weed, and is certainly the best method I have found when using a helicopter/rotary rigs.” alt=”I’ve started using Gardner Drop Out Chod Safety Clips now the weed is up. This is a distinct advantage when playing fish in heavy weed, and is certainly the best method I have found when using a helicopter/rotary rigs.” width=”623″ height=”467″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-14544″ />
I put around 30 baits around each rod, and sat back in the sun with that great feeling that after all the trauma of my tackle bag I was finally fishing. It all began to look good too, as by mid morning I began to see several fish push their way through the surface weed towards me, and I heard a couple roll out towards the big plateau to my right. I had set the Tempest Air well back as I was fishing so close in, but set my clutches tightly so as not allow any takes to get a real head of steam up and into the weed. At about lunchtime I had a fizzing run on the plateau rod, and what I thought was a tight clutch was giving line at a fast rate. The fish was up on the top almost immediately and I knew the lead had come off, and as a result despite the heavy weed I had no problems netting an angry 22lb common soon after. This was a great boost to have a fish so early, but I was slightly worried as all of that disturbance in the shallow water may put paid to any more action. I needn’t have worried as a couple of hours later I was in on one of the other rods fished on a clear spot about the size of a dustbin lid really close in. I’m certain this was only 18 inches deep, but sure enough the fish liked it. This one felt heavier and locked me up in the heavy weed several times, before I could guide it out in the clearer edge that I had raked out the night before. I saw it a few times in the shallow water and could tell it was a good one. The problem I had was netting it in the shallow water, as the fish before had bought in a big weed bed, and I was at full stretch with the 6 foot pole trying to reach it. Time and again I had it up and coming towards the net, only for it to power off every time I thought I had it beaten. Finally I pulled it over the net cord, and could tell it was a thirty, at 32lb 4oz to be exact. This one came on a washed out pink Essential B5 pop up over my usual red colour, a tactic that I’m sure has bought me some bonus fish this year.
That was it for that day, and I could see all of the remaining fish had departed, leaving the shallows for the main part of the lake as the evening came. I hoped the following day would follow the same pattern, and I prayed for another nice warm sunny day. The following morning came and was one of those lovely mid summer mornings which tell you its going to be a hot day even minutes after the sun comes up. My prayers were answered too, as again at around 9am I began to see the first fish appear in front of me, and I knew my rods were all out perfectly from the evening before. Again the close in rod was away, but this time with a much slower take and more plodding fight, the sign of a big fish. This one locked me up in a big unseen weed bed, and after a while of not being able to move it, I slackened off in the hope it would free itself. Five minutes later the line was picking up and I had it moving again, only for it to lock up solidly again seconds later. After hooking it so close in it was frustrating that it was so close, and soon after the hook came out, probably due to the poor line angles created by the weed. I hate losing fish, but on this lake which contains fish to over 50lbs it really hurts. I added a scaley 16lb mirror later that morning, and again got my rods positioned perfectly for the following morning. My luck deserted me though, as the next day came in with a cold wind and noticeably cooler temperatures. Sure enough the fish never returned, and I packed away later that morning without seeing anything at all.
I was still delighted, and now with the weed right up it looks excellent for my favourite type of close in angling. I’ll let you know what happens soon…