With the weather being amazingly mild for December, and the fish still feeding, there was never a better opportunity to get out and do some fishing and filming before a cold snap materialized and put a halt to the activity.
I had been planning on fishing at a different venue initially; however I saw a fish appear on Facebook that caught my eye. During a recent netting operation, the fishery owner had netted out a fish called ‘The Male’ at an all time high of 31lb. The fish looked really good in its winter colours and I quite fancied having a go for it.
Luckily, I knew of the syndicate as I used to live in the vicinity (in Somerset) before I moved down to Devon. The lake was always on my ‘to fish list’ but for some reason or another I never actually got round to it. After a few phone calls and a quick visit, I managed to get a syndicate ticket on the lake much to my pleasure and excitement. The lakes called HBS fisheries and it’s based in Taunton, just of the M5.
With all of the gear packed and prepared, I left home and arrived 45 minutes later at the lake. It was still dark as I pulled up in the car park, and I was closely followed by Ryan the video man. GAME ON!!
As I got my gear out of the car, the heavens opened drenching us both in seconds. Good start!
I lapped the lake a few times in the rain looking for any fishy signs – but as expected I did not see a great deal. We decided to take shelter and start the days filming in the cabin to avoid our filming schedule form slipping.
As quick as the rain started it had stopped, like someone had turned the shower off. As I walked back to the car I saw a fish delicately roll right in the centre of the lake. As I’d seen nothing else, that pretty much made my decision on location for me. I selected a swim and got set up quickly.
The lake is fished very little in the winter as it’s becomes quite tricky when the water cools down. I made sure I covered a good area of water while ensuring I fished in different depths with each rod.
All the rods were fished up against a feature of some kind. The left hand rod was fished in open water, where I saw the fish show. Conveniently, this fish showed right above a 6 foot deep gully that backed onto a shallow bar. The middle rod was fished to some reeds on the edge of an island in 5 foot of water and the left rod was fished tight to reedy in the near margin in about 4 feet of water.
As I knew the bottom relatively well, I had pre tied all of my rigs and I went in with an arrangement that I was 100% confident in, as I knew it worked. My lead arrangement incorporated a 3 foot section of fast sinking Leadfree Camflex attached to the new Covert Lead Safe System.
I’m a fan of this arrangement as it offers you the best of both worlds without unnecessarily dropping the lead. After the initial bolt effect, the set up turns into a running system thus giving you amazing takes. It’s also 100% safe and an arrangement that the fish are simply not used to dealing with.
The rig was 6inchs long excluding the hook. I had a 5inch section of 20lb Trick-Link boom section tied via an Albright knot to a section of Trickster Heavy braid. The hook arrangement was a simple blowback set up using a small Covert Rig Ring positioned just opposite the barb.
Hook choice was a new hook that the Gardner Team has been testing that’s very similar to the amazing Mugga. When it comes out you need to give it a try, its epic and extremely aggressive. Bait was a Mainline 14mm ‘Peaches and Cream’ wafter with a slither of Betalin soaked rig foam added to get the exact buoyancy I wanted. My main line was Mirage, a fluorocarbon line I have used for ages as it sinks like a stone and lies absolutely flush across the lake bed and it has never let me down.
With main part of the filming done by 2pm, the rods went out tand he waiting game began. A few syndicate members came and went giving helpful bits of advice on various things along the way (thanks).
It came as a bit of a surprise that all seamed dead against fishing the lake in the winter for some reason. I kept hearing it was tricky and the fact it had only done 4 fish in the last month was kind of proof of that. I knew the lake had not been fished a massive amount so I did not let that put a dent my confidence. Being realistic, it was only my first session and I was happy just to learn the place and feel my way in.
One thing I was told by everyone, including the owner, was that during the winter 95% of the bites come during the night, mostly between 1am and 5am. All of the previous winter catch reports showed this to be the case too.
As the daylight hours passed quickly my best mate came down and we enjoyed some chips, on what was a lovely evening. Being close to my old stomping grounds means old mates can come down easily, a big plus for me as I see them a lot less now that I live a way away. By 10pm the lake was flat and calm, my mate Martin headed home as I headed to bed for an early one.
I was woken at 1:30 in the morning by two single beeps on the middle rod, quickly followed by a savage run as my bobbin launched an attack at the alarm. I knew the lead safe system caused some angry runs but that one was up there with the best. As I slid around in the mud I finally managed to land my first fish from the lake, an 18lb dark common that looked great in its winter colours. As I slipped the common back I heard an all mighty crash down the shallows. Whatever fish it was, it was big.
First light Ryan (my video guy) headed home as another angler turned up to do a day session. I told him about the big fish crashing out and pointed him in the general direction. Although I had intended to move up to the shallows for the day, I was happy to let him have a go for them. Why not help another angler out? At the end of the day we’re all here for the same reasons and I had already caught what I aimed for last night so I was happy regardless.
The day passed quickly and it turned out that the weatherman got the forecast right as the wind started hacking into where my margin rod was positioned. It did look prime for a bite I must say. The biggest highlight of the daylight hours was the bank behind my brolly caving in while I was stood on it texting. In reality I only dropped a few feet down into a burrow of some kind.
As the light started to fade a really friendly angler turned up, can’t remember his name but a proper nice bloke, and he set up opposite me. He had also recently joined the syndicate a few months ago so we had common ground to talk about. As a slurped back a cup of tea, the right hand rod was away! As I lifted into the fish I saw a boil on the surface and straight away I realised it must be a good fish as it was 4 feet deep there.
As the ‘big male’ had recently been netted at 31lb, everyone had been talking about it and one angler mentioned that it was known for fighting on the bank more so than when hooked. Whilst I was playing the fish it did not fight amazingly and looking back the signs were obvious, but it never entered my mind. Less than two minutes after being hooked I had a unit in the net!
I looked up and gave the thumbs up to the lads and within seconds they were both over offering a hand. As the owner came over we weighed him in at 30lb 6oz; just 4oz over the lake record previously set by the same fish. A quick call to Ryan and we was back down with the camera in a flash. What an amazing end to the video!!
That evening was spending with my other best mate chilling, reminiscing about school times. Although it was raining, was great to catch up with him and again I had fun. Before I headed off the next morning I managed to land another three fish. I didn’t catch anything huge just another upper double common, a VS stockie and a small common that had been spawned naturally in the lake.
It was a dream start on the fishery really, and now I’m going to try and catch one of the lakes residents that has not been out in 3 years. It’s set to be much bigger so once again… GAME ON !!