After the loss of a decent fish during mid summer, I was keen to continue on the lake as much as my time would allow. The big one in the lake had come out in early June, and by now we were into August, and I felt that it could well be out again at anytime.
The fishing on this lake has been a total change for me in many ways, in that I really only wanted the big one, to the extent of ignoring other showing fish, or fishing for bites from the lakes other inhabitants. In all honesty I found this hard, as I like to get a few takes! But in the case of this particular fish it was a different proposition to many others I had tried for in the past. Whilst it wasn’t a complete loner, it did seem to feed totally differently, and the times that I saw it with others it wasn’t actually feeding, which confirmed that it seemed to feed alone. I could often find several of the lakes residents held up sunbathing in the snags, but on many occasions the big one wasn’t with them, or would turn up last and leave first. It is also an incredibly mobile fish, and one day I saw it throw itself clear of the water three times, in three totally different parts of the lake within the space of a couple of hours. That made it clear to me that it would be a case of getting my traps set prior to the fish’s arrival, and picking an area that at some point it was likely to pass me by, and hopefully take a liking to my bait. I had already picked three main swims that I felt gave me that chance, although one was a deeper area, which I felt would come good later on in the autumn. Until then I planned on concentrating on the other two swims, both of which I knew well.
I’m fortunate to only live five minutes away, so any time that I had a couple of hours spare hours I would pop over armed with a marker rod, spending valuable time mapping out a few different swims, just in case an opportunity was ever presented in a different area. This had already paid off when I had seen fish, including the big one, in the top end snags. The preparation meant I was able to get two baits out first cast onto two spots that I’d identified on one of these plumbing trips. That resulted in a screaming take a few hours later which unfortunately I lost!
I fished a couple of sessions in August, during heat wave conditions, without result. On one of these I did manage to get the lake’s 40lb plus common taking mixers only a matter of feet from the bank; that was until the resident gulls spied them and began dive bombing the fish, putting an end to that chance!
With a family holiday booked for the end of the month, I managed to squeeze one last two night trip in before that. It was still hot, but not as savage as it had been when I arrived in the early evening. I had a quick walk round, but saw nothing, so with a warm wind pushing into the bottom end (it looking better than anywhere else) I barrowed my gear round to that last swim, which is one of the areas that I knew the big one liked. It’s the last swim before an out of bounds bank, and as a result it’s quiet and contains a number of big overhanging trees which the fish are often seen underneath. As I peered into that area I could see the bottom below was polished and shining, unsurprising really as I had often seen fish feed there in the past couple of trips. I’d identified a channel that came out of the tree line, between two large weed beds, that was an obvious route for fish to take in and out of there.
Furthermore, I knew from talking to one of my friends that he caught the big boy from that exact spot.
Here was no need to use the marker float, and I just swung out two stiff hinged rigs with the ever faithful ‘B5’ pop-ups into the channel about 10 feet apart. Both rigs were made up with Trip Wire hook link sections and Mirage fluorocarbon booms. I’m certain that using the Mirage boom section giving me the ultimate in ‘stealthy’ hinged rig presentations.
Both rigs hit down with hard thumps, and with Mirage fluorocarbon mainline on I knew that my line lay was as good as possible, the heavy line being settling tight to the bottom, and I slacked off several feet after casting, allowing it to hang from the rod tips. I baited to create a lovely B5 trail out from the bush and along this channel to where my hook baits were positioned and sat back willing the fish to turn up.
The following day I was constantly looking, but there was nothing there!
Around lunchtime I wound in and went back to the car to stock up, before looking in the car park snags. There were at least eight fish in there sunning themselves, which is a good proportion of the lakes stock. The big common was present, as were a couple of the other recognisable residents, but not the big one. I made my way back to my swim, which is the furthest possible from those fish, and flicked my rods back out with new pop ups attached. I only had little 1oz chod finish Bolt Bombs on, that go in with a gentle plop, and again it was lovely easy close fishing. Probably, what I like the best, as well as being the most subtle.
As the afternoon wore on I resisted the temptation to keep looking, but eventually could take no more. As I peered into the mass of branches a mirror came into view and began feeding on one of the polished spots a matter of feet from my right hand hook bait which was positioned in the channel just off the tree. I’d put a few boilies in there too, and the fish was really active, seeking them out without any caution.
Watching fish feed on your baits is always good for the confidence too, and I knew here as in most places the carp showed a liking for the B5. As I watched, another dark shape drifted in from the left, and in an instant I could see it was the big one himself! He looked massive too, and his behaviour seemed to prove the loner theory, as most of the others were up the other end. As I watched, not daring to move he picked up 2 or 3 baits and slowly drifted out alone towards the channel, leaving the other fish still feeding.
That was enough for me and I sat back from the edge under my Tempest brolly, almost shaking with excitement. Five minutes later and the right hand rod was almost pulled from the rests by a violent take that had me piling on side strain to keep the fish from the branches. That wasn’t the main problem though, as several times it locked up solidly in huge unseen weed beds, making me keep the pressure on until I felt the line pinging slowing backwards showing it was on the move again. Luckily, I was using a strong size 5 Covert Chod hook, which I knew could take the punishment, and soon after on its first roll I saw the distinctive markings of a mirror, and I prayed out loud that it was the big one himself. A couple of arm aching minutes later I netted a heavy weight, which turned out to be half a ton of weed, and the smaller mirror that I had watched feeding so confidently a matter of minutes before! It was nailed in the bottom lip on the pop up and I was delighted with my first fish from the lake, as any are an achievement from what is a difficult water. Confidence wise it was a boost too, as I knew I had at least put myself in a close position to the big one, and had got him feeding, something which I need to continue, it’s all pieces of the puzzle!
The following day as I sat on the plane I began to think about tactics for the onset of autumn, my favourite time of year, and a period in which the big fish generally puts in an appearance.
I couldn’t wait to return…