I seemed to be very unlucky with my timings throughout the winter just gone. Every time that I decided to go fishing, virtually every night on the bank I endured many frosty minus three or minus four temperature readings on the thermometer, resulting in two different lakes freezing over on me and arriving at others to also find a lid on them (very frustrating). My last session in the middle of February, I ended up packing up in a snow blizzard, which I have to say was quite possibly the one of the most treacherous and worst pack downs I have ever experienced. As you can imagine my unfortunate timings meant my campaign through the winter months was the most unproductive yet.

With some milder temperatures forecast and spring fast approaching, my syndicate waters were due to close at the end of March for a two month closed season, so I decided to really focus my efforts on making the most of the last four weeks I had available to fish them. I work locally to the lakes so I popped in every now and then to look for any signs of fish showing, fizzing or moving up and down the margins. I have to say, I didn’t see a great deal but this didn’t deter me in anyway, as I knew the fish were in there somewhere! I just had to wet a line so to speak and get some rod hours in, so I could start building up a picture of what the fish were up to.

My first trip was a short five hour day session on a Sunday and when I arrived at the lake I was very happy to find the place deserted of anglers. This was very good for me as from one particular swim I could virtually cast the distance of the lake, meaning I could keep moving my rigs around hoping to land on a few fish. Unexpectedly it didn’t take long for me to get a bite and after only forty five minutes my Bug indicator jammed up into my alarm and I enjoyed a fifteen minute battle with a stunning and hard fighting 24lbs 7oz common. I was very pleased with this fish, considering the suffering I had gone through during the winter. Unfortunately that was the only action I had throughout the day, but I left the lake with a smile on my face and I couldn’t wait to get back down.

The next trip was most definitely one to remember. I planned to do the following weekend with my lovely girlfriend Samantha for forty eight hours as she got a guest ticket for the weekend, in the hope of landing a new PB. With a good head of 20’s and half a dozen 30’s to go at in our particular chosen lake at the syndicate, it was a great chance for Sam to beat her 21lbs 2oz PB ghostie. I got set up in the evening where I had seen a fish show at around forty yards, I got cast out just as the sun was setting and Sam arrived later in the evening and got her rods cast out in the darkness where the fish had showed. At 1am Sam received a screaming run on her ATT alarm which resulted in her new PB Common at 20lbs 7oz’s, what a result! We took some really nice pictures and let the fish go back in to its home and we returned to the land of nod. At 6am Sam received another take and she was on the rod in seconds, this time she had an epic battle on her hands, twenty minutes later, she skillfully landed what looked like a very chunky common and I said to Sam “it looks like a bit of a unit and another PB”. To our amazement the fish tipped the scales round to 28lbs – smashing her previous PB! I was seriously made up for her and she couldn’t stop smiling like a Cheshire cat, who can blame her though, what incredible brace of commons. Sam gracefully hoisted the fish up for the photos then she released the beast back into its home. Full of adrenaline, we decided to stay up and watch the water for any signs of movement. We didn’t see a great deal, but at around 11am Sam had another take, this time resulting in a smaller 7lb common. I was getting completely shown up, but on this occasion I couldn’t have cared less, in fact I was buzzing for her and couldn’t have wanted the session to of gone any other way. By the evening though, it was evident that the fish had moved more in front of my swim and it looked like I would get my chance to catch a couple through the night. I landed mirrors of 16lb and 24lbs 8oz during the darkness and at first light I managed to conclude my own brace of twenties with a 23lbs 6oz common. All of the fish were landed using 12lb Pro light blend main line, a 4 foot Mirage leader, Covert lead clips and tail rubbers, a 2oz flat pear lead, seven inches of Sly Skin silt hook link attached to a new slightly tweaked version of the size 8 Incizor which was on test. I was very impressed with the hooks as all of the fish were extremely nailed and were never coming off – six fish hooked and six landed says it all really. All of the fish fell to a 12mm pink CC Moore NS1 pop up with a small Micromesh PVA mesh bag of 2mm trout pellets attached.

Over the next two weeks, I could only manage to get down the lake for one overnighter in between work each week. The first night I landed a mirror estimated at 15lb from the same sort of area on the lake, they seemed to be staying in the same place which was very helpful. The week after for my following overnighter it had been a lot warmer and when I arrived at the lake I located some fish in the shallower water down a snaggy margin. During the night using the same tactics as before I landed two stocky mirrors of around 7lb and 9lb.

I was really starting to enjoy my fishing again, getting amongst a few fish and having a string of nights above freezing, it certainly made a more pleasurable time on the bank. My final trip on the last weekend of the month, the Friday night I did a guest ticket on a low stocked 3 acre lake, fishing the water for the first time. Sticking with my same tactics which had been producing for me previously I landed two stocky mirrors overnight of around 14lb and 16lb. Out of eight of us fishing I was the only angler to catch, so I was very pleased with my result. I had only planned to do the one night there and on my way back home, I dropped in to my syndicate to find no one of the lake again. I thought it would be just plain rude to not set up and have one last go before the season ended. I got set up in my usual spot and had fish crashing over me all night, much to my amazement I woke up in the morning to find my bobbins had hardly moved. The sun was beaming down and I knew it was time for a change of tactics. I switched both rods over to six foot zig rigs made from 12lb Zig Link and they were cast in forteen feet of water with a small piece of yellow Zig Rig Foam as the hook bait. Little did I know the next hour and half would be hectic and I received four bites and landed three which included a double take! The biggest of the bunch was a cracking 28lbs 4oz common and an excellent way to end the season on a high and it has truly set me up for a great summer angling.

During April, I will be fishing my BCAC qualifier at Todber Manor’s Big Hayes Lake. I’m really looking forward to competing again in the competitions this year so let’s hope me and my partner Kevin Grout can get off to a flier. We will be giving it our all and fingers crossed we will be qualify after the 48 hour match.