During early August I began thinking about my autumn fishing, and where I wanted to fish more precisely. During the summer school holiday months I tend to only do single nights, fishing close to home and taking the kids for a few sessions. I’d taken my older boy to a club lake a couple of times for day sessions and we’d had a fantastic time, with him catching fish up to 17lbs on his own rods, in fact he out fished me on each occasion! It was great though and as well as us spending time together, I’m sure these activities are far more beneficial than being on the bloody Xbox!
One of my fishing pals had often talked to me about a lake that I’d known about for years, one that he’d spent a couple of seasons on and had really enjoyed fishing. It was a picturesque place, but importantly nice and quiet. The more he talked about it, the more interested I became. What most excited me was what was in there, or specifically what wasn’t, as it was seriously low stocked. The prize being a single big mirror, that was a really old and prestigious one and had been targeted by many gifted anglers over the years. Apart from that fish, the 16 acres held little else, so it held the deserved reputation as being seriously difficult. In mid August I asked him to give me a tour and on one sunny afternoon I met him down there and he let me in the gate. I had a feeling of huge anticipation as we walked down the narrow path and I strained to get my first glimpse of the place between the dense foliage that bordered the waters edge. It was indeed a lovely, wild looking place, full of snags, no fishing areas of thick trees and bars that were protruding from the lake out in the middle due to the low mid summer water level. The paths were so narrow in places I could only imagine the difficulties of pushing a fully laden barrow round and in some areas we had to duck down as fallen trees crossed our route around. As well as the feeling of excitement, it wasn’t half intimidating, as in every swim we stopped in there seemed a mass of features, plus with the size of the place and knowing it held but a handful of fish, it seemed the sort of venue you could be trying to crack for years. What put me off most was the colour, algae green the like of which I’d never seen before, so thick in places that it looked like a boilie wouldn’t have dropped through it. The trees that had been in the water were stained with the green colouration and the surface seemed lifeless, apart from an armada of coots that were diving all over, and there was a heavy putrid smell that hung over the most coloured areas. I remember saying to my friend I wasn’t fishing there, solely due to the water colour, but he assured me that come autumn it would clear. We left it at that and when I walked out of the gate I wondered if it was one to forget about forever….
The following week I took the family on holiday and whilst catching shrimp with the kids in the rock pools, my mind kept wandering to the mental images of the lake I’d stored away, so much so I couldn’t stop thinking about it and as soon as the holiday was over I called my friend and begged him to take me down for another look. It was now September and there was the odd little hint that autumn was on the way as once again we made our way around the bank, that seemed as if no one had ventured on since our last visit. As we came to the first swim, I looked straight into the margin and I could see the shingle on the bottom, something that had not been possible before. The lake was still green, but not as bad and the stronger late summer winds seemed to have pushed it around, as one end was worse than the end that I most liked. My friend assured me that this was as good as it gets and he built me up to having a go. I was easily sold into it as I in all truth I didn’t need much convincing as my mind was already jumping ahead as to how I was going to tackle it.
I had a couple of advantages and knowing the challenge that lay ahead I planned on using everything I could. Adam, the mate who had shown me around, was a gold mine of information, as was another friend Wayne, who had caught her a year previously. I spoke to both of them, and being both top guys they shared loads of intelligence, so much so it gave me mental overload. Most importantly they told me the areas to concentrate my limited time on and how best to exploit it. Once I knew the area, and had got my ticket, I was down there every other day. Firstly with the marker, and I found a couple of lovely spots that I was confident with from the start. The bottom was a mass of features and it felt that I could have fished 10 rods and still not covered them all, so narrowing it down was tricky. The main feature was a big bar that ran centrally across the swim at about 60 yards range. This was covered in dead weed, the result of a summer of coloured water which had killed all of it off. Whilst it was the biggest feature, it didn’t appeal to me and I decided to stick with a couple of close in hard spots that were nice easy fishing. I could use my favourite Mirage fluorocarbon mainline for best covert line lay and nice little 1.5oz Bolt Bomb leads, combined with the ultimate big fish rig, the hinged stiff rig.
I had recently changed flavours and was now on the new Essential Salami in the red fishmeal B5, something I knew wouldn’t have been used before and a nice pungent flavour that wouldn’t take on any tainted silty smells. I’d just had a bait delivery and as I looked in the freezer I knew I wanted to start getting some in as often as I could. I made a sortie down there every other day armed with my marker rod and a bucket of bait. I knew the birds were on it, with the lack of weed and subsequent naturals for them, but there wasn’t much I could do, except continue trickling it in and hope I’d got the spots right.
After about two weeks, I made my way round for a first fishing session. It was really exciting and I carefully navigated the barrow round, with the sides scraping through undergrowth in several places. In some areas I had to come to a complete stop and carefully thread it between the drop off into the lake and the trunks of big trees.
The following morning was dull, warm with steady rain, perfect autumn conditions and I sat in my tucked away swim staring at the lake for hours, afraid that if I took my eyes off it at all I’d miss something. I was rewarded though, as around 9am a fish rolled well over towards the far bank, but still in my end of the lake. During the next 30 minutes I’d seen three more and one of them was definitely the big girl herself, as the size of the roll made the ripples spread to my bank. This was a major result and as soon as the action ceased, I fired the marker float over, as they had all shown in the exact same area. On retrieving the lead I knew why, when it bought back strands of bright green silt weed, which I’d never found elsewhere. I clipped the lead up and on packing up that day put in any remaining bait I had. I now had three good spots sorted and all were well away from each other and all easy to fish. When I got home I used my distance sticks in the garden to measure out the clipped up marker and copied it on my actual rod. I marked this with tape and put it in the clip all ready.
I had a session planned the week after, but heard that the lake had been busy that weekend and unfortunately someone was fishing in the area that I wanted to concentrate on. Rather than fish a different part of the lake that I was unfamiliar with, I made a hasty decision to give it a miss and go somewhere else, knowing that unless the big one was out, I had several more trips pencilled in up until the weather was likely to turn cold.
Kingsmead was my other option and although I’d done a couple of trips earlier in the summer, I hadn’t got in to it at all, mainly as it had been busy on each of my visits. However, as I arrived on the Sunday afternoon it was nice and quiet and almost straight away I found some fizzing in a nice little bay that was unoccupied. It was handy too, in that I had the car right behind me and I flicked out two rods onto hard silty patches between the numerous weed beds out in front. I didn’t need the marker as I just aimed to clip the visible weed and held it back on a tight line until I got a firm drop. The following morning the fish were back, but all of the fizzing was on one patch about 10 yards further out to where I had placed my rigs. I waited until it had all stopped and spent some time getting everything bang on, hoping they would return. I balanced up the pop ups and put on a nice dull pink one that I like fishing over the red coloured free baits. At first light the odd bubble began to appear and soon after a decent fish rolled out right over the baited area. I was on the phone to my friend, chatting about my anticipation of getting back to the other lake, when the left hand rod pulled violently down and the buzzer sound a few bleeps. This one felt heavy and stayed deep as I played it hard trying to avert it from the large beds of weed that I could see. A couple of times it became stuck solid, but I had put on a Gardner Drop Chod Clips, so I knew the light lead had been discharged. Steady pressure had the fish moving again, without the lead much higher up in the water. Eventually a great big ball of weed came up and I netted the whole lot. Just as it went over the cord I saw a glimpse of a grey coloured tail going in too. I quickly tore off the weed from inside the net and saw a cracking mahogany coloured mirror inside, which looked big too. At 36lbs it was indeed, and despite the disappointment of missing a session on the other lake, it gave me a big confidence boost. The rigs were made up with the other place in mind, so I was delighted with the hook hold, the size 6 Covert Chod hook was way inside and it was a forceps job to remove it. I packed up wishing the days away until I could go again and I knew exactly where I was going to be heading.
The following week I was on night shifts at work, which gave me the chance for a number of baiting up visits, some during the day before work and some at 6am after I’d finished. These were the first occasions I’d walked round it in the dark and a couple of times I wasn’t sure if anyone else was there, so I didn’t turn on any lights. It really was dark under the canopy of trees and with the mist it was an eerie, almost spooky place. I enjoyed it though and hoped the effort would be worth it, as I had the next week off, for a nice long second attempt.
I’ll let you know how I got on………