I was really looking forward to the season ahead. Having had two very successful years on Roach Pit, it was time for me to move on. I decided that my main angling priority would be The Half Lin from the Vinnetrow syndicate in Chichester. I also acquired a Burghfield ticket for when the fish spawned at Vinny (or if I was lucky enough to catch the one I really wanted early in the season).

I started my campaign on Vinny in early February. After being warned how busy it gets, I couldn’t believe how quiet it was and how many fish I was seeing on a regular basis. I was moving at will onto showing fish and managed to snatch one early on. I thought I had cracked it!!

However, after my early success the spring rampage soon started and things became a lot more difficult. To date I have only managed a further two bites, both of which I’ve lost. The most painful loss, still haunts me now!

I had found most of the stock held up in a massive weed bed at the far end of the lake from where I’d spent the last two days. I sat watching them for a couple of hours and noticed that they were exiting the weed bed and visiting a clearing (around the size of a small brolly) in amongst a smaller weed bed. With a little work to clear some of the surface weed, using a spod with a couple of sticks wedged through it, I was able to clear enough weed to be able to get my line down. I cast a small PVA bag, with some crumbed bollie and a small pop-up into the clearing; closely followed by around 10 freebies. My second rod was cast along my left margin, again on a small PVA bag. The atmosphere was electric and I knew that this was the best chance catching another one I’d had in months of angling.

The night pasted uneventfully, but early the next morning the rod fished in the clearing signalled a fast take, as the bobbin smashed into the rod blank. I was fishing with a very tight clutch to try and stop the fish from burying itself into the weed bed, but it was still ripping line from the spool. With maximum pressure I managed to turn it and got it heading back towards the clearing. However, on a further three occasions it went on a charge and flat rodded me every time!

Eventually it started to tire and I managed to get it my side of the weed bed – but it still wasn’t ready to give up. No more than 10 yards out it managed to bury its head in yet another weed bed and everything just locked up. I gave the fish as much pressure as I dared, but to no avail. I put the rod back on the buzzer and quickly reeled my left hand rod in and placed my net in the water. After a few minutes I picked the rod back up and gently pulled back into the fish. To my amazement it came straight out and the fight was back on. I could feel the battle was nearly won and the fish had now come up to just under the surface, gliding towards my waiting net. The fish had other ideas though, and with one last charge for freedom, the rod sprung back and I was left with that sickening feeling! I couldn’t believe it, the hook had pulled. I beat myself up for weeks after, as I knew that I couldn’t afford to be losing fish on a tricky venue like Vinny.

That was to be my last take before they spawned. I decided to give them a bit of a rest and headed to Burghfield and on my first session I managed to bag a stunning 33lb 8oz common, which really was one of my highlights of 2015.

I also managed a couple of session back on a local club water, where I had a score to settle and managed nine bites – topped by a really nice 36lb common, in just 48 hours fishing. Not long after I returned back to Vinnetrow (in late August), on a high and feeling really confident but was soon brought back down to earth, managing to lose another fish.
On the whole this has to be one of my worst ever seasons, and it has been a very steep learning curve. But I have a plan, roll on 2016!