I had been on one trip to the big pit, my new adventure for this year, and as well as proving a considerable new challenge, it was a massive learning experience too. Fishing using a boat is indeed a new skill, and whilst it has fantastic advantages, it was also proving to be tricky to master to say the least!
It was a big boost to have had a fish that first trip, but deep down I wanted to prove it wasn’t a fluke, and I knew getting the next one would be by no means easy. The next trip was another leaning one, in that I left after two rain filled nights without a bleep, but still I had more confidence in using the boat, and more valuable knowledge of the lake. In truth I’d not seen a thing, despite motoring round and round the lake for hours, so had set up on a guess. It had failed, but I wasn’t too despondent, as I’d come away with a better understanding of how to find spots from the boat out in the lake, and then how to fish them effectively.
The next trip turned out to be a very memorable one. I’d arrived later than my usual first light, and knowing my good friend big Jim was fishing on the first island, I took my loaded boat over there to catch up with him first. As we sat there having a cup of tea, he had a violent take on a rod fished over to some far bank snags. He was locked up, but by the way the fish was pulling, and the deep boils that were coming up, it looked even that early on that it was a good one. As it rolled I got a glimpse of the golden scales of a big common, and I held out the net as it pulled it over the cord. One look inside and I knew I’d never seen a common that big, and at 51 lbs plus it was an incredible moment, just to witness such a capture.
I let Jim get himself together as I set off to find somewhere to fish. I had made a pact with myself not to start until I found fish, and after a fruitless search around the main body of the lake, I found half a dozen small ones against some snags in the area I had taken my first fish from. They weren’t the biggest, but they were all I could find, so I hastily set my Tempest brolly up, before doing some photos for Jim.
Back in my swim I knew of two spots, but while out looking in the boat I found a polished glowing sandy area amongst the light weed of the far margin. It was pretty blatant though, as it was shallow and shone bright yellow in the sunshine. I didn’t have great hope for it, but none the less I was soon dropping a pink pop up on it from the boat, coupled with a handful of B5 free baits. I guessed it to be around 6 feet deep, but as I lowered my rig I could easily see it settle on the bottom, the stiff Mirage boom section kicking the pop up away from the lead as it touched down, and I plunged the rod dip below the surface and using my finger against the spool played out the line as I motored back to the swim. As I got back I laid the rod on the floor and began sorting the next, until I heard the clutch spinning on the rod I’d literally just put out. This one really went hard, even at about 120 plus yards, and I was grateful for having the 18lb GT-HD line on. This one got stuck fast though, and I was soon heading out to it in the boat, winding down with the rod and using that as the way of getting out to it. I had in my mind that it was only going to be a small one, as that is all I’d seen, but as it all came free, I could see a decent mirror twisting and turning beneath me. Playing fish from the boat isn’t easy, and a number of times I was spun around and facing in the wrong direction as I tried to put some pressure on it. On the bank they want to run away from you, but in the boat all they want to do is go hard down for the bottom. It was exciting though, and I prayed for a decent hook hold as time after time it buried itself deeper and deeper. With my knees aching from kneeling on the bottom of the hard boat, I eventually pulled it into the net. It was a lovely long dark mirror that went 31 lbs, and within a few hours of arriving I’d netted a 50, and had a 30 myself!
The following evening, I witnessed a show like I’d not seen before on this lake, as fish after fish rolled in an area about the size of a tennis court, in front of the swim behind me, but ¾ of the way across towards the far bank. After I’d seen the first 20 plus shows enough was enough, and I bought one of my other rods in, and was soon boating over into this area. It wasn’t hard to see where to be, as on the surface lay strands of torn up weed, and in the eerie silence, one jumped out a matter of feet away, as I was preparing to swing out my rig. I’d put on a naked chod, with a little 1.5 oz Bolt Bomb lead, and I swung it out in the zone when I was still about 15 yards short, in the hope that would give me the most stealth. The lead went down with a dull thud, and putting the motor in reverse I slowly made my way back. In truth I thought I’d ruined it, as from dropping the lead I never saw another fish. I was rewarded though, as an hour later that rod was off, and I was soon netting a 23lb common. This one was nailed on the chod rig too, the lead having discharged from the Drop Out Chod Safety Clip I was using. It was a bonus capture, the result of watching the water and being prepared to grab an opportunity.
The following two trips were blanks. The first session I found out the hard way and how difficult boat fishing in heavy weed is. The area I was in had thick stems of hornwort hitting the surface, horrible stuff that completely clogged the outboard propeller. I’d found a couple of nice spots in the middle of it though, just dark holes between the weed, that a bare lead thumped down inside. I dropped off the H -Bloks, but out there in the wind and rain trying to put a bait into them was a different story, as without the stability of the motor, I was soon blown way off where I wanted to be, and unable to get any sort of line lay over the weed. It was frustrating, as I did see fish there, but in truth I simply never got it right, and fished poorly as a consequence.
On almost every trip I had seen fish in one particular area, just off one of the old sailing club buoys. In fact the previous week I had sat watching at least half a dozen show in this area, and had mentally stored it away for another day. There must be something that they liked there, but I had never fished it before. With nothing to go on and arriving late the following week, I thought I’d take a chance and give it a go. It took me a while to find what I was looking for, but I soon had a couple of nice humps rising up from 16 feet to around 12 located. They had lovely hard spots on the back just as they began dropping away in the deeper water, and it was almost dark by the time I had positioned the rods and. I wasn’t too worried, as every show had been early in the morning. With that I mind I was up first thing, full of anticipation, but by 12pm I’d not seen a thing. Feeling disappointed I made a hasty decision to move, and loaded the boat before setting off to the main snags swim for my last night. I’d not fished this one before, and a change of gear was needed. I put on my spools of Hydro Sink braid coupled with a 20lb mirage fluorocarbon leader, with big 4oz leads fished drop off style. In truth I’m not a fan of braid as a mainline, but in these circumstances I could see the advantages, the lack of stretch giving far earlier bite indication, that I would need to get any hooked fish away from the snags. It was also a first outing for the new Dark Covert Chod hooks. This new coating giving them a brilliant subtle finish and retaining a razor sharp point. There were a number of nice looking hollows in the far bank trees, but I chose 3 and boated over to them one at a time. About half way across was a big band of weed up on the surface, and I lifted the motor and rowed through this, before being able to use the outboard again on the far side. It wasn’t easy, but after a while I had 3 perfectly position baits in the different hollows, each with a handful of baits around. I knew this area was a daytime spot, and hoped I would get one chance before I had to leave the next day around lunchtime.
The next day was overcast and warm, perfect conditions, and at 9am the right hand rod pulled up tight and the locked up clutch giving nothing. As I pulled into the fish the lead had already ejected, and I pumped it as hard as I could away from the far bank. Once it was away from there I knew I had done the most difficult part, but about halfway back it became stuck in the same weed that I had to row through to get my baits out. With my life jacket on I was soon paddling out there, and even once I got above it I struggled to free it, with the rod tip juddering as I got line back an inch at a time. With every bit came tip clogging strands of weed, until suddenly the fish woke up and powered off, soaking me and taking back the line I had worked so hard to gain. This went on for an age and at one point the orange pop up came up to the surface mid fight, but like the hook, my luck held too. I got a number of looks at the fish, and could see it was a big scaley mirror, and a cracking looking one at that. Twenty minutes in and my arm and knees were aching, and I felt no nearer to netting it, until almost on its first roll on the surface I pulled it and a big pile of weed, into the net.
It really was a stunner and at 32lbs I was delighted as I held it up for the camera, one of the lake’s jewels.