It was the 8th February 2016 and I had just finished an eleven hour shift at work. The weather up until now had been some of the mildest we had experienced for a number of years, with mostly warm South Westerly winds and the temperatures hadn’t dropped below double figures for weeks!
Normally I would wait until the following morning before heading off fishing, but with a massive storm forecast I knew I needed to get down the pond. To add to this my mate Daz was already down and he informed me that another angler was also going to be heading down. With the very strong winds we had forecast, my plan was to fish on the back of the wind in a swim called the Middle Bumpy and see out the worst of the storm before moving sometime the next day, as I figured the winds would be too strong for me to fish my baited area effectively.
I had been baiting an area called the lawns very heavily for four months, making the round trip drive of almost 250 miles, in between sessions, just to keep the bait going in. I would also bait before I left and I was convinced that even though the lake held a relatively low stock the unseasonably mild weather would keep the fish feeding. Add the bird life into the equation, which would make a huge dent in the amount of easily available food! My bait consisted of 20kg buckets of hemp, ground bait and pigeon conditioner, with around 15kg of boilie for good measure.
As I set off for my 120+ mile drive I could feel the wind increasing in strength as I was constantly having to adjust my steering angle on the van as I raced down the M25. I knew that the other angler was due to arrive at around 10pm and I hoped I could beat him down as I just knew he would have the same plan as myself! As I got closer to the lake the weather took a turn for the worst as the forecasters had predicted. Not only had the wind got up to gale force but the rain was lashing down at a vast rate. Then the inevitable happened and some d*ckhead thought he could equal Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap at Silverstone and wrapped his motor round a crash barrier on the A3. My heart sank and after sitting in a massive traffic jam for almost two hours, my mate Daz rang to confirm my worst fears and the said angler had beat me down and as expected headed straight into the middle bumpy. It was a no brainer really and I must admit I was a bit pissed off and even toyed with the idea of turning round and heading home. I decided that I would park up the road in a lay-by and drive to the lake for first light and weigh up my options.
As first light loomed I was already up and standing in the lawns (the swim I had been baiting). The rain had eased somewhat, but the wind was savage and I could barely stand without being blown around. I figured it was far too strong to allow me to fish effectively, so I just spent most of the morning walking around moping and poncing tea off Daz.
I had pretty much made my mind up that I was going to tuck myself away in a little swim out of the wind at the complete opposite end of the lake and see how this progressed as I had three nights at my deposal. Whilst having one last cup of tea with Daz, he informed me that the said angler in the Middle Bumpy was planning a move at midnight to the Lawns when the wind died down. I wasn’t going to be outdone twice, so with Daz’s help we were soon struggling to put my Armo bivvy up. The wind was so strong I ended having to use 16 inch bank sticks to keep the thing from ending up in the ground behind me!
I fished three rods and decided to flick one to the right just next to a little overhanging tree. The middle rod went out to my baited zone and my left rod at around 70 yards range to an apex of the reception building on the opposite bank. Due to the massive winds it was a real struggle to get the rods bang on and feeling for a drop was almost impossible. I remember going to bed that night thinking I had no chance of catching.
Up until this point Vinnetrow had not been very kind to me and I had banked only one of the three bites I had managed that season. I put this down to lots of reasons, with the main one being it was difficult to regularly get on the fish due to angling pressure, but also over baiting when I did manage to drop on fish. We live and learn!
Just before first light the following morning I was woken by the constant bleeping on my left and middle buzzers. I sat on my bed chair blaming the wind for pushing debris onto my lines, which by now had slowed a little. Eventually I could take no more and was busting for a pee, so got out to shake the lines clear and reset the bobbins. I had been fishing with the bobbins on the other side of the alarms to reduce the sensitivity due to the constant bleeping caused by the wind. After looking at the rods, both lines had been pulled from the clips, so I popped them back in, reset the bobbins and climbed back into my bag to try and get some much needed sleep. Minutes later the bleeping started again and I tried my best to ignore them until I could take no more and decided to reel them in and redo the rods. I bought the right hand rod in and then noticed that both my other rods had been pulled from the clips again and the bobbin on my middle was moving up and down! Oh sh*t I think I might need to hit that!
As I picked up the rod I was met with slack line. I reeled and reeled until eventually my left hand bobbin started to pick up too! I’d obviously had a pick up and the fish was trying to make the sanctuary of the snags to my left. It had picked up the line on my left hand rod and by now I was sh*tting myself at the thought of losing my third fish in a row. I kept pulling what felt like a dead weight toward me until a great big set of shoulders surfaced around 15 yards out, which could only belong to one fish! It was all going ok until around 10 yards out when everything locked up as the two lines knitted together. Without a thought and fully clothed with my Snugpac jacket and thermal wellies on I grabbed my net and jumped straight in! I must add that although Vinnetrow is quite shallow, it’s not something I would recommend for anyone to do, but I wasn’t about to let this one get away. I waded out as far as I dared and at full stretch and I could feel my jacket popping me up with the air trapped inside it. I just about managed to get the whole lot into the waiting net and pulled it towards me.
As I looked into the net my suspicion was confirmed and there before me laid the Half Lin in all her winter glory. I let out a massive shout of joy and called Daz to come round and confirm it was indeed the Half Lin.
That bought my time on the pond to an end as although the lake contained some cracking fish, I really only joined for that one fish. On the scales she weighed in at a massive 57lb 8oz and I must admit that on the drive home that morning I was beaming from ear to ear. I did reflect on how lucky I had been with all the ‘if’s and buts’ however it proved to be magical session and the memories inspire me to keep at it, as they can often come when you least expect it!