I consider myself to be very lucky being a member at Welly, as it is a VERY friendly syndicate, in which there is virtually no jealousy or sniping; it’s part of what makes angling at Welly so enjoyable. The syndicate is populated by a great bunch of rapscallions; a real mixture of larger than life personalities and carpy characters.

Amongst them is an absolute living legend. An angler of such diverse angling skill, casting prowess and guile that he literally amazed many syndicate members on his debut last summer, when he caught an extraordinary number of fish from the 2 swims nearest the car park. He certainly isn’t 1 dimensional – after all he fishes exactly twice as many swims as David Akr1Dman!

Anyway, the chipper chappy in question is none other than ‘Cheeky Chubby Chops Charlie Hayes’ and he is getting a super special mention today as he was kind enough to share the fact that he saw a fish top over in Bramble Bay on the end of a nice fresh Southerly on Sunday afternoon; and whilst the lake was horrendously busy the bay was pretty devoid of anglers. With 10 anglers scattered around the rest of the lake I decided to take this great ‘intelligence’ on board and have a good look in the bay.

The lake has been blowing hot and cold in terms of consistent results, and the fish seem to be clustering up every few days, whereupon one angler would get lucky and nab a couple of bites before either the conditions went tits up again or the group/concentration dispersed and everything went quiet again.

Geographically, the lake at Welly is slightly elevated, and combined with a relatively shallow average depth the combination means that it is really affected by the wind – but not always as you might expect. Rarely have I ever fished a venue where they actively move off anything but the warmest blow. Sunday was very much on the edge in terms of the temperature/relative humidity. It certainly wasn’t warm stood there in ‘The Up and Over’, but in the shelter of my silly little brolly, out of the breeze, it felt good enough and I hoped any fish present would stay overnight.

In fact, as I sat sheltering and working out where to put the rods a sizeable chunk hurled itself out of the water right around where 4C hero lad had said he’d seen one. It’s amazing how a sighting energizes an otherwise slow and methodical setup – and in about 30 seconds I had un-sleeved the old Centuries and set about checking hook points and putting fresh rigs and baits on.

One rod was immediately flicked out to the zone that the fish showed in; the ever faithful little pink pop up (a la Gaskins) on a Ronnie tied onto 15lb Subterfuge Soft boom section. It felt like it landed in about 4ft of water and it was a ‘that’ll do’ moment (these fish hate leads going in near them).

The next rod went up to the deep corner to my right – an awkward cast, especially with a small stringer slowing the rig down in flight, so I punched it low and feathered it hard to straighten the line and stop it being blown into the trees. It went in sweet too and that was number 2 done.

I tried something a little different rig wise on this rod, thinking (knowing) that the rig would work but with a tiny bit of a niggle that the hooking arrangement could cause a hook pull. I purposely buried that negative thought down deep down as without a little experimentation now and again our rigs wouldn’t ‘evolve’ and the fish would end up with a big advantage – dealing with the same old presentations on a regular day to day basis.

The third rod went out a couple of rod lengths to the left of the jump spot with a ‘Turbo Tweaked’ German Rig baited with a trimmed down Carp Company Caviar and Cranberry 14mm wafter (with a slither of pink pop up on to improve rig balance and add a hint of colour) and this was primed with a stringer/bag with one whole and one dusted boilie.

I slid a little 1/2ounce Drop-Out Back leads onto each line and dropped them to the bottom of the marginal shelf and let the line settle slack before clipping on the Lazy Bugs on short chains. The wind was really blustery – pumping in at me now – and setting the indicators up like this would hopefully save me suffering relentless wind bleeps from the test TLB+ alarms I was using.

The rods had only been in position a couple of hours at the most when I had a couple of bleeps on the right hand rod and I scrambled down the steps to see the locked up rod arched round. Lovely! It seemed like an age since I had snared one and I was really eager to cash in on my recent efforts at the venue.

As I picked up the rod I was greeted by one of those slow and heavy ‘sand bagging’ ponderous fish that screams MONSTER and I was gently leading her back out of the corner when I felt a bump and the rod sprang straight and I reeled in the fishless rig. I was flipping furious for taking a chance on a ‘different’ presentation, especially in such a precarious position – but without trying stuff there is no basis for progression. The mechanics worked (I got the bite!) but I think that I just need to adjust one little facet of the finished rig to keep it in. Work in progress…

Anyway, disconsolately I snipped the offending rig off and tied on a MkII German and lobbed it down to the corner into the blackness (a bloody dark night) and went and rang TLSW (Tracy) to moan about my ineptitude. I was just on my 5th whinge when the left had rod bleeped twice and was away! I hastily said ‘I’m in’ whilst dropping the phone and off I ran down the steps just as the line started peeling off a relatively tight clutch. As the rod arched over a big fish surged away and yard after yard of line was dragged off the spool. By ‘eck! This one was certainly hanging on some.

After a powerful and dogged battle I finally teased a nice looking lump into the waiting net and rang the Gaskinator back to see if he could pop round and do a couple of pictures for me and some general gillie assistance (it’s obviously always safer for these fish with an extra set of hands to help).

When the Goose Point Impregnator got round we hoisted her out, popped the Covert Dark Mugga out, that was in dead centre of her bottom lip (an awesome hook hold) and carefully weighed her at 44lb on the nose. Sweet revenge!

She was in absolutely mint condition and the cluster of scales down by the tail on its left flank indicated this fish was a new one for me (always a Brucie bonus!) and I got the rod back out sharpish with another 30 boilies scattered around the area.

Despite hearing a couple more fish show nearby shortly after recasting the rest of the night went by without further interruption to my much needed beauty sleep and soon the alarm was making its heinous noise and it was time to get up come to work…

I think I had timed it just right and with fish being seen out in the main lake for the first time in a few days and I suspect the main group has now left Bramble and gone off to quieter pastures to sift some invertebrates from the silt.

Good god! I can’t wait to get back…