My first ‘proper’ session of the year on Hollybush wasn’t till the back end of April, as I had been working a lot and just doing the odd day session as and when I could. It got to a point where I really wanted a longer session so I decided to take some time off work and get back out on the bank for a few nights.

I arrived at the lake midweek, and it was (surprisingly) quite busy; but after having a good walk round and having a chat with most of the other anglers it transpired that the majority where leaving in the morning and just doing an ‘overnighter’. Consequently, I decided to set up in the shallowest corner of the lake, as I had seen a few fish mooching around and nobody else was fishing this area of the lake.

With fish in the area I really didn’t want to make too make much disturbance, so I flicked out three stiff hinges, each on a helicopter rig to where I had seen fish showing and followed them up with a light scattering of 12 and 15mm boilies over the top of each rod. After that I got everything else set up in double quick time as the daylight was fading away.

I felt confident of a bite during the night or early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the night was uneventful and I reeled in about 9 as I could see that by now most of the anglers had left and there were only a couple left on, so I went on the search to go and find some fish.

After having a good mooch I found a few fish right on the back of the cold NE wind and I quickly got back to the swim and wasted no time packing up, just in case someone else had seen the fish and were thinking the same thing. Luckily, I got in the peg and quickly found a nice silty gully at about 30 yards out. I also found a nice clear spot down the right hand margin.

I was presenting 2 rods in the silty gully with a scattering of a 15mm custom bait from Active Bait Solutions. I was using Hinged Stiff Rigs over the top, tied with 20lb Tripwire, silt coloured Ultra Skin Stiff 25lb booms (which matches the lake bed perfectly that I was fishing on) and a razor sharp size 6 Covert Dark Incizor. The helicopter rig was tied with the Camflex Leadfree in muddy silt.

The rod down the margin was on bottom bait rig, again tied with 25lb Stiff Ultra Skin, but this time in the brown version and coupled with a Covert Dark Incizor. The lead presentation I chose on this rod was an inline lead and I was crushing up and throwing whole 12 and 15mm boilies.

Within 10 minutes the middle rod was away with the first fish! After the fish had found every weed bed in the swim I finally had an upper double mirror in the net. I was well happy to catch one in such a short time and after getting all the pictures done I slipped the fish back and got the rod straight back out on the spot.

As time went by I hadn’t seen anything in the time since I caught that mirror earlier in the day, but I was still confident that I was in the right place. It was quiet throughout the night and not much was happening around the lake so there wasn’t a lot to move on anyway. I woke up at around 6AM and saw a few fish jumping out and there were fish fizzing on the spot. With all the activity I was sure something was going to happen…

After watching the fish for another hour or so ripping up the spot, the bobbin on the middle rod finally hit the blank and I was into my second fish of the session. The fish was staying deep and certainly didn’t want to be in my net, as it was burying itself into any weed bed it could find. Finally after an extremely intense battle I had a lovely looking mirror in the net, and it didn’t look a bad size either. The beauty went over 28lb on the scales and I was really pleased with my result.

After getting everything sorted out I got the rod back on the spot and put another scattering of boilies out over the top. I ended up with 4 fish up to just over 29lb, all hooked from the same spot.

The next couple of times I was down at Hollybush were just quick overnight sessions, and unfortunately nothing happened. I planned to get home from work early one Friday, and get down the lake for a Friday and Saturday night. When I turned up at the lake I could see it was rammed and were only a couple of free pegs to fish in for the night.

Once again I spoke to a few anglers and once again it seemed like most were pulling off on the Saturday morning. I set up where I felt most confident for a bite, even though I had not seen anything, but the way I figured it was that I was going to be up early doors to move pegs. In fact I was going to try and get back in the swim where I’d caught the 4 fish from during my session in late April.

I woke up at the crack of dawn and watched the water for a while, before deciding to pack the gear away and move pegs. Luckily, I managed to get in the swim that I wanted to be in and there were a couple of fish about and I elected to fish the same spots and with the same rig presentation as the previous trip.

The day was quiet and not much was happening around the lake, but I was still confident as I have caught all my fish from this swim early morning, apart from one which was mid-day.

As I was watching the sun set I saw a few fish showing around the area, so I was sure of a bite before I left. I woke up first light and could see I had fish over my bait as there was fizzing all over the spot. The middle rod ripped off and I was finally into a fish! It didn’t feel very big and was a very energetic fish and I could tell it was one of the smaller fish. After another eventful fight I finally slipped my net under a mid-double mirror.

After that I decided to reel the rod in down the margin and cast it out to where I just caught the fish from, and then I scattered 20 or so baits over the top. I was getting a couple of things ready to take pictures and then the rod I had only just put out went into meltdown and I was in to my second fish.

Luckily someone was walking by and they were able to give me a hand with netting the fish as I already had the other one in the net as well. This one felt like a better fish. As the fish came to the surface I could tell it was one I was after. ‘The Woodcarving’ was finally in my net, and whilst it’s far from the biggest fish it maybe the best looking one in the lake.

We got all the pictures done and I was buzzing that I had captured one of my targets. This is where my spring fishing ended as the next week they started spawning. Roll on summer…

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