After enjoying a fantastic season on the Hollybush Lane Lakes Syndicate last year I would have loved to have spent another season there this year especially after my time there was cut short due to illness. However, with my wedding in Portugal on the horizon in September I knew I had to be realistic and although the ticket was a very reasonable price it involved an hour journey each way and was costing a fair amount each month especially with all the mid-week bait up trips. I wanted to try and stay more local so I could save some extra money for the wedding and one lake sprung to mind straight away. The lake in question is a large 55 acre Southern pit close to my home and accessible on a cheap club ticket. Although it’s notoriously tricky and can get very busy, the stock it contains is quite special with fish knocking on the door of 60lbs! I often wondered why I had waited so long to acquire a ticket.

I purchased my ticket in March and after changing some of the kit over to suit long range fishing and topping up the bait supplies I was keen as a beaver to get down and start trying to figure things out. Needless to say it was all a bit of a struggle to begin with as I had been hand placing my rigs in the margins all of the previous year and now had to try and fish and bait at extreme range! I was regularly seeing fish though and learning with each trip as well as improving with distance and accuracy. My fist bite from the lake came on my 12th night around the start of May. I was fishing single hook baits on chod rigs towards the out of bounds area at 175 yards (still 30 or so yards away from the fish!) and as I was watching the water at first light my right hand rod absolutely melted off! I jumped out of the bag and was at the rod within a second but unfortunately it wasn’t quick enough as the line had fallen slack and I had been cut off. To say I was gutted would be an understatement, but you just have to get on with it as its the nature of fishing a place like this!

I racked up a couple more blank two night trips after that session but the week after I had a 4 night trip planned around my birthday and arrived to a surprisingly quiet lake on Tuesday, the morning of my birthday. I had a good look around and had seen several good fish show at extreme range right in the middle of the lake and fortunately for me, the peg controlling that water was free, so the tackle was swiftly trundled around from the car. Once in the swim and knowing I had plenty of time ahead of me I spent the next couple of hours doing… well nothing apart from watching the water. I wanted to try and work out the best area to position my rigs from what I was seeing rather than rush into it and sure enough several shows later I knew the zone I needed to be in. I had a good lead around and found a nice smooth hard silty area at 160 yards and placed three rods bang on the money before depositing a bucket of bait over the top. After having a good tidy up it was time to enjoy the evening as many friends popped in to help me celebrate my birthday and down a few tins of cider!

Around 6am the following morning I had a bream of around 15lb on the middle rod that also managed to wipe out my right hand rod which was far from ideal considering the wind had now strengthened from left to right meaning I wouldn’t be able to get the rigs back out without making loads of disturbance from several casts. I decided after checking the weather to wait until later in the afternoon as the wind was due to change and blow straight off my back, which it did around 2pm. I had everything ready to go and re-did all three rods whilst I had the chance. Everything went well and I was really confident that all three were on the money and all that was left to do was top up the area with another 5kg. The wind though had again swung and I now couldn’t hit the clip with the Spomb, so I decided to wait until whenever it swung again as I didn’t want to spread bait all over the place and probably ruin my chances.

The wind finally dropped around 9:30pm and I baited for two hours in the dark to get the big bucket of scalded pellet, tigers and Caviar & Cranberry boilies over the top of the rigs and was well and truly shattered afterwards! I popped the kettle on and before it had boiled I had a drop back on my left hand rod. Presuming a bream was the culprit I fully tightened the clutch and wound down 40 yards before the rod was nearly dragged out of my hand! I quickly knocked the backwind on realising this was no bream and a slow steady fight ensued but before long the fish was within 20 yards of the bank. It was at this point it decided to charge across the swim and pick up my middle rod in the process. I eventually managed to bundle a common into the net and a feeling of sheer elation swept across my body as I had finally caught my first fish from the tricky big pit! As the fish had only recently spawned and temperatures were very warm I woke the chap up next door and we rattled off a few night shots and released “The Kinky Back Common” before retiring back to bed. I was made up with the capture and felt like another fish was on the cards but despite them showing on me nothing else happened for the rest of the trip and I packed up for home Saturday lunchtime pleased to be off the mark.

The next few trips were again fish less, but I felt close every time and they often showed up on my bait the day after I had left. I had also had several trips where they were all over me but I just couldn’t get a bite! After speaking with some friends that had previously done well on the lake they both said it was because I was using a helicopter arrangement and I should try lead clips. They both thought that despite hitting the clip etc. when fishing at this range the heli set up was tangled 90% of the time therefore rendering my rigs useless. I trusted their opinion as they had both started off the same way fishing helicopter rigs and being done time and time again before switching to lead clips and experiencing almost instant results. That week at home I spent a lot of time in the man cave tying leaders and rigs ready for my two nights after work on Thursday and felt confident if I could get on them again I may be able to swing the fortune a little more in my favour with rigs that would hopefully be presented a lot better!

I arrived on Thursday after work and the lake was fairly quiet with only a couple of people in each of the bays and one other person fishing the main expanse of water. I had a good look around and again saw a few fish in the middle so I set up in a swim commanding that water, which also had a nice wind blowing off my shoulder to aid with casting. As I hadn’t seen loads I only baited lightly with around 3kg of my mix which consisted of scalded pellet, maple peas and loads of Caviar & Cranberry boilies from Carp Company. The spot I was fishing was very smooth silt in amongst much more choddy silt at 156 yards. I decided to fish all three rods on hinge stiff rigs with size six Covert Dark Chod hooks coupled with Trip Wire and Ultra Stiff Skin for the boom sections.

The first night passed uneventfully and during the next morning I saw a lot of shows in the middle indicating there were a lot of fish out there and some were chunks too! At around mid-day I made the decision to recast all the rods and bait extremely heavily whilst the wind was assisting me. It was due to change at around 5pm, which would coincide with when most other anglers would be turning up for the weekend and making their own disturbance with leads and Spombs whilst my area would be quiet. I Spombed for nearly four hours and I think I must have put out over 10kg of boilie alone and probably 20kg of bait in total. I can assure you that is a lot of bait especially when you are using a medium size Spomb and fishing at that range!

Shortly after I finished Spombing a friend turned up for a social and a takeaway and with another friend in the swim next door it seemed we would be in for a good evening. We sat chatting whilst drinking a few cold ciders and there were so many fish showing out in the middle with several very close to my area. All of a sudden my left hand rod on a 12mm pink Caviar and Cranberry pop up went in to meltdown. The take was so fast it had lifted the rod from the alarm which had not beeped once! On lifting the rod I could tell it was a powerful fish as it proceeded to strip a further 40 yards of braid from a tight clutch. A game of too and throw ensued but gradually each time I was gaining line and the fish was soon in the deep left hand margin, but it had other ideas and went across my other two rods and down the right hand margin. Luckily it didn’t pick up my other rods and Calum had slipped into next door’s waders and joined me ready with the net. Another few minutes of being beaten up followed before eventually Calum scooped up what was a clearly large mirror. I may have let out a fairly large cheer at this point as I could see I had a very special carp laying defeated in the bottom of my net! Calum stayed in the water with the fish whilst I sorted everything else with the help of my friend Chris next door. We doubled up the unhooking mats just to be on the safe side and had plenty of water to hand and between us hoisted the fish ashore. I can honestly tell you I was completely blown away by the sheer size of it once we had it on the mat. The sling was zeroed and we recorded a weight of 47lb 2oz which is also a new P.B. for me and the lads identified it as a fish known as “Bobble” which coincidently was also their P.B. carp!

Calum got some amazing photos whilst Chris kept the fish hydrated and played goalkeeper and within a few minutes she was plodding off back into the pit having made me a very happy angler. Needless to say a fair few beverages were drunk that night and a change to lead clips certainly seemed a good choice! I packed away the next day with a massive grin on my face and as I write this now almost two weeks later the grin is still there and I can’t wait to be back on the bank in the coming weeks! It’s no easy feat fishing a lake like this, so every capture is hard earned and special and I haven’t been so fired up about my angling in such a long time. Roll on the weekend!