Following a last minute call on Thursday night, I found myself turning up to fish a guest session on a lake I knew very little about, even though it’s less than a mile from my house I’d only walked one bank about 10 years ago. Arriving in the dark and rain did not help, luckily my mate Dan had fished there for the last couple of years and he gave me the lowdown on what had been out recently and what areas he thought might give us a chance. We had a planned the trip to be a bit of a social, so with two other mates coming done later we chose to fish along a long spit that fished towards some deeper water and close to the areas that had done some fish during the Christmas holidays. The lake has a bit of form for fishing well in the colder weather and had done four or five fish in the last month. The wind was bitterly cold as we set up and right on cue the rain started after we had made the trek through the mud to the swims.

Dan let me decide where I wanted to go, so based on his info, I went in the point swim hoping to pick off any fish that might move into the bay on my left that would get any sun during the day. After a brief lead about I settled for two spots at about 40 yards out. Both were firm silt areas at the base of the gravel bars. My plan was to fish with small bright pop ups over particle, that I would top up regularly and hopefully draw some fish onto my spots.

The first night passed with a few liners and a couple of shows off the far margin. The angler fishing in the bay to my left had some action in the night, so we felt confident we were in the right area. During Saturday I had to make an emergency trip to the tackle shop for new boots as mine had split and were leaking like a sieve. As I got back to the swim, my mates were all dashing off to fish the far margin snags where they had seen a few fish show, they had one rod each and planned to give it a go for a few hours. I left them too it and settled back in my swim with lovely toasty toes. Dan managed to sneak one out on their little expedition and I had seen a couple of shows near my spot whilst they were away.

My first action came on Sunday morning shortly before first light, after a series on singles bleeps one showed right on top of my right hand rod, then it was away. The bobbin pulled up slowly then it just ticked off. The fish felt fairly decent as it kept low and plodded about in the deep water, it gradually came in and after a few last minute lunges for the trees in the margin a nice common slipped in the net. I sorted everything out weighed it at 27lb, popped it in a retainer and quickly got the rod back on the spot. After a brew to calm myself down I wandered down the bank to get Dan for some photos. We decided to wait a bit for the light to improve, so another tea was in order, along with a healthy slice of abuse and congratulations. We got Lee and Adam along to help with the photos, all set and ready to go, then as I lifted the retainer the recast rod was away again. The guys secured the common in the retainer and gathered in my swim as I netted a 19lb mirror. A cracking start to a Sunday morning and a winter brace on my first trip to the lake. Obviously the abuse and banter levels increased in recognition of my fluky captures. Same as before I wasted no time getting the rod back on the spot as there was obviously a group of fish in the area, so whilst my mates put the second fish in a retainer I dropped both rods on the spot in front of me and topped it up with few Spombs of particle. Both of the fish were nailed and the rigs were clearly working. The Size 6 Covert Dark Mugga’s that I had sharpened to a needle point were so sharp that they were catching on everything when tying a bait on. I had set them up as a ‘Ronnie’ Rig fished low above the particle on a short supple Ultra Skin hooklink, a set up that I have loads of confidence in.

I topped up the spot again after about an hour, shortly after this the liners started again and within 30 minutes the first of three in a row tore off. This one felt much livelier than the others and was darting about all over the swim, soon enough a 21lb common was in the net. Again the first job was to get back on the spot, so whilst Dan sorted the fish out I cast it back out and started to put some bait out. As the second Spomb hit the water the recast rod pulled round. Adam grabbed my spod rod as I picked up the right hand rod. The fish stayed deep and plodded around in the margin before kiting towards the bay on my left and eventually a deep bodied common of 27lb rolled over the net cord. I really could believe it, another brace, or so I thought. We got the second common sorted and rod back on the spot, set the mat and camera up ready for the shots. I was holding up the bigger common for the first picture when the alarm started howling and I was away again! The lads sorted the common out and raced along the mud slipping and sliding my way to the third take in short succession. After a short scrap another 21lb common was in the net.

We sorted everything out and got some great shots with the three commons, sharing the moment with a great bunch of lads made it so memorable. After the utter carnage my swim looked like a bomb had gone off, so I took a while to get it all sorted and tidied up. Five fish in a morning, what session. I had planned to leave at lunchtime, but whilst it was kicking off I decided to make the most of it and stay the rest of the day. Just before 2 o’clock I had another fish, again it came after a few Spombs of bait had been put out and during the next half an hour I had two more fish. The first was a nice clean common with a hint of ghostie and the second a cracking common of 32lb. This really was a dream session, I’d got into a bit of a groove recasting regular baiting and the fish were really on it.

The next take came about 30 minutes after slipping the last fish back and straight away it felt much bigger than the rest of the fish. It was stripping line right from the off and flat rodded me as I tried to slow it down. It took me up and down the deep channel in front of me and kept deep as it got close in desperately trying to get into the snags to my right. I piled on the pressure and a glorious scaley flank rolled just beyond the net. Dan was holding the net and I think we swore in unison as it dived under the net and back towards the snags. Once again I piled on the pressure and this time it popped up and time stood still as it wallowed on the surface waiting to be netted. I was blown away, this was a special fish, with big apple slice scales along it’s flanks and glorious winter colours this was a perfect way to end the day. The afternoon sun was low and golden as we took the pictures and the fish looked amazing as I held it up for the camera. At 42lb 8oz Dan confirmed it was a new lake record, a fish known as the Half Lin. I was on cloud nine, one of the best looking fish I’ve ever caught.

The day was coming to an end and it was time to pack up, I’d almost loaded the barrow when unbelievably I had another take, the final fish of the day was a long, fit common of 27lb.

I’d had nine fish in twelve hours, including a new lake record, unbelievable, on guest session and on my first trip to the lake. I think the regular baiting and getting the rods back on the spot played a big part in the day. I owe a massive thank you to my mates, who not only helped me on the day, but also shared the mental buzz.