I haven’t actually managed to get out on the bank a great deal this year compared to last, but the time I have spent out so far this year has been fairly successful. My first trip out again since my wedding last year in September was around the end of March back down on the big pit. From what I had heard from friends it had been a difficult winter with only one fish gracing the bank since the end of November. It had also been a fairly harsh winter with lots of very cold temperatures and snow on a regular basis, which also seemed to delay the start to what should have been Spring.
That first trip was, as to be expected, an uneventful night but just being out again had well and truly sparked the passion to get out a bit more regularly and get involved again. Over the coming weeks I managed either a 24 or 48 hour trip each week and focused most of my attention in one area I was regularly seeing them, keeping some bait trickling onto the same spots in the hope they would become used to finding food there. During this time I also played around with 10 foot zigs as groups of fish could regularly be seen on the warmer sunny days basking in the upper layers. Despite managing to fish them effectively in amongst the fish at distances of up to 160 yards I never managed to get a bite on one although a few other lads that had tried had a small amount of success.
My next trip was planned to be five nights as I had some time booked off work and after finishing on a Sunday at 4:30pm I made my way to the lake. On arrival I was pretty disappointed as the lake was classically rammed and after having a good walk around and a chat to people it seemed it was going to continue to be busy for the next few days. On walking around the only fish I had seen were in the area I had been concentrating my efforts on and as luck would have it a friend was in the swim controlling that water and would be leaving for work at 7am the following morning. With little else to go on and a feeling it was where I needed to be I bivvied up on the bank behind ready to occupy the swim the next morning. The evening was spent having a social, watching the water and preparing a few bits ready for the next morning.
My friend left promptly the following morning as planned and I was set up by 8am and ready to get sorted for the remaining four nights of my trip. Whilst setting up I was regularly seeing the odd fish in the general area and I had come up with a bit of a plan in my head of how I was going to approach the week ahead of me. My plan was to put some bait out over the two spots I had been tricking the bait onto during my previous trips, get my rigs out so that I was 100% happy with them and then not do anything for the remainder of the trip unless I caught one. My thinking behind this was that the lake sees so much disturbance on a daily basis through leading, casting and baiting that hopefully my area of water would remain quiet and safe and everyone else’s disturbance would push the fish on to me at some point over the trip. I baited with around 2-3kg over each of the spots which consisted of chopped, whole and crumbed Caviar & Cranberry boilies, tiger nuts and maple peas. The whole mix was pimped up with some Aminol+, Golden Corn Oil and heaps of Krill Powder all from the Carp Company stable.
Rig wise I was using three bottom bait rigs, tied up from around 14 inches of Ultra-Skin Stiff coupled with a super sharp size 4 Rigga CVR with a small piece of Covert XT Silicone Tubing, trapping the hair opposite the barb. I decided to go with three different hookbaits: a straight 18mm hardened bottom bait, a snowman with a pink C+C pop up and a pair of balanced tiger nuts all of which I had utmost confidence would last on the hair for the duration of my stay. Everything went as planned and by early Monday evening I was sat confident at what might happen over the coming days.
The one thing I can remember was the wind was savage at times and it felt freezing cold too. I felt it was because of this that everything remained quiet and by Thursday evening everything was still and motionless and I must admit I was a little despondent. Some friends had arrived that evening and we sat having a social and started to see a few fish showing at range in the middle in front of my swim. Seeing those fish brought back some much needed confidence and I went to bed that night hopeful my plan could still come to fruition.
I awoke the next morning at around 6am to a liner on my middle rod. On dragging myself out of the bag and looking out over the water I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was a huge milky patch of water right over my main spot with two rods on it! Over the coming hour myself and my friends in the neighbouring swims watched as the action intensified over the spot. First seagulls started dive bombing right over my rigs where bits were being kicked up from the feeding fish, then the shows started as the carp came up to clean their gills from the rigorous feeding and we all knew a bite was on the cards, but what followed over the coming few hours none of us expected!
Eventually after what felt like an eternity my middle rod fished with a snowman hook bait ripped off at an alarming rate. On lifting the rod the fish flat rodded me as it continued to take line charging towards the middle of the lake. With steady pressure I eventually managed to turn it and slowly gain some line as what felt like a good fish kited to my left and away from the spot. Over the following 15 minutes I would gain some line only for the fish to take off on another powerful run back towards the middle, but eventually the fish started to tire and I was gaining more and more line. After a few more minutes a good fish was having one last go at freedom in the edge before my friend scooped it up and I cheered with a sigh of relief more than anything. After calming down we got everything prepared and weighed and photographed the fish. It was at this point I realised it was an old friend, a fish known as Bobble, but I didn’t care as it was absolutely huge and a new PB for me at 53lb 2oz!
Bobble – 53lb 2oz
On slipping the fish back I noticed the spot was still alive with activity and I felt another bite was on the cards, so I decided to not recast the rod and create any unnecessary disturbance. Around twenty minutes later my left hand rod fished on a different area where I had yet to see any activity was away and I couldn’t believe my luck. Things went a little more smoothly this time and I could tell it was a smaller fish from the off. Any fish from this lake is an achievement, so when a mid 20 mirror went in the net first time of asking I was made up to have landed two in a morning. It didn’t stop there though as the remaining rod fished on the main spot, with all the activity, also burst into life half an hour after returning the twenty. What felt like another good fish gave me the right run around. The lads were used to the routine now and everything went as hoped and a beautiful chestnut mirror of 36lb+ was slipped into a retainer whilst I blasted three rigs back out for the remaining hour of my trip.
Three casts later I was happy and still seeing the odd fish in the area although the activity had majorly calmed down compared to earlier in the morning. I recovered the fish from the retainer and on lifting it for the first photos my receiver went into meltdown as the middle rod on the snowman had been picked up again! I really couldn’t believe my luck and ran to the rod and left the lads to re-retain the other fish. It was clearly attached to another good fish and it behaved exactly like the first bite of the morning only it felt heavier and was taking more line. If I’m honest there was very little I could do to control this fish and it had gone a really long way out when I started to feel some grating just after I had turned it for the first time. Within a split second everything fell slack and I wound in to find I had been cut clean off through the shock leader. I was gutted of course but I was also elated at what had already happened that morning so I didn’t dwell on it for too long! I packed up shortly after and reflected on the trip on my way home with a small smile having kept the faith throughout the week allowing my plan to come good.
I managed one blank night the following week and then work took over and I didn’t get out again until mid August. I wasn’t too bothered though if I’m honest as the lake was fishing really poorly during the heat wave and I was busy enjoying the summer and the football. I also had a week off work to landscape my own garden and install a koi pond, so all was not lost!
As with the Spring I started to do either 24 or 48 hours each week leading up to a few days off that would allow me three or four nights in one trip at the start of September. During those trips in August I was seeing them regularly but I was unable to get on the fish, but it did give me an idea of where I needed to be for my four night trip. Just like before I arrived on the Sunday after work and the lake was again really busy. A night of “camping” allowed me to jump in behind a friend early Monday morning.
My friend had already baited the areas I had planned to fish, so I decided to just fish single hook baits on the three different baited areas for the first twenty four hours as he had not received any action. I felt there would still be plenty of food around plus it didn’t need the extra disturbance. The new Kinetic Distance Braid made reaching the spots at 140+ yards easy and after half a dozen casts I was fishing! I was also seeing the odd show in the general area throughout the day and evening, so I went to bed confident in my approach.
I awoke early the next morning and sat watching the flat calm water with a brew, but the lake just seemed lifeless compared to the day before. At around 8am I was just texting a mate saying how crap it looked and no sooner had I pressed send my middle rod leapt in to life at an alarming rate before stopping as I got to the rod. I lifted the rod and could feel a fish on the end that had found a weed bed so applied steady pressure until it started to move. I could feel some grating sensation as if the fish had swam through a weed bed and I was now pulling it back through. The Kinetic Sinking Shock Leader is as tough as they come though and I soon had the fish the right side of the weed bed. The rest of the fight was a lot less hairy as it kited from left to right whilst slowly coming towards me in the upper layers and before long a corking mirror lay beaten in the net. It just so happened that Alan from Gardner was on his way to do some product filming with me, so I slipped the fish in to a retainer after weighing it at 34lb 12oz.
Alan arrived twenty minutes later and we photographed the fish and got a bit of footage too before letting it go. The rest of the day was spent filming the product videos and later that evening I re-baited the spots and got the rods sorted for the remaining two nights. Unfortunately nothing else happened during that trip despite seeing quite a few more fish in the areas I was fishing. I left a happy angler feeling confident in the approach I had been using in my angling this year. That brings us up to date so far this year but I’m excited for the coming months having not fished an autumn yet on the big pit. I’ve also managed to secure two weeks off work on the bounce in mid October so I will be planning and preparing for that over the coming months. Roll on October!