Of the two swims, the furthest end one was my favourite, as I was certain that the spots I had found seemed much better; not too big and blatant, and without too much else in the swim to choose from, hopefully more selective. I focused my baiting on these features and was always careful to avoid the eyes of any other anglers.
As September came, everything began falling into place and I decided it was time to actually begin fishing in earnest. I had necessarily held back until now, as the green algae stained water didn’t look right at all. But as time went on it slowly began to clear, and some big winds stirred it all up, steadily making the lake appear more alive.
By now I had spent so much time down there that I was more than ready, and as the hot summer temperatures began to cool, and the leaves began to turn, I made my first visit with all my gear. I went straight into the end swim and having made hundreds of casts to my three spots already, had my rods out in no time. Even knowing how hard this place was, I had a massive sense of anticipation, and my confidence was boosted further when the following morning I saw a couple of definite shows, but most importantly, one of the shows was definitely the big mirror. This gave me a massive confidence boost, as I knew for certain that I was in the right area, and that she was there. It was frustrating too, as when I left that day, I knew I could not fish again for some 10 days, due to night shifts at work. I used that week well though, often visiting in the very early morning while it was still dark, picking my way carefully along the overgrown paths to the far end, to sit and watch as daylight gradually filtered through the ancient trees.
I topped up the spots on most visits and was counting down the days until I could return with my gear. By the time I was back it was mid-October and the days were noticeably shorter. The lake had that really carpy autumnal feel about it, with the onset of winter not being far away. During the first 24 hours I saw nothing, and that night we had the first frost of the year, causing the sloe berries in my swim to fall, turning my groundsheet purple as I trod them into it. At the time there was a big NW wind that was blowing over my head, and to be honest it looked so bleak that I thought of cutting my trip short. However, I was buoyed by a phone call from my friend, who told me he had caught her the night after the first frost the previous year.
I put the rods back out that afternoon, using my ultimate in stealth step up of Mirage fluorocarbon line, chod coloured leads and a stiff hinge rig with an extremely sharp Chod hook, that looked invisible bar the B5 pop-up as I tested it in the edge. I can remember how hard the left-hand rod smacked down on the cast, a crack that I felt all the way through the rod as the lead hit bottom. At 6PM that evening the left-hand rod was away, and soon after I was standing there in awe as the big mirror was in my net after a savage battle, and a bite completely out of the blue.