It was the 8th February 2016 and I had just finished an eleven-hour shift at work. The weather up until now had meant that it had one of the mildest winters we had experienced for a number of years, with mostly warm south-westerly winds and temperatures that had not dropped below double figures for weeks on end!
Normally, I would wait until the following morning before heading off fishing, but with a massive storm forecast I knew I needed to get down the pond ASAP! To add to this urgency, my mate Daz was already down and had informed me that another angler was also going to be heading down imminently. With the very strong winds we had forecast, my plan was to fish on the back of the wind, in a swim called the Middle Bumpy, to see out the worst of the storm, before moving sometime the next day as I figured the winds would be too strong for me to fish my baited area effectively.
I had been baiting an area very heavily, in a swim called The Lawns, for four months, making the round-trip drive of almost 250 miles in between sessions, just to keep the bait going in. Additionally, I would also bait before I left at the end of each session. I was utterly convinced that, even though the lake held a relatively low stock, the unseasonably mild weather would keep the fish feeding. Of course, to add to this, the bird life would make a huge dent in the amount of easily available food as the venue was both clear and shallow! In fact, my bait ups consisted of several buckets of bait, that was 20kg of hemp, ground bait and pigeon conditioner, with around 15kg of boilie added just for good measure.
As I set off for the 120+ mile drive to the lake I could feel the wind increasing in strength and I was constantly having to adjust the steering wheel angle on the van to compensate against the big gusts as I raced down the M25. I knew that the other angler was due to arrive at around 10PM, and just hoped I could beat him down, as I just knew he would have the same plan as I did! As I got closer to the lake the weather took a turn for the worst, just as the forecasters had predicted, as not only had the wind got up to gale force but the rain was lashing down at a biblical rate. Then the inevitable happened, some dickhead thought he could equal Lewis Hamilton’s pole position lap at Silverstone and wrapped his motor round a crash barrier on the A3! My heart sank, as after sitting in a massive traffic jam for the best part of 2 hours Daz rang to confirm my worst fears – the other angler had beaten me down and, as expected, had headed straight into the middle bumpy. It was a no brainer really, but I must admit that I was a bit pissed off and even toyed with the idea of turning the van around and heading home. In the end I decided that I would park up the road in a nearby lay-by and drive to the lake for first light, weighing up my options then…
As first light loomed I was already up and standing in The Lawns, the swim that I had been baiting. Luckily, the rain had eased somewhat but the wind was absolutely savage, and I could barely stand there without being blown around! I figured it was far too strong to allow me to fish effectively, so instead I just spent most of the morning walking around, moping and poncing tea off Daz.
In the end I had pretty much made my mind up that I was going to tuck myself away in a little swim, out of the wind and at the complete opposite end of the lake, and see how this progressed as I had three nights at my deposal. Then, whilst having one last cup of tea with Daz he informed me that the angler in The Middle-Bumpy was planning to move into the lawns at midnight, when the wind was forecast to died down. Well I was not going to be outdone twice, so with Daz’s help we were soon struggling to put up my Armo bivvy in the face of the brutal conditions. The wind was so strong that I ended up having to use 16-inch bank sticks as bivvy pegs, just to keep the thing from ending up in the road behind me!!