I spent January making my plans and getting all my gear ready, with new lines on all my spools, bait ordered, and plans made. By the end of the month I was really fired up, even more so when I heard a strong rumour of a very big fish coming from a local water that I already had a ticket for. I’d fished the other lakes on the ticket, but had held back on this one for some reason. I had a few walks round, but it was apparent, that as with everywhere, it was pretty badly flooded. Being so close to the Thames it was probably worse than others, and only one bank was fishable, the rest of it was over ankle deep all round. I didn’t let that put me off, as it was small enough that you could reach all of it in any case. I did half a dozen nights through February, but it was cold and the lake was still lifeless, still in proper winter mode. I never saw a sign of a fish. I enjoyed it though, and it was exciting to fish somewhere new, that was nice and close to home.
The first week of March was when I saw my first fish, as late one night I heard one crash out in the darkness, and the following morning another showed in a snaggy corner. That same week the level had dropped so much, it was possible to walk round the entire lake. It was all building nicely, and then the lockdown came! It was frustrating, but in the scheme of what was happening in the world, far less important.
During the lockdown I got the news I had been waiting a long time for, I was offered a ticket on an Essex lake that I had been desperate to get in for some time. I had been guested over there a couple of times over the years, so I knew what to expect. I paid for my ticket and couldn’t wait for lockdown to end. It was May before it did, and I had heard the Essex lake was busy, so my first trip was to a Kent water which I had also just got into. It had a booking on system so at least I knew I was fishing when I got there. I was extra excited, as for the first time in at least 10 years I had changed bait. Essential had recently released the new K5, and Mike had kindly sent me down some to try. I have used the famous B5 for so long, but it was exciting to get on something new early, and being a krill-based mix, it was a lovely light brown colour and smelt awesome. Sadly, it didn’t start too well, as let’s just say the Kent lake wasn’t for me, and after one night I was packing up at 6am, and on the M25 heading for Essex. I had another night left, and when I got to the lake there was only one other car there. It was hot, with the temperature in the mid 20s even that early, so I left all my kit in the car and went for a look round.