Not To Plan


Hoping to squeeze in a three-night session, I popped down the lake to see what had changed after four weeks away. This place always surprises me – it looked unbelievable. The pads had filled out and the lake looked fantastic. As I walked around, there seemed to be a lot of fish down at the shallow end, so I decided to bait up there and then, depending on the weather, see if there were any signs of fish when I came back on the Thursday evening.


I arrived at the lake and could see that fish were moving in the swim I’d baited up, and once the rods were out, the liners started and I thought I would be in for a busy night, but that was not to be because the full moon killed the lake stone-dead. There was nothing throughout the night, and just as I started to use the grey matter, thinking that a move would be in order, the left buzzer sounded, a fish darted to the right and I was unable to keep up with it. The fish ploughed through a small set of pads and resulted in a hook pull … ‘That’s it!’ I thought. ‘I’m moving’.


I packed the barrow and moved to the far end of the lake. It was a bit of a trek and normally, I’d cut down on my gear, but that’s just the way things work out. As I got busy getting two rods out, the sky darkened, so I left the other rod and concentrated on getting the bivvy up. Just as I was putting the pegs in, the left bobbin pulled up tight, the rod pulled around and one hell of a tussle ended with a lovely 28lb 2oz mirror. The fish looked bigger, but I was happy because the rod had only been out for 15 minutes, so making the move was worthwhile. Once the photos were done, I treated a couple of marks from spawning and the hook hold, put a new bait on the rig, and cast out back on the spot, then I finished setting up, all the rods were out and I sat back for a bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee.

I sat down to tie a few rigs and started with the faithful supple hinge rig, but with a change in hook and boom material. I had gone for an XC3 size 6 hook, with its slightly wider gape because I just liked the look of the angle once tied. For the boom, I used Razor K Link 20lb; I’d got into the habit of running it through some putty, just to help it to sink, and I like the suppleness. With a balanced bait, I knew it would sit perfectly on the soft bottom. It wouldn’t be a problem for me if it sat in a small heap – well, maybe ‘heap’ is a bit over the top, but it is such a supple material that I knew I’d be happy with the way it was presented.


It wasn’t long before the right-hand buzzer sounded, the bobbin hit the rod, and the rod looped around. The fish had just made it into the pads, but with steady pressure it moved out into open water. I say ‘open water’, but it’s a bit of an assault coarse, with pads all around. Finally, I slipped the net under a nice common around the 20lb mark, gave it a quick treatment and slipped it back.

I cast the rod back out with quite a lot of Sonubaits 24/7 over the spot, and a Peach and Black pepper pop-up that all my fish are being caught on lately – they seem to love it.


A few hours later, the right buzzer sounded again and I had one hell of a violent take. I had trouble lifting the rod out of the one-way grip, and the water erupted next to the pads. I kept full pressure on to keep it out, and once steered away it just ran across to another set of pads. Plenty of side pressure kept it away from them, but only just, and then it decided it wanted to take a look at the set of pads in front of me, and hit the edge. The pads started to move, and my heart sank. I kept as much pressure as I could on the fish as it wallowed, swimming into open water. It was a big fish, and after a few more small lunges and then the first gasp, I slipped the net under it and let out a massive sigh of relief.


I opened the net and noticed that it was one that I’d had before, so after a quick weigh-in – it tipped the scales at 38lbs 4oz. What a mirror! I thanked it for visiting again, treated the hook hold and slipped it back. It was a wonderful sight to watch that bruiser of a fish swim away. The move had paid off, but the next run ended up as a hook-pull because the fish had made it into the pads and with steady pressure, that’s what I got  – never mind, it happens when you’re fishing like this.


The night was slow and it rained at around 1am so the water went quiet, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It gave me a chance to catch up in some sleep. At first light, the liners started, and within an hour the first fish was on the bank – one of the stunning stockies at around 15lbs, heavily plated for the future. I had to reel in at this point because I was nearly out of bait, so I took a quick run – yes, I said ‘run’ – to the van to replenish the stocks. That’s the great thing about shelf-life boilies, I always have some in the van.

On my return, I got the rods out as quickly as possible because I could see fish fizzing up the bottom, and it wasn’t long after getting the right rod out that the R2L alarm sounded, the bobbin pulled up tight and the rod pulled round. It was a mad fight, and the fish was darting all over the place. I had a feeling that it might be a koi, and yes, it was no surprise – only a small double, but what a fight!


Whilst I was drinking a well-earned cold cider, I heard a couple of bleeps and the left-hand rod was just pulling around. The pads exploded and the fish fought to get into them, and I lifted the rod, but it was too late, the fish had made it. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t turn it and not so lucky for me, the line parted and the fish was lost. There is never time to think, ‘what if?’ – let’s get a new rig on and back on the spot.


My good friend, Terry arrived for the night so we sat between our swims for a catch up, and a drop of wine. We were just sipping the first glass when I had a coupe bleeps on the right-hand rod, and as I lifted it, I had to walk back because the fish was making a desperate attempt to get into the pads. After I’d persuaded it away, Terry asked where the camera was to get some action shots, and for that split second of turning around to say, “It’s in the bag,” the fish had found the pads in front of me, My heart sank, but with as much as I could give the line, the fish moved and started to force its way back in, but this helped me to get her out. There were some more lunges close in, and then Terry slipped the net under another big fish. What a session this was turning out to be! The fish tipped the scales at 38lbs – I’d wanted a brace of 30s out of here in a session, and what a way to do it! The photos were done, I quickly checked the fish, treated a couple of spots and the hook hold and then slipped it back, punching the air.


It went a bit quiet and I could see why because that fish had been all over the swim, but later on the middle rod leapt into life, not wanting to be left out of the action. It was a short fight, but a stunning mid-double stockie. I needed a rest, and with the night being quiet, apart from a couple of liners, and the resident cockerel sounding in the background, I knew that the session was coming to an end – one to remember for me!

Until next time.