The Simon Crow Column: First Time Lucky!
Every year I join far too many waters. Although it’s expensive, I like to have a choice of where to fish. This works out right for the type of fishing I do, as I’m always changing my mind on where to go depending on the weather, time of the year and form of each lake. These days I enjoy going after target fish, so if one I’ve got my eye on comes out, I always have somewhere else to turn. It’s hard keeping in touch with the fishing on more than one water, but it can be done if you’re focused and willing to put yourself out.
I’ve been a member of an old gravel pit close to Lincoln since the beginning of June. I’d been keen to a get a ticket for the place for a couple of years now. I was offered one last year, but ended up turning it down because I knew I’d not get around to fishing there. I always feel guilty joining a water and not fishing it, as it’s taking up the place of someone who would. When places for syndicates are in high demand, it’s the gentlemanly thing to do, something I’m becoming the older I get.
For one reason or another, I didn’t get the time to fish or even visit the lake until early September. My life has been a bit all over the place this summer, as I’ve changed job and also moved house. However, I was keen to get down when the conditions were right towards the middle of the month. A low-pressure front was moving in, alongside strong westerly winds, light drizzle and warm overnight temperatures. Experience told me I’d timed it right, and with three days ahead of me I was brimming with confidence. The only thing going against me was I knew nothing about the lake and there was no one else fishing to talk to!
After a couple of quick circuits, I’d narrowed it down to two swims. Both had fish close by, tucked under some snags along a no-fishing bank. One had decidedly more fish than the other, so in the end I went for this one, as there were a few decent chunks amongst them. I knew the bait I was using, SLK, was known for its big-fish pulling power, and once I was set up ready for the first night ahead, I just knew something was going to happen.
All three rods were fished tight to the no-fishing bank at varying depths. One went at 2.5ft, another at 4ft and the third at 6ft just down the marginal slope. I’d walked to the opposite bank and spread 5kg of 22mm SLK freebies all along its marginal snags. The plan was to fish all three rods along this area, each rod on single matching bottom baits. These were offered on size 6 hooks, Captive hooklinks and 4oz leads.
The first night passed uneventfully. I was surprised I’d not caught, but then at 10.30am I was away with a fast drop-back and a spirited fight from a mid-twenty mirror. I was absolutely made up to get off the mark on my first trip and knew there would be more to follow. The weather was looking good for a biggie and I sat there well into the darkness hoping it would come my way.
I went to bed restless. It was too warm to be anything else. Another couple of lads had turned up to fish the night. One had been telling me how he’d been chasing a fish called Arnie for quite a while, having caught everything else from the lake. Arnie was a common and known for getting caught from the exact spot I was fishing. I didn’t think any more about it until the next morning when just on first light my right-hand rod tightened up and I was woken by a single bleep! Straight away I knew it was a good fish, as it almost yanked the rod from my hands in a bid to get into the snags. I’d been fishing locked up and the rod was at test curve as I tried to not give it an inch. Luckily it did the trick as the fish headed to my right in an arc on a tight line.
The next 10 minutes saw me having a right tussle with whatever was on the end. It ploughed into weedbed after weedbed in a bid to free itself from the hook. When it eventually hit the surface, I could see it was a massive common, almost too long to fit into the landing net! Thankfully it did, as I slid its lengthy body inside before flicking the net to get its tail safely in too. It could only be one fish.
It was so long it only just fitted into one of the large Avid slings. I weighed it in at bang on 36lb, not knowing a great deal about it other than what the lad had told me the previous night: it topped out around 35lb+ and hadn’t been caught for more than 12 months.
I felt extremely lucky, but just as I popped it into the water ready to sort my camera gear, my middle rod was away in similar circumstances! The line tightened bowstring tight as a heavy fish hit the surface right on the edge of the snags. This fish did quite the opposite of Arnie in that it came in really slow and heavy. It plodded all the way in until it was right under the rod tip where it kicked a couple of times before rolling on to the surface ready for netting. It was another big fish, only this time a jet-black mirror with battle scars all over its flanks.
When I joined the lake there were a couple of fish I particularly had my eye on and one was this fish! Known as the Sergeant, it was a regular thirty, usually around the 32lb mark, but on this occasion, it went a whopping 34lb! I text the syndicate leader Tom Denton as soon as I caught it, and he confirmed there had been a lot of bait going in recently and it looked to be having an effect.
I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my time on the lake. My second morning had seen me land two of its most wanted fish, one of which was certainly its biggest common and potentially its largest resident. I was on cloud nine! The SLK had done me proud.
When I first joined DNA, I had my eyes on this bait. It has a track record of tripping up the bigger fish and, based on this particular session, it also has the ability to catch them without any prebaiting.
What a start and what a bait!