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Favourite one of the year and another original to boot.

Posted by tomhaggett , 02 December 2014 · 245 views

17th October - Berkshire Stillwater
As you can see I really struggled to get out after that productive day session.  A holiday with the new girlfriend and a hectic work routine put paid to any time on the bank for a couple of months though I tried to keep in touch as much as possible through a couple of mates that were still fishing every now and then.
I think now is a good time to mention that the lake has been very different this year, mostly due to the lack of people fishing it compared with previous years.  This time last year would have seen 15+ anglers fishing the weekends and often 8-10 mid week.  A few of those anglers got together and baited the living daylights out of the place... getting through 400kilos at least between the 3 of them over the course of the year.  They caught most of the ones they wanted and deserved every last one of them before they moved on to pastures new in the winter. 
The start of this year saw a lot of the old regulars still fishing but within a month or so they decided that the stock had been massively reduced as a result of the floods and nearly all of them dropped their tickets.  This has left the place quieter than ever, which suits me fine!!  There are only a few people fishing it at all regularly so it's almost possible to get your own thing going without people capitalizing on your hard work.
The reduced pressure has had a positive effect... all the fish are looking brilliant and their weights are very good despite the massive deficit in baiting levels.  
Before this session I had spoken to a mate who had done really well a week or two previous and he informed me of the fish's movements and general whereabouts.  They seemed to be in the area I thought they would be moving too as the temperatures dropped so I nipped down after work twice in the week running up to the session to sneak some bait onto the spots in preparation.  This may sound easy, but both times it was pitch black by the time I'd arrived after work, it was absolutely hammering down and I'd slogged a good half mile up the canal to get there without other anglers seeing me coming in.  
The bait was spread onto two spots... one that I've done well from before at this time of the year and one roughly towards where my mate had seen the activity.  It was an area that I'd regularly seen fizzing this year, just deep open water and very silty... thus completely ignored by the other anglers who were obsessed with their baitboats and the island.  The spots saw about 3 kilos of bait I suppose over the two trips... I'd be rushing down after work again, getting the rods out in the dark so I wanted to give myself a fighting chance by having the spots primed and ready.  
The rods went out perfectly, one cast each into the inky blackness, aiming at the shadows of trees on the far bank.  To combat the deep silt, I'd lengthened my hooklinks and balanced the pop ups so they only just sank, almost hanging in the water momentarily.  The top bead on my rotary style lead arrangement was also pushed a good 4-6" up the leadcore to prevent the stiff boom section sitting up at awkward angles.  A few handfuls of bait were spread over each area in well oiled fashion and I was left to settle down and await some action.  
Truth be told I was pretty exhausted and ended up falling asleep pretty early on.  A good while later I was woken up by a flurry of bleeps on the left hand rod on the new spot.  The hanger held at the top but didn't take any line as I struggled to get my shoes on and upon hitting the rod the fish had kited on a tight line and was a good 20 yards from where I'd hooked it.  The battle was fairly typical with most of it taking place in the deep margins but eventually the pressure told and I rolled a nice, long looking fish into the net.  I left him in there briefly while I checked the time and upon seeing it was about 5am I figured I'd slip him into the retaining sling and get some nice pictures when the light was up an hour or so later.  I did weigh him in quickly at 19lb 8oz then got him straight into the water to chill out for a little while.  
In the darkness I hadn't really appreciated quite how nice a fish it was... it had looked a little washed out in the torchlight but upon bringing him ashore at dawn I was quite taken aback.  It was a really cracking specimen, deep mahogany flanks adorned with a row of linear scaling on one side and a large sloping head that only an old one could wear well.
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I later found out from my mate who seems to know every single fish in the lakes past that it was again one of the very few originals.  These date back 35-40 years and are a dying breed.  At risk of sounding a little soppy, I felt quite privileged to have caught it.
That was the last of the action that trip though they did have a little fizz over the productive spot as the sun started coming up.
I'd watched the water like a hawk since first light and to be honest the only area that seemed like it had life in it was a bit further up the bank, out in between the islands so that was earmarked for the next trip.  I couldn't wait.  

August 2018

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