Don’t miss your chances!!

My surface caught 26lb 05oz common.

01 July 2009

Having just finished my exams, three months are at my disposal. This means all the fishing I could ever dream of. Linear Fisheries is to be my first target, with the thought of taming one of its leviathans too much to ignore.
Now, all this free time meant I could choose when to go rather than going when time allowed. This opened new opportunities that I had never experienced before such as actually having a choice of swim on St. Johns, with even the possibility of a ‘hot swim’ being vacant.
As planned I arrived on Sunday. A drive through the gates confirmed my suspicions, the lake was half empty. I headed straight for the far end of the lake full of excitement as I thought the warmer weather would have caused the fish to travel to the shallower water. I began to walk around when I noticed two anglers leaving a swim known as Henman Hill. Anyone that fishes St. Johns will know that this is always a favourite and with a large body of water all to itself it’s not hard to see why. A quick chat soon dampened my spirits as they had only taken one fish over the weekend, however, I did notice a lot of fish showing in the swim so I thought I would give it a try for at least the first night of two.
Now set up, I walked to the far bank armed with my polaroids and my chosen bait. I crept down to the lakes edge under the cover of the trees and noticed several fish very tight to the bank. That was good enough for me and I baited the fringes of the tree line with a good scattering of boilies in the hope that I could lure them from their safe-zone. My rods were soon in place and I began taking in the scenery and watching cruising fish all around me. The next thing I know my middle rod is being ripped from my pod by a clearly enraged fish. Struggling to tame its initial bid for freedom the 15lb soon showed who was boss. Strangely the first run exhausted the fish and it sedately came in across the surface straight into my waiting net. A mirror of 19lb was my prize. The first fish of a session always lifts a huge weight in your mind as a blank is out of the equation and it shows you are doing something right. That turned out to be the only fish from that spot despite fish being seen every time I went to bait up. I obviously put it down to the fish and not my tactics.

A new challenge. What Henman Hill does offer is the chance to stalk an ordinarily no fishing bank. Two main areas are targeted here, where pipes enter and nice clean gravel areas have resulted. I targeted the swim around halfway along the bank as it provided me with more cover so I would remain hidden. Regularly I baited and peered into the crystal clear water in the hope of seeing feeding fish, when, finally it happened! There they were, a group of 6 carp pre-occupied on the bait. I edged back from the lake before running round and gathering the essentials; rod, net…..etc. I returned to still find them dining on the free bait but had to sit on my hands to prevent me casting out and spooking the fish. Trust me its harder than its sounds when you can see the fish feeding no more than 6 ft from the bank. I managed to restrain myself and as soon as the fish had moved off I lowered my free lined hook bait onto the spot. They promptly returned but this time a trap was set. After a very tense few minutes one finally slipped up and greedily engulfed my bait. The line took on a dangerous amount of strain before I released the tension with some swift adjustment to the clutch. A huge vortex of water and splash followed as the fish bolted into deeper water. Once again I managed to prevent the fish from reaching any ‘danger’ areas and soon a pristine common of round 18lb lay defeated in my net. The disturbance seemed to ‘kill’ the swim and the only other action from that spot came from a tench.

The fishing went cold after the success, although the weather was doing the opposite. Temperatures rose to the point when I think every fish in the lake was on the surface. The evening was drawing in and throughout the day the top corner of the lake had seen an ever increasing number of carp in its water. Never one to miss an opportunity a surface rod was soon assembled and I found myself facing a ridiculous number of fish. I quietly tried to fire some mixers out, not in fear of spooking the fish but in an attempt to avoid the attention of my winged enemy, seagulls. Despite my best efforts the infuriating screeching was quickly heard and out of nowhere at least a dozen of them were soon frantically eating every free offering. This was going to be harder than I thought. Half an hour later it was clear the fish were not interested at all. This led me to a tactical decision and playing the numbers game. I was convinced that by using a highly attractive bait one fish would eventually have to give in to temptation. Give into temptation one did. After around an hour of patiently watching my free offering, a large pair of lips confidently sucked in my bait. The line tightened and I applied pressure to help set the hook. The fish then proceeded to fight and fight and fight. After successfully weeding me up 3 times the fish was beginning to show signs of defeat with the occasional gulp of air showing the balance was slightly in my favour. A further 30 minutes of exchanging blows ensued, before I finally slipped the net under what was clearly a good fish. I allowed the fish and myself to recover for a while, before weighing and photographs were done. The scales read 26lb 5oz and I’m certain that she would have gone 30lb prior to spawning. But who is complaining?

What a start to the summer and what a place. I will be back soon to try and capture one of its true giants.

Don’t miss your chances- Lewis Swift.