Big Pit Summer Dreams

December 4th, 2015

I started fishing Burghfield lake for the first time early this spring. Up until that point I had never even set foot on its sprawling banks. Seeing the lake for the first time is a humbling experience. At nearly 100 acres the sheer size alone makes one go a little weak at the knees, add to that “out of bounds” areas, masses of weed, an army of crayfish and a resident speedboat and you are faced with a serious challenge!

Finding the fish on any lake is paramount, but to do that, I first needed to be able to find my own way around the lake! Unlike the majority of waters which are generally round in shape, Burghfield is somewhat abstract. There are islands, areas of immense open water, smaller almost isolated areas and endless bays. If I was to stand half a chance of finding, let alone catching a fish from here then I needed to become very familiar with the layout.

Evening at the lake

I spent the early days just getting my bearings, I wanted to learn as much about the layout as I could and hopefully spot a fish or two on my travels too. I made sure I spent as much time as physically possible at the lake. The sparse, open areas of water were fairly easy to negotiate so I soon felt comfortable walking those areas, but I must say the bays and shallower areas were somewhat more of a challenge. In fact I found on several occasions that I managed to get myself lost and I didn’t have a clue where I was.

Due to maps and the invaluable tool that is GPS on my smart phone, I started to learn my way around the lake. I was still at a loss as to where to start as at this stage, and I was yet to see a fish! I combed the shallower areas in the mornings and evenings, fully expecting to peer through the bushes and see my first Burghfield carp lazily making its way through a weed lined bay unaware it was being spied on. Unfortunately, best laid plans as they say, were not working out as I’d hoped, I simply couldn’t find a single fish!

I was keen to get a line in the water so I decided at this stage that I’d pick a spot with plenty of open water, fan out three rods and set the alarm for first light and get up and see what I could see, surely something would show itself! I set my plan in motion and my first actual night fishing saw three pop-ups on stiff hinge rigs cast out into the depths in the best part of the lake that would give me the most surface area that I could see in one go. Then, I set the alarm for first light…

A couple of beeps from the middle rod woke me up, the indicator was hardly moving but the line certainly was although it seemed, not very much. Wondering if one of the giant crayfish was making off with my pop-up I picked up the rod to feel a slight weight. I gently wound in wondering what was on the end to discover a 10lb bream had picked up the bait. This was actually a PB for me. Shocked to receive a bite on my first night, I recast the rod and settled back down. No less than an hour later the same rod let out a few more beeps and this time the line started picking up more confidently. On picking up the rod I felt weight, proper weight this time, I couldn’t have hooked a carp on Burghfield on my first night?? I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw a common twisting and turning in front of me. Safely in the net she went 27lb 12oz on the scales! I was elated, was it really to be this easy?? Of course not. What I didn’t know at this stage was that I had been cruelly led into a false sense of security. I wasn’t to see another fish…for about 40 nights!!


Naturally I repeated the process of what had led to my first victory but it was to no avail. Waking up early and staring out into the abyss wasn’t revealing much either. Tench topped and fizzed everywhere and the few carp I did see were so far out of range at over 300 yards, I was powerless to get anywhere near them. I carried on fishing the open water with the thought that although well out of range, I was at least in the right vicinity.

Even though I hadn’t seen any fish in the shallower bay areas, I decided to start baiting a few likely looking spots anyway in the view of fishing them in rotation a week or two down the line. This also turned out to be fruitless. My plan was to just keep plodding and racking up the nights until eventually I landed amongst fish. The first part was going well, but as for the “landing amongst fish”, I was failing miserably. I was so keen to stalk the lake, find the fish and then fish for them rather than bait and wait. In hindsight I think this thought process has cost me fish as I was soon to discover.

As I was hitting 40 nights for a blank (except for my lucky first night common) and I’d fished every area of the lake I feasibly could, I decided it was time for a rethink and a change of tactics. I chose an area of water that offered several routes for possible passing fish and had a depth of approx 8 to 10 feet and was relatively light on weed and I started to bait it quite heavily. I baited as often as I could with nothing but boilies. Due to shift work I was able to bait sometimes in the morning and sometimes late at night. I did this for almost two weeks before I decided to fish. It was a gamble that I was counting on as it was becoming a very expensive, time consuming exercise…but as I was soon to find out, very rewarding.

The first session I fished on the baited area was to be a four night attack, I wanted to really give the spot a fair try. I’d been baiting with The Source 20mm boilies, so out went three popped-up Source boilies on hinge rigs. Three nights later and I still had nothing to show for my efforts. By now, doubt had crept in and I was beginning to feel despondent. Had I taken on too much with this place? As it was the last night of the session I decided on a change of tactics again. I just had this gnawing feeling that the hinge rigs weren’t right for the situation. I felt they were a bit too delicate, I wanted something more brutal that would cope with the weed and the muscles should I actually manage to hook a fish again! So I swapped the hinge rigs for straight bottom baits fished on a long coated hook link, once again using my favourite size 4 hook and size 4 lead fished helicopter style with the drop off lead arrangement. At this stage I figured I certainly wouldn’t be losing out on anything as what I’d tried so far clearly wasn’t working.

Grinded the plastic mouldingThe last morning of that four night session came and I was still looking at motionless indicators and I must admit, I was feeling pretty low as I was sure that one or two fish MUST be visiting the area occasionally. It was around 7 am when the middle rod suddenly beeped at me, I stared in disbelief at the tip as I watched the line pulling up tight. I picked up the rod and felt the weight on the other end, I knew I’d finally hooked one. To this day I still can’t offer an explanation for what happened next. I felt the fish moving away from me and immediately went to offer it some line, but no matter what I did, the line wouldn’t leave the spool. I desperately fought with the reel but it wouldn’t budge and I couldn’t do anything as I felt the fish move further away from me and then…the line parted. I stood there on the bank, holding the rod in my hand, opened mouthed as the line blew in the wind like a white flag. I was beaten, destroyed. 40 nights had lead to THIS, it couldn’t be true. Later inspection would reveal the line had somehow cut into the bail arm, wedging it tight in one place and leaving a neat little scar in the plastic moulding of the reel as a permanent reminder of that disaster. I’ve run through every possible scenario in my head and I still can’t figure out how the hell it happened, and I’ll probably never know. Sometimes things just happen and there’s no rhyme or reason as to why, we just have to take it and shake it and move on.

So there I was, sitting on my bed chair with my head in my hands, not knowing how or if I was going to come back from this. I decided to phone a fellow angler to tell him of my fate rather than throw myself in the lake, which seemed like a much more preferable option at the time. I knew I needed to get away from the lake and clear my head so I started to pack my gear away. I’d put most of my gear on the barrow and was feeling that sickness in the pit of my stomach that only an angler who’s lost a fish can describe. A wise man once said “losing a fish is worse than dying, at least when you die, you don’t have to get up the next day”, at that moment I couldn’t disagree! I sat down once again on my now folded-up bed chair to sulk once more. That was when I heard a ping, it was the indicator on the right hand rod smashing into the carbon!!! This time I made no mistake and I was instantly back winding like a madman as a very angry fish made its way into a big pile of weed. Still in a state of shock I eased the fish towards me, through the weed to a very extended landing net. Never in my life have I been so relieved to see a fish crossing over the mesh. Total elation! It was a common, a stunning common and at that moment the most beautiful common I’d ever seen. I’m eternally thankful for that fish and I don’t even want to imagine how I’d have coped with the rest of that day had he not have come along.

The fish went 26lb 2oz on the scales and I left that day with a bitter sweet feeling. The session had been saved and I knew I needed to be back on the lake as soon as I could as it seemed that things were finally beginning to fall into place. I continued to fish and bait as often as I could. Long sessions, short overnighters, it didn’t matter as long as I was there, staying in touch with the lake. Two more 20’s came my way before I had the first real taste of what Burghfield can produce…

A few blanks followed and then, while on a single overnighter at around 3am my right hand rod woke me from my sleep with a few beeps, I looked round to see the indicator was tight to the rod and then the sound of line peeling off the spool indicated a fish was making its way across the lake. Straight up and into the waders I was soon chest deep easing a fish through the thick weed and deep water towards my waiting net. When I peered in the net I could see a common of considerable size, I was sure I’d hit the 30 mark and at 31lb 4oz she didn’t disappoint. A beautiful looking fish, short and stocky, my first Burghfield 30! YES!! I also had a 22lb 8oz that night which was quite possibly the thinnest carp I’d ever seen. It’s thin frame actually made holding it for a picture quite difficult.

30lb+ common

Caught on The Source

Every success just made me more determined to spend as much time on the bank as possible. It seemed I was finally starting to receive my rewards for all the hard work I was putting in. Working a shift pattern of early mornings and late nights freed up plenty of opportunities for me to get to the lake. This did mean however that quite a lot of the time I was arriving at the lake gone 10pm and packing up and leaving in the morning. To an outsider this must seem crazy and most of the guys at my station looked at me like I was mad when they saw me getting changed into my fishing clothes at the end of the night. Even I must admit that it is hard work and takes a lot of dedication. Loading up a barrow and pushing it round the lake in the dark while your face gets covered in cobwebs, and the beady red eyes of a fox stare back at you in the darkness, to then arrive in your swim and don waders and cast out in the moonlight is not everyone’s idea of a good time. And there were several times I questioned my own sanity, but the thought of the possible rewards drove me on. That and the fact that the sooner I had the rods out, the sooner I could slip into my sleeping bag.

Pushing that barrow back and forth over such distances was an absolute killer. So one weekend I went through all my gear, like a doomed balloonist sinking in the sky towards the earth, I  ditched anything I could that would lower the weight! I also swapped my barrow bag for a backpack. My theory was I’d be pushing less weight on the barrow. Admittedly I was still carrying the same weight on my back, but somehow in my head, it made sense…..kind of. Whenever I arrived at the lake if I had the slightest hope of it being a dry night, I would leave my shelter in the car to cut down on a bit more weight. I’d long since abandoned a bivvy and was using the lightest umbrella style shelter I could find. Now I had a more manoeuvrable load and it became easier traipsing to and from the car, either that or the endless trips were improving my fitness!

Lake snakes

Burghfield was starting to feel like home to me, mainly because I was spending far more time there than I was at home. I was feeling comfortable in my surroundings. What at first seemed so imposing, now seemed welcoming and I was able to appreciate the beauty of this magnificent lake. Walking the banks of Burghfield one is easily captivated by the serenity of the place. Walking through waist high nettles to find all the little weed lined bays and climbing over and under ancient trees that have long since fallen really adds to the feeling that you’re not fishing some man made lake, you’re trying to seek out incredibly wary and wild fish that have been swimming in the lakes depths for years.

Not a fna of spidersAs I became part of the scenery I discovered I was sharing the lake with a lot of our animal friends. Sneaking through the undergrowth I came across snakes, which fortunately I like, and endless spiders and their webs, which I have a paralysing fear of. There’s an unusual animal which frequents the banks of Burghfield called a muntjac, which is a type of miniature deer. Quite often while creeping around the lake I would come face to face with one, there’d be a short stand off before it would go bounding off through the woodland barking like a dog as it went. If it happened at night it would scare the life out of me! But it’s all just part of the wonderful experience of fishing in such a natural environment. I’d also made quite good friends with a robin that lived in my swim by putting some food down for him whenever I saw him. I think I may have spoiled him somewhat as he took to waking me up for his breakfast every morning. I always knew when it was getting light as I would hear him jumping around the branches singing his head off. The look he gave me was comical, the expression on his face said it all “well, where the hell is my breakfast!!!” He became quite the fishing companion and every time he landed on a rod I considered it a good luck omen that I would be receiving a bite that night.

Bite time (when it happened) was quite specific. Up until that point I’d never had a bite in the day, only very early morning. So I pretty much knew that after 8am there wasn’t much chance of any action until the sun went down again. This made the long summer days VERY long indeed. Especially as quite often I sat there watching the resident speedboat going back and forth all day long sending tidal waves crashing all over the bank. So quite often in the day I would reel in and go for a walk to see if I could spot any fish elsewhere. There was also another reason to go for a wander in the day. A very cool old school style café practically attached to the lake had taken to serving me the largest portion of chips I had ever seen!! I’m not ashamed to admit, I visited that café quite a few times over the summer.

My next two successes both came on separate single overnight sessions. Once again, arriving after dark and leaving in the morning. Now that I’d had a few fish I’d figured a few things out. The first was that they (generally) tear off and weed themselves up. Secondly, the bites mostly came at night. This meant to stand a chance of landing them I needed to have my waders and net at the ready so that I could slip out into the lake and get the best angle on the fish possible. Now, wading out 20 yards in the dark, carrying a net, while keeping in contact with the fish and generally trying not to drown in the process carried with it some risk, which I was later to find out would leave me in a bit of an awkward situation one morning…

Back to the current session and I’d arrived in the dark and managed to get all three rods in position as best I could in the moonlight and settled down for the evening. Less than two hours later the middle rod pulled up tight, a few tense seconds and then just like last time, line began to disappear from the spool at an alarming rate. Grabbing the rod while simultaneously donning my waders I made my way out to the fish with the landing net under my arm. Once I’d reached my favoured position I wound down on the fish and I could feel how deep into the weed it was. With constant pressure I could clearly feel the massive weight of fish combined with weed as I slowly made progress and kept everything moving towards me. The fish must have shaken the weed off as I instantly felt the weight reduce and I was back in control of the fish. After that the fish behaved very well, staying deep in front of me until I gradually managed to ease her towards the net sitting in front of me on the surface. A quick peek in the net and I could see it was a big fish. Once back on dry land and with the scales set up on the tripod I discovered her weight was 32lb 4oz, a gorgeous old dark mirror. I let her rest in the sling until first light when I could safely get the self takes done.

That morning before I left I made sure to drop in a generous amount of boilies on the spot ready for next time. Things were really happening now. I was back down two days later. Again arriving in the dark. With everything in place I got comfy in the sleeping bag. There was that feeling of expectation in the air, sometimes you just know when things are going your way. Sometime early in the morning I was woken again by the spool spinning at an alarming rate, quite a feat considering how tight I had the clutch set. Waders, net, rod, I was straight out into the lake again, it was a case of déjà vu as the fish weeded itself up and I gently eased a mass of fish and weed towards the landing net. Another mirror, another big fish. The scales read 32lb 8oz and this fish looked like it could tell some tales. A real dark, old stocky mirror full of character and tons of power. One thing I can say about Burghfield carp, they do not like being photographed!!

After those two successes it was back to blanking in style and continuing to keep the bait going in on the spot. It was about this stage that a new problem became apparent. The crayfish had taken a liking to my bait. I was casting out at night and in the morning I was reeling in rigs with no bait on them. On a normal lake this is a pain, on a lake where a bite let alone a fish is a result, this is unacceptable. Fortunately there was a solution. There was a hardened version of the bait I was using so I was straight on the case and next session I came armed and ready to take on the lobster sized Crayfish that inhabit the lake. It was a success. The baits were surviving the night and from that moment on I never lost a bait again.

I was clocking up the blanks again but I was looking forward as I had a straight five night session coming up! And little did I know but it was to be the session of a lifetime where I would see my PB beaten three times…

The five night session arrived and I was a bit excited to say the least. Surely I could pluck a few out with five nights at my disposal. The first night came and out went the rods. I always laid out the rigs on the bank, clipping each one on in turn then wading out and casting. When I went back for the final rig that night something strange had occurred. The boilie, along with the hair was gone! All that remained was the link and the hook. While I was casting out, a mouse had taken the opportunity to grab the boilie. Presumably realising he couldn’t take the whole thing with him he just chewed through the the hair and disappeared off with his dinner! Cheeky, but it did make me laugh. Fortunately I had plenty of back ups so I soon had another rig attached and was back in the game. One of the advantages of fishing simple rigs is it doesn’t take long to knock a few up all ready to go! I didn’t miss tying up fiddly hinge rigs!

Source Hookbaits

The first two nights passed without incident. I was wondering if I was going to spend the whole week blanking. My friendly robin who I’m still yet to name greeted me every morning and hopped from rod to rod, I was convinced he was bringing me some much needed good luck. I made sure I kept him happy and well fed, he sure did like a boilie or croissant breakfast.

The third night and things were finally about to change. I’d set the rods and it hadn’t been dark long when the right hand rod let out a few beeps. As I’d never had a bite so early I stared at the rod thinking a tench might be messing around with the bait. Then the indicator pulled up tight and the rod tip lifted up out of the water. I picked up the rod and felt the weight of the fish. Surprised to hook one so early I fumbled into the waders, grabbed the net and made my way towards the fish. A slow, heavy dogged fight reminiscent of a big fish took place and I soon had a large fish in the net. When I got back to dry land I had a proper look at my prize and what greeted me was the most ancient looking, dark fish I’d ever seen! A real old warrior as they say and at 35lb 4oz she was a new PB for me.

Dark mirror carp

As it was light in a few hours I popped her in the sling for photos at first light. I put the rod back on the spot and tried to get a few hours sleep, not easy when your heart is pumping adrenaline through your veins at a rate of knots! I don’t know what time it was but I’d hardly laid down for what felt like five minutes when the same rod was off again! A proper screamer this time. I repeated the by now familiar landing technique and soon had another in the net. This one looked around upper 20s!! I pegged out the net in a deeper spot to contain the fish for weighing and photographs. I put out a fresh rig and settled back down for the last hour of darkness. Shortly after, the middle rod tore off AGAIN scaring the life out of me and making me wonder how the hell I was going to land it with one already in the net. This time I had to walk out to my landing area, bring the fish through the weed, then slowly make my way back to the pegged out net to retrieve it and land the fish. Luckily for me the fish behaved very well and went in the net no problem. When I’d finally composed myself I peered in the net to see quite a sight! The fish that I estimated at an upper 20 was now completely dwarfed by what was sitting next to it……

As I turned the fish on its side, in the early morning light I could see an enormous common. It looked twice the length of the upper 20. My only problem was I couldn’t weigh either of them until I’d dealt with the fish in the sling! As the sun was now coming up I set the camera up and photographed the 35. After she had swum away I lifted the smaller mirror into the sling, making sure I’d secured the huge common in the net. She seemed to sit there quite happily, accepting her situation and she was hardly bothered as she saw her friend being lifted out of the water next to her and placed in a strange floating device. The smaller of the two racked up a very respectable 28lb on the scales. As she swam off after having her pictures taken it was finally time, I’d been saving the best for last. I eased the common into the sling and when I lifted her out of the water I just knew this was going to be special. I had a quick look at her on the mat and she looked enormous, deep and with golden scales completely covering her. I gently lifted her onto the waiting scales where the needle would tell me the truth. It slowly made its way round the dial, it passed 30, passed 40 and settled on 41lb!!! My first UK 40 and a common from Burghfield to boot!! It doesn’t get any better than this. I carried her back to the water like a fragile artifact and secured her in the margins. The pictures of this special fish needed to be perfect. Once I had the shots I wanted I held her in the water just admiring her one last time before I let her slip through my fingers and she slowly glided away, off into the 100 acre darkness, who knows when she’ll see the bank again. I couldn’t believe the night I’d had. I spent the rest of the day catching up on a bit of sleep and going through all the images I’d taken. The camera had done the fish the justice they deserved. Now I could just look back through the pictures and smile.

Stunning golden common

41lb UK common

The next night was a bit of a blur really. I topped up the spot with another batch of boilies and recast the rods. I think I slept well because the next thing I remembered was the left hand rod screaming at me. I leapt from my bed and went through the process, and soon had another common in the net. This time a 23lb beauty! While still a great result, it really emphasised the size of the one I’d had the night before. What an incredible week it was turning out to be. I still had one more night and things were about to get better. I liked to cast the rods out once the speedboat has disappeared. Whether it made any difference in the depth I don’t know, I just felt more comfortable that way. Once I felt it was done for the night I put the rods on the spot and settled down. Still glowing from my success. It didn’t really matter if I didn’t have any more action, I was so happy with the fish I’d had so far, but of course I wouldn’t say no to another!!

As the sun was just coming up a few beeps alerted me to the right hand rod, the indicator was up tight to the carbon and then it absolutely screamed off! I jumped into my waders and followed the fish out into the mire. This one did not want to play nicely. It weeded itself up very deep and it took me a while to free it. When I did feel it pop out of the weed it just hung deep right in front of me and it took several attempts to get his head up. When he finally slid into the net along with a ton of weed, I could see it was another enormous fish!! Back to the bank and up on the scales I recorded a reading of 43lb 3oz!! Utter disbelief, ANOTHER 40! I’d broken my PB three times in a week. I just couldn’t believe it. Once the photos were done I started on a slow pack-up and walked back to the car. I reflected on everything that had happened that week and just sat in the car for quite some time until I eventually turned the key in the ignition and drove off, watching Burghfield getting smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror.

43lb common

UK big pit

I wasn’t naive enough to think I could repeat such an amazing week but I carried on regardless. It was actually to be a month before I had another bite! On the second day of a four night session I received a bite at two o’clock in the afternoon. Thinking perhaps a tench had picked up the bait I watched the line to see it pulling up tight, the tip of the rod lifting from the water, all indicating that battle was about to commence. I suited up in my attire and took to the water, it was so refreshing to play and land a fish in daylight and once more it looked to be a 30 plus fish. At 34lb 4oz it was another monster. It was a totally different experience in the day, being able to watch the fish in the clear water as it tried its best to avoid capture was amazing.

By now the summer was quite behind us and the bites had really dried up, even the tench that would roll and fizz all over the place seemed to have moved on. The water didn’t look so alive any more. Autumn was arriving and I was waking up covered in leaves with the rods still in the exact position I’d left them in the night before. I was suffering blank after blank. I was certainly not complaining though, not after the success I’d had. Fishing Burghfield or any large low stocked lake will make you a better angler. It makes you try your hardest, you look for the finer details and keep changing tack until you figure out what works. And when you land your prize the feeling of achievement and satisfaction that you’ve overcome the odds is utterly immeasurable. We never learn from our successes, only our failures. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”-  Winston Churchill. No matter how much you think you know, you’re always learning. For me, Burghfield has certainly taught me the importance of regular baiting and being in the swim at the time the fish are most likely to be there.

This almost brings me up to present day and I did manage one more fish and it was a real beauty. In the early hours of another after work mission I was awoken by my right hand rod screaming at me telling me a fish had finally made an appearance. I knew from the off it was another good fish as it had buried itself in the weed and I was struggling to move it. With constant pressure it suddenly popped free of the weed and I instantly felt contact. The fish then moved up in the water and kited around to my left so that it was almost in front of me. It was then in the moonlight that I saw the fish break the surface and I could see the sheer size of it, it was another monster. Remember how I’d mentioned earlier that there were risks involved with wading out waist deep in the darkness while trying to negotiate a net, rod and an angry fish? Well, I was about to discover them for myself. As I’d seen the size of the fish that was now going crazy in front of me I was more eager to get it safely into the bottom of my net. Each time it broke the surface it managed to get its head back down and powered off sending huge torrents of water everywhere and all over me. I kept the pressure on and as it surfaced again right near the net I really went for it and stretched right out with my fingertips holding the tip of the landing net handle, I missed the fish, my foot slipped slightly and buckets of cold weedy water poured into my  waders, completely soaking me to the skin. Instantly I was frozen. I managed to regain my footing, ignoring the cold and concentrated on landing the fish. The fish dived deep again right in front of me and swam around to my left. I could feel it rising up through the water as I gained line and when it surfaced it was right next to me. I literally could’ve reached over and touched it. So I had to guide the fish away from me and she slipped over the rear of the net, straight into the mesh! YES!!!!! It was a success. I however was completely soaked and frozen and without any change of clothes…and it was about 2 in the morning.

Last fish this year

Burghfield common

I squelched back to the bank and secured the fish in the sling. I figured if I could dry out somehow I could sort the weighing and photos in the morning. I removed my waders, socks, trousers, t-shirt and boxers, I was soaked to the skin. I hung my clothes up in the trees thinking that somehow they might dry in the moonlight. I realise now this was not my finest moment. I stood there on the bank, completely naked apart from my shoes and had to somehow have a chuckle about the situation I was in. I dried off and found a fleece which was all that I had to wear and put that on and climbed into the sleeping bag to warm up. When it was light I checked my clothes, they were no more dry then when I’d hung them up. I still had to deal with the fish and get the pics done. I don’t care what the situation is, no clothes or a limb hanging off, they don’t go back without smiling for the camera!! All I could do was to put the waders back on which were still completely soaked. I slid into the cold wet waders and grimaced, it was a horrible feeling. I tried to ignore it and pulled the waders on quickly, donned a fleece (my only dry garment) and set about getting things in order. The fish went 38lb, as I suspected, an absolute beast. Incredibly dark with a few small scales, a scar on her side and a distinctive cut tail. An absolute lump of a fish and one that I’d recognise again. I think that fish took great pleasure in the fact I was wet and cold as it simply wouldn’t behave for the camera. Every time I went to lift her up she went mad, thrashing the water and soaking my only dry item of clothing, but when you’re cradling a 38, you don’t really care too much. Once it was all sorted it was time to leave. I had to push my gear back to the car, naked inside a pair of wet waders. It was one of the most horrible experiences that I’d ever wish to recount!! I made it back to the car and changed into my work clothes and drove off with the heater on full blast!!


Absolute beast

I’m still on the lake, even as I type. I haven’t had any more fish and that may well be it for me from here for this year. I’ll keep trying for a little bit longer just in case I can pick off one more fish. It’s been one amazing experience fishing this lake. I dread to think how many nights I’ve done or how much bait I’ve got through, but seeing those special fish made it all so worthwhile. The place really does have its own personality, it can be nice to you or downright spiteful. Just knowing you’re fishing a lake that carries so much history is all part of the experience. When I do finally pull off, it won’t be for long. I’ll already be thinking about next year and how I can build on everything I’ve learnt from my time on here. I shall have a private little toast with the lake before I leave and thank it for all its secrets it’s given up to me. Then I’ll bid it farewell and hope that next summer, is even better…

Paul Codman

Stunning sunset