Arriving at the lake for first light, the forecast was for strong North Easterly winds and driving rain. As a result, I quickly scanned the lake’s availability and dropped into an available peg known as ‘The Kennel’. This would allow me a good view of the lake whilst being protected from the elements and if any fish were seen showing, I could move onto them. The rain died down around 11am and I decided on a quick walk having seen nothing bar one fish show twice, tight to the island. With the conditions set to improve over the next 24 hours, and a friend Steve due down for a guest session, I really wanted him to catch a few and also have a good social together. With two pegs becoming free on the back of the chilling wind, I popped a bucket down and began moving. Arriving in the swim, I quickly deposited some solid bags to previously found features. Within the bag I would be using Hinders Little Gemz 50/50 and a pink Korda plastic dumbell pop up, soaked in Betalin.
With Steve arriving in the swim next to me around an hour or so later, we were set up and ready to roll. With the warm sunshine now starting to warm our sheltered bank, we were confident that fish would start to show and show interest around the island margins in front of us. Spring was in the air and confidence was growing. With a couple of upper doubles falling to the solid bag approach, we were happy with two quick takes and it looked promising for more. As the afternoon grew on, the wind increased and pushed hard towards the bottom end of the lake. With four or so hours of inactivity in the swim and the lake becoming busy as the weekend anglers began to arrive, I watched intently as more and more fish showed in the teeth of the biting wind. Although we were sat in a t-shirt, walking onto the windward bank, I quickly pulled a coat and a hat on for warmth, yet still fish were being caught. This was namely by one angler, quite consistently, opposite two available swims where I was now stood. I returned to Steve and with some persuasion I informed him I’d be moving. It was a fair trek with the barrows and my second move already!
So intent was I on moving, the barrow was loaded and unpacked within 30 minutes. Once in the swim, one I’d never previously fished although had plumbed before, I decided on a slight change of tactic. I knew the fish were being caught over scattered boilies having spoken with the successful angler opposite and as a result I mixed up a small amount of spod mix. This included 10mm, 14mm and chopped Tails Up Pro Marine boilies, some Hinders Liquids and 4.5mm Little Gemz Pellet. Four spombs were deposited to a gravel seam at 10 wraps and a critically balanced snowman presented with a small mesh bag over the top. This was used alongside my favoured rig, using Ntrap semi stiff, the awesome Kurvs in size 6 and Kable leadcore to a lead clip system. I also use this rig inside my PVA bags, however use a short 3 inch length of stripped Ntrap to expose the supple braid beneath as well as an inline lead. With two rods on the above set up and a third on a solid I aided Steve with the location of his rods towards known features and began getting the brolly out.
Just as I was getting a storm pole from the bag, the left hand rod pulled tight. I ran towards it and the bobbin dropped back to its original position before slamming up tight again and taking line. On hitting into the fish it felt strong and a 10 minute battle ensued before it was in the edge. As I tried to lift the fish from the deep margins it once again took line and eventually stopped some 50 yards left of where I was stood. Donning the waders, I waded into Steve’s swim next to me and continued to battle what was obviously a good fish from there. A number of times we glimpsed a substantial flank roll just yards past the waiting net cord and on what must have been the 6 th or 7 th time of it gulping air, it finally succumbed to my increasingly outreached arms. I thought briefly it was the lake’s largest resident, but upon rolling it over in the net, three very tell-tale scales gave her identity away as one of Oxfordshire’s finest possessions; The Sergeant at a healthy 39lb 4oz.
I was rightly pleased and enjoyed celebrating the capture with my angling friend as we enjoyed some Oreos and tea into the evening! The next morning Steve managed a lovely double after a disappointingly fruitless night, however with two fish each for our session and of course one very significant capture, we were thrilled regardless.