A Bit On The Rare Side

The sun’s rays shone on me

Tim’s autumn campaign gets off to a cracking start.

After a successful summer fishing a 40-acre East Midlands gravel pit and with the autumn just around the corner, I decided to return once more to my favoured North West mere and pursue the last few old warriors that had yet to grace my net. I started my campaign the first week or so of September and within a few short trips had started to get amongst the fish. A run of lovely fish over 25lb in a few nights saw my confidence tanks rising and the fond memories of previous autumn nights filled my head once more.

October came and talk amongst the regular lads turned to the larger inhabitants of the mere and who would be lucky enough to land any of the half a dozen or so main target fish. Now don’t get me wrong, all the fish in the venue are sought after, but with a few between 40 and 50 years old it’s inevitable that these old wary warriors fire the flames of those that choose to spend countless nights on the water every year.

Mainline’s new test bait

Maggots and lovely fresh hemp

Everything prepared and PVA stringers at the ready

I had a couple of major changes to help in my task, the first being that I had recently taken delivery of some new test baits from Mainline. This lovely creamy smelling boilie was going to be my number one choice for the cooler months, and I was brimming with confidence after catching whilst using it on the first couple of outings. As well as this I had started a new position as media manager for North West-based particle firm Cheshire Particle. Not only did this give me supply of their excellent range of seeds, pulses and nuts, but I had the opportunity to work and help a local company, something I am extremely excited about.

Armed with a few kilos of lovely fresh hemp, a few maggots and a bag full of Mainline sweeties, I set off for a 48-hour session that not only would be an opportunity to show the lads some of the new particle gear, but would double up as a nice social with a couple of friends who I had not fished with for a while. A trip to the supermarket on the way ensured I had plenty of nice fresh food to cook on the RidgeMonkey – how we ever managed before these came along I will never know!

I arrived just before midday on a lovely Sunday morning. The lake was quiet and news on captures was few and far between; in fact only one fish had been caught a few days before. Undeterred I made a decision on swim choice and, once I was happy, secured the swim with a little of my gear. I could then relax and take my time, enjoying the warmth of the late October sun. As is usual the hours passed quickly and before I knew it the time was approaching late afternoon. I had been joined by my good friend Tim, or TB as he is affectionately known, who had dropped into the next swim along from me. Once the rods were out and dusk came, Tim and I discussed our second favourite subject: food! We had enough for an army and the RidgeMonkey Toasters were soon warming our feast – we ate well that night!

Food of the gods

The bobbin was jammed tight in the roller wheel!

The evening brought one bite, falling to my rods around 10pm, a lovely scaly mirror of 19lb finding my buffet of food irresistible. The second night brought similar action, and this time a lovely long common of 22½lb sat sulking in the bottom of my net, this bite having come at a similar time. Having done almost 48 hours I packed up next morning extremely happy with the two fish I’d caught, especially as they were the only fish landed.

I was sitting at home that evening sorting out a few bits when out of the blue my long-suffering girlfriend suggested I go fishing the next day as I was obviously on a roll – well I didn’t need telling twice! I was up before dawn, rushing around and getting all the jobs done that she had mysteriously left me to do… I knew there was an ulterior motive in her suggestion! By lunchtime I was sorted and, after picking up a few more maggots, pointed the van towards the mere – game on once more! Obviously I was praying the swim I’d caught from would be free and after a frantic drive I arrived to find it all quiet. No leisurely stroll this time; I was straight around there to set up the gear once again. After setting up and getting fresh rigs tied I set about feeding the swim; crushed and crumbed boilies, hemp and a few red wrigglers were on the menu once again. It was an easy job even though the wind had picked up and was blowing lovingly straight into my face – perfect. To say I was confident that night is an understatement to say the least. I was wired, expecting one of the Nevilles to sing its little tune at any time.

When I awoke at 6am to see the bobbins sitting in the same position, I was a little deflated. Still, it was a mega morning, mild and breezy with the sky full of cloud – perfect mere conditions. My phone let out a series of bleeps, indicating I had a few messages to read. After explaining the blank night to a couple of mates, one came back: “Still time this morning yet. Weather’s bang on.” Hmm, I thought, maybe… My thoughts were interrupted a little later when suddenly the bobbin hit the deck. Unfortunately a tufted duck was responsible.

Resharpened ready to fire back out

I checked and resharpened the hook, attached a fresh pop-up and two-bait PVA stringer, and fired the rig back out amongst the waves. It was time for a brew and breakfast. With my mind clearly on the bacon and egg muffins cooking at my feet, a couple of beeps drew my attention to the right-hand bobbin, which was wedged firmly in the alarm’s roller wheel! I jumped up, picked up the rod from the rests and wound down quickly in one movement. The rod arched over and deep down I could feel the thump of a good fish as it twisted and turned trying to shed the hook. The fight went on and on as slowly I drew my prize towards the net. To be honest I was quite calm really – shocked at getting the bite this late in the morning, but surprisingly calm. After a few minutes under the rod tip she broke surface and finally into the net she rolled. I looked at her width and length, which were both impressive, but it wasn’t until I had weighed her at 33½lb that it dawned on me just what I had caught. It was a repeat capture, but a special one and a history making capture so I am told, as apparently this 40-odd-year-old creature rarely sees the bank and has never been banked twice by the same angler! Wow, I was overjoyed.

As the sun broke through the clouds I smiled up at the sky – the sun’s rays were definitely shining on me today!

Over three feet of pure muscle!

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