Chris Douce reflects on the great memories he made last year fishing with his twin daughters Maisy and Ayla
Prayers Answered on Horton Church Lake
2nd May 2018
After a slow start to his Horton Church Lake campaign, Simon Kenny had one of those sessions where everything aligns, what happened next was nothing short of incredible.
Simon explains; “This is my first season on the historic Horton Church Lake and it’s a season that has started very slowly. It seems this year we were about a month behind with the weather, but a few days prior to my session they’d been plenty of sunshine, and it finally felt like spring was on the way.
My third trip to Horton Church Lake started on a Sunday and as I made the 130-mile journey down south from my home in Norfolk, I had a good idea where I wanted to be. The weather man had forecast south-westerly’s and plenty of sunshine, it felt prime.
A southwesterly wind blows down to the lodge end of the lake, where there is an area of shallower water, and I knew the sun would warm this area of water nicely and I felt sure the wily residents of the Church wouldn’t be far behind.
To my surprise when I arrived at Horton, the usually very busy carpark had more spaces than usual and I was hopeful I would be able to get on some fish. I signed in the logbook, and as I walked down the lodge steps a fish showed over on the plateau, confirming my thoughts.
Thinking back, it’s funny how things can just fall into place sometimes, as the lad who was set up in The Plateau Swim was due to leave soon and what’s more, no one had ‘bucketed’ the swim. So, without hesitation, down went my bucket, The Plateau Swim was mine!
I could hardly believe my luck, The Plateau Swim is a popular area having already produced the odd fish so far this season, and I felt it was a prime position. Horton Church Lake can be a very busy lake with a lot of extremely good anglers, so to get in there was a bit of luck in itself.
I did a few laps of the lake regardless, just in case, but couldn’t help smile to myself as I saw numerous fish on The Plateau on my walk. The lad who was in there had done the 2-nights previous and although he’d had fish all over him, he hadn’t received any action.
Once I got in the swim I decided to watch the water for a bit to try and work out the main area where the fish were showing. It soon became apparent that they were mainly towards the left-hand side of The Plateau, and a quick lead about revealed around 7ft of water and plenty of Silkweed, so I just lengthened the boom on my rigs slightly.
Both rods went out to the main area of activity, followed by five large Spombs of chopped Manilla over the top. I couldn’t help but feel confident, I knew this was my chance of catching my first Horton Church Lake carp, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect what was about to unfold.
My first take came a couple of hours after getting the rods out, which turned out to be a lovely mirror called ‘Bungle’ at 26lbs, first blood! Just after dark the same rod was away again, this time a lovely half-linear called ‘Zippo’ was the culprit, and at 30lb 10oz they were getting bigger. I went to sleep that night, very happy with a couple of carp under my belt.
Later that night, constant liners kept waking me up and I could hear fish still crashing on the plateau, I was buzzing. Around midnight the same rod was off once again, this fight was completely different I just knew it was a big fish, it was slow, heavy and stayed deep. Eventually I slid a massive two- tone mirror over the net cord.
Now I’m not very familiar with the Horton Church Lake stock, but I knew this fish was one of the A-Team, a fish known as ‘Roger the Dodger’, and one that had gone over 50lbs in the past. Once on the scales, he didn’t quite make the 50lbs mark, but at 49lbs 6oz I was over the moon with my first Horton Church Lake chunk.
I somehow drifted off to sleep, only to be woken in the early hours of the morning to the left-hand rod melting off, again! This time, it was a lovely 34lb 12oz Linear. I awoke in the morning, and the fish continued to show heavily over my rods, I was getting constant liners and I knew there was more to come. Around mid-day, the left hand rod was away once again and an old-looking 28lb 6oz common called ‘Reggie’ had slipped up.
The fish continued to show and later that afternoon one of my rods was away, the fight was slow and heavy, so I wasn’t surprised when a big Horton mirror ended up in my net. The big mirror spun the scales to an impressive 45lbs 2oz and it turned out to be a fish called ‘Lesters’.
I managed to get the rod back out just on dark and as I sat listening, I could hear them still lumping out in the darkness, it just felt so right. Around midnight, left hander was away again, and another heavy battle followed. Once it was in the net I couldn’t believe it, as it was yet another of the Hortons Church Lakes A-Team. This one turned out to be ‘Scar’ at a staggering 48lb 4oz. What an incredible session this was turning out to be.
Sleep was hard to come by that night, I just couldn’t believe what was happening, Horton Church Lake is no push over and to be getting this sort of action was unreal. The following morning, just after first light the left-hand rod was away and no sooner had I netted that fish, my other rod ripped off!
Luckily one of the bailiffs, Keith was next door and he was kind enough to bring his net around. Those two turned out to be a lovely scaly fish called ‘Groucho’ at 31lb 14oz and a lovely clean mirror called ‘Single Scale’. Unbelievably, at mid-day I was in again and another Horton mirror was sulking in my net and a good one at that. It turned out to be a fish called ‘The Guzzler’ at 42lbs and a fish that marked a personal milestone for me, being my 40th capture of a UK 40lber.
I was thankfully for a slight lull in the action that afternoon, as it gave me a chance to tie fresh rigs and get ready for more Horton action that night. I wasn’t disappointed as around 10:30pm the left-hand rod burst into life once again, and I was rewarded with a lovely scaly fish called ‘Trouble’ at 30lb 6oz.
No sooner had I returned the thirty and the remaining rod signaled a take. From the very start, it felt heavy, very heavy in fact and bored down long and hard into Hortons deep margins. I knew deep down it was something special. It was only once it was in the net that I saw it was indeed the mighty ‘Fingers’ at 52lb 14oz, beating my long standing PB by a pound. I was absolutely made up and it was the icing on the cake for this Horton session.
One more bite followed early hours of the morning and a 35lb 12oz mirror known, as ‘Gizmo’ was my thirteenth and final fish. It was truly an incredible session; the fish were showing nearly the whole time and the liners were nonstop. The last night of my trip was very quiet, and it was clear the fish had moved off, but I was thankful for a good night’s sleep.
As I filled the Horton book in before I left, it still hadn’t sunk in what had just happened. Truly a session I will never forget or repeat!”