Matthew Forshaw made the most of the few hours he had spare before jetting off on his honeymoon, the result, a Mercers Park 40!
Spencer Wright Captures Moonscale on Ashmead
11th August 2016
Spencer Wright returned to the incredible Ashmead Lake in Somerset for a weekend social with friends, and was rewarded with one of the most sought-after fish in the lake.
Spencer explains: I was fortunate enough to be asked to join some friends on a weekend social to the very special lake which is Ashmead. I was lucky enough to have fished Ashmead couple of years back as a guest, so I knew what a testing lake it could be.
On arrival, Skeff showed us around Ashmead, and luckily, everyone had different areas they favoured, so we all set off in different directions to pit our wits against our chosen quarry.
My swim, named The New North, had lots of options and copious amounts of weed, as did most of the lake. I soon noticed some fizzing along a right-hand margin, so I quickly got a bait to the area with the use of a baiting pole, hoping to disturb the spot as little as possible. I roved the other two rods around between weedbeds, looking for something special. As the evening drew in, I noticed a fish milling about in a little opening, which I wanted to investigate further the following day.
The fishing was proving extremely difficult, with only a couple of carp having slipped up, both 20+ commons. It was very evident that they were feeding heavily on natural food, and were spending a lot of time in the thickest weedbeds that were all around the lake.
The following morning, I found a spot where I had seen the fish and managed to get a hookbait in the hole, with the best line lay I could have hoped for. I kept the spot going by feeding on a little-and-often basis, to keep the piranha-like rudd off my double 15mm Krill bottom bait hookbaits.
Nothing was seen until Sunday morning, when at about 9.00 a.m., a fish came drifting into my bay. From an elevated vantage point and with the use of my Polaroids, the fish looked of medium size. I could tell it had pronounced shoulders, but still estimated it at mid-20s from its position low down in the water. It cruised about around the weedbeds for an hour or so, and then I noticed it swirling just to the left of my spot which I’d found the previous day.
Fifteen minutes later, whilst attempting to take a photograph of a young grebe catching rudd, my rod bent over and my Neville screeched, and line was ripped from a tight clutch. I immediately swept the rod back and met a solid resistance because the fish had ploughed into the weed. I locked the rod up and started walking backwards, and suddenly felt some movement, so I kept the momentum by walking backwards, climbing the bank behind me to gain extra height.
Amazingly, the fish kept coming, and sailed through all the weedbeds in front of me. It came straight into the margin, and I saw this lovely dark mirror turn and make a sharp run for cover into some more weed. I managed to steer it around and then straight into a waiting net. I gave a big shout out – amazingly, the fish was in the net in a matter of 2 minutes after receiving the take!
My friends, Ian and Neil, were on the scene immediately. I said initially that I thought it was Moonscale, but the others thought it was much smaller. It was only when it was lifted from the water that the enormity of what I’d caught become evident. It was indeed Moonscale, and it looked absolutely amazing, with its black head and back, and chestnut colours adorning its flanks.
With cameras and videos rolling, the scales settled at 46lb 4oz, and I was completely blown away by what was happening. I stood in the water holding her, totally in awe of the special fish, the history it had, and all the anglers who had caught it over the years. It was a true battler, having survived an otter attack when much younger, from which she still carried the scars on her mouth and tail, but for those couple of minutes, it was my time.
We celebrated with a barbecue that afternoon, but I soon found myself pacing the banks, looking for Single, and although I found many fish, Single wasn’t amongst them. It was hardly surprising, considering the 14 acres of weed and channels in which he had to hide.
The final morning produced one more take, which unfortunately fell foul to the weed, but I couldn’t have asked for more; The Krill had once again proved itself as a big-fish specialist. I would be able to look back with fondness on a trip to Ashmead, a location like no other in the country, and a result of a fish which would always be right up there amongst my best-ever captures.
Spencer tempted the incredible mirror using two 15mm Krill bottom baits fished on a combi-link-style rig arrangement. This was complemented with 20mm Krill freezer baits as free offerings, which were soaked in a mix of Pure Krill Liquid and L-Zero-30-T, and then coated with Pure Krill Powder to give them extra attraction.