Chris Douce reflects on the great memories he made last year fishing with his twin daughters Maisy and Ayla
Westlands Winter Target Comes Early
30th October 2017
After a successful year on his main target water, Jordan Dales needed a change. So, he started to put plans into place for an autumn/winter campaign. Little did he know he’d be seeing an old friend so quickly!
Jordan explains “With Summer behind us and the thought of winter dawning on me I had a decision of where to fish this winter, one water immediately came to mind as it held a specific fish I have wanted to catch again as the photo’s I obtained over three years ago didn’t do my memories much justice.
After enquiring about the possibility of a winter ticket, I was granted one much sooner than I expected, with permission to start fishing immediately. I saw no reason not to as I had become a little tired of repeat captures from a local club water where I only have one remaining target fish.
A last-minute decision to do my first night of the campaign came after a trip to the lake with the marker rod and having noticed the lake was empty. The session ended with me getting off the mark with a dumpy little common just shy of the 20lb mark along with one lost fish.
The following weekend I had the opportunity to squeeze 36-hours on the bank in, after leaving the office on the Friday I arrived at the lake around 5pm. With remaining day light hours limited I didn’t have long to get a swim established and the rods out. I opted to fish peg 2 as it commanded and area of deeper water and with storm Brian bringing in a big low-pressure front, that was where I wanted to be.
I position two rods tight together at the end of the bar where it tapers off into deeper water, the first rod was armed with a “Match-the-Hatch” Manilla pop-up on a Ronnie rig and the second a 16mm Manilla Tuff One bottom bait tipped off with a 12mm pink Signature pop-up mounted onto a KD rig. With the rods out I primed the area with roughly a kilo of whole and chopped Manilla in both 12mm & 16mm, along with matching pellets and active mix, which was topped off with a generous amount of Cloudy Manilla Liquid.
As the night went on I began to lose faith in my chosen swim as I could hear multiple fish crashing out a good 100-150 yards further down the lake to my right. However, around 5:30am my hopes where soon lifted as I was awoken by a rather twitchy bite, that was then followed by an uninspiring few minutes with what I thought at the time was one of the lakes smaller stock fish at the other end of the line. Little did I know the fish I was connected to was swimming towards me, hence why it felt so small, and making a bee line for a reed bed to the right of my swim. Before I had the chance to realise where the fish was heading I began to feel the line grating as the fish made its way into the reeds. With the fish firmly nestled into the center of the reeds I had no other option but to don the waders and venture into lake in the dark to free the fish by hand.
As I moved through the reeds my presence pushed the fish further towards the margin at the back of the reed bed. Tucked up against the margin laid Peggy, as I took one last step towards him he bolted off out the side of reeds freeing my line in the process.
For the next five minutes, he plodded around just a rod length in front of me using his weight to stay as close to the lake bed for as long as he could, before breaking the surface and drifting into the net.
With the help of my girlfriend Chloe who had done the night with me, we got the fish on the bank and unhooked, before returning him to the water in the sanctuary of the sling whilst the sun came up so that I could get the shots I’ve waited so long to have.
Just an hour later the sun was rising and my one of my good friends had drove down to the lake to lend a hand with the weighing and photographing of the fish. Once up on the scales we settled on a weight of 44lb 4oz, that believe it or not was the exact same weight I caught this fish at, 3 years and 4months ago.
An early completion to what was supposed to be my winter campaign leaves me with the task of catching the remaining five out of six thirty pounders that I never caught when I previously owned a ticket.”