freeline-20 - Page 168

One Last Season On The Church Lake
View from the Slot swim.
expected had no action but was
happy to get some bait on the spot
early in the season, hoping it would
pay off later. My plan to go to Yateley
after two nights seemed like a
good’un, as due to the 48-hour rule
there most the swims would be freeing up, and I was hoping to move out
of a poor swim at Horton into a better
one at Yateley, but whilst at Horton I
received the dreaded news that
Heather had been found dead. Gutted
– now both of my main target fish had
died this year! When I did turn up to
the Car Park Lake on 2nd June it was
a very sombre place with long faces
all round. I half-heartedly did my two
nights and scarpered back to Horton
hoping it had freed up a bit, which I
found out was asking a bit much.
As it turned out it was a very slow
start to the season, and despite the
40-odd hookbaits in there it was 67
hours before a new member, Ollie, had
the first capture from the Dip swim in
Dog Bay, and then he had the second
the next day, both from a corner swim
– shows what I know!
Back at Horton on the 4th and there
had only been three out, and all my
targets were still to play for. On the
5th I found some fish in the back of
Church Bay under the canopy (a legiti m a t e s t a l k i n g a r e a a p p a r e n t l y,
though not a swim). This was more
like it, and I was feeling in with a
chance. After watching them for a
while I baited a small yellow spot to
my left about two feet out with some
sweetcorn. When they are this close
in it really gets my heart going and
legs shaking; I find stalking them like
this incredibly exciting, and for me
only floater fishing comes close. Soon
I spied a fish of probably upper thirties creep out from under the bush up
the right hand margin coming
towards my corn. When it reached it,
it dropped straight down, cleaned up
the lot and carried on up the left.
Excellent, time to get a rig in. All went
well, as it should really when fishing
less than a meter out, and I threw a
few more grains of corn around my
rig. Perfect – now the only things to
do were to hide behind a tree, try to
relax and be patient.
Soon the fish returned, dropped
down again, started to feed and my
heart started beating like I’d run a lap
of lake. But all was not well; the fish
lifted up again looking agitated and
m o v e d o f f, l e a v i n g s o m e c o r n
uneaten. Thinking perhaps my rig
was sitting dodgily, I lifted it out again
and waited to see if it would return,
which it didn’t. Due to the shadow
cast by the trees it is often hard to ID
the fish in this area, but that had
looked very much like the Boxer to
m e, s o I w a s m u c h l e s s t h a n
impressed with how I’d messed it up.
I was well and truly pissed off actually. Fortunately there were still several fish under the bush to the right so
I put some corn on a similar spot up
the right. Soon a fish came sneaking
up the margin and started ripping it
up. A second chance, thank you very
much! Soon a few more came to join
in and it became apparent that getting a rig in wasn’t going to be so
easy this time. A few bits of corn persuaded them to move and I got my
trap set.
Before long they were back and
feeding happily. This looked more like
it, and soon I was watching six fish
(averaging thirty pounds each) waving their tails at me over my rig. I
glanced back at my original area and
saw what was clearly a very small fish
(for Horton) eating the corn that had
been left there and I remember thinking, ‘that was lucky I’d moved my rig,
at least I’m not going to catch that
one.’ As if it had read my mind, it lifted
up and swam straight over to the others then dropped down amongst
them, my line shot tight and they all
At the time I wasn’t sure which one
I’d hooked as the water had become
quite murky due to all the activity, but
sure enough it was the little one, and
after a short scrap it was in the net
and probably the only fish left in the
bay. It was at the time the smallest
mirror in the lake at around 16lb, a
very pretty fish stocked three seasons
before and very aptly named Spite.
Not a good outcome from such a
chance, especially as it was a repeat; I
had caught it two seasons before. I
had also watched it eject the same
type of rig the previous season, and it
had given me a bit of a headache. It
got me thinking, ‘if I am getting done
by the smallest most recent stocky
then I am in trouble here.’ However, I
caught it again later last season too
on the same type of rig again, meaning I’d had at least four pickups from
the smallest mirror in there – great
hey? What a hero! No matter how efficient a rig is they only have to be
lucky (or us unlucky) for them to get
away with it.
Little Phil caught the Dynamite
Fish later on the same day meaning it
had taken around 115 hours of almost
every swim being occupied with two
hookbaits before the lake did its fifth
fish. That was my only bite, and the
only time I really felt close in the two
weeks from either pit, so I returned
home a little disappointed. Because I
was coming and going every two
nights to do my time at Yateley I was
unable to bucket one of the prime
swims, and in hindsight I would probably have been better off had I stayed
at Horton for a week and bucketed a


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