Sam Whittaker embarks on a Belgian road trip, which all came good in the end!
Sam Ashman – Rise & Shine
7th December 2020
Sam Ashman made the most of his available time, using observation, a subtle baiting approach and a baiting pole to capitalise on the few rod hours he had at his at his disposal…
“Having caught the lakes ‘biggun’ last November and then another target fish just after lockdown, I moved into autumn with three fish I dearly wanted to have in the album before moving on. Throughout September I had started to get fairly consistent bites as well as a few bonus ones on floaters.
During this time, I had started to notice a pattern with a number of fish, they seemed to bounce between two sets of snags every couple of days, so it became easy to keep track of where they were. Alongside this I also found another of my targets, the Pig Common, would turn up to one of these sets of snags at 10:30am every day without fail. It would come over the spot I was fishing before moving into the snag where it would spend its day, not once did it drop on to the spot.
From October I knew my time would be restricted even more, so with a lot on at work and also having a five-month-old baby, I would only have one morning a week. I stripped everything down, used one rod and made sure everything was prepared. I had planned to stick to the two areas to make as much use of my time as possible. I’d found spots on their patrol routes into either set of snags, they were easy to fish with just a couple of sections of bait spoon I could get a rig on the spot and keep disturbance to a minimum.
On the 1st October I decided to change things up to try and outwit the Pig. I’d been having a lot of success using trimmed down wafters over crumb and Big Dog G-Buzz, but clearly the Pig was wary of this. I turned up that morning around 8am and the rod was poled into position. I had washed out a couple of handfuls of whole bottom baits for 24 hours, using one as a hook bait and carefully spreading the others around the spot. A couple of hours later the rod whacked round and pulled into a powerful fish. Fishing so close in, I saw it almost straight away and it was the Pig! After the fish making a number of 20-30 yard runs into open water, she finally went into the net. I then checked the time to see it was 10:40, everything had gone perfectly to plan. By now a couple of other members had come round to see what I had.
She was usually around 36/37lb but in the net she looked considerably bigger. We got her out to weight her and then weighed on another member’s scales to be sure. At 40lb 6oz – I was made up!
he following week I was back in the same spot, back to the wafters and G-Buzz and after a couple of hours I was rewarded with a really nice linear. The next trip I was on the second spot, where I had a bite almost instantly resulting in a smaller common. As it had come so quickly, I decided to get the rod straight back out and see what happened. A couple of hours later and the rod was away again, this time the fish stayed deep as it powered out into open water. It gave a real good scrap going on a number of long powerful runs. Thankfully, everything held firm and once in the net I could see it was another good one. This one went 35lb 6oz and was another great result.
In the week leading up to my last bite, I walked the lake a couple of times and after the first frost of the year it became apparent that the majority of the fish had moved out of the edge. The only fish that I did see that week was the ‘Half Lin’ and both times she was on one of my spots.
I arrived at the lake at 7am on Friday 13th November, it was quiet with only one other member on. Having seen her on the spot the evening before I made sure everything was done as quietly as possible. With the rig on the spot, I carefully spread a small amount of G-Buzz and crumb with the bait spoon and sat well back out the way.
Everything felt good, I felt that if I had a bite then there was a very good chance it would be her. I couldn’t help but think if it didn’t happen that day then by the following week she would have moved out into open water and my chance to really target her would have been gone until spring. Just before midday I received a really twitchy take with the tip just slowly pulling round. I lifted into a fish and to be honest it was over almost instantly, she popped up straight away and apart from one heart stopping roll just before the net cord, it was job done! I made a quick call to a mate to get him down for photo duties, before then taking a moment to let it sink in. I’d felt so close a couple of times this year, there was such a sense of relief to know I had her. Once on the bank she looked incredible, without doubt one of the most impressive fish I have had the pleasure of catching. We weighed her at 43lb 8oz before having all sorts of trouble with the photos in the low autumn. Top effort from the cameraman, I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.
That pretty much sums up six weeks of angling that couldn’t have gone any better. After slipping the ‘Half Lin’ back I decided it was time for a break before heading back over there in the spring to hopefully get the last one on the list. Overall, I ended with 2 x 20s, 2 x 30s and 2 x 40s in 6 morning sessions, totalling less than 24 hours of rod hours!
Rig wise, I used Tungskin Slip-d’s with size 5 Curve Points. These were coupled with small wafter hookbaits and fished over a couple of handfuls of crumb and G-Buzz.”