Paul Claridge concludes his season with a tale about his purple patch of success on Burghfield lake.
Simon Kenny – The ‘Black’
1st September 2021
I started angling on the sailing pit last October. It was late in the year to start on a pit like this I know, especially as I had hardly any knowledge on the place, but sometimes the best way is to take it as it comes and see how things play out.
It’s over a 300-mile round trip for me and I knew the lake was big and low stock, but I’d gazed at shots of the ‘Black’ for a few years now and knew I had to have it. My first few trips were spent dotting around the lake fishing a different swim every week and getting a general feel for the place. I did see shows in this time, but only out in the middle ‘no-man’s land’ area. Even the best caster wouldn’t be able to reach them. And believe me some of those boys could sling a lead far further than I could!
My first chance came at the end of November. I’d lapped the pit a few times and finally, like a gift from the gods, I saw a head poke out in front of the ‘4-buoy’ swim at about 90 yards. It was game on! I’d fished this swim before and knew the area was clean. The rods went out with minimum disturbance, and I saw another show that evening. I managed 2 bites that trip, a cricket bat common and a low 30 leathery mirror. I carried on in that swim until nearly Christmas, and although I was seeing the odd fish, I had no more chances. Just before Christmas we got put back in lockdown, so I had to wait until April before I could return. I was buzzing for the spring and felt sure if I could carve out 2 bites in the late autumn when the lake had near enough shut up shop, then surely, I could in the spring! How wrong I was! I blanked hard all spring. The lake was very busy with nearly all the bites coming from one end, I just couldn’t get on them. I had a couple of weeks off over the spawning period, but I couldn’t wait to get back. I managed to get a little something going in the ‘Stumps’ swim and although I wasn’t seeing many fish that end, I had 3 bites in 4 weeks, all cricket bat commons, but it was nice to get a few considering I’d just blanked all spring! The ‘Stumps’ soon dried up for me though, so I started dotting about, but mainly staying down that end of the lake. I’d started fishing the Blocks when I could. I knew it was a very good area for the ‘Black’ and he hadn’t been out of there this season yet, so it was a good as bet as any.
So that brings me up until last week. My trip started on the Sunday, which happened to be the night of the full moon (it’s a very well-known fact most of the ‘Black’s’ captures are around the full moon) the wind was set to swing north easterly – absolutely perfect for the ‘Black’. I prayed I could drop in there and luckily the lad in there was off that day.
My rods went out onto the usual spots and that evening, as the wind started pushing in, I heard a big fish crash to my left. I knew I’d done all I could. Now I had to wait and let it play out. I left the rods in position for 2 nights as I didn’t want to disturb the area. On the second morning I got a bite, which turned out to be another small common. What did I have to do to catch myself a better one?! It was tricky getting the rods out that afternoon, as the heavy crosswind made it tricky feeling for drops, but I did my best. On the Wednesday morning at first light, I woke up to a melter! The clutches were tight, and I knew it was a better fish. I stopped the first run and to be honest, I played the fish extremely hard, just walking back and pumping him in. The swim is very weedy so I knew I had to keep him coming. Once he was close in, I slipped into my waders and he went in the net first time of asking. I had a suspicion which fish it was and sure enough when I looked it the net it confirmed it.
My time was over on the sailing pit – the ‘Baby Black’ was mine! My results were far from consistent, but it just shows you just need to keep the faith. I remember pulling back the sling and just gazing at the beauty of him. Those are the best moments, and the ones that stay with you forever.
My end tackle consisted of TA’s forthcoming SBX sinking braid, 45lb Olive Camo leadcore and a hinged stiff rig made using 35lb Tungskin, 30lb Recoil and a size 4 Beaked Chod Hook.