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Winter Wonderland
Jim succeeds in the House of Commons

15/01/2020 - Special Captures

The 16th of November saw me manage to catch a 33lb 14oz common from the House of Commons (HOC), at this point temperatures were beginning to drop, and other anglers’ enthusiasm was running thin. I made a decision to keep my captures quiet at this point and only a select few would be updated, so I could preserve my own angling. Random anglers would walk round and say it was a waste of my time fishing here through the winter, because it was too hard…… I agreed with them and sent them off thinking that I had lost my marbles.

A week passed from the capture of the 33 and I had a single night at my disposal, expecting that the fish had not moved far from the zone I caught it from. I dropped back into that area after a couple of laps with nothing else to go on. Around 10pm I had a bite and landed an upper double heavily scaled mirror, a quick photo on the matt on my phone and the fish was returned. The rest of the night had passed quietly. I was then on my way to work, pleased with a bite though.
I managed a two night session on my next trip, which turned out to be uneventful for me. My first night was written off by two anglers turning up at bite time, 6am, and then proceeding to cast over me. I was pissed off to say the least as the zone I was in felt good for an early morning bite and was the only piece of unpressured lake. I wound in at 7am put my gear on my barrow and moved swim. Sometimes when things go wrong you feel they set the tone for the rest of the trip, and in this case that’s what happened. I was going home with my tail between my legs.
The last weekend of November saw me arrive at the lake first light on the Friday morning, and to my surprise there was no one there, hoorah, no one to contend with and free to angle properly. I didn’t need to do a full lap of the lake to see where they were, I was standing in a swim that was to become very productive for me, and bosh. That will do me, back to the van to get my gear, then barrow round to the swim. As I pulled into the swim with the barrow there was another show, I didn’t see it but I saw the aftermath. It felt like it was on. My first rod was out the sleeve, hook point checked, baited and ready to go, a short time passed then there was another show, shortly followed by my baited rig following it back in the water. The second rod was primed ready to go, and again bosh, the second rod followed that show in.
Imagine this, last weekend of November, you have the lake to yourself, the fish have given there location away and you have two rods on them. Could it get any better? Two hours passed and no more shows… I thought I’d cooked it. I’d just sat down on my bed, having a deep and meaningful conversation with Dylan (one of my dogs), then the first rod signalled a flurry of bleeps which I thought was a liner and didn’t speed to the rod, the hanger had moved very little. Watching the braid I could see it twitching, so I picked the rod up and wound down to the lead, to be greeted by a much bigger weight than the lead, I was in. A deep long battle, lead to me landing a long immaculate common, which I suspected was mid twenty, that will do. After a weigh-in and to my surprise it went 29lb 3oz… that will do.


The fish was sent on its way and the rod deployed back into the zone that had done that bite. My Matt and sling were then placed under my brolly behind my bed. A couple of anglers were walking round and asked if I’d seen any, I said no it was quiet, as they were standing there the same rod was away. Bollox. An erratic short battle led to an upper double mirror in the net which was unhooked in the net and sent on its way as I did not want prying eyes. I explained to the anglers in my swim that I’d just got lucky. Then they were on there way. Darkness was upon us and there were 5 people on, a guy I know had been fishing this lake all year and he was also doing the night. He had done well here and whetted my appetite with his pictures, but the fish he wanted to complete his puzzle had eluded him. This fish in question I had seen caught maybe 3 years ago by a good friend of mine at 26lb, it was doing mid thirty now.
After my dinner and a brew, I’d settled in my bag with Dylan around 9pm, it was bloody freezing, we had had light rain during the day, followed by clear sky’s and plummeting temperatures. I drifted off and was awoken by my buzzer screaming in my ear and my clutch stripping. I got my boots on and ventured to the rod, where the spool was spinning, I picked it up and basically got stripped of another 40 yards of line, what a powerful fish. I believe I had this fish on for at least half hour, and by this point it was Baltic. I remember thinking it was still further out than it was, then it popped up just in front of me, I reached for the net handle and slipped it under the wallowing carp. Having no head torch on I went to the brolly and got it. On returning to the net when I turned my light on minimum I realised I had it, the biggest mirror in the lake, the one I’d seen there years ago at 26, it looked big, 35lb plus. The temperature didn’t matter at this point as I was high on life. I secured the net and got some layers on. Now the awkward part, to go and inform the guy who had been fishing here this season and ask for some assistance and confirmation that I had this rare bank visitor.


Not long and it was confirmed, 34lb 8oz, many thanks for your help and assistance with getting some good pictures sir. He returned to his swim, and left me to grin like a Cheshire Cat all night. The rod was deployed again, I laid in bed absolutely charged about that capture as I know it’s a cute fish and having seen it in the flesh a few years ago I knew then I wanted it in my gallery.
First light broke and so did the lovely silence with the arrival of more anglers. It was a severely frosty morning and everything was white, a friend had walked round and sat having a brew with me whilst I explained last nights antics. We sat chatting and I looked at my rods for some reason and my braided mainline was like a guitar string, I was fishing very slack. My hanger had not moved and my buzzer had signalled nothing, on investigation my braid had frozen to my roller wheel, but I wasn’t worried as I was in again, after a good battle I had a nice common in the net. Whilst my friend was there we did some pictures and weighed it at 29lb 12oz. We managed to avoid anyone seeing, all was good.


I stayed the next night with high expectations of more bites, nothing came from those expectations. I believe this was due to pressure, these fish do not like lines that’s for sure.
Feeling a little pleased with myself over the capture of the mirror and an early prize to the winter campaign, I thought if I have no more I’ll be happy. It was now 6th December and I was out for a night again, I kept rolling the dice in the same swim unless I saw or heard reason not to. I’d kind of got a reasonable idea what take time was and it was no surprise when I was awoken by a bite in that time slot. Another good battle and I soon had a 26lb 4oz common under my belt.


The rod was deployed again, I went back to bed and was awoken 2 hours later by an upper double mirror that was photo’d and returned. The light was soon upon me and I packed down and headed off. Chatting to a few anglers on the way out who said it had shut up for the winter, I agreed and continued to push my barrow to the van grinning.
With commitments elsewhere (Christmas boozing) I didn’t return for a night until 20th December, my usual zone had been commandeered by other anglers. It was pretty busy, so I did around ten laps before I made my choice. I dropped into a quiet zone, that was all under the rod tip work, no one could blow my chances here. With rods out and dinner eaten, I retired to bed with Dylan. I was awoken by what I would call a classic take for this lake. And in the bite time window. A really good, deep scrap and a lot of side strain to keep it off my other line, saw me bundle another into the net.
A quick flick of the head torch and I was fortunate enough to have a plump mid thirty at a guess,
five days before Christmas. I secured the net and ventured off to get my friend who was fishing as well, and my camera from the van. We got set up and ready for the weighing and photos, I’d scooped the fish in the net into my weigh sling and zipped it up. When carrying it to the matt I thought it seemed heavy but I had a bit of water in the sling. We opened the sling and the net and both looked at each other and said core that’s a nice one. Then hoisted it up on the crook, and much to our amazement its was 39lb 14oz, wow an early Christmas present. My friend took some great shots and we returned the fish.


I sat drinking a tea thinking this is awesome, the only issue is once I have written about this epic adventure its going to be even more like Piccadilly Circus. The rest of the night past with zero action, but I did not care, a December 39, and also as I now know, a new lake record.
On the 22nd December I had a pass from the boss, I was out again. This was unusual - no one at the lake, which is nice but means its easy to also get it wrong. After many laps and nothing to go on, I decided to go back in where I had the 39. You couldn’t write it. Exactly the same time as the 39 bite, I had another bite. A powerful fish ran me around for a while, eventually tiring, and was then in my net.  I underestimated this one and it went 31lb 6oz on the scales.


The winter campaign that just kept on giving. A few pictures and it was returned. After that again the night passed with no further action.
The next few days were filled with Christmas festivities and family socialising. The day after Boxing Day I had a day session at my disposal, I was surprised to see how many eager beavers were out and about with there new fishing toys. After a good look round once again, I dropped in my last haunt. Up until now the right rod had been the banker, and it was hard to buy a bite on the left. Most of the day had passed and I thought I was off home with my tail between my legs, around 3pm I was chatting to some lads I knew on the lake behind me and my receiver lit up in my pocket…… a day time bite. A good scrap and I soon had another in the net, another 31lb 6oz common.


A few pictures and then it was released. I was homeward bound now with a December daytime 30 under my belt.
My next trip was with my cousin for a sociable day of eating leftovers, we fished the only double swim on the lake, more for socialising than fishing, but I still managed to catch a mid double common on last knocking. Better to be lucky than good.
The next day out was 2nd January. There were 4 or 5 people on when I arrived, after a lap I decided to drop into a zone I’d not fished before, purely because there were no lines there. I had a little look around and found an area I was happy with. I got one trap set and was undecided what to do with my other rod, so I put it close in, in the next swim along. I didn’t have to wait any time at all before the first rod was away and after a strange start to the fight it was soon apparent it was another good one. I soon had a nice common in the net, 30lb 12oz - that will do to start this year where I left off last year.


The matt and sling were stashed behind the bed under the brolly to conceal any evidence. The rest of the day passed with no signs, so around 3pm I wound in and left, still very pleased with another bite.
I was not due to return to work until Wednesday the 8th of January, due to having a funeral to attend on Tuesday the 7th. Monday the 6th saw me down for another day trip, after several laps in darkness I heard nothing and as the light broke I had seen nothing. I opted to go into a peg that I’d caught well from and had a deeper silty area. I split my rods up in two different swims to cover more water. And preserve my banker rod (to stop anyone else going in the swim next door). The morning passed quietly and I thought I was staring down the barrel of a blank. Around 2pm the banker signalled a flurry of bleeps, a typical bite from here. What first felt like a small one knocking its head, soon surprised me under the rod tip and the net was slid under a dumpy common. The fish weighed 27lb 13oz, the dice kept rolling. I did some shots, loaded the barrow and left victorious.


Friday 10th of January and I was back for 48 hours, I arrived at 6am and I had the whole lake to choose from. Catching the mirror back at the end of November made my campaign really, but as anglers we are greedy, the 39lb plus common was also a massive buzz, but in the back of my head I still knew that the Dipped Back common had not been out since I’d been fishing there, and to my knowledge not since June time. The Dipped Back common seemed to be a hard one to catch because of its length it was a power house and didn’t like dropping its guard. My first trip down the lake in November, I was shown a photo of the dip back common, and to be brutally honest it blew me away. A proper long, dark character with a dipped back and it just looked like a old war horse. After the capture of the mirror I’d said if I was lucky enough to have the Dipped Back I would leave the lake knowing that I had been lucky enough to meet the A team.
Like all good gamblers would, I decided to keep rolling the dice in the deeper silty zone as it had been kind to me. Once again I split the rods to preserve my own angling and space. The day past quietly, and all of the day anglers has disappeared, there was possibly four of us on for the night. Around 6pm, the classic few bleeps interrupted my lasagne and glass of wine. And a fairly steady fight saw me leading another to the net. A quick call to my cousin who lives local to the lake, and he was soon there to offer assistance. Once I’d got it out I’d realised it was a repeat of the 33lb 14oz common I’d had early on in the campaign, a quick weigh and photo for my records and it was back in the lake, it went 34lb.


My cousin disappeared and I proceeded to get the trap set again.
The obligatory tea before bed was had, then I settled down for the night. Awoken by a flurry of bleeps on the banker rod again, a real deep heavy fight and freezing my nuts off I slipped the net under another good common. All is good, two 30 plus commons in a night in January, ill take that. A quick weigh up and seeing light was imminent I retained it for minimal time, 32.8, this one went which was different to a lot of this lakes residents as it was box shaped. Feeling very pleased with myself, I made a brew then re-set the trap.


I climbed back in the bag with Dylan and it seemed to take a age for me to defrost. What seemed like no time at all, I was soon awoken by a flurry of bleeps again – the same rod was away. This fish was stripping and felt like another good one. It kited  massively left and I had to bury my tip and hold on to avoid the marginal snags to my left. I was stood in my long johns for what seemed a lifetime playing this one and I was shivering. There was a full moon and it was like day light. The fish’s head came up and it took one big gasp of air, I quickly slid the net under and really had to push hard to get the length of this one in.
I secured the net and proceeded to get some layers on and perform a good 50 star jumps to get the blood flowing and warm me up, Dylan was looking at me like I’d just dropped down from space. By this time it was nearly light and a friend was in the car park loading his barrow for the day. He came round and had a tea with me whilst I relayed my night’s antics. It looked like from what I see in the net that it was a hattrick of thirties in January.
With the light breaking so were the herds of anglers. I was trying to keep my campaign and captures under wraps as I didn’t want to feed the sheep. I managed to talk people who walked round into the fact I was up one end and the fish were up the other, some may say cruel, I say every man for himself.
We positioned ourselves where no one could see what we were up to, I got the retained 32.8 and we took some quick shots then sent it on its way. The fish in the net I managed to un hook in the water. I could see it was a real dark long one. I rolled the net up and carried it to my matt. On pulling the mesh back, there it was the massive dip in the back and the long dark flanks, I’d done it. I hoisted it up on the scales, it went 37.3. I was proper charged by this capture. We got some shots then sent old Dip Back on his way.

Everything was gathered up and hidden to leave no evidence. I calibrated the kettle and proceeded to text the gent who had first shown me the pic of Dip Back. The reply came back quickly, ‘where too now?’
What a winter campaign, several years ago I had a campaign on a lake through the winter and managed three 30s, I thought that it would take some beating. This winter, which is not done yet…… has been very kind to me.
All the best