Bowles Banks a Biggie - Oli Bowles

When starting on a new target water, one of the best things you can ask for is an early result. It very rarely happens, especially for myself, but when them do come, it’s always a great confidence booster. While I wait for April to come round, so I can get myself back on my big waters, I normally potter around on more high-stock venues for some confidence boosting early spring action.
So far, I haven’t had the easiest of winters, with commitments at home; I knew I wouldn’t be able to fish on a regular basis or even bait up for that matter. Without baiting an area, I had to fish as many pegs as possible to try to drop onto the groups of fish, but it wasn’t to be and, apart from the odd double, the months were rolling past. As it can be when you’re not catching for a period of time, you can feel like you’re stuck in a rut.
Towards the end of February, I was stuck well into that rut, but I knew that things were starting to wake up around me. I just had to ride the last of the winter out and things would start happening again. As March appeared, the warmer temperatures came with it and it seemed that spring was finally here. I planned a trip down for the weekend, as the forecast said, it was going to be the hottest day of the year so far. As luck had it, I was able to sneak out for a last-minute night during that week and what a difference the week off had made to the place.
It just felt like the change had happened and although nothing was showing, I made a mental note to start this as the first day of my spring. The following morning I had my first bite of the year resulting in what was probably the smallest common in the lake, but very welcome and hopefully break my dry spell.
On my next session, I arrived at the lake on the Sunday around midday and was greeted by a few mates who had arrived that morning. They informed me that fish had been out all over and the better stamp of fish had all been from around the island. The weather continued to be hot through the day and it was easy to imagine why the big girls were cruising around there. The lads were fishing at either end of the pit, leaving the whole face of the island free, so the choice wasn’t too hard to make. I went for a casual wander around the small pit anyway, knowing my winter campaign was coming to an end. It was high time to go to my main water; I just wanted to nab one more fish to even the score a little before I went.
Not wanting to waste any more time after my wander, I grabbed the kit and set about getting myself sorted. I had caught from a little spot along the island in November, so I knew where one rod was going and with a little lead around I soon found a spot for the other rod. I decided to spod a small amount of boilie onto the spots and fished my usual N-Trap soft rig over the top. I had been told by the owner that a pink topper had been deadly at this time of year and I thought fishing up to the island in this manner was the perfect opportunity to try one, and hopefully catch the attention of cruising fish. I left the alarms off while I let the lines settle and I threw the bivvy up. As I got the bedchair off the barrow, I looked over to see the rod bent round in the rest and the line ‘ping-tight’; the pink worked a treat! The fish had immediately buried itself in the weed, but with a little pressure I felt the stems slowly come away and I dragged the whole lot towards me. Dan came walking up to see if I was in and I told him to scoop the whole lot up with the net. I wasn’t sure if the fish was still there in the weed, but the eruption in the net as she felt the mesh soon cleared that up. We pulled the weed away and revealed a chunky back of a mirror and it was clear it was one of the thirties.
We sorted the weighing kit and as we hoisted her onto the mat, Dan recognised it as the big one, known as Bill’s Fish. She took the needle round to 35lb 12oz and at the biggest ever weight for that fish, I was made up to hold the largest resident in lake. The blanks of the winter had taken their toll, but that fish has given me a massive confidence boost before I now go to a very, very hard lake for the spring. An early result was just what I needed!