Hinge-Rig Hauling - Jonny Fletcher

March had arrived and I couldn’t wait to get the rods back out on Northey Park in Cambridgeshire after the long, cold winter we’d had. I knew the shallow water would soon warm up fast and the fish would be on the move. I went down to the lake on a sunny Sunday afternoon and couldn’t believe my luck when I saw around 10 fish cruising about on the surface. I shot home to get my gear. I set up in a swim called Last Stop, most people’s favourite swim. From this swim I had previously banked a few fish back in July 2011, one of them being a 44lb 8oz common known as Kitch. After seeing the fish I was hopeful of a bite. But morning came and I had blanked, so off to work I went.
Seeing all those fish made me want to fish even more and over the next few days I pre-baited, hoping that they would be on the feed. I went back down to the lake the following weekend but couldn’t get in Last Stop as it was already taken. I was disappointed after the pre-baiting that I had done but I knew this was people’s preferred swim choice. So, I decided to fish week nights but having work from 7.30am till 4.30pm, I knew this would be a big effort. I also decided to steer away from Last Stop as I knew this would be getting lots of pressure over the next month. I chose a swim that was easy for me to get to and set up quick, this swim known as The Beach, which is right near the entrance to the lake and opposite Last Stop, which was perfect for me.
By late March, the temperature was hitting highs of 22 degrees, so I knew the fish would be on the move and with the clocks going back I now had an extra hour of light to get set up.
My first overnight session was Monday 26th March. The weather was boiling for this time of year. I got set up and had the rods out by 5.30pm. I was fishing two rods in a channel around 40 to 50 yards out. I used a hinged stiff link, tied up using Korda IQ 18lb at around eight inches for the stiff boom section, a size-8 ring swivel, tied to 1.5 inches of Mouth Trap and a size-six Choddy. A 15mm Cell pop-up was the hook bait. I had started to spread Cell boilies out and within minutes I had a melting Delkim alarm. After a 10-minute battle I landed a stunning mirror of 22lb 8oz. Still shaking from the excitement, I photographed the fish. I got the rod back out and got my head down.

I was awoken at 6.30am with another take from the same spot. I couldn’t see a thing, there was heavy fog and this fish felt a lot heavier. After a few minutes I had landed the fish, which looked much bigger; I was praying for it to go 30lb plus. To my delight it was 30lb 11oz; a fish known as Tea and Biscuits. I was over the moon. Having photographed the fish and packed away, I was late for work, but it was well worth it. I fished two more nights that week but blanked.

With the Easter bank holiday coming up I knew I had chance to get a few nights in. It had felt like I had been missing the morning bite time. Friday 6th, Easter bank holiday, saw me down at the lake at 8.30am, The Beach was free. The temperature had cooled down a lot and was around 12 to 13 degrees. I had plenty of time to get my rods in down the channel. I had all day ahead of me and tied some rigs and enjoyed the peace. Nothing happened in the day but I was confident of getting a take over 48 hours. Morning came round and still nothing had happened so I started to cook breakfast and sure enough, I had a take.
I was straight on the rod; this fish felt big, not fighting too hard and bobbing its head around. I landed the fish and to my amazement it was the Big Linear, tipping the scales to 31lb 3oz. I was more than happy with the result. I got the rod back in and sat down to recap on the moment. Throughout the day nothing happened, it was spitting with rain and very overcast, perfect for a bite which didn’t come, but I was all set for the next morning hoping to bag another fish. I was awoken at around 6am with a take; it was raining hard for a while and could feel this one wasn’t as big. I landed the fish, a stumpy-looking mirror of 17lb 13oz. I had no time to get the rod back out before the second rod had ripped off producing another hard-fighting fish of 15lb 13oz. Morning passed by and it was soon time to pack up and go home.

I retuned to the lake on the Wednesday after work, having pre-baited between this time. I thought I stood a good chance of catching again, and sure enough with two hours of the rods being out I had a take from the same spot down the channel. After a short battle I landed a mirror known as Round Back at 29lb 11oz. While taking the photos I had another run but sadly lost this fish. However, the night was still young and the fish were feeding hard. I got the rods back out and was confident of another take. I got my head down for the night, I woke at 6am after a good night’s sleep with no action but this was all about to change while packing up for work. I had two bleeps, the line had pulled tight so I lifted into what felt like another big fish. The battle was short and I was greeted by a fish called The Amazon fish, weighing in at 31lb 3oz, another target fish banked.

I took the pictures and set off for a day’s work.
I was back down by the Friday after finishing work, looking forward to a 24-hour session. During the evening there was no action and I enjoyed a few brews with a friend who used to fish the lake. Morning was now upon us and there was a frost; I wondered if this would have an effect on the fishing. However, not long after the sun had been out, I had a take and was straight on the rod. This was the hardest fighting fish of them all, a 29lb 11oz known as The Leather. I fished the rest of the day but had no action, so set off for home.
I still have till the end of April to try and land a few more fish before the syndicate runs out. All of these fish were caught using Korda Kable for the leader, a 2oz pear lead, the rig was hinge stiff link.