Ian Bailey Bags a Winter Forty!

Having had steady action on the Deep Pit since November, I thought I’d carry on into the winter, as I felt there was a chance that it’d continue to fish.

A Saturday morning bite produced a lovely 29lb common that was more then welcome, falling to my faithful revved-up Tutti hookers over a mountain of Hybrid freebies. I've found the more I put in the better in the deep water. When I say deep, I mean 40ft and beyond, which is really testing on your presentation and mind sometimes.

After the New Year celebrations I was itching to get back. Though I had pulled off The Essex Manor, a friend, Marc, gave me a call, teasing me about what was going on down there. With fish coming out he was kind enough to tip me off so after a 100-mile detour on a Friday, I was getting out in The 39 steps, fishing deeper water. I've found minimal bait works well, so three-bait stringers and balanced bottom baits on long Dark Matter braid hook links were king!

After an eventful night of liners I was on tenterhooks; a bite was brewing. Living in thigh waders was order of the day, due to the water creeping up. I had slipped them on after seeing plumes of bubbles over my three rods in the hot zone. Around 9am, the left-hand ‘Stow indicator was wedged in the blank and had me bouncing down the steps and mud. I must admit I was shaking like a leaf given what could have been on the end. I got a glimpse of a big set of shoulders, among the boils and bubbles under the rod tip and with the spool ticking I stretched out with the net and she was mine! My prize was a fine Aveley strain mirror – a real history strain for the area. The fish tipped the scales to 36lb 4oz and Bulldog Mark, being the gent he is, did me proud with the pics. I had no more action came, but I was happy to go home with a January thirty under my belt carrying on where I had left off I was super pleased.

Ian's Manor tactics included a simple braided rig, tied with the super-heavy Dark Matter, and fished with a three-bait stringer.

His prize was this 36lb Aveley strain mirror.

After week at work I could get back out, but did I go back to The Manor, or go to the Deep Pit? I had in my mind to head to the Deep Pit, something was telling me to go and I had been talking up a forty all winter. It just felt right and the cold, high-pressure system rolling in was what we had been waiting for, it was perfect deep-water fishing. Albee was down for a night and greeted me with a cuppa. He had seen fish all along the southerly bank and tipped off an area. Deep down I wanted to be where he was but with fish about I couldn't ignore it and a social would help pass the time, as over in the wind looked horrid and bleak.

With the light going, I located some lovely areas over which they had shown all winter. After getting settled with a cuppa I sighed in relief as it's the only lake I've fished in ages where I'm confident from the off. I'm normally doubtful and question my choice. I was catching up with Grant from The Manor when my alarm sounded. I was confused though, as my receiver was on top of the bivvy! Looking down the tip of the right-hand rod was bending into the lake, looking like it needed assistance.

Picking up into the fish, I found that it was wedged straight away, not good at all. This was a split-second choice but I wound down into the fish and heaved like I was cod fishing and it kicked and came free. I just kept it coming within minutes, after it had tried to get into a marginal bush, I shipped the net out and she was mine and she was massive! Calling Albee he knew by the tone of my voice it was special. The hook was in the net and my line was grated so bad… my name was on this one! Up on the scales she went 41lb 4oz and we identified her as being The Long Common, which had been uncaught for 14 months. What an early birthday present. Albee did me proud and I couldn't have asked for better pics, so cheers bud! My rigs were hinged stiff rig setups with 25lb Mouth Trap and Choddy hooks in six or eight, depending on hook bait size.

What a start to 2016! Hopefully it’ll be The Ant or Carpworld Cover next. Let's try, you never know your luck… so I'm having a go!