James Salmons gets his campaign underway with chunk!

James Salmons got this year’s big fish campaign off to the perfect start when he landed a fantastic 44lb 14oz mirror.

He found some fish sunbathing when he arrived, but despite the lake being quieter than usual, the swims in that area were already taken so he opted to try elsewhere, and just before the end of the session he had two bites in quick succession.

James explained: “I arrived on the Friday afternoon and it was quieter than it had been, but when I found a few fish in one of the corners the area was already taken, and the fish didn’t look like they were interested in feeding anyway.

“I settled into an area that gave me access to the end of an island around 65 yards straight out in from of the swim, but also had plenty of open water to my right. After leading around the island shelf I found that there was plenty of silkweed, but on a couple of areas it was fresh and I could present a rig there. I opted for a spinner rig tied with a size 4 Krank hook to 20lb IQ2 and a Heli-Safe System, and my hookbaits were Trent Baits ActiveNut pop-ups soaked in White Almond Goo, along with a scattering of 50 freebies.

“By the time it got dark I still hadn’t seen anything, but during the night I heard a couple of fish close to one of my areas. I was up watching the water at first light, and after a while I saw a fish show four times in quick succession, almost certainly cleaning itself off. Another one showed an hour later, and although they probably weren’t feeding, I still gave it until early afternoon before winding in and going for a look round.

He ended the session with this 44lb 14oz mirror

James' first bite of the weekend came from this 25lb 8oz mirror

“I found fish in most of the corners, but they still didn’t seem interested in feeding, and after seeing another one show in front of me I decided to stay put. That afternoon my friend Greg had one of the largest fish in the lake so I shot round and took some photos for him.

“I got the rods back out mid-afternoon, but nothing showed and I was just hoping that the fish would follow the same routine as the previous morning. The next day the weather was much better with light drizzle in the air, and the fish were really active in front of me.

“It wasn’t long before one of the rod tips pulled down and after a scrappy fight I landed a lovely clean mirror of 25lb 8oz. I was really pleased to save the blank and the fish was absolutely nailed, which gave me further confidence in the rig I was using.

“I got the rod back out on the spot and this week I was able to hang on for an extra few hours. I’d packed most of my kit away and then around half-an-hour before I was due to leave the same rod pulled up tight.

“This one instantly felt much bigger, using its weight to kite on a long line and to make heavy lunges, but then it went in front of the swim next door. A branch had fallen into the margins over the winter and the fish went straight for it, and I saw the branch shake as the fish brushed against it, but luckily it came over the top of it and I netted it without any further hiccups. Greg had left shortly before, but when I called him he drove back to do the photos for me.”