June 16th Magic - Jon Phillips

“After spending the morning at work clearing my desk, I soon found myself driving the now usual route down the A12, towards Cleverley Fisheries, for what would be my 5th session of the season.

The conditions looked good as I made my way to the lake, overcast, strong Northerly winds and light drizzle. The air pressure was high, but I felt confident all the same and I knew the wind would be pushing into the Car Park swim, so I prayed it would be available.

I arrived at 2.30pm to find an empty car park, I couldn’t believe my luck and was chuffed to think I’d have pick of the swims. A quick walk to the Car Park swim revealed there was actually one other angler present, in Fit Mans, a very popular swim on the lake. Still, no problem, as the wind was hacking down into the car park end and it looked good. Within 10 minutes, I had seen several fish show all over the swim, which was good enough for me and within another 10 minutes, had hastily got all my gear dumped into the swim.

I quickly set-up three rods, ignoring the drizzle and the fact that all my gear was starting to get wet, in favour of getting the rods out. I roughly knew the spots I wanted to be on from a previous marker around, so with the aid of the distance sticks, i wrapped up three rods to their positions. Three new rigs were quickly tied up using IQ2 15lb, attached to a size 8 Krank. I love these hooks, and so far, they’ve never let me down. A single 15mm bottom bait and small mesh bag on each rod were dually flicked out to their respective positions. With many fish obviously present, it just didn't make sense to potentially spook them off by firing out too much bait, or worse still, plumbing around with the marker. So with the rigs out, and the lines all set very slack, I only catapulted out six baits around each spot, then set about sorting all the rest of my gear, which wasn’t too wet after all.

By the time everything was set up, stowed away and the kettle on for the first brew, it was just after 5pm, so I put the IPad on to watch the Germany Vs. Portugal match. Looking out of the bivvy and across the lake, I could see fish still in my swim, and it looked really good for a bite. At half time, I decided to re-cast the middle rod as a few fish were showing slightly further out, so I tied up a fresh bag, reeled in and was just about to put a fresh bait on when the left- hand rod bleeped a couple of times. Looking down, I saw the indicator jump up a couple of inches then settle back down again. Quickly and very carefully (more like dropping), I put the middle rod down into the reeds beside the goal posts in time to see the left hand rod rip off. I was on it like a shot and at first, just felt a solid resistance as I leant into the fish. I knew the area was weedy, so I always use drop off leads, but this felt well and truly weeded yet I could feel the fish giving an occasional kick, so knew something was on. I never play my fish hard, so with steady moderate pressure from a couple of different angles, I finally got the fish moving after what seemed an age, but in fact, it was probably only a minute. I could feel that horrible line through weed grating sensation, but the fish was moving, so I kept the pressure on and slowly but surely, I gained line. Then, the fish must have cleared the weed as it kicked hard to the right and out into open water. It was at this point that I knew it must be a decent fish, as it just felt so heavy as it plodded off on a slow but unstoppable run. Luckily, the middle rod was out of the water and right hand rod was being fished down the right hand margins, so I had plenty of space to play the fish. I managed to turn the fish and as she came up towards the surface, I expected to see a ball of weed around the head of a reasonable fish, but as the leader broke the surface, followed by a glimpse of the fish turning below, I could see there was no weed and that the fish was huge in the crystal clear water. My heart was racing by now as I knew I’d got one of the better fish on, but being a new member, wasn't sure which one it was. The fish came up to the surface two rod-lengths out and I reached for the landing net handle, sinking the net in front of me. Then, as good as gold, she came in on her side, first time into the net and lay there calmly in the margins.

I was shaking like a leaf and stood there looking at my prize. Wow, she looked huge in the net from above, and I knew she would go 40+ and become my new UK PB. At this exact point, a fellow member just happened to be walking past, so kindly offered to assist with weighing and photographs (thanks Aaron, owe you one), but I’ve go to be honest, it’s all very much a blur from here on in… Into the weigh sling in the cradle, quick zero of the scales, and up she went, registering a weight of 46lb 4oz after deduction of the sling weight. GET IN!

To say I was ecstatic was the biggest understatement ever! Now, I don’t like to keep any of my fish out of the water any longer than necessary, so after a few quick snaps, I returned her to the water in the sling, where upon I done the customary strip off and got into the lake with her for some release shots. She was ready to go, so I let her slowly swim away from my hands back to her home.

The rest of the session was spent with an ear to ear grin, and although I managed to sneak a stunning looking scaley mirror off the top, was pretty uneventful, but I didn't care, I was, and still am, on cloud 9.

June 16th is a special date for many anglers, even though most commercial fisheries no longer have a close season, but this June 16th will remain etched in my memory forever.”

Jon Phillips.