Striking Gold - Ian Bailey

With my early season success I was still on cloud nine, but the fishing on my syndicate was proving very slow to say the least. With plenty of the regulars struggling for a bite like myself, we were scratching and trying everything to get a bite. Bank holiday weekend kicked off with five bites in a night – coming from different areas.
With a sore head from Mr Joe Morgan’s party the night before, I got home and set off to get to the lake before dark.
With it starting to rain heavily I walked a few laps of the lake, but nothing was screaming out where to go. Getting wetter and wetter I made a quick decision to set up in the mouth to the bay with a good view back up the lake for early morning observations.
I got the rods out and got my head down early for getting up for first light. Wakening at first light, the rain was still heavy and as soon as I focused my eyes on the lake a fish showed in front of my swim forty yards out.
I started to notice the fish showing on two particular spots - I couldn’t resist and re-chucked the rods to the spots just adding a small, oily stick with trimmed down Mainline Cell hook baits to a size 8 Mixa. Only a few hours left until I had to leave to attend my friends wedding reception, I was anticipating a bite any moment. All too soon I was reeling in; the fish activity had stopped and felt I should have had a bite. On retrieving, my rigs were covered in dead weed masking my presentation. Back to the drawing board!
I set about changing my presentation for the next trip. With a leader ban on the lake I set up chod rigs on the line or naked choddys as I like to call them. Using the soon to be released Mouthtrap in 15lb, I tied these to a super-sharp choddy size 8 hook and mounted a 16mm Cell cork ball pop up. With my confidence in the new set up it just had to be the one as not a lot of people on the lake seemed to use it to my knowledge and would give me perfect presentation.
The next Friday I took a halfday after getting all my work done and I was soon on the M25 bound for the lake. With the barrow loaded I bumped into a member of the lake telling me to get up the top end as they were showing all morning and still not far from the weekend before. My decision was made quickly with evidence of fish in the area - signs of bubbling on one spot meant that I couldn’t resist and put my barrow in the swim. Setting up my rods, I flicked my first rod on a 1.5oz square pear lead past the spot and reeled in slowly lowering onto the spot. I got a half decent drop and flicked out 30 baits in the area making sure to spread them.
After getting my second rod sorted I didn’t have long to wait and was rewarded with a fine 33lb 8oz common three hours later on my right rod where I had seen the bubbling. The rest of the session was slow with me and my best mate Dave Finn freezing in the northeasterly wind, which picked up late evening.
After attending one of Korda’s Roadshows the following week I was back in the Colne Valley. On arriving, a friend mentioned that the fish had moved out into the middle part of the lake and had been showing early morning. I setup on the opposite side of the lake and got the rods done for the night making sure I got my head down for an early start. Before I knew it my mobile was waking me up and the time was 3.30am when most people were asleep. The fish started to show an hour into first light and opposite me to the right of another member who was fishing - with him leaving later that day it was evident they wanted to be in the shallower part of the lake with the weather improving for the day it looked the best bet. I got my head down for a few hours and Steve bagged a good fish out of the swim I had seen the activity in. He called me at midday to let me know he was leaving and I was soon packed up in the swim congratulating Steve. Having a lead about in the area I found a suitable spot to fish my right hand rod on. Fishing my choddy’s at 1inch off the deck I flicked the rig out to the spot and received a nice drop. I sticked out 50 baits in the area and slackened off my line.
When using a chod rig on the line take into account using a flurocarbon mainline or leader if allowed so every thing lays flush to the lake bed for the best presentation. With my left hand rod sorted I was set and ready with confidence of a bite. I was woken at 5.30am to a slow take and after a dogged fight I netted a healthy looking common. Happy that my move had paid off I set about getting the rod back out. With the fish secured in the net in the deep margin’s I walked my line out to clip up and was greeted with the sight of a fish head and shouldering on the spot.
Setting about tying a fresh rig I soon had the rig back on the spot with another ten 14mm Cell. We got the shot’s done and the fish back - weighing in at 35lb 2oz I was well chuffed and the hook hold was never coming out. With everything tidied I made a cup of tea and had breakfast with Finny and was treated to his famous bacon sandwiches. At 9.10am all hell broke loose with a take on my right hand rod. The fish took on a powerful run collecting some weed, it was a hairy battle for sure trying to get in some near marginal snags. However, everything held up to the job and landed one of the lakes few mirrors at 33lb 2oz. Nothing happed for the rest of the morning but I was more then happy. Just returning from my other syndicate recently on a close season Reece I spotted my next target fish looking rather large so with the new season weeks away finger’s crossed for the new season. Hope you’re all having a few and go on give the chod’s a go.

Ian Bailey