Syndicate Whacker - Anthony Ballard

“Another week in the office was soon coming to a close. I’d arranged to leave work early on the Friday, hoping that the early getaway would help me beat the bankside traffic down at the lake. The syndicate was a lot busier than normal; I had no doubt that the increased angling pressure would make the fishing rather difficult. I’d managed a cracking common just a couple of weeks prior, however I spent many sessions before that result struggling and simply chasing carpy shadows.
I was finally on the motorway and on my way to the pit. I pulled up in the syndicate car park at around 3pm. Unfortunately, it seemed that many anglers had the same idea because there were already seven or eight cars in the car park. As I wandered up the bank with a bait bucket in hand, I found all my favoured pegs occupied. The conditions could have been better; I was convinced the majority of the fish would be tucked away or holding up at the back of the chilly wind. Having spoken to a few anglers, it appeared that nothing had been caught. A few lads had actually been on since midweek and they hadn’t even seen anything show. With a cold northeasterly blowing up the lake and high air pressure, it became clear that I may have my work cut out.
With everyone gathered down the near end of the lake, I had no choice but to venture off downwind. I was hoping that a few carp, despite the conditions, would have drifted off downwind, away from the angling pressure. I was standing in a swim called The Mound and right on cue a good fish crashed out at around 130 yards. Knowing the lake well, I was aware of a silt gully that’s around 7ft deep and runs perpendicular to the far bank. The fish crashed pretty much in line with this gully. I’d never actually fished this area of the lake before, however I didn’t need convincing this time around as it was clear that there were fish present, well one at least!
Knowing the lake well is a major advantage and with two nights at my disposal I wanted to set a couple of traps, rather than simply casting out singles to showing fish. It wasn’t a tactic that had faired particularly well for me in the past. In fact, every bite I’ve ever had on the venue has fallen between first light and midday, no later. With fish in the area, I decided to fish two rigs into the gully, but decided to place them more centrally in my now chosen swim. This way, it was in reach of the throwing stick and I was confident a fish or two would venture down the gully at some point over the next couple of days.
A few chucks with a bare lead, feeling for the drop, and I was soon clipped up. The lines were marked and my far bank markers were chosen. Two, super-curved chod rigs fished naked-style, were flossed up to Sticky Baits Krill pop-ups and were cast out into the silt gully. Using the Eazi-Stick, I sprayed 3kg of the matching Krill freezer baits around the zone, in hope of intercepting a fish or two. Not putting all my eggs in one basket, my third rod was set up with a standard lead-clip system. I threaded a small PVA mesh bag of crushed boilie and Krill Extract Pellet down the hook link. I launched it to the right, towards some marginal foliage, along an island. It was a clean spot that had done fish for me in the past and was sheltered from the cold wind.
As the evening set in, the temperature dropped drastically. The wind had changed to a bitter northerly and was now blowing right into my bivvy, nightmare! Having seen a few fish show earlier that evening I was still optimistic for a bite. After a few hot chocolates, I was soon tucked into my sleeping bag in hope of some morning action.
At 6:30am the left-hand rod was away! After a short battle a nice mirror of around 19lb was in the net. Given the way the lake had been fishing recently, and the horrendous weather conditions, I was more than happy with that result.
I returned the fish back to its watery home and opted not to recast the rod. The other rod was still out there in the zone, so I wanted to avoid any un-needed disturbance. A couple hours later and no further signs, I sprayed another kilo of Krill baits in the zone and recast the rod back out onto the spot. The rod went out as sweet as ever and I was confident of another bite. It hadn’t been out there long at all and before I knew it the rod was away again! This time, I bent into something that felt a lot more substantial. The fish hit the top almost immediately, so I knew my chod rig with the drop-off lead system had done the trick. A rather timid battle followed and the fish was soon in the net. Peering into the mesh, I didn’t recognise the fish at first, but it was later confirmed as one of the lake’s characters, a right old warrior called Smiley. The scales tipped round to 35lb 14oz and I was over the moon! The lake is tricky at the best of times, and given the conditions I was more than happy with the brace.”