I’d arranged a lift with Jace, we’d never met but after a brief phone conversation I was happy that we were on the same wavelength and that we’d get on brilliantly. Andy contacted me after getting wind that I’d be attending and asked if I wanted to partner him, I agreed knowing that Andy was a good angler and another of the very few I had actually met before. So the plan was to work until Thursday lunchtime, leave at 1pm and head for the linear complex in Oxfordshire, the venue was Brasenose two, runs water known for its big hits of fish, but whether or not it would happen with the lake pressured remained to be seen. The danger was also being tied to one peg, if it was a bad draw then you could sit in an area devoid of fish watching others catch, but it was a gamble that had to be made, I was just happy to be going fishing for the weekend.We arrived after much banter and many giggles at somewhere around 4pm, met with the others and was introduced to a group of great lads, all very friendly and happy to pass on advice. The lake was massive, much larger than what I’d grown accustomed to over the previous seasons, but with new kit in my armoury and enough bait to feed a small army, I was confident that if I could get on fish I could stand a chance of holding my own. B2 is around 34 acres and the lake bed reminiscent of an egg boxes with steep, sharp bars, deep silty gulleys, weed beds and a road running through the middle.
Peg 10 on the point seemed to have the buzz, with a member fishing there the night prior to our arrival landing no less than 10 fish to over 27lbs, so as you can imagine, peg 10 was number one on many an anglers list. This peg seemed to be the cut off point for the main bowl of the lake, past there the lake began to get shallower and narrower culminating into a point and no fishing bay, a lovely looking area for warm, less pressured conditions, but with upwards of 25 anglers with two lines each I doubted the fish would stay in there long, so that area was crossed off my list.So, the first night was spent having a damn good social, barbeque and beer, getting to know the other anglers and sharing more than a few angling stories until the early hours. I did try to retire early, at around 10pm I crept back to the Marquee to get my head down but with polyphonic snoring going on all around me I was forced to rise at around 2pm, clear my head and try again. We eventually rose a little after 7am to assess the situation, and were met with one of the heaviest mists I’ve seen for a long time, it was difficult to see past the swim fronts let alone out into the lake, and on our walk around with Jack it was lucky for us he knew a bit about the lake as he pointed out various points of interest, hot spots and not so hot spots in each swim. So on returning to the base camp Andy and I had a good idea of where we’d like to fish, but with the watercraft draw system, you don’t always get what you wanted. As the names were called out we hoped and prayed that our names would be early enough to get a decent swim, but with each canister’s opening we felt out hearts sinking as all the hot spots were being crossed off the list. Our names came out eventually, 3rd from last and looking at the map to ascertain what was left I decided on peg 26 (Zone 10) as it was the closest one to the main bowl left. Jace kindly dropped my gear off in my swim and Andy followed. Spirits were high as a few fish started to show in front of us and a game plan was hatched. A tip off told us that a silty gulley at 40 yards had produced recently so as soon as we were allowed to we started to plumb the swim, found the spot and proceeded to set up the rods. Andy fished on the bottom with maggots and corn and I opted for zigs just below the surface due to the fact that instead of the forecast rain we actually had blazing sunshine as soon as the fog cleared. The hooter sounded at midday and out went the rigs.
Early on there were a few fish caught, from various areas of the lake too with Chenners at the tip of the shallows landing an amazing 5 fish in quick succession, but as the day wore on most of the fish seemed to head for the main bowl, showed throughout the day with the anglers surrounding them picking off the odd fish. Our swim was quiet, the fish stopped showing in front of us and the only fish we saw was a tench rolling in the margin a few rod lengths out. Around tea time I decided to blast a zig as far as I could, and with rods as soft as mine that doesn’t equate to much of a chuck, but I was happy that my 4 foot zig fishing somewhere around 90 yards was in a nice position if any fish started to travel back into the shallow end of the lake. The mini Spomb was a revelation; I was able to deliver sloppy sod mix over the zig which I must say filled me with confidence, never before had I been able to deposit loose feed at that range. But as darkness began and no fish came to our rods I started to question whether or not zigs were the way forward.At around 10pm I reeled in the long zig, attached a popup rig and cast back out to the same spot, my thinking behind this was that some of the sloppy mix would have fallen through the water and the fish could well feed on it through the night under the cover of darkness. This worked out to be a good ploy as at ten minutes to midnight the rod received a series of bleeps, upon inspection I found the bobbin wedged in the alarm but there was no line coming from the reel. I picked up the rod and immediately felt a few lunges so set the hook and began to pump my fish ashore. The fish felt a good one, but clever, it knew where everything out there was taking me into various weed-beds but with steady pressure and by keeping the fish moving I managed to steer it away from all of them. That was until it reached the bar directly in front of us, everything seemed to lock up solid. I pulled from various angles and was on the verge of thinking all was lost and that I’d have to pull for a break, but with another jog to the right I started to gain line once more and finally managed to get the fish up and over the bar. The first Andy knew about it was when it swam into his line. He came dashing out wondering if he had a run only to find me attached to our first carp of the weekend. Andy netted the fish for me and we shook hands, a long and lean 15lb 8oz mirror carp.
The guys next door verified it for us, we took a quick photo and the fish was returned. I recast the rod, retired to the bivvy and no sooner had I slipped my crocs off the same rod was away again. I dashed out, struck and felt that I was attached to a much smaller fish, possibly even a tench. I wound it all the way to the bar with the rod held as high as possible but as it reached the wall of gravel the small tench turned into a carp, and not a bad one either. Andy was ready with the net and in she went. This one went 13lb 5oz on the scales and was put back without a photo, I just wanted to get that rod back out and top the swim up with bait. I must have stood there for a good half an hour in the pitch black and fog trying to get as much bait as I could out with the mini Spomb which doesn’t hold a lot, but as soon as I was happy with the amount I’d introduced I sat back, tied a few fresh rigs and waited for it to rattle off again.
There was no more action that night and I woke with weary eyes to another foggy morning, everything was wet and visibility was very poor. Sprits, however, were high, two fish on the score card and something to build upon. Ben and Jack visited that morning and after hearing what else had come out it was very tight with a decent fish enough to swinging the standings. I went for broke walking my lines out and fished for the remainder of the match on the long mark, topped the swim up with a fair bit of bait and basically got myself ready for anything that way come through the afternoon, but more importantly, through the night, if they came back again I had two rods out for them and more bait to hopefully keep them there longer.The evenings were gorgeous; we watched on as the sun dipped behind the horizon and were in awe of what was before us. Pizza was ordered and delivered and after dinner was consumed we sat and awaited events to unfold. At somewhere around 10pm my bobbin slowly crept up to the rod and towards the alarm, I reached out, struck and connected with a carp. “Fish On”, I told Andy, just as the hook pulled!! I wound in, slightly dejected, and cast back to the spot. By now we were well aware that a good few fish had been caught from the bowl throughout the day and to get back up among the prizes would take something of a miracle, but there was always the heaviest fish prize to go for.
Midnight came and went and the rods lay still. Morning was a little different to previous with much clearer skies and even a frost on the ground. Andy, sticking with one rod on the close in spot and one a bit further out, topped up his spots with maggots and sweetcorn. I continued to Spomb my sloppy particle mix over my rods also but was ribbed at the fact I was using a bucket of warm water to wash my hands between each cast!!! I wouldn’t mind but it was seriously cold on the digits and prolonged exposure to the icy water could have proved fatal.
Spirits were still high in the swim although we were clearly up against it; we’d had a fantastic weekend and, to be honest, saw catching fish as a bonus. Having said that, we were still confident of some more action, fish were beginning to show closer to our swim and we had it in mind that someone could receive a take at any minute. And it was Andy who received that bite, a quick bite causing him to leap from his chair and bend into what looked to be quite a powerful fish, Just as before the fish knew every trick in the book and did its best to find every bar, snag and weed-bed on the way in. One such weed-bed was proving tricky to circumvent and although we didn’t want to believe it, the fish wasn’t coming out. The break eventually happened and a sigh from both of us signalled that we’d just lost a very good fish. But Andy isn’t one to dwell on losses; he quickly retackled and had another bait on the spot.We did get a little mixed up with the times, mainly due to the clocks changing overnight, and we half expected the match to finish at 11am. With everything packed away and just the rods still out we counted down the minutes and prayed they would be drawn out a little longer. As it happened, we were completely wrong and had another hours fishing ahead of us, so it was back on with the kettle and the last hour sat in the sunshine felt like an added extra. The final horn did come and reluctantly we reeled in for the last time. We thanked each-other for the great company over the previous 48 hours or so and congratulated ourselves for a valiant effort right up to the final minute.
Back at HQ there were tales of captures, blanks, cheers and congratulations, but all told everybody was in good spirit, eager to find out how everyone fared and were already looking forward to and discussing the next event. From my part, I had an amazing weekend, met a whole bunch of new friends and brushed up on a side of my angling that has been neglected for a long time. I now feel able to tackle waters I’d been slightly worried by in the past and new challenges are on the horizon. I managed to nick a couple of opportunist fish by changing things around, and I feel that had more fish visited the swim I could have caught more, but hey, that’s fishing. As it turned out I had time to enjoy my surroundings, watch red kites and buzzards, frogs and reed buntings, tench and pike in the margins and a whole host of other wonders. What more could one ask for?