Chris Schute – April ’22

I left you last month on the cusp of my Spring campaign and the need to put some mileage back on the trusted donkey as I target a truly magical lake in search of the gems hidden within this deep, canyon like environment. Well, it’s certainly safe to say that after clocking up somewhere in the region of over eight-hundred miles this month, I’ve been spanking the ass out of it! I’m fortunate that being self-employed, it’s funny how some much-needed time off between work seems to always coincide with Spring! I must also pay tribute here to my long-suffering wife, not once has she grumbled with my month-long fulltime angling exploits and I owe a lot to her understanding my passion and when I’m ‘on it’, well, ‘I’m on it’ and very single minded and focused only on one thing…fishing!

The month started on the deep, canyon like pit; absolutely buzzing with the thought of what could happen and be resting in the folds of the net should I be fortunate enough to be deemed worthy enough to have my moment. Having arrived late afternoon for my first night, she was looking bleak to say the least. Deep and cold isn’t ideal, but the early sessions are simply laying the foundations, trying to find the little pieces of the puzzle and start to get some bait going in.

Settling on a swim which would provide me a view of ninety percent of the lake, I quickly went about finding a few areas and get the rods in play. Wow, now I knew she was deep, but it blew my mind on the sheer depth of the margins and how quickly it dropped into a thirty-five feet canyon like appearance. A rod length or two off the far margin I was in the region of twenty-two feet of water, my nearside margin provided me with depths of nine and fourteen feet, still a lot deeper than I would have probably liked but I was fishing. The following morning, I was up at first light, coffee in hand and eyes fixed scanning the early morning scenes. Three hours later I got what I was looking for as a very good Mirror came clean out the water to my left. Safe to say that after this show the rods were buzzed in, and I was quickly making my move which would allow access to this water.

New areas found and I was slightly happier to be fishing in a little over four and eight feet, with the third out in the deeper sixteen feet some twenty or thirty yards out. It was simply a case of watching and waiting now to see how the rest of the day and evening panned out. Well, unfortunately the night was uneventful, although I was hit by a very quick and blustery weather system in the early hours of the morning which had me scrambling to put some additional pegs in the brolly and up most of the night. Due to the forty-eight-hour rule in place the session was over as quick as it began, I was soon making my way home a bit bleary eyed but full of thoughts and a much better understanding. Well, I say a much better understanding, but I was perplexed on the sheer depth of the lake and how best to target it.

A couple of days later I was soon making my way through the gate with a slightly different approach. Due to the cray attention from the previous session, I would be going in with tigers and hardhookers; however, I would also keep one on the slightly more hi-attract Squid & Plum popup from the specials range. The mix would consist of crushed and whole tigers, a helping of 12mm CR1 along with a few handfuls of ‘The Bag Mix’ and a little hemp. The plan this time was to hunt, although this was easier said than done as they are notorious to simply vanish and not show you any signs whatsoever. Several trees were climbed, reclimbed and climbed again in search of a sign to go on. After scrambling up another tree that jetted out into the lake, I finally saw what I was looking for as a mid-twenty pound common ghosted under my feet tight to the marginal snags.

Swim decision made as I quickly rushed back to the van to drive around to the swim which would give me access to the snaggy bay. Again, when looking for areas, it was clear this area was still stupidly deep. I settled on three spots, twelve feet against a reed lined margin, nine feet to an area which looked like a patrol route between two snags with the third going between the channel on a plateau in around twelve feet. As the sun was setting, looking out across the bay I made out a head poke out in the fading light and not a million miles away from my rod. Now, I would love to say here that the plan paid off and I woke to an incredible sunrise with a massive, dark Common resting in the folds of the net…but I didn’t! It was bleak that morning, nothing moving as I had expected to see other than a mass of Tench rolling all through the swim. Having given it till mid-morning, rods were buzzed in, I went for a look in the snags and along the reeds where I had seen signs the previous day. To my surprise, I saw nothing…nowt, zilch, nada…not a dicky bird! Hmm, had they done the off during the night, were they slightly deeper into the snags I couldn’t access…who knows. I sat in the swim for another hour whilst I had a brew and contemplated moving out of a prime swim which you can’t normally get in. Everything told me I needed to be on my toes and the kit was soon being loaded back into the van and I went on the search once again rather than just sit in a ‘going swim’.

Not finding any signs to go on, the thoughts of being too early on this pit started to cross my mind. With that, I decided to move over to the other lake on the complex for a night as this one is much shallower and contains a certain fish I’ve said I would dearly love a cuddle with. After a quick mooch and a chat with another member, I settled in for my second and final night of the session. Unfortunately, another blank night came and went, soon making my way back through the gates as my allocated two nights had come to an end. Now, at this point, the two-night rule was truly frustrating. I was leaving a virtually empty lake (show’s how it’s been fishing!) and driving by another which is completely empty, to sit at home for forty-eight hours and then make the fifty odd mile journey back down. With fuel prices and a hundred-mile round trip, this was going to become a little bit expensive.

Now, I mentioned about sitting at home for two nights before making my way back; however, having arrived home I had an itch to get down the other syndicate which had been kicking a few good fish. With a kick change of kit, shower and supplies replenished I was soon driving the thirty odd miles to the Somerset levels in search of some true brutes. Arriving early evening there were a fair few on already which only left me with the choice of two corner swims. Whilst stood having a chat with one of the other members, a fish launched out in front of an empty swim on the end of the wind; decision was made, and I was soon making my way around for a look. Stood in the swim, it was soon apparent how cold that wind was…it was bloody freezing! I went for a mooch in the other swim, but I knew full well that the fish were on the end of the cold wind and that’s where I needed to be.

A little mix consisting of 12mm CR1 and ‘The Bag Mix’ was quickly knocked up and the rods were out fishing. Due to how busy the pond was, along with the tight nature of the swim, only two rods were deployed, and I settled in for the night. Around two in the morning I was woken to what appears to be a take as the bobbin tightened up but quickly dropped back down again. For the next hour this repeated several times and at one point had throwing my coffee all over the place as I was convinced it was away with the sheer violence of the bobbin hitting the blank. As quickly as they started the liners stopped, I retired to try and catch a few more hours sleep before the first light coffee alarm went off.

A few hours later, I was woken to the sound of an alarm as the line tightened and the bobbin pulled up tight. Perching on the edge of the bed I was half expecting the bobbin to drop again, but it started to dance, and I was soon leaning into a heavy resistance as the fish made off into the open water. Having gained control and with the fish now under the tips, I could see in the glow of the headtorch that I was attached to a decent, deep bodied common. After a heart racing battle with the fish darting for a nearby snag on several occasions, I had my prize resting in the net waiting a cuddle. With the camera setup in the darkness, the fish was put on the needle which settled on 22lb 14oz of pristine, deep bodied Turbary syndicate common and the first time the fish had been over the twenty-pound mark. With the rod back out, kettle on I was sat watching the water as daylight broke with the hope of nabbing one more before I would have to pack up in a few hours’ time.

The next few days were spent at home, but I was soon making my way back down the A4 to Berkshire. Arriving at the complex, I had already made my mind up that the deep pit would have to wait, concentrating my efforts on the shallower pit for the next couple of weeks. With two nights ahead of myself, I quickly made my way around to the area I had seen a few fish holding up the previous session and instantly noticed a few fish milling about in the margins. With a rod quickly lowered in place whilst I went about setting up, the hope of nabbing a quick bite was probably too much to ask for from this tricky pit. With three spots found, rigs were in position and baited with a mix of crushed and whole tigers, 12mm whole and crumbed CR1 with double big dog tigers that had been soaking in a little Fish Pure over the top.

4am I was woken to a savage take on the long rod against an island, resulting in a mega battle on the braid and a truly remarkable fish this lake is renowned for. What a creature, dark and full of scales tipping the needle to 23lb 14oz. To say I was over the moon was an understatement, I was in awe and buzzing my bean off! Little did I know there would be a few more gracing the net in a mad morning spell of action. A little before 8am I received another take which resulted in a cracking 16lb 11oz common, then a few hours later I would commence battle with such a hard fighting fish which left me in pieces. Braid fishing isn’t something I have done much of over the years, but there’s just nothing like battling a mega, hard fighting fish and being able to feel everything! I owe the braid to the capture of this 23lb 10oz angry common, being able to turn and control it at range as it made its way towards an island snag; had I been on mono, with the stretch, there would be no way I would have been able to land it. The rest of the afternoon and night proved fruitless, but to have three fish from this tricky pit in a mad morning is a right result and one I am still buzzing about now having looked back on the pics and WhatsApp videos I sent some close friends.

The next few days would see me spend it on the Somerset syndicate, before having a day or two at home. With the football run done with the youngest Saturday morning, I was sat on the sofa late afternoon had had a feeling I needed to be heading back to Berkshire that evening. With the van loaded, I was soon making my way to the lake to be greeted with a very busy bankside. This would be the first weekend I have been on, being fortunate enough to be able to do my fishing mid-week and pretty much have the pick of the place. After a quick chat with one of the members, it was apparent that my gut feeling of needing to be on was right, however, it appeared that I had missed the main event! My target fish had been out that morning, with another one being landed the previous day. The chap in the area I had been fishing a few days previous had a right result and managed four, so they had been on the munch big time!

With day rolling into darkness, I decided to do a spot of car park camping so not to waste one of two precious nights and get up at first light to decided where I needed to be once the masses had pulled off. That evening, I was woken around 2am to go and do some pictures of a mega looking 38lber to the chap I was talking to a few hours prior; the biggest I have seen so far from this lake and what a beast it was!

The next day I managed to get back in the swim, it was simply a case of hitting repeat and quickly got the rods back out on the areas from the previous session. Now, dropping in behind someone that has had a right result isn’t always a good thing; although it was a swim that he had, unknowingly, dropped in behind me also after a right result. So, the fish were, or had been in this area and the hope they were still there! Through the night I had three Tench and a beastie looking Bream, but the carp had appeared to make a move, and nothing had been seen or heard in front of me. Mid-morning, I decided to cut my session short as the pond appeared dead and head back home to lick my wounds.

Two days later I decided to have a change in venue and ventured to Horseshoe for the first trip of the year due to the Berkshire syndicate becoming increasingly busy as word filters through that fish are being banked. I had a couple of nights ahead of me and if I could find them, I felt confident of being able to nab a couple of fish. Arriving again late afternoon I was greeted by a rather busy lake with a cold and strong North-Easterly wind pushing towards the road. Not being able to get on the end of the wind, which from experience they can certainly follow on there, I settled in ‘Big Double’ for the night and would assess where to go from there.

With a spot found around eighty yards, I searched it a little harder to try and find the softer drops around the silkweed before putting three rods on it and half a dozen or so Spombs of mix containing whole and crumbed 12mm Nu-Trine and a small helping of ‘The Bag Mix’. Over the top would be ‘Simple Simon rigs’ (spinners) with corked out BunSpice+ and Squid & Plum popups to settle nice a slowly on the silkweed, along with an UltraNut hardhooker and Chocomalt snowman on a slightly firmer area. Just before midnight I received a take which resulted in a Tench and decided not to get that rod back out due to the other two on the spot and not wanting to spook anything that may be feeding out there. This moved paid off as around 2am that night I received a take to the BunSpice+ which resulted in a very heavy and slow battle, going on the slip the net under a proper bruiser of 32lb 4oz. With both rods back out on the spot, I would have another Tench and repeated the process of leaving the rod out before going on to have another cracking and very distinctive mid-double zip lin.

The next morning, I buzzed the rods in, put a little more bait on the area and popped over to the shop and to have a little mooch. On the way back to the swim I could see there were fish rolling over the spot, so quickly got the rods back on the money before going on to land a gorgeous 26lb 7oz Mirror again on the BunSpice+ popups over the silkweed. The rest of the afternoon proved fruitless, maybe due to the mega hatch that was happening so knew I had to come up in the water and get the zigs out. Although it was clear the flip-flops were needing to come out, I decided to only fish the one up in the water and keep two on the deck.

The rest of the afternoon proved quiet, with a Tench coming early evening for my efforts I decided to retire and catch up on some much-needed sleep. Half twelve that night the Fish Pure soaked foam signalled a few beeps to wake me from my slumber, followed by a little drop on the bobbin before picking back up again. Quickly picking up the slack I was soon connected to a very hard fighting fish that took me on a right run around, before slipping the net under a solid looking Mirror of 22lb 9oz. With the rod back out, I decided to pull in another rod off the main area and change this over to another Fish Pure soaked flip-flop. This was a move that paid off as at just after 4am that morning the rod was away, and battle commenced with another heavy weighted fish which went on some powerful surges out into the darkness. After what felt like time and many surges under the tip, I finally had my prize resting in the folds of the net. What another gem this one was, tipping the scales around to 31lb 13oz…beast!

It was certainly another session of dreams and the correct decision to venture up to Horseshoe that paid off big time. Two mega thirty pounders, two solid twenty pounders and an epic looking mid double lin wasn’t a bad few days’ work!

I’m now coming to the end of my month-long spring fishing as I have secured work for early May which means I will be back to a weekend overnight angler once again. I have a French trip coming up in a week or so which I really need to start thinking about and preparing for; but little did I know what was install for me the next session on Horseshoe, this story you will have to wait till next month to find out but it’s safe to say that she’s been very kind to me and it’s been a pretty decent Spring so far!

Hope your Spring fishing has got off to a flyer and shall catch you next month for my May instalment.

Chris