It had been nearly two years since I have pitched a bivvy up beside a lake in the summer and I had got completely out of the habit. The early summer weather delayed the inevitable return but now we are in a period of hot, dry conditions it was high time. I spent an evening getting things prepared then the following day I picked up the Purple Princess after work and we made our way to “Ted’s place”.
This water is very much an unknown quantity for me. I know it had a history for good Tench fishing before it was decimated by Otters and I have seen a couple of decent sized Carp so I decided to hedge my bets and fish in a way that will give me a chance of catching both species. Location could be a nightmare, the lake is very long and narrow, bankside access is limited and I have absolutely no experience to fall back on. Once I’ve selected a swim my next problem is the thick weed growth, I have to fish in such a way I can counter this. So I am looking for a low head of fish that will be hard to find in a large water and fishing in tricky conditions; why do I always find myself enchanted by such places? Why don’t I fish easy access, well stocked waters with hard, clear bottoms? Anyone who knows me… “Ted’s place” is located in a remote and beautiful part of rural Suffolk, it is lightly fished and the tranquillity is equal to anywhere I’ve fished.
After chasing a Hare down the lane we arrived around 2000 and I began walking the bank whilst the Purple Princess set up her camera and started snapping away. My walk of the banks revealed nothing that marked any swim out more than another but one had a ditch trickling water in as well as plenty of cover and just felt fishy. I had to take a bit of a detour to get there as a Swan sat in the path and wasn’t moving! I lugged the gear over then commenced raking the swim which removed a bit of weed and muck that I then managed to transfer onto myself. The lake bed is covered with mussels and I chucked back loads of live ones dragged in by the rake.
An hour later I had everything ready; the bivvy was up, the swim sorted and two pop up boilies were being fished on chod rigs. I don’t like this rig but in the weedy conditions it seems the best way of presenting a bait. I then baited the area up with about three kilos of mixed pellets, a few handfuls of 10mm tutti boilies and a tin of hemp. I hoped that by putting a bit of bait out I would encourage any patrolling fish into hanging around for a feed. As I tackled up I’d grown aware of an ominous, growing humming sound and I feared squadrons of winged creatures forming up ready to drink our blood. Everything I had done this evening was in anticipation of feeding fish moving into the swim in the early hours of the morning, the rods were out but I wasn’t expecting anything fishy to happen and so it proved. Instead of catching fish we drank tea, chatted, watched the sun set and the moon rise.
At dusk the mosquitos attacked, endless waves swooped in buzzing annoyingly and looking for blood. These creatures were a right royal pain in the arse but for some reason they don’t seem to like the taste of me. I swatted dozens that dared land on me but evidently none managed to pierce my skin. We had allies when the bats appeared and swooped low on the hunt. The moon lit the scene, casting shadows and throwing enough light on the water to show the surface was teeming with life. I’m sure flies of some sort were hatching and hundreds of Rudd were taking advantage of this. At around midnight we settled down in the bivvy for a nap, apart from the buzz of flies and the squawks of birds it was almost silent. From the quiet of the bivvy we heard another sound, deep, strange and distant. I’m told Bitterns have been sighted here, could it be?
The growing light and the sounds of bird song roused me at around 0430. I recast the two rods and was pleased to see both baits had been clear of weed. I topped the swim up with another kilo of pellets and a few more boilies then stuck a third rod out fishing corn and maggots on a waggler close in. The float began dipping and bobbing straight away as the small baits were engulfed by Rudd or the occasional Perch. The sunrise was obscured by mist and a dark shape materialised in the eerie light, it was some distance away but it was a Bittern no doubt! This was the first I’ve seen in Suffolk and I saw it (or another?) emerge and fly out of the reeds opposite me a while later.
At 0525 an alarm startled me as the middle rod took off and I bent into a decent weight. The fish took line initially and surged along the surface towards a weed bed, a decent Carp no doubt. I turned the fish and was just beginning to feel in control when the line fell slack… That’s the thing with chod rigs, I seem to lose the odd fish, more than I do with other carpy rigs. I should have felt gutted but I didn’t, if anything I was encouraged because my little plan had worked, kind of… The swim in front of me was alive with Rudd on the surface and periodically large patches of fishy bubbles were erupting all over the place. I was still in with a chance!
The float fishing was proving frustrating as I just couldn’t keep a bait in the water long enough to feel I was in with a chance of something larger than a Rudd. I tried to adjust the shot and ended up fishing a bit of fake corn, popped up, lift bite style. Still I caught Rudd, though fewer. Eventually I swapped that rod for another, fishing corn on a kind of paternoster rig. Using a light lead I cast towards patches of bubbles but still only Rudd rattled the tip.
At 0735 the middle rod started beeping again. The indicator dropped back a bit then lifted oh so slowly and kept heading towards the butt. It didn’t seem right but I lifted the rod anyway and a decent fish spooked off the line and bow waved away, I should have known better. Still bubbles broke the surface from time to time, I was certain there were still fish in the swim and I’d get another chance.
As the morning continued the Purple Princess emerged from the bivvy and resumed photographing everything and anything. There was no lack of subjects either with a dozen Swans sharing the water, in harmony for once and we sighted another Bittern. The Suffolk countryside looked wonderful bathed in sunshine and there was plenty of life flying in all forms around. Scores of Dragonflies buzzed in and zipped out before we could raise our cameras, this was frustrating for a while but eventually they began to land and settle on the platform in front of us. There were at least two different species posing for the cameras, despite years of watching these things I didn’t know what species they were so after a little google I think one is a ‘Scarce Chaser’ and the other maybe a ‘Common Darter’. Perhaps a wise man from the north can help me out?
By 1000 the bubbling had all but stopped and the only fishy activity came from the thousands of Rudd. I amused myself by flicking out maggots, a few at a time, and watching them zip in and pick them off. I could have caught a fish a chuck but I didn’t feel the need. We had a fried breakfast and plenty of tea then slowly tidied away. It had been a brilliant night; I’d enjoyed it immensely despite not catching what I was after. “Ted’s place” is perfect, it ticks all the boxes and I’ll be back for a rematch soon.