When a friend of mine decided that a little social fishing trip was in order, I didn't need asking twice and a plan was formed to head down to Linear Fisheries and see if we could tempt a fish or two.
I haven't fished Linear for a while and what I remember about the place is that is was busy. Really busy. Undeterred by this, the van was loaded (at 6.30am sorry neighbours!), and we soon found ourselves hurtling down the M4 and up the A34 towards Oxfordshire. We didn't have a specific lake in mind but James and I were keen to a) avoid the crowds as best as possible and b) have a go for a bit of a lump.
The issue with this is that all the lakes on the Linear Complex now contain fish to over 40lb and in some numbers too. Being a Monday morning, I didn't think we would have any problems finding a swim on St Johns or Manor but as we pulled into the car park, the stark reality of just how busy it was hit us in the face like a Mike Tyson left hook! There were very few swims free on either lake so we headed across to the other side of the road and stopped at Hardwick/Smiths. Those of you who know the complex will be well aware that this is usually the quietest of all the lakes and it seemed that there were a few swims free on the road bank on the Hardwick side. Unfortunately, the wind was smashing into the other end of the lake and not surprisingly this area was solid with anglers.
We headed on to Brasenose 1 where we found the far bank absolutely empty! That will do nicely I thought as we drove around the lake. My excitement was to be short-lived, however, as we parked up the van the Korda boys were unpacking their camera equipment and fishing gear, they had the whole bank reserved for a few days filming! After a quick chat with Danny Fairbrass, we headed off to Brasenose 2, a lake I have never fished before.
As we drove onto the lake the windward end of the lake was unsurprisingly very busy but there were a line of swims free right in the middle of the lake so I dispatched a bucket into a likely looking swim and went and got the rest of my gear, James had plotted up to my right and it seemed as though there were a few fish showing at range so things were looking pretty good!
By now, the sun was beaming and it was obvious that zigs were the way to go, I dispatched two zigs into 9ft of water, one was set at 8ft and one at 6ft, hopefully one of the Brasenose 2 residents would slip up and suck in my fox zig aligner, I put the kettle on, sat back and waited.......
Amazingly, no takes were forthcoming and I have to be honest, I have no idea why! I tried altering the depths, the colours of the zig aligners, everything. Some days it just doesn't happen and I sat about hatching a plan for the night ahead. I had already been tipped off by Tom Maker that big beds of sweetcorn were the going bottom bait tactic on Linear at the moment so, between James and myself, who up until this point was as fish-less as myself, we had previously relieved the local supermarket of its entire stock of frozen sweetcorn. Into my bucket went 3kg of sweetcorn and to this, I added a whole litre jerry can of the Sticky Baits Manilla Cloudy Liquid and some chopped Manilla boilies.
I found myself a nice 7ft plateaux with 9ft all around it. On top it was polished gravel, it was definitely a feeding area for those sneaky Brasenose carp so I set about dispatching 20 Dot Spod fulls of carpy deliciousness to the spot. The only issue I had was that it was only really big enough for two rods, so rather than forcing the issue, the 3rd rod remained in the rod bag.
Rig wise I opted for a spinner rig on both rods, one was baited with two grains of fake corn and this was fished critically balanced, just barely lifting the size 6 Korda Krank hook from the lake bed. The other rig was baited with a trimmed down Sticky Baits Signature pink pop up and tipped with a piece of yellow plastic corn. The boom sections were made from Korda Boom and krimped into place. I do love the Korda Krimps, they are faultless when done correctly. Both hook links were fished on a helicopter rig as it gives me the confidence that my rigs are tangle free!
The rods were positioned well before sundown and we set about making some dinner on the BBQ, chicken skewers, burgers and a big bit of steak, lovely! The fish were notoriously conspicuous by their absence, and we were forced to sit and watch the anglers at the end of the lake to our left hauling carp after carp. The fish were well and truly on the end of the wind and on a busy day ticket water like Brasenose 2, you just have to sit there and hope the fish turn up at some point. As the sun set I was far from hopeful and by midnight I was ready for a kip.
Sometime in the early hours I heard James shout from next door, he had obviously got a fish on and by the time I had walked through the darkness into his swim there was a nice 20lb plus mirror nestled in the bottom of his net, maybe the fish had turned up now the wind had died down? We rattled off a quick photo and slipped her back, she weighed 25lb which was a great start with hopefully more to come.
I stayed and had a cuppa with James, the darkness brought the lake to life and I saw a few fish topping and leaping in the murky gloom, sadly they were still down to our left but we had done all we could for now, it was down to whether the fish were going to visit our area or not.
As I walked back into my swim, my right hand gave a single beep before the line pinged free from the line clip and the reel went into meltdown! A short and rather uneventful battle resulted in a small common in the net, a good start and I was confident that there would now be more bites, a quick photo followed and with the fish slipped back, the rod was dispatched back onto the spot and I climbed back into bed, hopeful that it wouldn't be too long before either of us were in to another fish.
I awoke as the sun came up, no more bites and the lake looked dead. No fish were showing, fizzing or moving near us, but the lads were still catching at the far end. It was so frustrating knowing that we just couldn't get on the fish but as I said, that is what you have to deal with on busy day ticket lakes.
I threw some sausages and bacon into a frying pan and flicked the stove on, a cuppa was very much needed and with the aid of the Quad Connect Full System from RidgeMonkey, a mug of tea and a bacon and sausage bap were soon being consumed. I chatted with James and he agreed that we were just unable to get close enough to the fish, and with only a few hours left another bite was looking extremely unlikely.
I recast both rods and topped the swim up with some sweetcorn and Manilla chops, packed the bivvy and the majority of the gear away and sat and watched. James was sat in my swim and we were both equally surprised when my right-hand rod beeped once, twice and the tip pulled down and the line flew from the clip! The fish powered off left and then right, making long slow runs and if I had lost the fish I would have sworn it was a lump. Under the rod tip the battle continued but finally, my prize lay ready for the net.
Surprisingly the fish was 23lb, not the monster I suspected but very welcome none the less. Again, a quick photo and she was returned to make another angler very happy someday.
The sun was now fully up and the temperature went off the chart, it was only 10 am and it was clear the fishing was all but over, even the lads at the end of the lake had stopped catching so we made the tactical decision to call it a day. We loaded the van and headed for home, the A34 was solid with traffic and we sat in the heat cooking slowly while we waited for the traffic to clear. Soon the culprit became visible, somehow a car and overturned on an arrow straight part of a major dual carriageway, something had gone very wrong!
Eventually, the traffic cleared and we headed for home, all in all, we hadn't done too bad. A few of the anglers in the right swims had some big hits, most of the anglers around us struggled for a bite so to land 3 fish from 3 bites, is pretty good going.
Until next time, good luck if you are heading out and preparing for the big autumn feed up. I know I certainly will be!