My first trip of the year was on January the second, which just happened to coincide with one of the biggest low pressure systems of the winter sweeping across the country, the forecast was pretty foreboding and they were talking about storm force winds and rain, not something you usually get the fishing rods out in?
For some reason that I still cannot figure I had decided to fish on the opposite bank to the one I usually favour, I think my reasoning was something to do with the dog actually. On the road bank of the lake Paddy only gets a pathway behind the swims and I thought that he could do with the extra exercise that the grassy area of the far bank offers. Also, I had been concentrating on the road bank for the last few trips and I was getting a bit bored of the same old view every week so it would make a nice change for me too. The fish can come out from either side and the mild weather seems to have kept them on the move a bit this year so I was just as confident whichever side I chose.
The rocky bank (as it is known) would have the disadvantage of the wind pumping straight into it but, as I’d arrived before the worst of it had hit, I was confident that I could get enough bait out there at the start and just fish over it for the two nights ahead, regardless of the conditions.
If I had realised at the time quite how severe it was going to get then I might have chosen differently but, by lunchtime I was quite happy with my swim choice, the bait had spodded out there without too much hassle and I had all four rods on good, clean areas.
By mid afternoon I was starting to have doubts as the wind had trebled in strength and the waves were starting to crash into the front of my swim, which unfortunately faced straight out into the strengthening weather. By the time it got dark the full force of the low pressure system was upon me and the radio was saying the winds were gusting at sixty miles and hour but, from where I sat, it felt more like 160 miles an hour!
If there ever was going to be a test for the new bivvy then this was the night, I had to have the door zipped firmly down the entire time as the wind would have inflated the sides and ripped the pegs out in seconds if not. Throughout the first half of the night it was unbelievably bad and then, about midnight, it was as if somebody had a switched on an extra turbo-booster and any chance of sleep went out the window.
At one stage I risked going out for a wee and found that my unhooking mat, rod bag and all the extra little bits and pieces I had left outside (including a bucket of maggots) were all strewn across the field behind me, hanging from bushes and brambles.
At half past five in the morning, just as the wind was at it’s very strongest, one of the rods burst into life and I actually groaned in pain at the thought of having to go out there and deal with a fish. I’d half thought it might just be a big tree branch blowing through the lines or something but no; it was definitely a carp and an angry one as well. It was almost impossible to feel what was happening at the other end of the line; in fact it was all I could do to stand upright. The worst part was the netting, as I lifted the net off the ground it was like putting up a sail, it was almost ripped out of my hand.
Somehow though, between the waves, the uncontrollable landing net and the driving rain I managed to scoop up my hard won prize and I was pleased to see that it was considerably bigger than the previous weeks offering.
Hiding behind the fir trees to the side of the swim I managed to get enough shelter to weigh him in at twenty seven pounds, a fair reward for all the endurance I suppose.
The photography was a bit hairy though as I has to set up my nice new camera on a tripod and just pray that the wind didn’t smash it to pieces before I could gat a couple of quick shots.
With the fish all sorted and returned I unzipped the door and climbed back into the comparative warmth and serenity of the bivvy only to find that my bed had been totally dog-napped and he was fast asleep with his head on my pillow!
The next day was one of the wettest and most miserable days imaginable, I really wanted to move to somewhere more comfortable (like home) but the rain just slashed down relentlessly and I decided the easiest move was to zip the door back down and go to bed, staying put for yet another wild night. Luckily though there was a slight shift in the wind, the southerly stopped and left only the strong westerly which meant that it wasn’t blowing straight at me anymore and I could actually have the luxury of an open doorway. Once again though I had the only bite of the session and the fish decided not to make a return visit for the second night. I was pleased to get the first one of the year under my belt but there must be a way of getting more than one bite every forty eight hours.
Next week I think I’ll either move about a bit more or maybe fish all four rods on different depth zigs in the hours of daylight before swapping back to the bottom for the nights. Whatever happens though, I doubt I’ll fish in conditions as severe as that again for a while.
Oh, and by the way, the bivvy stayed rock solid for the entire trip so it passed it big test with flying colours and I also managed to retrieve all my missing gear from the bushes, although most of the maggots had managed to make good their escape.