I have many memorable captures over the years, Stella and Annie from Manor, The woodcarving and fantail from Horton and Blackspot from Korda to name just a few but one of the most recent memorable captures for me has to be “The Resident” from Coate Water Park. It was around the end of May and beginning of June 2011 that I started talking to a good friend of mine Mark Wozencroft, he had told me he was getting ready to fish a rather special lake down near Swindon, on further investigation and a few telephone calls between the two of us I worked out that it was indeed a lake that held a very special fish and one I had been keeping an eye on since I first read about the majestic beast in Mike Wilmotts book “Park Life”, indeed the fish was on the front cover in all her glory, a truly finer and original looking fish you would be hard to find, plus since Mike had fished the lake a few years ago the fish had grown on to 48lb+ at the right time of the year, so with baited breath I took the long journey down the M25 then M4 to see Wuzy, which just so coincided with it being half way through the opening week, I liked the look of the lake very much, a real challenge and I managed to get myself a ticket there and then, the following week saw me and the hound trundling along in the carp van towards Swindon, with all manner of thoughts of how to fish the place in my head, the lake has many disadvantages, not least being that it’s a country park with hundreds of people walking round its bank s every day, it would also be the height of the summer when I started my campaign, boy was it a busy lake, in fact it was probably the busiest lake I have ever fished, if you have every read Mikes Book then you will understand that the place has a certain kudos involved with the goings on over “The Park”, from drunks, druggies, gangs of youths on the rampage, midnight joy riders dumping cars in the place, sailing boats, canoes and more importantly, the locals just don’t want you there to fish for their fish, they are very protective of the fishing on this lake and some of them try and make it as difficult as possible for you, but not all the locals can be tared with the same brush, fortunately I met some very good guys in my short time there, with no other than “Squeeler” of “Park Life” fame who has become a good friend.
After speaking to Wuzy about a plan of attack we had decided to bait the lake heavily in a section known as the Fridge, always when I start on a new lake ill go onto the internet and get as much information about the place from forums and aerial photographs, “The Fridge” looked like a very good interception point for fish traveling from one end to the other and apparently they liked to spend the days up the shallow end of the lake and the nights up the bowl end, this interception point was also the narrowest part of the 56 acre lake, it had nice depths close in, starting of at a couple of feet going down to a nice hard sandy band at roughly 8 feet before leveling out into what can only be described as stinky black silt, the sand area looked very favourable indeed.
The other attractive area was the bowl end and was generally the deeper part of the lake, but this is where the locals liked to fish and was undoubtably the busiest for just sheer numbers of the general public and usually where all the “goings on’s” with the hooligans happened, so I left them to it shall we say and went about my fishing quietly and solitarily in pursuit of “The Resident” away from prying eyes and away from all the commotion of “park Life”. What we planned to do was arrive for a couple of nights at different times during the week as our shifts meant we would very rarely be there at the same time, we would fish the fridge area, keeping our eyes peeled over the whole lake as this swim gave a very good view point, this would act as a starting area for us both, on leaving we would bait heavily ready for a return the following week or when one of us would be next down, this tactic would hopefully get the fish visiting as they went on there journeys, Both Wuzy and myself employed this tactic for a number of weeks, but with no success apart from a few massive bream for our endevours and to be honest we were struggling terribly, “The Park” was beating me up, this was until by chance when I had packed up to get off for work I saw a fish show itself right down the trees end, if you wernt looking directkly at it you would have never known the fish had showed itself, it was that slick and quiet, just up and down hardly moving any water at all, the show had been right infront of a swim called “number 1”, which had a long platform going out into the lake as did most swims up the tree end on that side, it was so that disabled anglers could fish and apparently is a requirement for public parks where they allow fishing.
I had not seen anyone fishing this swim or the one next to it in my previous visits, its fair to say at this point the locals where catching the odd fish up the bowl end, but they seemed to be the smaller ones, which suited me just fine and kept them ticking over up their and left me and Wuzy alone down the other end, so making a note of seeing that fish show as I was going off I decided I wanted to give that area a go next time down and scattered a hundred or so baits generally around the area, as I wheeled my barrow past the swim much to the amazement of the general public who thought I was as mad as hell as I used the throwing stick at a frantic rate before anyone saw what I was upto, for sure there were lots of prying eyes on there and some switched on anglers that didn’t miss a trick.
It was on the following Tuesday that I arrived at “The Park” and whilst I had baited the fridge area my heart just wasn’t in fishing it after my dismal performance in there previously, as I stood in the fridge my sixth sense told me I was flogging a dead horse to death, so with renewed confidence I pushed the barrow upto swim 1 and went about the task of finding some spots out in the centre of the lake where I had seen the fish show, this proved particularly difficult as it was mainly smelly thick silt out there, down to my left looked spot on to be a holding area with the reed fringed bank going all the way round to the end swim which must have been a good 400 yards away.
Id also been having a rethink about my rigs when I had been away from the lake after seeing that most of the other anglers were fishing the same coated hooklinks, I decided to change from a clip system and coated braid to an inline lead with about 12inchs of a supple Braid and a super sharp size 4 SSC, id also be using a relatively long hair of around 1.5 inches so the fish would take the hookbait further back.
To combat the silt I decided to make up some special hookbaits, id use the basemix to make up a paste and then roll it around a 10mm cork ball and soak them up in salmon oil and Fish Protein Liquid, the thought behind this is that the hookbait would slowly sink on the hooklink and the liquids would add to the attraction of the hookbait , this would repell any unwanted odours from the silt, a couple of hours later and all three rods were positioned on hard patches out in the pond, a dozen or so baits were scattered over each hookbait and I was angling, darkness soon came and as I sat there I heard a fish come out a couple of hundred yards to my left, things were looking up, an hour or so passed and I was just buzzing as something just seemed like it was going to happen, just then I had a very slow take on my left hand rod, im not sure who was more surprised “Barney” the hound or me when the buzzer slowly let out a few bleeps, after what seemed like an age of playin this fish in the dark I could see it in front of me and ready for the net, then it hit me that I was staring down at my prize, the one I was after, “The Resident”, how’s your luck I thought as I slipped her into the net, she registered 43lb 10oz, I sacked her for a couple of hours before the sun was up and rang “Squeeler” to get himself around for some photos, after tending to her and making sure she was safe and comfortable I managed to get the rod sorted and back out and managed another 3 takes that night landing a couple of mid 20 commons and losing one on a snag, but I wasn’t that bothered as I had only fished the lake for 8 nights and managed to land the one I had dreamed about for many years after reading Mikes book, “Squeeler” did me proud with the pics, she looked almost majestic in the early morning sun as I slipped her back into her watery home none the worse for her ordeal, ‘Squeeler’ remarked how the “Locals” wouldn’t be happy at all with me only just starting on the lake, with that in mind, I reeled in for the last time later that morning and made my way back along the M4 and M25 for the long hour journey home with a smile as big as a Cheshire cat, I could imagine what the locals were saying about me when they found out I had had the one they were all after and it being my first bite aswell !!! I usually have to work through most of a lakes stock before i get my target fish, but if your lucks in your lucks in I suppose… “It only takes one bite