I and six other like-minded angling friends arrived at the picturesque Ashmead Fishery in Somerset at around mid-day Friday and, after a good walk around, we had a draw for swims. I ended up coming out 4th and opted to fish an area known as New North. There were plenty of fish in the area so I wasted no time in getting the rods out and giving each spot a scattering of around 30 baits, these were a mix of Pallatrax Crave and Multiworm 18mm frozen boilies.
I kept a constant eye on the baited areas and a few other potential spots just in case. At around 5pm I noticed a few fish bubbling behind me in an area known as the river. I had to get a bait on them so I opted to reel in the rod I thought was least likely to produce a bite! How wrong was I?!! Just as I was walking over to my rod in Goat Willow to reel it in, I could see them fizzing right over the hook bait. I knelt down about 10 yards from the spot and laid my sounder box next to me waiting for it to cry out. Two minutes later the rod went into melt down and I was attached to an angry fish stripping line from me!
The fish had ploughed straight through one of the many Goat Willow weed beds, but being patient and keeping on a constant pressure got me back in control and I managed to coax her out of the weed. After a further 5 minutes of plodding under the rod tip she was in the net. I recognised her as a fish named “Skeffs” one of the many stunning 30lb commons that reside in this fantastic fishery. On the scales she went 30lb 4oz and after a few photos I slipped her back and moved the same rod to where I saw the first set of fish bubbling in the river.
Nothing occurred during the night, however at around 5am the same rod was away with a small common which I guessed to be around the 5lb mark.
The rest of the day went quietly and I was getting itchy feet as I felt the fish activity had died down. I reeled in and went for a quick walk round late in the afternoon and stopped for a quick look in an area known as Tom’s Pond, it was now nearing dusk but there looked to be a few fish in the area. I wanted to give it the night in New North just in case, but I had made my mind up that if it was free, I would move into Tom’s first thing the next morning.
Nothing else occurred during the night and I was up at 5:30 am sipping my first brew of the day. Half an hour later I reeled in the rods and went for a look around Tom’s. There was plenty of bubbling so I went back to my swim, packed up and moved.
I spent the next 5 to 6 hours baiting a few likely looking areas with the Crave and Multiworm, trying not to spook any fish. At around lunchtime Skeff, the owner, popped round for a cup of tea. As we were just finishing off our second cuppa, I saw what looked like a good fish cruising in the car park end of Tom’s, no sooner had I mentioned this to Skeff a fish topped right near the island. Skeff mentioned that he thought Ashmead’s largest resident “Single Scale” would be in Tom’s and he left me to get the rods positioned.
I had tied up a few fresh rigs earlier in the morning consisting of Pallatrax Snaglink Hooklink in 30lb , fished on a blow back style rig attached to a Pallatrax size 4 The Hook. I always like to add around an inch of shrink tube to the hook as it really helps to achieve a better hook hold. I also add a couple of blobs of the Pallatrax rig putty, which does two jobs: it helps to pull the hook down into the mouth once sucked in and also keeps the rig nicely pinned to the lake bed. My hookbaits as usual were a combination of Pallatrax Crave and Multiworm both standard 18mm frozen bottom baits.
I opted to fish my first rod in a clear area amongst weed near to where I had seen the fish show. My second rod was cast further along the island under a beautiful weeping willow around 15 yards from the bank. I scattered a mixture of baits in both flavours into the branches and around the hook bait. I had planned to fish my third rod a little bit further down the bank where I had seen a few fish feeding, and no sooner had I lowered the rig in place my sounder box gave out a few beeps and then went into melt down!!
I sprinted the 20 yards back to the second rod and as I picked up the rod the fish give a few heavy lunges and then got stuck solid in a big weed bed. I could see plumes of bubbles coming from the middle of the pond and I knew the fish was still on, but I was going to need a boat. I popped the rod on the rest and ran round to Trevor and Lee who kindly got me a boat in double quick time.
Lee offered to row the boat out for me and after clearing a load of weed from the line I was in contact with the fish, I knew the hook hold would be good so I just had to be patient!
After being towed around for the next 15 mins with Lee having to clear the weed from my line several times we managed to get a glimpse of the fish. The huge orange tail and starburst sales near the tail wrist had my knees shaking and my heart racing as I knew it could be Single Scale. Lee did a great job getting us back to the far bank of Tom’s as he clung on to a big weeping willow so I could get some leverage to play the fish. After a few minutes of her plodding under the rod tip Lee slipped the net under her first time of asking. Peering into the net I could see her massive frame and the distinctive single scale on her left flank. Emotion then got the better of me and the shout of “SINGLE!!!” echoed around Somerset!
I sent a message to Skeff who was now back at home, but was soon on his way back with the camera. We got her unhooked and weighed. The rig had done its job as she was absolutely nailed.
On the scales she went 53lb 12oz and smashed my by English PB by over 12lb!! After taking numerous photos, a few kisses and getting a soaking from Lee, I carefully put her back in the water.
Needless to say the remaining rods were then reeled in and the obligatory bottle of red was opened followed by a few beers!
Big thanks to Lee for his sterling effort in the boat, also to Skeff for allowing me to fish this fantastic water and last but not least to Simon and Tini at Pallatrax for producing great bait and very reliable end tackle.
I’ll be smiling for months!
James (THE YOT)