A good mate of mine is the Head Bailiff at Cemex Angling's Chigborough venue, somewhere I've enjoyed fishing at for many years now.
Saying that, it's been a while since I last fished there, but Gary (the bailiff, not my fishing buddy) has kept nudging me recently to come over and give it a go. Well as Gary (my fishing buddy, not the bailiff!) had never fished there, we thought it was time to get up there and see what we could catch.
The venue itself comprises of two lakes, the smaller of which, at about 1.25 acres, holds mainly tench and crucians, but bream, roach and rudd are also present. The big lake, where we were going to fish, covers about 7.5 acres, and has a good stock of big carp, including a few over 30lbs, and a fair number of 20's... that'll do!
We arrived late in the afternoon, this would give us time to check out the water, pick our swims, get some bait in, and of course, put up the brollies before it started getting dark.
There were 5 other anglers there when we arrived, so a slow walk round the lake, and a little chat to the lads to see what had been coming out, soon revealed that most of the guys had caught. It seemed to be the odd fish here and there, but a couple of guys in one swim had managed a few, fishing out into the main body of the lake.
Chigborough's big lake has many bankside features, overhanging trees, reed beds, spits and 'fingers' of land, let alone the ones in the water, islands, bars, shallows... and we were going to target a few of them.
One of the 'fingers' was occupied, and so were a couple of the corner swims, this left us one of the other 'fingers', the 'point' swim, or the 'oak'. Well we checked them all, and the 'fingers' swim was just a little to cramped for the two of us, as was the 'point', so we loaded up the trolleys and headed for the 'oak' swim. All the swims are kept in good order here, as Gary (the bailiff) has always been very hands on, keeping Chigborough a well looked after and tidy venue.
So the 'oak' swim basically is a little bit of bank that sticks out into the water and not surprisingly has a large oak tree at the back! It also has a couple of islands in front of it, that I was going to fish to, and Gary fancied trying off one side that gave him access to another island, as well as some open water.
We both had a boilie rod out, Gary's to the very edge of the overhanging branches on the island, mine to the back of the islands in front of me. With his other rod, Gary went method feeder - out into open water. He first placed a marker on his favoured spot, then clipped up his line to that distance before firing out a number of casts to build up a bed of bait. Gary let the area calm for a while before dropping his feeder over the top, still fishing a boilie hookbait, but tipped with a grain of plastic corn.
As my feature was that much nearer I went for 'pulting' out a bed of groundbait close to the tip of the nearest island, I also fished a boilie over the top, but a different flavour.
Our bivvies were put up, and the kettle put on... got to have out tea sorted!
We noticed one of the other lads land a fish, but on the whole, it was very quiet going into the evening. It seemed to get dark amazingly quickly that night, and after filling my stomach with some food I crashed out under the brolly.
But it wasn't going to be a long snooze, as about an hour later something made my buzzer scream... out into the darkness, Gary comes over reminding it's best to wear my head torch once it's dark... I tell him I wish I'd had time to put my shoes on!
I play in a reasonable fish, that saves most of its fighting for under the rod tip, but it's on the bank and weighs in at 12.04. It came on my furthest rod, from the back of the islands, so on goes a new boilie and straight back out.
It seemed like we were up every couple of hours after that, I had the next one at just under 18lbs, then Gary had a mirror around the 15lb mark.
About 1am the buzzer beeped again, but not for long, I poked my head out of the sleeping bag and listened, another few beeps. I get out and walk over to the rods, as I listen, there's a click from the baitrunner, then another, I watch my reel move slowly round as inch by inch lines pulled off the spool. Something's picked up my bait but doesn't realise it's hooked, so I slowly pick up the rod and tighten down, then it starts to move!
I'm playing this one on my own, as Gary's finally crashed out, in the darkness I steer in another hard fighting fish, it feels a better one, and a look in the landing net confirms it's bigger than the others. I soon have it in the weigh sling, and yes it's our first 20lb'er, so Gary's dragged out of his sleeping bag to man the camera!
Besides the odd beep the next few hours are quiet, which is no bad thing, as we get a few hours shut-eye.
Early morning and Gary's buzzer signals another take, he's on it fast, and soon has an 18lb'er on the bank. My swim now seems very quiet, but I'm keeping an eye on a shallow corner of the lake, and start to see patches of feeding bubbles, it's time to move my bait.
It works, and within minutes there's a beep and my rod's bending round as something hungry tears off with my bait. A good fight and then I'm weighing a 17.14 mirror... but that will turn out to be my last fish, as my swim switches off all together.
Good old Gary keeps the feed going in and his bait on the spot, and is rewarded with 2 more good fish before our session finally comes to an end. It's a fair old tally, a 20, two 18s, a 17, two 15s, two 12s, and a couple of doubles we didn't weigh... not bad!
So it's a great return to a cracking venue, my thanks to Gary (the bailiff), from me, oh, and Gary (the angler!).