A Remarkable Capture: Copse Lake
After a successful summer on Copse Lake, the fire in my belly was now an inferno and I couldn’t wait for the Autumn chapter of this campaign to begin. Autumn is a special time on the Lake, observing the vegetation transition from shades of bright green to warm autumnal colours is really special. The fish feed heavily in this period, building up their winter fat reserves in preparation for the colder months.
I’d had the pleasure of seeing out 12 of the Copse Lake’s residents, one being the famous ‘Ugly Fish’. Despite its name, even this one had its own unique beauty. The tall shoulders, snub nose and that crooked tail. A pleasure to handle just like all the others.
Summer as it begins to transition…
Up until now, the 30lb plus fish had eluded me. On the 20th September all that was about to change. I was working nights and itching to get away and back to the lake to begin another session. The weather played into my hands with night flying cancelled and the work done, I was away. The car was already outside, packed and waiting for me. Cool box full and bait prepped. All that remained was for me to change, and therein lies the beauty of coveralls – once removed I was ready to go!
High winds greeted me on the drive over, I remember thinking to myself ‘how are the boats still afloat?’ as I passed by the River Thames and the observed the extreme force of the wind and waves crashing into the hulls. I made it to the lake, parked up, got my barrow and unpacked my gear. On the walk up to Copse lake I would normally stop and catch up with the other guys fishing on Match Lake, however with the weather as bad as it was the usual residence had taken to their bivvies.I scurried around the nursery lake and made my way towards my target of the Oak Swim. Upon arrival at my chosen spot, I was met head on by a strong south-westerly wind that was pushing in. I tried my hardest to keep quiet as I set up, but the wind had other ideas. Whenever I got my bivvie off the floor the wind caught it and sent it up like a kite. After the most unorganised set up known to man I had somehow managed to organise my shelter and equip my rods with rigs. ‘Let the games begin’ I thought.
After initial failings with my underarm cast due to old oaks branches crashing with the wind, I was forced into using my head torch to assist with guiding my rigs into position. With the leads finally hitting their targets with a crunch, I was on the spots. With five or six freebies set over each trap I was now sorted for the night.
Copse Lake Engulfed by Autumnal colours
At around 3am the sound of a huge branch crashing to earth under the strain of the storm woke me from my slumber. I was sure my bivvie would be swept into the woods any minute as the wind ripped at the pegs securing it. It was then I noticed the blinking blue light on the roof of my bivvie. I leapt up and looked outside, sure enough both alarms were triggered. The noise from the storm had masked their shrill!I switched my head torch on to find my right-hand rod almost doubled under the left. I snatched the rod and knew straight away this was the one I had been waiting for. The rod bent fully, the clutch tight and still clicking, this fish was surely the one. It darted for the weeds, its brute strength ripping through them, heading for an opening in the Oak bay. Thinking it could all be over at a moment’s notice, I held on for dear life.
Thankfully the fish finally turned its head and brought the fight back to me. It wasn’t long and it was under my rod. Panicking to position the landing net and with the water level low due to the unusually hot and dry summer, I was forced crouch in the water holding the landing pole at its extremity, trying to get it into deep water. With a final few kicks the fight was over and the fish was mine.
An old Yatley warrior
A sense of relief rushed through my body as I lifted the net and caught a first glimpse of my prize, I knew for sure I had something special. Not caring if my bivvie had been ripped open by the wind, I lifted the fish into my sling and got my first proper look. The large single scale in the middle of the its huge body. I knew straight away that this was the Copse Lake ‘Orange Fish’. With my body shaking, I climbed into my waders and placed her back in the water inside the sling. I took a moment to myself and let the adrenaline subside before I could begin to think about getting her weighted.
The ‘Orange Fish’ was finally mine. I contacted a few friends who quickly arrived to help. With emotions running high I lifted her back out of the water knowing she would be a P.B. The next 10 minutes were a blur, all I really remember to this day is the number 36.6lbs. The lakes 2IC, what a beautiful specimen she was. That catch will undoubtedly stay with me forever, the fact that I got to share the moment with two friends makes it even more special.
With another chapter finished and a new one beginning, my confidence was high and determination over flowing, just a few more chapters to go to finish this amazing adventure.