The Hunt for the Bulldozer – Nicky Onlsow
After having a very successful spring of catching all my target fish from my local Billericay club waters, the urge to move on came sooner than I had planned. I needed to find a lake close to home for convenience as free time to fish was limited. I had to set new targets to see me through the rest of the season, I had a lake that I thought would be ideal for my new target, which was a 40lb common (the Bulldozer). This water was Golden Gates in South Ockendon and I managed to get a ticket for the lake at short notice. I was not new to this water as I had previous history with this lake dating back about 12 years. Golden Gates is approximately 12 acres of various fishing features to challenge your abilities.
The new season started mid-June, the first few weekends of the season was a great time to reacquaint myself with the lake. It was a slow start but it was great to be back and to get the feel for the place again. Golden Gates can be quite a weedy water to fish, so some of my tactics had to be adapted. I changed from bottom-baits to pop-ups but kept my old faithful Urban Baits Red Spicy Fish. My rigs were simple, I was using 15lb Ashima Groundhog hook links with size 8 Goliath hooks with a helicopter set up and roughly 2 inch washed out pop-up, I was also roughly using 2kilo of bait per 24hr session.
The first Saturday in July was the start of my run, the first fish I banked was called The Snake, and held so much history as it was the oldest fish in the lake. I also banked a 21lb mirror in the same session. Over the next few weeks I started nicking a few fish on a regular basis. None of which was the bigger fish I was hoping for but this did prove I was using the right baits and methods.
Throughout August the lake was becoming more populated which impacted my fishing and made it more of a challenge to get on the fish. It was the August bank holiday weekend and I was starting late on the Saturday. I was expecting it to be a busy weekend on the lake and to my surprise it was relatively quiet. I done my usual walk around and it wasn’t long until I found the fish in the swim called the Front Bay. I set up on them and cast all three rods tight to the island where the fish were showing, with roughly a kilo of chopped baits across all three rods. I changed from using pop-ups to straight bottom baits as there was not too much weed about. It was getting darker and I was settling down for the night. Around 2am I was woken by my middle rod with a one-toner. This was a long 22lb mirror. I settled back down and it was quiet for the rest of the night. I woke at first light to see if the fish was still in front of me, all was quiet and not much movement in the water. I waited a while and had a cuppa but it seemed like the fish had moved on. It looked like it was time for me to do the same.
I went for a wander and met another angler who had just caught a new PB of 30lb, I done the photos for him and he told me that his swim was full of fish rolling and bubbling. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay and was packing up and going home. Of course I then jumped in after him and set up pronto. I cast all 3 rods to where the fish were rolling but I took a big gamble on spodding around 2kg of bait.
Throughout the day there was still the odd one or two showing so I was still confident I was going to catch. The hours went by and the evening came in but with still no action. I called it day and got my head down for the night.
Around 7am the following morning I was awoken to a full blown take, I was playing with the fish for a good 15 minutes and to my amazement up popped one of the ghosties which were on the list of the fish I wanted to catch from the lake. This turned out to be one of the smaller of the three ghosties in the lake. She weighed in at 26lb, I was over the moon. I slipped her back and re-cast my rod back to the same spot and spodded a further kilo of the Spicy Fish Mix over the spot.
I didn’t have long left of my session. I brewed the kettle for one last cup of tea. I then couldn’t believe my luck as the same rod was away again! This time it was a stunning mirror carp of 28lb 12oz. I returned her to the water and reluctantly I started to pack up.
The following few weeks I was unable to fish due to family holiday commitments. On returning from my holiday, I was itching to get back to the lake knowing this that I had 3 nights solid at the lake.
Once I got to the lake the weather was high pressure with strong easterly winds. I done my usual wander around the lake to see any signs of fish. I ended up finding a few fish showing in the swim called the zoo. I quickly found 3 clear spots as this part of the lake was very weedy. I spodded around 3kg of chopped baits over all 3 rods.
The evening was upon me. A friend who was fishing the swim up came to join me. We got some dinner and I was still exhausted from all the holiday travelling so I decided to call it an early night. The next thing I know I was woken with a typical Golden Gates screaming take. I then banked my first fish of the session which was a short dumpy 28lb mirror. The next day the fish consistently showed over all three of my rods.
In the evening I decided to top up the swim with more bait, but unfortunately the night went on with no action. The fish didn’t bite until the next morning when I had my second fish of 23lb. I quickly cast out again as the fish were still showing and within the next hour I was away again with my third mirror of 25lb. We took the photos and then slid her back. I still had one more night left, so I took the gamble and put a further 3kg of bait over the same area.
Just as it was getting dark and I was watching the water I noticed a big huge common stick his head out not far from my spot. Could it be?
I decided to call it a night, then around 1am I was away again and the fish took around 20-30 yards off my reel and this one felt a lot bigger than the last couple. I ended up playing with the fish for about 20 minutes it stayed low and felt heavy as the big ones invariably do. I was still half-asleep but managed to net her at the first attempt, I looked in the net and thought that’s a long fish, I thought it may have been a pike. I went and got my head-torch and then I realised it was a long common and straight away I knew it had to be the Bulldozer. I left her safely in the net and went and got another angler for help. We both got her up on the scales and it went past the magical 40lb mark and stopped at 41lb 2oz. We took the photos and although I was enjoying my moment I knew I had to get her back. She glided away smoothly and I felt overwhelmed by this achievement.
I couldn’t believe I had caught another target fish that I had set out to catch. After that session I did return for a few single nights. I think I had filled my quota of catches and had no further catches on the lake. As I said before I kept it simple as most of my fishing over the years have been, and yet again it has not failed me. The faithful Spicy Red Fish had done it’s job! Get on the going bait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!