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A Spring In His Step

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Last Updated: 29th March 2017

After a bitterly cold week in the champagne region of France, which was a journey filled with rain, once we arrived back in Folkstone there was sunshine and spring was in the air. Being two days from the spring equinox, the rays of sunshine energized me and I felt nature waking up all around.


On the Journey Home from Folkstone I made a rash decision to unload my gear from France and throw it straight into the back of my little van, in the most unorganized state but in super efficient time.  Within two hours of being back in the country I was back on the road to Mid Kent Fisheries’ Tonford Lake. Even after a week of solid fishing in France I still had a massive buzz to get back on the bank. Tonford just gives you this feeling when en route to the lake. It’s a buzz I’ve not had from any other lake, and it’s why I love going.


Arriving at the lake the weather was still holding out with lovely spring sunshine, even as the evening drew closer. I opted to fish the ‘Cushties’ swim at the far end of the lake on what seemed a warmish southerly wind. Hours of water watching later and as I felt the sun setting behind me in the distance the temperature dropped quickly and I became aware of how temporary the warmth of the sun could be at this time of the year. As it drew out of sight the area I was fishing looked just as it did a couple of weeks ago and seemed as though as life was sucked in with the sunset. Apart from the odd pike in the margins I didn’t see much and apart from a quick overnight camping session there was nothing else to come of the trip.


After packing up that Sunday, walking back to the van with a loaded barrow I stopped in a couple of swims looking for signs of life. As I reached the far end from where I camped for the night, the temperature felt a good 2-3 degrees warmer and due to where the sun was setting this time of the year it would also see the sun for the best part of the day. After being slightly disheartened for my efforts, I had a game plan instantly and knew how I would go about tricking up some of the historic fish this lake held. I put 15 18mm baits out, these are my ‘Winter Baits’ which I made with Mixmaster Esterblend 12 liquid, over a spot that I had came across previously and left to return after work on Monday for a between shift session.


After work Monday I got to the lake at just gone 5pm, it’s handy when the customer you have to visit last is only 5 minutes from the lake, BONUS! So with my gear loaded on to the barrow it was only the distance between me and Tonford to overcome and then I was angling.

There were four people on, all set up at the other end of the lake, where I was on the previous session, and I had my own little refuse in the swim that I’d pre-baited which was now full of solar rays and small hatches, after all this was the day of the spring equinox!!!

I placed my two rods on the spots and within one hour I had a slow pick up, the Titanium head hit the rod blank and I was away. After a few short runs a chestnut common was swimming angrily up and down the tree-root covered margin trying to free the Solar 101 from its bottom lip. No chance, and the common was mine. A real chestnut coloured common, which still showed signs of its winter ‘sleep’. With the few leaches removed and a few snaps taken the common of just over 22lb was returned.

I decided on getting an early night as I needed to be up early to get ready for the working day ahead. The night was uneventful and I awoke to my alarm at 6.15am. After making myself a strong coffee I had a few bleeps in quick succession and again the Titanium head hit the rod blank and I was away again. Not having had my 9ft Scope rods for long I didn’t really know what a big fish felt like on them, until a sizeable mirror flanked past me dogging up and down in the open water using nothing but its mass to try and free herself. Shortly after it slid over the net cord and I assumed that it was a low 30, or maybe an upper 20. I prepped the mat, scales, sling and water and carefully lifted the mirror out onto dry land. When taking a closer look and seeing the width I knew that it was bigger than expected and when I hoisted the beast from the depths I knew that it was one called the ‘Unknown’. A weakness in my knees became apparent as this was one of Tonford's rarer characters to grace the bank and she was mine! The scales settled at 38lb and I could not have been happier going to work that day. I was buzzing just to get back their that night too and, heading back again after work I also managed another 22lb common the following night.