Following three blanks, I was determined to reverse my fortunes and get back to catching and getting regular runs. Much of my recent baiting had been with boilies, partly due to the convenience of always having them in the car, and partly because I wanted to avoid a lot of the smaller species in the lake. This plan had clearly not been working as well as I’d have liked so yesterday afternoon I broke open the freezer and took out all the cooked up particle I had, with the intention of upping the volume of bait going into the swim each day.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, by the time 6pm rolled around the bait wasn’t defrosted. I wasn’t overly concerned, I had put about a kilo of boilies in the night before after packing up, and threw together a mix of large halibut pellets, tigernut boilies and the very last of my pellet and hemp mix from the week before. This was spodded out in a much tighter area than usual, and the rods were cast a couple of yards closer too. My thinking was that the carp always seemed to arrive late in the session, and the more spread out the bait was, the less likely my hookbait was to get picked up.
I settled in and sat back back to watch the lake. The weather had been grey and showery all day, and the wind that was hacking towards me had a distinct nip to it. Despite all that, I felt confident of a bite - or perhaps that should be just ‘hopeful’ of a bite to end my recent dip in form?
Sure enough, after a few knocks on one rod brought me two my feet, it was another that ripped off and thankfully by being right on the rods I was straight into a carp. Flicking off the baitunner, I smiled in satisfaction at getting back amongst the fish, only for the hook to promptly fall out only seconds into the fight. Gutted.
It was still early, and there was plenty of time left for a bite so the rod went back out onto the spot with another small mesh bag. Sure enough, half an hour later the same rod went again, and after a fantastic scrap I slipped the net under a broad, moody-looking mirror. She went 19lbs 6ozs on the scales and I was delighted with my second biggest fish from the lake so far:
It took only 10 minutes or so after recasting for the rod to go again (plastic maize), though this time the fish was not of the same calibre. A scrappy little 8lbs 10oz common rolled over the netcord, and even though it was my smallest from the lake, it was the first session where I had actually banked more than one fish - well pleased!
After getting in a bit of a pickle recasting the rods (a wayward cast snagged another line on the retrieve and a bream picked up the third rod…not very clever fishing, Will), I eventually got all three lines in the water again, and looked at my watch - still half an hour to go, fantastic. Without another beep the session would have been fantastic, but at 10pm the right hand rod (also plastic maize) roared off and I was into another good carp! The fish fought hard, as they all seem to do in this lake, making long, unstoppable runs. The course of one of these runs took it over into the left hand side of the peg where the margin is shallower, so I slipped off my shoes and hopped into the margins with the net to get a better angle on it.
The fish was about 10 yards out and still powering around just below the surface in the gin clear water, trying it’s best to entangle my other two lines (despite dipping the rod tips down into the water). When one of the other alarms let out a short beep, I looked at the fish I had on and saw straight away it was nowhere near the bleeping line - “Wait a minute…beeeeeeep - screamer on the left hand rod!
I caught the reel as it skidded across the gravel towards the water, and managed to flick the baitrunner off and lift the rod with one hand - the line peeling off the spool barely slowed as the drag kicked in and the fish on the other end felt heavy and very angry. I weighed the two up and decided the fish now plodding around just in front of me was definitely the smaller of the two, but since it was so close I had no choice but to get it in the net as soon as possible and then worry about the bigger one making it’s way towards the dam wall in the distance.
So, I engaged the baitrunner once more, put down the rod and continued to play the fish that was now at my feet. The momentary break in pressure had given it encouragement in its bid for freedom and it took a further agonising five minutes before I could draw it over the net - all the while I could hear the click clicking of my other rod! I lifted the net and saw the fish was a good upper double, possible lower twenty and not one I wanted to loose, so I secured the net over a bankstick, with the fish still in enough water and took a deep breath - now for the big one!
By now the line had stopped and simply gone tight but as soon as I picked up the rod the fish was kicking, and it did indeed feel very big. I clambered back into the water and tried to compose myself - after over twenty sessions for seven fish, here I was with two on at once! The fish slowly came towards me, without making the powerful runs I have come to expect - signs of a bigger fish, I thought, as my legs turned to jelly. By now it was way past the 22:15pm deadline on the lake and total darkness was, if not fully upon me, only seconds around the corner. Nevertheless, in the half-light I made out the fish rolling beneath the surface: a flash of golden scales, but not a common…a big fully scaled mirror!
Somehow I manged to focus on the task in hand, took the scissors from my pocket and cut the line still attached to the fish in the net. Keeping the net cord high I waded out as deep as I could, thoroughly soaked anyway by the fish in the net who had decided to wake up. As the fully scaled ploughed up an down in front of me I somehow managed to get enough line on the reel to be able to net him comfortably, as and when that opportunity might arise. For what seemed like an age the fish refused to give up, coming closer and closer, but never getting a gulp of air that might bring this incredible episode to an end.
Finally, it rolled and I knew this was my chance. the net shot out and scooped it it - result! I could barely contain myself as I drew the fish towards me and surveyed my two prizes at the bottom of the net. The second fish was indeed a fully scaled, and bigger than the first, though not as big as I had estimated. I reach into the folds of the net, snipped the hooklength on the second fish and lined the fish up carefully so I could lift them out of the water with causing any damage.
Beeeeeeeeeeeep! - Third rod goes.
I can’t remember what I shouted, but I’m sure I couldn’t quote it here anyway. With 40lbs of carp in one hand, I picked up the rod and again set the hook with the other. Leaving the baitrunner screaming I decided I had to do something quickly, and so put the two fish down on the mat, snapped a photo, weighed and returned the smaller of the two. Around 18lbs I decided in a hurry, before plunging back in and slipping her back, to swim off strongly.
The third fish had now stopped taking line, so I took a minute to weigh, appreciate and photograph the full-scaled. At 20lbs 12oz it was my second twenty from the lake, and by far the biggest fully scaled mirror i’ve ever had. It was a beautiful fish, and I’m sad that I didn’t have the time or light to appreciate it more, but holding it in the water before it swam away, I realised that this was a very special lake, and I had been lucky enough to bank one of it’s most special inhabitants.
After that brief reflection, I quickly put the net back together and lifted the third rod. My hear sank as I reeled in 10 yards of line without resistance, but then I felt a distinct kick on the other end of the line - it was still on! The line felt badly snagged though as I made short work of the slack that had clearly been laying between the fish and I - it grated and moaned as I wound down and I was sure my luck wouldn’t hold. However, after a few minutes my lead emerged from the water - the free running weight had become tangled a long way up the line and after a quick jolt it freed and slid back down into the water and out to the fish. The rest of the fight was a bit of a blur, it was after 22:45 now by my estimation and should the Garde de Peche come along I’d have some serious explaining to do. Of course, they didn’t, but it’s funny the things your mind chooses to obsess about in these odd situations!
The third fish rolled into the net in total darkness, and only by the light of the moon under the now-clear skies could I see it was another fully scaled! This time, smaller at 16lbs, but just as pretty and the perfect end to a mad evening. Of course, during the photographing the camera batteries died and had to be replaced, and somewhere along the way the lens became fogged so the pictures didn’t really come out - but by this stage I was so frazzled I didn’t notice, or really care, I just felt very very lucky to have landed all three fish.
Having returned the last fish of the night (for definite, I had no rigs anywhere near the water just in case!) I sat down in my chair soaking wet, smelly, sweaty and getting bitten by hoards of mosquitoes, and simply took it all in. What a quite unbelievable session: 6 runs, 5 fish, 3 upper doubles, a twenty and two particularly stunning fish. This is what all that hard work was for, and it was worth every second.
The scene of devastation in the swim was impressive, and it took an age to sort everything out. Even once I thought I had finished, I noticed a rod sleeve empty on the floor, which of course meant I was a rod short. It eventually turned up, thrown in the bush in all the drama, and I could make my way home a very, very happy man.Stumble it!