One Last Try

Af­ter an 18-month sab­bat­i­cal, Sam re­turns to a for­mer haunt in the search for the lake’s big­gest res­i­dent, a mag­nif­i­cent com­mon, that had eluded him in years gone by

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Sam Blisham

Af­ter an 18-month sab­bat­i­cal, Sam re­turns to a for­mer haunt in the search for the lake’s big­gest res­i­dent, a mag­nif­i­cent com­mon, that had eluded him in years gone by

I’ve heard peo­ple say that cer­tain fish just don’t have your name writ­ten on them, while some clearly do. And I must ad­mit, from my past ex­pe­ri­ence, it had def­i­nitely started to feel that way. I’d spent the last cou­ple of years fish­ing a snag-infested, un­for­giv­ing pit for just a cou­ple of fish. Hav­ing caught pretty much all those I wanted, bar two (one of which had re­cently been found teth­ered and was now well un­der­weight and far from look­ing its best), I was ques­tion­ing whether or not I should con­tinue fish­ing a lake of this na­ture. So I had de­cided to con­cen­trate my ef­forts else­where for the near fu­ture.

I joined a new syndicate lake and en­joyed a great year catch­ing some truly stun­ning carp and meet­ing some great peo­ple, with one of those hap­pen­ing to be Tom Mc­gre­gor.

End­less con­ver­sa­tions en­sued over the next few months and I could see Tom had a real pas­sion for bait. Af­ter shar­ing sto­ries and ideas over count­less teas and roll ups, it was a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for me to start us­ing DT. It just felt right. I trusted him and it didn’t take long be­fore I was in­tro­duced to the N-blend. I liked it straight away and as soon as I crum­bled up that lit­tle ball of bait into my palm and had smelled it, I just knew it was go­ing to catch me carp!

I started us­ing it straight away and my re­sults just got bet­ter and bet­ter. In time my con­fi­dence in the bait grew so much, I felt like I could catch wher­ever I went. It’s good to know your bait is do­ing what it’s sup­posed to. It was one less thing to worry about. Good bait will al­ways bring more re­sults, this is def­i­nitely some­thing I have learned over the years.

The syndicate lake closes for a cou­ple of months ev­ery year to give the fish a rest from the con­stant pres­sure they re­ceive,

I liked it straight away and as soon as I crum­bled up that lit­tle ball of bait into my palm and had smelled it, I just knew it was go­ing to catch me carp!

and it had come around all too quickly. Sud­denly I found my­self with nowhere to fish.

I de­cided to go back to the snag pit and have one last go for that cer­tain old com­mon carp I’d wanted to catch for the last few years. When it came to choos­ing a bait for my new mis­sion the N-blend seemed the per­fect choice. I was sure the snag pit fish would be all over it hav­ing had suc­cess on there in the past us­ing nutty baits. Now all I had to do was re­new my mem­ber­ship! I man­aged to get my ticket sorted out within a few days – I was buzzing and couldn’t wait to get down there.

Af­ter what seemed like a re­ally long, busy week I’d got home from work quite late on the Fri­day and made up my mind to go at first light the fol­low­ing morn­ing. I ar­rived at the lake just af­ter the sun came up and was pleas­antly sur­prised to find there were only a cou­ple of other an­glers fish­ing, and they were both at the other end of the lake, leav­ing the whole shal­low half of the lake com­pletely de­void of an­glers... that’d do me!

Af­ter a cou­ple of laps of the lake it was ev­i­dent where the ma­jor­ity of the fish were. There was a huge weedbed, com­ing off the near­side of the is­land, which rose up to the sur­face and was a good 30 yards wide. I climbed up a tree and with the wa­ter in the pit be­ing crys­tal clear, it made it easy for me to see the fish in front of an old favourite swim of mine, clearly lov­ing the green stuff and that mar­gin. So I de­cided this was where I’d set up for the night.

I also chose this par­tic­u­lar swim be­cause it com­manded the wa­ter, not only around the weedbed, but the mar­gins and a snag to the left of the swim, that I’d watched carp vis­it­ing as well.

The sun was blaz­ing hot. I’d walked up to a high point above the swim and it looked like an aquar­ium. I watched the fish for a while, pay­ing close at­ten­tion to the routes they were tak­ing around the lake. Look­ing out to the left of the swim I no­ticed a large gravel plateau ris­ing up to a few feet from the sur­face and I could clearly see the fish swim­ming over this shal­low wa­ter on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. So, be­fore I did any­thing else, I de­cided to quickly flick a rod on top of the plateau. Af­ter a cou­ple of ex­ploratory casts and a small scat­ter­ing of boilies, I was fish­ing. Leav­ing the rod on the floor whilst I got things sorted out, I was just hav­ing a few casts around the swim with a bare lead to see if I could find any fish­able ar­eas within the dense weed, when sud­denly I be­came aware of a strange buzzing sound. I looked around to see my rod be­ing dragged across the swim at an alarm­ing rate. I turned and picked up the rod and I was in... I couldn’t be­lieve it. The rod had only been out for ten or fif­teen min­utes!

The fish took off and im­me­di­ately de­cided to kite left, which is ex­actly where I didn’t want it to go as there was a set of the most sav­age snags imag­in­able to the left of the swim. The harder I pulled the more the fish kited, and be­fore I knew it I had what felt like an ex­tremely pow­er­ful fish stuck solid in the snag.

The wa­ter level was very low and I was bent double over the front of the swim with my rod up to the reel in the wa­ter at full com­pres­sion... but every­thing had come to a com­plete stand­still. Stale­mate! With no move­ment what­so­ever, my mind was rac­ing as to what I could do. Re­al­is­ing that putting so much as a toe in the wa­ter would re­sult in a life­time ban I didn’t have many op­tions!

A minute or so had passed by now with me ab­so­lutely re­fus­ing to give it any line, so I de­cided to give it one last go. I leant in to the fish as hard as I dared, the rod creaked un­der the strain and I knew some­thing was go­ing to give. For­tu­nately, with that I felt a slight grat­ing sen­sa­tion and man­aged to gain a cou­ple of inches of line. As soon as I felt that tiny bit of move­ment I knew I had to main­tain the pres­sure. I wound down and man­aged to gain a tiny bit more line – again I fu­ri­ously cranked the reel get­ting an­other vi­tal few inches on the spool, when much to my amaze­ment, the fish just popped straight out of the snag and tore off into the lake!

I hardly gave it an inch of line and kept the fish close in the deep wa­ter in the mar­gins in front of me and, within a few min­utes, I man­aged to guide it into the back of my net. Yes, a fish on my first trip back to the lake and af­ter only an hour or two as well. What a re­sult!

I called my girl­friend, Lanny, straight away, ex­cited to tell her the news. She’d been get­ting into her pho­tog­ra­phy and had been keen to have a go at tak­ing some shots of fish for me. I must ad­mit I was a tad ner­vous hand­ing my cam­era over but she did a grand job and I now had a per­sonal pho­tog­ra­pher 24/ 7 (poor Lanny didn’t know what she had let her­self in for). She was happy with her shots and I was over the moon. It was nice to share the mo­ment with her.

The carp turned out to be a lovely old war­rior of a fish I’d never seen be­fore, cov­ered in bat­tle scars and weighed in at a healthy 33lb 8oz. A lovely way to start.

Dur­ing that first ses­sion I had no­ticed some fish mov­ing along my near­side mar­gin, right un­der my rod tips, head­ing into the snags to the left of the swim. Fish­ing this snag you had to be care­ful as a few feet un­der the sur­face there was a huge sub­merged branch pro­trud­ing out a good six or seven

feet un­der the wa­ter, which from the sur­face was com­pletely in­vis­i­ble. I de­cided to use my bait­ing pole and shipped out a bare lead a few times with the pole and found a clearer, cleaner area just at the en­trance of the snag – this would be where I would set my trap.

In­stead of fish­ing the spot that ses­sion, I de­cided to bait it and leave it line-free, know­ing full well the fish would get in there and en­joy a free meal, in turn gain­ing con­fi­dence in the spot. I fished dif­fer­ent ar­eas that night and packed up in the morn­ing with no more ac­tion, but still buzzing af­ter hav­ing a fish on my first ses­sion and also hav­ing found some nice spots. I baited the mar­gin spot again be­fore I left and a plan was hatched to keep the bait go­ing in heav­ily through­out the week. With the bait be­ing nut-based, I hoped it would help de­ter the hordes of cray­fish that were present in the pit. I re­turned and baited quite heav­ily through­out the week, bear­ing in mind that they may also be eat­ing a lot of it too.

I rushed home from work on the Fri­day and man­aged to get down to the lake at about 7pm, pray­ing all the way that the swim would be free. As I pulled through the gate and down the lane I saw that not only was the swim free but just like the week be­fore that whole end of the lake was com­pletely empty. I knew where I wanted to be and headed straight for the swim and set up for the night.

Us­ing my pole I placed a bait on the mar­gin spot I’d been bait­ing though the week, putting the other rod on a spot near the is­land. The day be­fore I had been to the fac­tory to see Tom and he had given me some new liq­uid food to try out called The One and I must say this stuff smelled re­ally good! I’m not one to change things about too much but I re­ally did fancy the smell of this. Be­ing more of a fishy/savoury based liq­uid we did won­der as to how it would work to­gether with a nutty bait (and the cray­fish) – well I was about to find out...

I crushed around half a kilo of freshly-thawed boilies and ab­so­lutely doused it in the new liq­uid and poled it out onto the spot. I awoke early in the morn­ing, and with no real signs of fish and cer­tainly no ac­tion to re­port through­out the night, I made a cof­fee and a smoke and sat watch­ing the wa­ter for a bit. I was also won­der­ing if I even still had hook­baits on af­ter a night of rav­en­ous cray­fish feed­ing.

Then I started to no­tice a cou­ple of fish out in the weedbed and along the is­land mar­gin, so I de­cide a re-chuck was in or­der as thoughts of bait-less rigs sit­ting out there were now play­ing heav­ily on my mind.

I reeled in the right-hand rod, out by the is­land, and was sur­prised to find I had a full, un­touched hook­bait. I re­placed it with a fresh one and then needed a few casts to get the rig back into the hole in the weed. Bear in mind that all this com­mo­tion was tak­ing place just a few feet from the mar­gin spot where the other rod was cast.

I put the rod back into the rest, at­tached the line to the clip and set the bob­bin. I turned around to my bivvy door with the in­ten­tion of now reel­ing in the other rod, when the left-hand mar­gin rod ab­so­lutely melted off!

I span round, con­vinced I had caught the line with my jumper or some­thing, but as I was turn­ing I saw a huge bow wave com­ing away from the spot and straight out into the lake. I was in and it was ob­vi­ous straight away this was a se­ri­ous fish!

Know­ing the na­ture of the lake and hav­ing lost my fair share in there, I knew I couldn’t let it go far. It pow­ered straight out in­stead of into the snag which in it­self was a mi­nor re­sult, but with a clutch wound up tight the fish roared off and I

scram­bled to let out a bit of line. Just as I did so the fish turned, so I locked the clutch up again, keep­ing it on a tight line. I let the rod take the lunges re­fus­ing to give any line – if the fish gained any mo­men­tum it was more than likely go­ing to be game over. Then it rolled in front of me about 10 yards out and I caught a glimpse of the flank of a big com­mon! My legs were shak­ing so much with my mind rac­ing as to which fish it could be – but in the back of my mind I knew, I just couldn’t ad­mit it, un­til it was in the net!

A few tense min­utes passed with me giv­ing no line what­so­ever. I bun­dled the fish into the net and as I did so it ex­ploded and man­aged to flip straight out of the net and stormed back off into the lake, strip­ping line off an ex­tremely tight clutch. I couldn’t be­lieve what I’d done – what an idiot!

The fish headed for the mid­dle of the lake and I now knew ex­actly which fish it was, and that I had just had it in my net. I just looked to the sky... Please...

The next few min­utes were prob­a­bly the most in­tense I have had in my an­gling. Af­ter a lit­tle while longer it was over and I fi­nally man­aged to wrap the folds of my net around the fish I had wanted to catch for so long! Yes!

Lanny and I had been sit­ting here the evening be­fore, al­most talk­ing this fish out of the lake and it must have heard us. That phone call I will never for­get – I couldn’t quite be­lieve I was telling her I had it in my net. She came down and took the cam­era like an ab­so­lute pro, and spun off some amaz­ing shots for me. Af­ter­wards we stood and laughed. What a mo­ment, that buzz of catch­ing a cer­tain fish you have your heart set on.

So there you have it – I had come back ex­pect­ing to fill my spring with the chal­lenge of catch­ing this fish that I had pretty much con­vinced my­self I was never go­ing to catch, and I had done it in just two nights an­gling, over the space of eight days from start to fin­ish. The fish weighed 45lb 6oz which was way big­ger than I was ex­pect­ing. It looked im­mac­u­late.

I was, and still am, truly over the moon to have had the plea­sure of catch­ing that lovely old fish – not be­cause of any­thing other than it was the fish I had set out to catch, and I had done it af­ter ten years of fish­ing the pit on and off. I knew my days on there were over and it was time to move onto pas­tures new. This time for good.

I knew my days on there were over and it was time to move onto pas­tures new. This time for good

ABOVE It was time to move onto pas­tures new... LEFT The one I was af­ter!

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