Paul’s had a stellar season so far and even though it is slowing down somewhat, alongside the weather, it shows no sign of stopping just yet!
Paul’s had a stellar season so far and even though it is slowing down somewhat, alongside the weather, it shows no sign of stopping just yet! And even though he was a bridesmaid in this account, he is suitably buoyed to discover that one target in particular, is still very much alive and kicking!
When I look back at the season I’ve had this year it seems like a bit of a fairytale. For whatever reason lady luck really has been on my side, resulting in a conveyor belt of proper, stunning fish finding their way into the bottom of my net – but now, with winter fast approaching, I know that realistically I can’t expect it to continue?
Over the last month I’ve managed to get out for a total of seven nights which I suppose is about the norm for me. All but one of those nights has been on the Tip Lake, where one or two of its prize jewels were still on my ‘most wanted’ list. Notably Satan’s Linear, which incidentally, hadn’t been caught since last August, The Anchor and Top Arthur – all of which should be over 40lb, but more importantly, are really stonkinglooking carp.
So moving on from where we left off last month – I’d just been fortunate enough to have landed the incredible Box Mirror and then my next trip was after work on a Tuesday evening in mid-september. I had the unexpected bonus of the following day off work too, so a rare two-nighter was on the cards. Conditions were spot on too, a big warm southerly was puffing down the lake and, sure enough, a few fish were doing what carp should do for a change and showing on the wind. The Pallets swim would have been favourite, but was taken. Next up was either Margaret’s or Churchill’s on the opposite bank. In the end, I chose Margaret’s to start with, on the basis that there seemed to be a bit more activity here and unusually there were no other anglers present on that bank.
The swim is pretty straightforward to fish as it has two islands – one large, one small – stretching out in front at about 30-yards, with a four-yard gap in between. I spaced my three rods along their margins, where it was around 4-foot deep and relatively clear of weed. All were as usual on Mainline Cell bottom baits, straight from the bag, with a scattering of the same along the entire length of the islands. It was as simple as that. Like usual, a few of the late overnight crew turned up. Jack and Dom were amongst them and they settled in further up on my bank. A couple more filled in the gaps on the other side but it still was not as busy as usual, with seven anglers on the five acres. During the evening a few fish continued to show in front of me, so it was no surprise when the left-hand rod rattled off just before dark, resulting in a cracking, dark and chunky mirror. It was almost inky purple in colour and weighed 29lb 12oz, not a bad way to start off. Although I did have a couple of liners and actually heard a good few sploshing about out in front of me too, it wasn’t until just before first light that the very same rod was away again. This one gave me a right old tussle
too, weeding me up several times in the thick beds of milfoil and eel grass that existed between my swim and the islands. I always use strong tackle though on these weedy waters, making sure I drop the lead and play fish fairly hard. It seems to work for me because I hardly lose any, or need the boat. I suppose it’s all about having confidence in every item of your tackle...
Anyhow, after the tense battle, yet another dark mirror lay in the folds of the net. It was longer and considerably larger than the first; something though was troubling me and it was only when lifting it onto the mat and opening the mesh that I began to recognise the shape of the dorsal fin and the three scales on the left flank... In a single moment all the feelings of joy, elation and achievement drained away, which was a shame, as it is such a fabulous and much sought after fish, but sadly it was one I’d caught in May and didn’t need to catch again. I immediately apologised to the magnificent creature we call Three Cs and slipped it back. In my mind there was certainly no need to put the poor fish through the discomfort of another weight check or indeed any more pictures as I’d got some great shots from our first meeting. I know some guys feel differently and continue photographing the same fish over and over, gathering slightly different weights along the way and that’s up to the individual... but for me once is enough.
I do know and accept however, there is very little we can do about repeat captures, especially when you consider that for the most part of our angling life we cannot actually see our quarry and so in effect are fishing blind . The only certain way to avoid recaptures is to move on to a different venue, but – and this is the difficult bit – when exactly is that? So far on this venue I’ve been ticking them off my list, one by one, and this fish was the first that I’d doubled up on – but I do know from experience that sadly the odds on it happening again are inevitably becoming greater. Whilst mulling over this latest dilemma with another brew, I was away again, on the same rod, the left-hander, which, in truth, hadn’t been back out there long at all. After a short, protracted scrap, I netted another mirror, smaller than the first two but still a magnificent looking creature (I think you’ll agree). It was a wonderful, dark chestnut colour, deep-bodied, and with huge moon-scales on its left shoulder. In that moment, staring at my prize, I realised that I’d still got a fair bit of work to do on this fantastic venue and so felt much more at ease and optimistic about my fishing there.
It seems that no sooner does one overnight crew member depart for work, than another turns up on this busy little venue, where none of the favoured swims stay empty for very long at all. With this thought in mind I wound in and spent a while looking around and weighing up my options. I eventually concluded that I was probably better off staying put. Bearing in
mind I’d already had three carp, I felt it would be a bit silly to move just for the sake of it. Besides it still looked good for a bite. True the wind had died off a bit, but there was still the odd fish or two about and to be fair nowhere else looked to be a better bet. As the afternoon wore on more anglers turned up until it looked very much like a full house. In fact Wes and Perry were lucky to bag the last two swims on the pond. To be honest, I didn’t like the look of it at all and definitely wasn’t feeling it – leads were being cast and bait fired in all over the place, so much so, that if it had been a bit earlier in the day, I just might have packed up and gone home. Just before dark though and much to my amazement, I was away again. This time it was the middle rod but, unfortunately, the fish somehow shed the hook after less than a minute. Hook pulls are occasionally going to happen – we obviously don’t like it, but have to accept that it is the nature of the beast, especially so when you consider it was the first one I’d suffered this season.
I’m always knackered when I do a second night and tonight was no exception. After a couple of beers and a belly full of grub, I was struggling to keep my eyes open much after 9pm and retired shortly thereafter. I must have slept like a log because after an uneventful night, for me anyhow, I was informed that sometime around midnight Wes, who was only two swims up, had caught Satan’s Linear – the most sought after fish in the pond and I hadn’t heard a thing... Realising the significance of the capture, I wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth and popped straight round there. Obviously Wes was still buzzing (who wouldn’t be) with the fish of a lifetime. Last time it was out was 13 months earlier when it weighed 41lb, and now it weighed a staggering 46lb 12oz – caught on one of the busiest nights too, what an amazing result! I loved listening to the whole story and congratulated Wes, he’s worked extremely hard at his angling this year, often arriving late and then leaving before six in the morning for work and deserves every bit of good fortune that comes his way.
My only slight sadness was that I hadn’t actually seen the fish on the bank yet as I’d slept soundly through the whole episode. Then, all too soon, it was time to go, but I was more than pleased with my tally of three carp. I was pleased too for Wes, but more specifically than that, pleased that Satan’s Linear was very much alive and well after so long on the missing list... fingers crossed, we’ll meet up someday.
During the next week I’d got too much on at work to do any more than one overnighter and although I’d have dearly loved to get back up to the Tip Lake, it was a bit too far for a quick
one, especially as I needed to be on site at 7.30am. The Stour Lake, my other syndicate water, is only five miles from home and so fitted the bill perfectly. I hadn’t fished there for at least five weeks either but knew from their website that it had been fishing quite well. Here too I found it was quite busy, most of the swims I sort of fancied were taken and with little time to look around I took a bit of a gamble and decided to drop into the top bay which I’m glad to say has always been kind to me in the past. Without too much faff, I got three baits out on my favourite spots and with a scattering of boilies around each one, I sat (chuffed with my efforts) and opened a tin of Speckled Hen and slipped back in my low chair to take in the sheer beauty of the sun coming to rest in the heart of the Stour.
‘Ah, how wonderful it was, and how lucky I am to be here’ – I was thinking to myself, relaxing in the last rays of autumn sunshine in the most fabulous setting doing my favourite thing (after a hard day’s graft), when, without warning, the righthand rod burst into life. Startled from my utopia and realising I had a take and was fishing close to the snags, I piled on the pressure as a furious carp kited left towards the cover. The 30lb braid won the day though and soon enough I managed to slide it into the net, just at the moment my old buddy, Simon, walked down the bank. It wasn’t a huge fish, at low 20s, but, when they look and shine like this cracking half-linear it really doesn’t matter. It certainly made me smile! As the sun rose in the morning mist, I even managed another – this one a full ziplinear, which was almost Dinton-esque and although slightly smaller than the first, definitely one for the future...
All in all, I really enjoyed being back on the Stour, it would have been hard not to. Not forgetting the luxury of not having to pack and go until 7am, meaning I was easily back at work on the rooftops before eight. Happy days, indeed.
My other two trips were both to the Tip Lake. One I’ll keep (very) brief as it was one of my first blanks in ages, and it was a two-nighter! I moved around a few times as well, all to no avail, though to be fair, the lake has slowed up a lot of late and there was only one fish caught – that being a 34-pounder to my mate, Richard. But for me it just wasn’t to be and let’s get real for a moment, it wouldn’t be called fishing if we caught every time. The next trip was another rarity for me, involving two nights, giving me double the chance at what I thought was bite time! A quick lap of the venue didn’t tell me much other than it was relatively quiet and there were the odd little signs of fish almost everywhere – but nowhere really screamed out as a better prospect than anywhere else. I walked to the van pondering my choices and stood in Margaret’s for a moment and lit a smoke. As I leant against a tree trunk I noticed a few little patches of bubbles, moving steadily along the island margin. Two minutes later a good-sized fish poked its head and broad dark shoulders out and rolled over. This would do for starters, I thought, whilst trying to stay calm and not run down the path to the van. I’d fished the swim a fortnight earlier, so luckily knew my spots
– good job too, as they can prove difficult to find on a venue as weedy as this one. Anyhow, just one cast, or rather an underarm flick, was all that was needed on two of my rods and two on the other. A few freebies scattered in a line along the islands margin and I was fishing! Less than an hour later and I was on the scoreboard with an absolute chunk of a mirror, weighing 32lb 12oz. This was an encouraging start I thought to myself.
Apart from the fact that I’d had a lovely common weighing around the low twenties at first light, it had all gone very quiet soon after dark. Despite sitting up ’til late, both looking and listening, I’d not heard any fish in my area at all. I did however think that I’d heard a few fish crash out on the other bank, almost opposite – in, or around, a swim called Churchill’s. As soon as it was light enough to take a few snaps of the common, I loaded and pushed around in that general direction. Once in the aforementioned swim itself, it soon became apparent that there were indeed a few fish around and I’d been right to move. Here again I knew the spots, so was able to put the rods out with as little fuss as is humanly possible. I’m sure that it still spooked them off though. Possibly they’d been there, feeding all night, in peace and just weren’t in the mood to be fished for. Whatever the reason, they just didn’t come back like I thought or hoped they might, resulting in a disappointingly uneventful night. Seems mad but it happens more often than I care to think – I catch on the first night and think its game, only to struggle for the rest of the trip.
The latest news is that I’ve joined forces with and looking forward to working alongside those excellent chaps at Ridgemonkey.
All that’s left to do now, is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and tight lines... Mr F.
LEFT Margaret’s – It’s been a productive pitch for me of late
ABOVE Almost inky-black in colour
BELOW Wes had a fantastic result – it’s not my story to spoil though
LEFT It had huge, moon-like scales
LEFT An absolute chunk at 32lb 8oz
ABOVE It was almost Dinton-esque. One for the future
LEFT Back on the rooftops and busy at work