The F-word

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Paul For­ward

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

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