Now then, what a journey these past few weeks have been in my life. Emotions leaving me feeling as low as I have ever felt in my life, but fortunately periods of total joy too. I have always been a big believer in Karma and Karma appears to have stepped in a couple of times along the way.
I guess I should start my tale of woe with a visit to the garage with my Land Rover. What I thought was only going to be a minor job ended up costing me £3,500.00 to get it back on the road. Now I certainly was not expecting that. The garage wouldn’t let me drive off in my Land Rover, so I had to borrow an Astra Van off the forecourt in order to be able to empty my Land Rover of the fishing tackle that I thought I was going to be using on my way home. It was a Thursday, so I arranged to keep hold of the van until the Monday so that I could fish the week-end. It certainly seemed strange being a white van man again after around 25 years of driving various Land Rovers as my main vehicle.
The carp gods must have taken pity on me that weekend trip after the shock at the garage and my paste covered hook baits appeared to be just what the carp wanted. I was fishing a chewed up Spicy Spirulina on the hair with two 15 mm’s PVA’d plus a single Magnum White PVA’d as well (a decoy sight bob). This little cluster of bait allowed me to slow the descent of the lead into the silt I was fishing. This was important as I was using The PB Product’s Hit and Run system on a couple of the rods, so I didn’t want things clogging in the silt, so I had intentionally incorporated a mini parachute scenario to slow the decent.
I landed 5 carp that first night with a lovely brace of commons going 32.00 and 29.12.
The second night I had more action, the largest being a 27.12 mirror. It felt so good after the shock Land Rover bill estimate in the week and that night at home I took out a few bits from the van, but foolishly left a big chunk of my gear in there as my house was a little over run from the bits that tend to live in my Land Rover. You know the general clutter of spare clothes, shopping bags, small brolly and all the other emergency bits that you never seem to need.
Monday morning I woke with a contented grin remembering the great session I’d had over the week-end. I swung my feet out of bed and got dressed for my usual head clearing pre-work, field, wood and hill walk.
A quick cup of tea and out the door only to see the tail gate of the van wide open, I stared into a practically empty van. I’d been robbed of almost all of my week-end fishing kit. The cooking gear, cameras, the lot, I felt totally numb. Fortunately my diaries and electrical bits that needed recharging had come indoors with me – sadly not my cameras so the film footage and stills of my fish over the weekend were gone other than some shots on my mobile phone.
I was off to France at the end of the week on a fly in where you only take reels, alarms, sleeping bag and terminal tackle. Good job it was not a normal drive and survive as I would never have been able to get enough kit back together in time.
The week was spent ordering terminal tackle and other essentials I would need to simply get back out on the bank again. My terminal tackle never turned up until the day before I was due to fly, so I was off to France with no rigs tied up at all.
I wrote about that trip here so won’t include it again now...
We had a great break and the three of us for varying reasons really needed that. With lots of time to chill and unwind, I don’t think I have ever spent so much time with my rods wound in on a fishing trip, I was simply content to be there enjoying the company.
So, October began with frosts and floods around my home turf. Not a great combination really and the angling seemed tough. Particularly so for me as I was still discovering the essential bits I'd had stolen and not remembered until I actually needed them. I really did feel as though I was fishing at half cock, surrounded by a mixture of brand new gear as well as old gear I had resurrected in order to simply get out. I wasn’t fishing to my best and my mind seemed more focussed on making lists of things I still needed to replace. This had become another issue as I’d had over £10,000.00 worth of gear stolen only to find out the insurance company would only pay out a maximum £1,000.00 as the tackle had been in the van parked on my property. I had not read the small print closely enough. So, with the £3,500.00 Land Rover bill and now a £9,000.00 chunk not insured (well, I thought it was – check your policies) I was going to have to think carefully about what I was actually going to replace as the money was slipping out of the account far faster than I was happy about.
First session of the month saw me hook into a big fish that managed its way over a bar and left my line sliced on the dreaded zebra mussels. Life certainly still didn’t seem fair, two nights in, only to go and lose my chance. Not a lot I could have done to be fair, I was using my usual robust P-Line Extrusion. That session came to an abrupt end after a phone giving me the tragic news of an accident of someone I had known for around 40 years. I was numb. I just couldn’t focus at all.
Second session of the month and one chance and one fish, this one like the lost fish the week before was on a paste wrap made up with a combination of pastes. This is something I have been playing around a little with this year, different pastes giving off different signals at the same time. Results have been interesting. The fish was one of the new stock that are doing well. Not a monster, but very welcome never the less and it had fought like a fish twice its size.
The water levels have remained high and the usual swim areas have all been underwater which has meant a lot of squelching around on water sodden banks, lots of bivvy condensation (I really should put a ground sheet down) and a paddle required in order to get to the edge of the lake.
Third weekend of the month and I was back again. The two rods on Spicy Spirulina and one on Magnum white had changed to two on the Magnums and one on the Spirulina although I was still playing with the paste wraps as well.
Saturday had been very quiet, so I shuffled the rods a little. There had only been the odd show but Sunday morning I spotted a large fish show out on one of my areas I had wound a rod in from the previous evening. The fish that had shown was certainly of a size to warrant action from my part. So it was on with the wellies, paddle out to the rods, fresh hook bait which for some reason I decided would be a double Pimple Pop with a small paste wrap leaving the top Pimple Pop visible. This was cast back to where I’d been fishing the day before. If there was no bait left then at least I had something visual there and of a size they don’t usually associate with danger. With the sighting of the big fish, I certainly didn’t want to be Spombing over the top of it.
First cast landed perfect and the lead hardly seemed to make a splash. Kettle on and I sat with my eyes glued to the spot. Was I still over bait or was I fishing a single which would slowly be changing in appearance. A couple more shows in the area so I had got away without spooking them and suddenly I was away. The moment I bent into the fish I knew I was into one of ‘The Special Ones’. My Free Spirit 13 ft Hi ‘S’ ive (my favourite rods for the venue my 12’ 6” 3.25’s had been stolen) was wrapped around and I must admit to being pleasantly reminded just how nice these casting rods actually are for playing fish. I have used the lighter 12 ½’ - 3 ¼’s for almost all of my carping these past few years so it was a case of being pushed into using the 13’s, but also nice to be using them again.
The fish went on a real long kite and when everything tightened properly I was struggling to keep up back winding the old SS3000. I try and avoid putting too much twist in the line playing them on the clutch these days, preferring to backwind.
The fight went on and on and in the end due to an old injury, I had to start using the clutch. I cut the flesh off my elbow at the turn of the century and after all the stitches internal and external to hold things back in place, I lose the feeling of my right arm and hand after a prolonged fight, so can’t be sure what pressure I’m applying. I ease the numbness by holding the rod in my left hand and shaking blood back into my right, but obviously this isn’t always possible and this fish was fighting so ferociously that I was having little plodding around rest time to be able to do this.
Eventually the fish appeared in the waves, I could see it was special and my heart really was in my mouth edging it those last few metres to the net. Finally, lady luck smiled again and in the net it went on my first attempt.
Glancing in at my capture I instantly thought ‘Karma’ and I knew I possibly had a very nice problem on my hands. Although I had managed to scrape enough gear together to actually fish again, one thing I had not yet replaced was my scales. Back in the day, we all used Avon Scales and originally these only weighed up to 32 lb (they later made a 40 lb version) so I carried in the car a Hardy Brass balance that weighed up to 44 lb. I was proud in the 80’s to have had to make the walk back to my motor for these at a time when no-one else on a very busy lake had scales large enough to weigh the fish I had landed. Anyway, that is another story for another day. The two sets of scales I mentioned were the two sets of scales I had with me now as a make do. I certainly knew it was going to be pointless even getting the Avon’s out, so grabbed the tube containing the hardy brass balance, unwrapped them from their protective cloth and zeroed them to my sling. Finally after letting my capture rest in the net after its amazing fight, it was a paddle back to the edge and ashore with the fish. The hook was nailed but popped out easily. Now for the moment of truth and yes, I did have a problem, my 44 lb scales bottomed out!
The fish was secured back in the margins in the weigh sling/retainer whilst I wound my other two rods in and made my way along the bank to see if I could borrow some scales. Although I have caught several commons larger than this one overseas, this was definitely a new English P.B. common for me and I certainly wanted to know the weight on this one.
Fortunately Joe Chawner was two swims away from me, so it was off for a quick visit allowing me to announce upon walking into his swim, that I had a really nice problem and could I borrow his scales?
Another member was talking to him after having packed up earlier, so he kindly came back with me to assist with some pictures.
Usually I prefer to zero the scales to the sling first, but this wasn’t possible as the fish was already in my sling. So it was going to be a case of starting at zero, then taking the weight of the sling off afterwards. I held the scales and left my helper to read the weight. 50 lb 8 oz!
Photos were quickly taken on my mobile and a few self takes on my old EOS. Sadly my 2 video cameras had been stolen so no live footage of this magnificent fish. Soon it was returned and I was left to weigh the sling. 4 lb 8 oz which left me with a new U.K. P.B. common of 46 lb and after the past few weeks I’d had, which had also seen a couple of tragic accidents that I have not wanted to write about, I was finally able to smile again in my moment of personal satisfaction.
Winter has now well and truly set in. I love my winter carping, I wonder what sort of a winter this one will be?