Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Opportunity Knocks

"Luck is being ready for the chance."

The Intrepid Piscator I have travelled many meandering pathways in this fishing life, some have lead to disaster and pain, but most have taken me to places and situations that will be forever etched in my memory as times of joy,elation...almost on a spiritual level. Only those of you that live this piscatorial life, will ever really understand this. Here follows a tale of chance & opportunism culminating in one of those truly sublime moments.

The weather has taken a turn for the better and on Saturday I'd offered to take the lad from the shop, Dan, to a local lake on Monday night. He would fish for Catfish, myself for Tench.

The couple of days rolled round quickly and on Monday morning I phoned a friend who was fishing the lake.."There's a few on here mate", he said. I thought for a while, then decided to switch to my regular (quieter) venue which also contains both species.

Having notified Dan of the change of plans I received a message saying he was unable to make it, apparently he had an exam the next morning, so a good nights sleep was in order. For a moment, with me being flu'ed up, I wondered wether to go anyway or stay in a warm bed.

Just an hour after leaving work I found myself by the lake in a swim that had been neglected for a while. I knew it had a marginal shelf and it was an area I'd been baiting since Winter time. "Ripe for a big Tench", I thought.

The only other fisher was one Carp angler who goes by the legendary name of "Shakey" Lee.

I set both my 1.75 test rods with method fished mini-boilies over a concoction of Green groundbait, red maggot, betaine pellet and various particles down the marginal shelf.

Sitting back, I enjoyed the entertainment of an Artic Tern dropping and re-catching a fish that was clearly too heavy to fly with.

I thought to myself that on Saturday I'd agreed to be sitting somewhere completely different at this time but felt happy with the choice; especially when across the lake a large Carp boshed clean out of the water.

The light faded and air became cool,quiet in that transient world between day and night, I zipped myself into my sleeping bag and soon drifted into sleep, peace...tranquility.

'Da dat daaa da dat', wide awake I stared at the bobbin of my left rod, bouncing, like a luminous yo-yo...I real resistance...7lb Bream. I rebaited, re-cast. An hour later 'Da dat daaaa da dat' from the other rod...I real resistance...7lb Bream. I decided to re-cast but not to introduce more free offerings. Sleep, peace...tranquility.

At about 4am...'Da dat daaa da dat' I struck...MASSIVE resistance...snap...see you later...Carp? I'd made the error of expecting the expected, that isn't what happens in angling though, I should've known better..However,this was a valuable lesson.

At about 6.30am in half slumber 'Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa' the proverbial single toner, left hand rod tip waving like a tank aerial. I'd re-set the clutches and struck very softly, this was returned with solid resistance and the clutch sang as line flew from the spool. The fish just tore into open water and I was happy to just let it carry on, very quickly I realised that this was no Bream or Tench and I feared for my relatively light Rods and line. Around ten minutes later , this unseen beasty kited left along the margins and I had to lean out over the waters edge with rod at arms length. I had to try to stop it. I winced as I tightened slightly and gave it a small amount of turned..and headed at full tilt straight towards me. Reeling in the slack as quickly as possible I gained line and the fish was in front about three rod lengths out. Great boils came to the surface as much water was displaced," Catfish?" I pondered.

Off it went again to the left and again I had to exert pressure. The fish turned and then something happened which both scared and excited me. The fish came rapidly along the clear margins and for the first time, I sighted her. "Bloody Hell, thats a 30+ Carp" chugging off now to the right. Around twenty minutes into the fight I finally began to think that 1) My size 10 hook wasn't coming out...and 2) I had a modicom of control and I might just land it.

I was worried that I may spook the fish with the net so got on my knees amongst the rushes. After a few more minutes of spirited scrapping she came around in an arc up the marginal shelf and swam straight into the waiting net..I fell in a heap on the floor trembling with adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Looking down at this majestic creature I saw something I recognised. This was a fish I knew well. It is unfortunately missing the lower lobe of its tail due to neglect from an idiot angler some five years ago (he is now banned for life from many of the countries top waters). It has been given the unoriginal name (I hate names for fish) of "Cut Tail" and is the biggest Carp in the lake. I phoned "Shakey" who arrived in my swim in double-quick time and duly took care of all weighing and photographic duties as I gazed in awe at the mass before me. A truly wonderful fish that despite its injury is thriving and healthy. It was an honour to hold her in my arms for a few fleeting seconds..It was an even greater feeling after resting her a while to see her swim strongly away, a bit wiser and forever to be there in my memory...The weight....40lb 3oz.

As I think back now about this capture two things strike me..The first is the chain of events, decisions and enthusiasm that lead me to be at the lake at that time. They were a mixture of chance and knowledge. The two things all anglers need.
The second thing that strikes me is just how responsible we all are for the welfare of these fantastic creatures that give us so much pleasure .


  1. Fascinating story, fantastic fish. Congratulations.

  2. Thank you sir. I won't forget this one in a hurry.

  3. That is brilliant, the fish of a lifetime. Well done.

  4. Thank you Dave. I nearly took the Chapman 500 out that night. I wonder if it would've been up to the task.

  5. You must be feelin' creamy with that lunker Gurn. Time for a country slice methinks.

  6. Haha any time is a good time for a Country Slice Stu.

  7. Big well done fella, enjoy the moment mate.
    This is why we enjoy what we do and all that goes with it, top angling son.

  8. Cheers boy,you can't beat the feelin'.

  9. What a lovely read Gurn. Thanks.

    Nobby Clark.

  10. Thanks Nobby, your comments are always welcome and appreciated.