On the basis of the last few weeks result I have been defecated on by a bird (isn’t that supposed to be lucky) as I have enjoyed a fairly unprecedented golden spell in my angling. It’s almost impossible to say why my lucks changed, it’s true to say I have done an LOT of fishing just of late and time is arguably the single most useful commodity there is for an out and out ‘know nothing noddy’ like me, but looking back pragmatically I would say I’ve just been making good decisions. I’m certainly not transforming into a better angler… I wish! It’s nothing more spectacular than keeping my eyes peeled and reacting to the opportunities that present themselves on a plate.
This merry turn of angling events started with a ridiculous 24 hours on my cherished Club lake. 22 fish in 24 hours was more than I caught in the first year I fished hard on there a decade and a half ago. The lakes changed in that time, with a good number of new fish and a few more carp (the future) but the catch included the ancient big’un and several other highly cherished originals. It just goes to show that every dog has its day.
After that, a slightly belated return to Welly after the lake was closed for a few weeks (as the fish had shown signs of spawning) saw me turn up to a surprisingly quiet lake on Friday after work. I had a good look around and ended up in a nice open water swim called the Grassy after seeing a fish show in front of ‘Stumpy’ in the Hole in the Bush swim and out in front of the corner in front of the Grassy.
With Chewy Special hookbaits on Ronnie Rigs positioned tight to the canopy I put in a kilo or two of of 20mm’er boilies out and settled in for a night. 1 cast each rod, hitting the clip and landing sweet. That’ll do. I was having to leave early as the wife really was suffering after a little operation and was elated when I had a bite at dawn form a gorgeous 43lb mirror. I quickly got the rod back out as Liam pushed his gear in behind the swim and as I packed everything away the rod in the alcove pulled up tight and I had the immense pleasure of going home wet and with another mid twenty common under my proverbial belt.
I hadn’t told anyone, but at the time I had seen fish showing just past the corner of the island in the water of Boathouse point and when I got back Sunday night to do a ‘work night’ I looked around and plumped for the Boathouse option. Chewy Specials, Ronnie Rigs and a scattering of delicious 20mm’ers were deposited out in the zone and I went to bed shattered but hopeful (I may have done the Saturday night at Frimley too), I was woken in the early hours by a flyer and soon cajoled a nice mid twenty mirror in to the net.
God I was shattered and took an impromptu day’s annual leave sleeping all morning… Bliss!
During the early afternoon I had a little lead about (did I mention the fish that jumped when I was playing the mirror the previous night?) and I found a nice smooth spot just about where an absolute beast had lolloped out.
I went home during the afternoon and did some essential wife maintenance duties; looking after the amazingly patient Tracy (TLSW) and getting back to the rods after she was comfy, fed and watered. The rods went back out absolutely spot on first time, with hardly any nose as the well feathered cast went in as quietly as a 2 ounce lead can ever go in, over the top of a scattering of 14mm Carp Co XTC boilies and Tigers (cooked in Mr Willmott’s magic elixir that is Thaumatin-B). As they were all wrapped up with new rigs all I had needed to do was tie hook baits on. Lovely and easy…
I’d just got the second rod out (a whole 3 minutes after getting back into the swim) when my phone rang and it was the lovely Ken Steel just ringing to have a natter. The first rod’s limp line started pulling tight so I hastily said ‘cheerio’ and picked the rod up! A bite so quickly in the early evening was really unusual and after a few minutes a big humped common scaled back came out eth water and I knew what was on the end. A recapture of the Big Common at just over 51 ½ was astonishing! I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t rather have caught a new one – but it’s not every day you catch a UK 50!
After that night I found myself at a bit of a loose end (as I had to be off the lake for 4 days, timed out again).
I’d been ‘dabbling’ on Pit 4 at Frimley for about 18 years, ever since my old mate Nige Sharp introduced me to the venue. It’s got a brilliant stock of fish now that actually average over 30lb, and the resident big fish (the Queen of the lake) has always been a glorious big common called ‘Tatty Tail’. A few more have pushed through now ‘Tatty’ was always ‘the daddy’ and is a carp I have always hoped to catch but never realistically thought I would.
A few weeks before Mark (the larger than life complex owner) offered me a ticket that I snapped up! So I decided to use my ticket and have a dabble having done a few nights and lost one thank to Cat Dick’s cracked off line; you bloody noddy Matt!
You could quite rightly say that I had a bee in my proverbial bonnet about balancing the books. Consequently, I decided to do Thursday night (a work night) on there and spent a while walking around just looking about. Luckily, just as I was back tracking having barrowed round a large portion of the lake, one showed in front of a little gap swim I love. After looking for a bit longer it was apparent that they were rolling on a specific spot about 50 yards out, with an occasional carp fizzing in an area that lined up with the lakes single island off in the distance.
It’s normally really weedy where they were showing but this year lake bed seemed to be flat and firm, with a thin layer of algae across the lake bed (what they were browsing in for naturals presumably). I swapped over spools, changing over to Mirage Fluorocarbon, as I was now confident the line would be right down laying out the way as there weren’t any prominent bands of weed that could hold the line up where it would look way too obvious.
I swapped the rigs around too, clipping hinged stiff rigs onto the size 12 Covert Kwik Lok Flexi Rings that I use all the time. They were tied ‘Metal Micky’ style with a Flexi-Ring Swivel and a longer than normal soft Ultra Skin boom section. I figured that the soft skinned boom would be more likely to settle down and lie nicely amongst the filamentous weed/algae. As they were all over the area I put in little 1 ounce leads and flicked them out just about as far as the arrangement would let me into a nice Northerly headwind, watching the line to decipher whether they had a nice drop or not. They went out really nicely (again) and they continued fizzing and rolling afterwards, so I was really confident.
Unfortunately, I awoke the next morning and got tidied up ready to go to Gardner HQ having only had a couple of subtle liners. As I had fished with singles I decided to scatter bait with just over a Kilo of 16mm Carp Co ‘XTC’ boilies as I left for work as I had an inkling that I would be back later after work (cough). After all, they had been showing in front of me in the early hours and one had even had the damned audacity to show whilst I was baiting up, it had to be worth it! I was so excited.
Luckily, the Frimley Pits are kind of on my way home from work, so I stopped off to have a look and found that there were quite a few anglers on. Luckily the only swim on that whole bank that was free was the swim I‘d baited and fished fish the night before! I asked the lad next door (nice young man called Lawrence) if they had shown in the day and he confirmed that the odd one had still been seen over the same spot, so I was straight in there. I quickly set up and then I popped home to get essential provisions (fresh bait and whatever food I could find so I didn’t have to stop at a food shop).
Upon my return I flicked out the 1 ounce leads again, straight back into the same zone, exactly where the fish activity was really focused and felt the tiny leads down with a very feint thump. That’ll do.
The shows went quiet for a while but a couple of hours later the fizzing was back and the odd show started up again.
I woke early and saw several fish turn over near the hookbaits and after a couple of hours I went back to bed as all these nights had left me feeling knackered (again) only to wake up to a whizzer at just gone 9.
I slipped into the chest waders and stood in the water playing a fish that looked like a nice sized common, visible in the clear water as it fought down to the right along the tree line. It wasn’t until the fish succumbed to the gentle pressure, and her back bobbed up that I gained any idea of scale and was surprised to see a ‘Welly back’; it was thickset and looking surprisingly BIG! A couple of moments later I scooped her into the net after wobbling her over the cord!
As I looked down at first I thought she may be the incredible and elusive and amazing ‘Chestie’, but when I weighed her in at 44lb I guessed my initial ID’ing was hopelessly wrong. Irrespective, this was utterly monumental!
H.R.H Sharpie answered his mobile phone and after I’d described the fish’s tail he told me it was ‘Tatty’ herself. I asked him to pop down to do the photos, as I was keen to have my old mate there for sentimental and practical reasons. Even the Frimley Pits boss man Mark Fisher popped in to make sure everything was good and to give me a cuddle (no bodily fluids exchanged though).
To say I was pleased with this capture (and the whole run up to Tatty) would be a massive understatement! I’ve always wanted to catch her ever since I photographed her at 39lb+ for Nige years ago and long before that too.
She was the lakes first 30! And she’s gone on to be the big’un ever since. Lady luck was certainly smiling on me that day; let’s hope it continues for a little while longer. After all, there’s ’owt wrong with being a bit LUCKY.
P.s. Finally, can I take this opportunity to thank TLSW (the long suffering wife) for letting me fish like an obsessed lunatic through this period of time, as I type this short story I have just done 12 of the last 15 nights so I realise the boundaries have been pushed and I’m eternally grateful that she lets me crack on with a mega hit of angling once in a while. Tracy Read, you really are a top chick!