What a rollercoaster of a year!

I did an awful lot of angling this year and not just at that wonderful park lake. That side of my angling has been pretty well documented already – so I’m not going to write about park life as that story is already scribbled elsewhere.

During the summer I also fell in love (again) with a very special hand dug pit in the Colne valley. It really is like a little slice of heaven dropped into the Hertfordshire country side. The club/committee has done a wonderful job in the last few years of improving and enhancing the swims making them much more comfortable than their previous ‘days only’ incarnation. The younger fish had been doing well and the occasional highly prized original was still coming out – so you never know exactly what is left. Consequently it’s still a hugely exciting place to angle.

Instead of the normal three nights a week I found myself gravitating towards the Colne Valley more and more – the fishing was excellent and it was truly refreshing to fish a lake with such a plethora of features. Quite simply it’s PARADISE. Huge weeping willows adorn the banks and the increased numbers meant that the fishing was prolific compared with when I first joined a decade and a half ago (how time flies). Essentially it’s like a new lake now.

Not knowing whether the next bite would be a gnarly old original or a spritely younger fish meant I couldn’t get enough. I had long dreamt of a very special fish called Tyson. The last time I had seen it was when I angled with my good mate ‘Jabber Jabberson’ at the back end of the season about 4 years previously – but it had disappeared and was feared long gone. Nevertheless, there could still be other big originals hiding away (or less willing to fall for our crude traps) – but where there’s hope…

One weekend, mid-summer, I found myself fishing in the middle of a chain of Islands that run from the shallows to the start of the heavily featured middle section of the lake – with only a couple of other anglers about. It was comfortably warm (if you know what I mean) and a light southerly blew up the lake into the area where I’d seen a fish or two whilst strolling and looking earlier.

Another angler was positioned at the northern end of the islands and later that evening I heard his buzzer sound. A short while later, out the blue, I got a message from a local friend asking ‘am I on the lake?”… Now that’s no coincidence I thought.

It transpired THE history fish had made a miraculous appearance and my ultra-cult super secret squirrel friend wandered round when he had taken the photos to show me the pics and ask me to confirm its identity. There was no doubt about the fishes identity and we chatted excitedly. It had been on the missing list for 2 years but she was alive (looking ancient and crusty’ but alive!) and the lucky angler was over the moon – his number one ambition on the lake done and dusted in amazingly one fortuitous bite. Superb – well done Sam!

The very next week I was back (after completing my compliment again at the park) and I was buzzing with anticipation. I walked the banks and settled on the middle section fishing to a lovely area at 70 yards created by a dip on the main (savage) central bar – and one flicked down to a large marginal tree that hung over the water 20 yards to my left. I rigged up with a small 1 ounce lead, as I’ve found that bites tend to be gentle wrap ‘arounds’ rather than brutal explosive takes when fishing like this against significant features like the tree in this scenario…

It’s a tiny swim and in close proximity to the left hand spot so I put up my knackered 50 inch brolly and tucked myself away. A couple of tench on the right hand rod livened up proceedings in the early part of night – as they homed in on the dusted up Caviar and Cranberry boilies I’d spodded out to that area.

Then – right on dawn the locked up left hand rod wrapped round and the Mirage pulled bowstring taught as a fish pulled hard for the tree and freedom. A locked clutch and supporting sticks positioned to retain the rod held firm and kept the boilie thief away from the wood work. As I picked the rod up the fish kited out and then powered off.


Off he went, over one bar with a big tail slap – then another 20 yards further – and then the same again. The fish just carried on going and going surging powerfully until she had travelled past the right hand rod and kited right across the less featured area in front of The Willow swim. My mind didn’t quite compute the distance she had gone until the powerful initial run had finished and I found myself leading a slow plodding fish back up the right hand margin (clever one this – knew all the tricks in the trade).

A nice fish gurgled just out of reach of the net, but with a gentle tease I got her over the net cord and the job was a good’un. In the clear water I could see immediately that I had miraculously snared Tyson – and quite frankly I went into complete melt down!

Looking after her and getting her back safely were a high priority as ever and I leant over to pop the hook out whilst she was still in the water. The super reliable size 6 Incizor was never coming out in a month of Sundays, embedded in that thick rubbery bottom lip. As good a hook hold as I had ever seen, it was absolutely rock solid.

Sometimes even an unattainable angling dream can come true and in the course of a week I had gone from thinking the fish was long gone to having her finally in my temporary care. To cradle Colne Valley royalty like this fish was awe inspiring on so many levels. I was relieved to see she was in A1 condition with beautiful buttery bronze flanks and that pronounced dark cleft on the crease between her cheeks and gill plates. So what if she was 10lb down on her peak a few years ago! She was blemish free and her mouth was still good. Sometimes it’s an absolute honour to hold a carp like this – a fish older than I am, that’s seen it all over the years and been fished for by anglers I still hold in total awe today.

Was it singularly the highlight of a fantastic year?

Well the spectacular fish in the Park are another league, but this one capture thrilled me as much as any of the monsters that I’d been fortunate to catch earlier in the year. Irrespective of the different venues I personally rate this fish as high as any capture and will certainly be one of the most enduring memories of a magical, exciting, awesome 2015 season chasing dreams….