I was annoyed as well as disappointed. The swim would be well and truly spooked and it was time to go. Just on the slightest off chance that one or two were still about I put on a fresh rig and despondently recast. I may as well have a rig in the water for twenty minutes or so whilst I packed up. Bar the net, rods and bank sticks everything was on the barrow. One last look from the tree and I was going, deflated and defeated. Incredibly there were two big carp, heads down on the spot. I couldn’t believe they hadn’t all scarpered. I can only imagine that I’d hooked one of the others whilst these two weren’t about and were unaware that one of their brethren had sprung the trap.
I watched as they rose in the water, drifted into the margin and meandered slowly towards the corner. They neared the repositioned rod and stopped right over the rig. One second my bright white pop-up was visible – the next it had disappeared beneath a fat carp. “I’d better get down sharpish.” I thought but, before I could react, I saw the big one flank as it hooked itself and then a huge plume of silt appeared. Whilst scampering downwards I could hear the alarm and see the tip bent right over as the fish pulled against the tight, unyielding clutch. I panicked when it came to swapping feet on the tiny bump and sort of half fell, half jumped to the ground and onto my arse in the bushes!
Although things seemed in slow motion and I couldn’t get there quick enough, in reality it was only a few seconds before I had the rod in my hand. The fish hadn’t moved far but that was about to change. I’d been warned that they fought hard here however I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. It powered out into open water at speed and no amount of clamping down had any effect on its pace nor the distance travelled. I’d hooked the fish less than ten yards out yet the marker at 45 yards, still on my line from the prior session, sailed through the rings and out beyond. Bearing in mind the losses it was the last thing I wanted.
There was a massive bow wave when I eventually turned my opponent and I got it back halfway. It then proceeded to kite towards the left hand margin where an overhanging willow had the potential to enable its escape. My confidence in the hook hold had increased somewhat as I dropped the tip below the surface and refused to give any line. This did the trick and it steamed off before boiling on the surface around fifty yards out. Another mate, Dave, who’d just set up next door had seen the commotion and came to see if I required assistance. I’m afraid I may have barked at him to reel the other rod in to get the hazard of another line out of the way.
It was clearly a good fish as we got a glimpse just before it went on another powerful run. My legs were exhibiting some of the properties of jelly as it came closer and circled in front of us. Dave kept changing his mind as to which fish it was until he finally settled on “I know what one it is but I’m not saying”. It was pretty obvious what he meant so I was relieved when the fish became embedded in light marginal weed which I hoped would slow it down a bit. I was pleased to have someone that knows what they are doing manning the net as he resisted a very tempting scooping opportunity when the fish passed slowly by, deep but within netting range.
Then she was on the surface, beaten and my netsman appeared to extend his Go-Gadget arms to reach far beyond what seemed possible. Although the carp looked big we checked the scale pattern to be sure she was the Half Lin. It was surely her and the air was punched in triumph. I was visibly shaking and stunned by the turn of events. Shocked and ecstatic in equal measure I found it difficult to comprehend what had just happened.
I was grateful to have like minded anglers around me. I was a mess and in no state to organise things but mats appeared from everywhere, goalkeepers, water men plus three photographers turned up and took all the shots I wasn’t concentrating on asking for. Sharing the moment makes it all the more special and the handshakes and genuine pleasure exhibited by those chasing the same dream was truly humbling.