After the fish had spawned on his target water, Johnny Haars went back for a very special carp...
Oz Holness – Autumnal Anticipation
8th November 2019
Autumn… a time in the carp angling calendar I always look forward to with great anticipation. Longer nights, cooler days, and the carp back to tip top condition and generally back at high weights once again. With an atmospheric aura to the lakes, there’s no time like autumn to catch one of your targets, the arena is set, you just need one of those gladiators to engage in battle!
“My chance came in October. I fished the first night in a deep water swim after watching a short evening display of shows – although they were still about in the morning, nothing had occurred and I had been watching the weather closely as I always do at any time of year. I took a walk to check out a pre-baited spot further up the lake, just an hour or two before, a complete change of wind direction was forecast. On scouting out the area, a group of big mirrors were already in residence, they had turned up before the wind and I watched them for a brief time before legging it back for my kit. I was soon setting up in my new plot and meticulously prepared the rigs and rods before making myself comfortable for the coming night. After setting up my kit I walked up the bank to check out the state of play. The lake’s biggest mirror, the 50, the one I had lost on my first ever trip was there, almost right at my feet, with two other big mirrors I recognised, and an old Linear covered in streaks of clay. The hairs on the back of my neck were bristling and the atmosphere positively crackled with a charge of anticipation. I waited for the right moment before flicking the light leads out to the marks that had produced for me so consistently in the past and that had been primed with a few kilos of Krill boilies just 24 hours ago. Little 14mm Corkball pop ups on Think Link hinges with 1.5 inch Recoil hook sections and size 5 Out-Turned Eye hooks was my choice of rig and after settling the lines down, I retired to the brolly for a well-earned tea. The predicted weather front soon moved in and the clouds rolled through on the strengthening Northerly bringing a steady rain drumming down on my shelter.
An hour before dusk a good fish showed, moving a lot of water just to the right of my main spot. A tourist walking a dog stopped in for a chat and with a glance over his shoulder I clocked another roll in the waves just out past my middle rod. Soon enough I was alone again, sucking up the atmosphere of the coming night… I just knew something special was on the cards. I had suffered a series of blanks in the past weeks, unable to get any consistency in the fishing. Chasing them here and there and rarely being able to get back in the same swims or areas, which was frustrating – the rub of luck seemed to be long gone! But here was the prime opportunity I had been seeking, at least two of the ones I wanted from the lake were in residence! I had been fortunate over the spring and early summer to catch a couple of the really rare characters, ones that had hardly ever graced the banks over time. But the giants of the pond had eluded my rods thus far, but moving into the autumn with a handful of special bigguns on your radar isn’t too bad a place to be and I was buzzing just to be in with the chance of a cold water giant in the weeks and months to come! But this was autumn and a prime opportunity was staring me straight in the eye! Would that big old mirror slip up tonight at last?
Just as the light was fading and a steady rain fell from leaden skies, one of the rods fired into life. I pulled into what felt like a heavy old truck that stripped 30 yards of line from the spool straight off. She hit a bed of weed and I could feel her savagely trying to bury her head into the roots. Steady pressure got her moving, that old weed had nothing like the strength it did a few months before! She slowly kited right, cutting against the wind in a slow but purposeful move towards open water. I clamped down and piled on the pressure. She hit the surface out in the chop, her wide black back silhouetted against the now silvery surface. It was one of the bigguns for sure! It was all over pretty quickly after that initial drama, a slow plod to the waiting net and it was all over. I was soaked at this point and the light was failing fast as it does so rapidly at this time of year. A quick call to a mate Steve and we were soon ready to bring her ashore. It was one of the rare visitors to the bank with less than one handful of known captures. Her over-slung mouth was mint, almost porcelain like, and her fins weathered and worn over time like little clam shells. The dorsal spiky, just like a Perch and her flanks covered in old scars and surface veins. At 41lb 8oz, a proper one for sure, a real autumn prize!”