Paul Claridge concludes his season with a tale about his purple patch of success on Burghfield lake.
Scotty K – Black & Blue
5th April 2020
Scotty K submits this retrospective write-up and imagery of his trials and tribulations on a savagely weedy lake, before it all came good.
“This particular pit had been in the back of my mind for a number of years. A large, overgrown tangle of rose thorn, bramble, barbed wire and nettles adorned its banks. Never before had I seen such oversized swans and so many coots on one lake as the first winter I’d walked its banks, estimating some 2000 white beaked, black birds all diving relentlessly in the shallow clear water. It really did look like a recipe for disaster for any kind of winter campaign and at the time, I didn’t fancy the headache one iota. As the years passed, the rather special stock grew at a healthy rate, under my watchful eye of course. A few friends had dabbled here and there; their successes inspiring me to walk its banks a couple of times each year. The wild nature of the pit morphed like a lava lamp throughout each season, changing from crystal clear water one minute, to an enormous weed choked infestation the next. The advent of acrid blue green algae blooms would then follow, before biblical, floating, uprooted weed rafts began to make their ponderous journeys on the winds and undercurrents.
As the seasons passed, my circumstances had changed and evolved – the pit was more or less on my doorstep and I was just about at the end of my tether with work, teetering on the brink of ‘Brownout’, but there was something pretty special in the pipeline, bubbling away in the background. A new challenge and some fresh scenery away from the punishers was just the tonic I needed to firmly jump up and down on the reset button. Everything was pointing in the same direction, the big pit was calling, and so it began, full steam ahead.
June 16th heralded a fitting start to my new campaign – feeling quite the traditionalist (and rather ‘carpy’ I might add), my face soon dropped as my gaze locked on my first sighting of the pit for some months. It looked to all intents and purposes that there was more weed than water in the lake. Immense swathes of yellowy green silkweed bubbled in the sunlight as far as the eye could see. The occasional stripe of blue sliced through the green mush at various ranges and angles – any ideas of ‘going long’ were cast aside immediately, due to the vast banks of dense weed that encircled the entire lake.
The long, dew-laden grasses saturated my rather optimistic choice of trainers within the first twenty yards of the gate, whilst my exposed ‘milk-bottle’ legs were already tingling intensely with the sharp histamine of nettles that had brushed my skin as I’d negotiated the bramble tripwires on route to the first swim. One thing was immediately apparent, this was going to be a gruelling mission from the off. Two new rules were immediately enforced, no shorts until after set-up and no trainers for doing laps. Some 2 hours later the trousers were donned, and a second lap was completed, hopping in and out of the boundaries to avoid the brambled fortresses that blocked the various pathways. Time was elapsing fast and after 3 hours of leading around in swims with the least surface weed, I’d still yet to feel the satisfying thump of the lakebed with a single cast.
Scratched, bitten, cut and caked in sweat, pollen and dried blood, there was no option other than to drop into the deeper central bowl area where my futile laps had begun, none the wiser to the whereabouts of any of the lake’s inhabitants. After an uninspiring, hay-fever ridden night, I rubbed the pollen from my bloodshot eyes, sneezed again and made the first dawn brew of the campaign. It felt like I was in the most unlikely spot a carp would ever want to feed, so rather than waste a morning, the car was soon loaded with kit, whilst the search for some carp commenced.
Gazing across hundreds of yards of surface weed, hoping for a sign, my trance was broken abruptly by a deafening “BADOSH” to my right – weaving along the narrow path and skilfully avoiding another garrotting from the stray brambles, there were the remnants of my first sighting, ebbing away from the dense reeds and melting away into the weedbeds.
Two swims in particular had tickled my fancy during my laps, one on the west bank, alongside a shallow area of dense reedbeds, and the second on the southern road bank, in the mouth of the long finger bay. On the whole, the other anglers seemed to be giving the lake a wide berth, so the banks were quiet enough to roam freely. It was just a ‘simple case’ of moving the car to the lay-by, lifting the wheelbarrow over a piece of barbed wire, unloading the less valuable items, before driving round to the car park and walking back to the swim with the rucksack and quiver, the old-fashioned way.
Not long after setting up and hatching a plan, another guy popped through the gap in the bushes, keen to move into the swim to the left. It transpired he’d been watching some good ones show from the far bank and was keen to set up in the corner to my left and who was I to stop him? “Good angling” I said. It looked like a quick bite could be had, so dispatched 2 naked chod rigs into a thin slither of blue water that snaked away from the reedbed about 30 yards out. Within minutes a seagull pounded into the surface over one of my hookbaits, signalling a fantastic bite as it dropped my rig on top of the weed for me. “Thanks very much, that’s very kind” I thought, before quickly reeling in before things took a turn for the worse. Later investigations the following day revealed the top of a very shallow bar in the weed channel, the perfect ambush point for a big hit of seeds. The first job was start tucking away at the solid mat of weed that stretched from my feet to the tiny gravel strip. Clearing a notch into the chosen marks, once the initial raking was complete, a rather large bucket of hemp was split over the marks before making a fishless departure back to the reality.
Keen as ever to return, the weed holes had opened a little, as I snuck in for a mid-week hit of bait. Some further nibbling away at the weed should improve the line lay and at least slow down the coot and moorhen liners a little. Arriving on the Friday, Lee Picknell’s car in the lay-by was slightly alarming (I’d still not found another swim with a clear spot to fish!) Luckily, he was next door in the corner – I had to do a “double take” as I passed ‘my’ little gap in the bushes, as fat looking carp bobbed lazily in the weed holes, having gorged themselves silly on my vegetable offerings from the previous hit. “That will do donkey, kettle on.” Two proper rigs were plopped onto the clear patches, with slack and heavy fluorocarbon mainlines trailing over the weed to the rod tips. Whilst the carp were certainly getting a taste for my chosen mix, unfortunately so was every other bird within the vicinity, the glutenous resident swans in particular were looking plumper and more nourished every time I looked. Whilst the little slot swim by the reeds looked a great interception point in the July heat, the changeable British weather would soon see them disappear off into the weedy distance in true, big pit carp fashion. Nicking a bite from the slot swim was clearly going to be a matter of timing, but with only the weekends at my disposal at the time, I could only do so much.
The second swim earmarked for an investigation was another overgrown ‘poke-hole’ on the road bank. Ben stopped by on his way back from Burghfield, whilst I waded the marginal shelf to look for a likely edge spot, as the weed was just as solid there as everywhere else was. With a little help from my monkey friend up the neighbouring tree we soon had a marker float cracking down into a glowing hole in the weed just a couple of rod lengths out, to the side of the ‘swim’. With the lake being more or less devoid of other anglers, it seemed rude not to put a hit of bait accurately into the hole there and then.
The following week, the Reedy slot swim was still looking a fine prospect, the holes had opened up and nearly joined together and the line lay had further improved as I’d persevered with clawing away at it with a small castable rake. Unfortunately, I was now nearly on first name terms with the swans, who licked their orange beaks every time my face popped out from the bushes.
I woke just before light with a tingling, almost vibrating face, when you know you’ve just been completely done over by the mosquitos. Looking accusingly around the mosquito mesh through one bleary, swollen eye soon pinpointed the culprit; bloated, brimming and laden with my blood, hanging on to the inside wall of my mesh front. “Classic”. After a swift execution of vengeance, my eyes focussed on my next problem. Two white swans trashing my carefully prepared traps. The pitter patter of fine rain fizzled on the bivvy roof, whilst I mulled over my options. The reedy end looked devoid of carp and the swans were the only highly likely sign that all hell was about to break loose.
Within an hour I was traipsing through the undergrowth of the road bank in waterproofs, embracing the cooler rain and drop in pressure in the stifling August heat. Although the banks are quiet, I tried not to loiter for too long in my ‘Plan B’ poke hole, but kept a regular eye on the close in spot for any fizzing and surface disturbances. After walking up the long ‘bramble run’ to the knuckle of land in the finger bay, I stared down across a sheet of about 500 yards of weed topped water at the Reedy slot in case any showing fish had snuck back in during my absence.
Whilst seriously considering doing the off and heading home for a mosquito free night’s sleep, a shovel-headed, slate-grey and mauve mirror shuffled up to its wrist, re-entering without making an audible sound from my vantage point. I had a very firm idea what carp it was, as it was a rather unique looking beast (which I’d seen show twice in succession a couple of seasons before, on a recce trip out in ‘no man’s land.’) Conveniently, it had showed bang in front of my ‘poke hole’ swim and about twice the distance out as a ‘conveniently placed’ oversized, permanent marker float in the shape of large blue barrel. All thoughts of taking the easy option and going home went out the window as I high tailed it back to the car park for the barrow. As the little short spot had seen some bait already, I swung out a boilie hookbait straight away on a single rod and squeezed my set up into the overgrown, bramble tangled gap. Everything had to be done from the water, nearly at the top of chest waders due to the overhanging vegetation, which was a pain for casting out, but it meant the swim was hugely neglected. A number of smaller carp leapt from the water, taunting me, directly behind the blue barrel, impossible to reach from anywhere due to the savage weed beds that were slowly lifting, as the blue green algae began its suffocating clutch on the clear water.
Big things were afoot back in the real world, I had been officially offered a job at Thinking Anglers working with Ben. Having lovingly compiled the letter of resignation I’d always dreamed of, and proudly delivered it to my boss’s desk the very next day, the countdown had officially begun as the pages slowly closed on a tired old book and a new novel was soon to begin. With just a few days left of my notice period to work and a full clear fortnight of freedom to embrace, I needed to go up another gear and make things happen.
Byron was doing his own thing over in the Point swim, we were close friends, but we’d recently discovered that he’d also taken a liking to the neglected gap swim. In the most gentlemanly fashion, we agreed to leave each other to our own devices and carry on as we were. A huge mat of weed was tethered to the blue barrel, making the left-hand side of the open water an absolute ‘no go’. Out to the right there was one smooth pull to be found out in the soft silt. Now with full array of Sticky bait at my disposal and September looming, I dispatched a huge bucket of fresh hemp, maples, Krill boilies, clusters and liquids out to the open water zone.
I had a full fortnight available with no other commitments other than trying to get one of the special ones in my net. Walking from first light every morning, the only carp I found were in the weediest zones where the chances of landing one without a boat seemed a nigh-on impossibility. To my horror, I’d discovered 2 big bankstick holes in the gap swim, but never saw anyone set up in there before or since. On the hottest days the gap swim looked redundant and lifeless, with carp lazing in the finger bay or on the far side, behind the island. After royally ‘ballsing’ up a chance at a group of fish on the opposite bank (my small lead landing straight on a hidden carp’s head on the fringe of a weedbed) I was starting to despair a little.
One particularly damp day at the end of August, there was nothing to be found anywhere – taking a punt that they might show up in the gap, I dropped back in there, with every intention of leading up the baited area when I Ieft. (I certainly couldn’t face anymore swan traumas in the reedy slot.) An early afternoon snooze was the order of the day, to keep things quiet for the single rod fished close in. I woke with a start to Byron squeezing round the bivvy and exclaiming “Oh my god, they’re on you boy” – Sure enough there were tail patterns and bubbles fizzing over the close in rod, but they soon melted away and left me biteless, as standard. After one more fruitless night on the close in spot (which had been topped up), half a rotten boilie swung into hand, hooked up on my rig. Not the sign I was hoping for –a change of plan was in order.
On a positive note, the spot out in the pond was definitely showing the first hint of feeding activity, the lead now gliding more freely through the silt and either side of the sweetest spot too. The line lay however, remained atrocious – something rash would need to be done to make it even remotely fishable.
Five days had passed since the initial hit of bait. A cast iron saucepan bubbled and steamed outside the front door, whilst I painstaking crumbed kilos of Krill boilies by hand, concocting the next payload of bait. Making the most of the absence of other anglers, another 20kg hit was smashed out to the mark, before a castable weed rake slowly nibbled away, cast by cast, at the thicker weed, halfway out. A convenient bough reached out from the right-hand margin, creating a blockade, and creating an ideal dumping ground for a mountain of weed, away from prying eyes. The demoralising bit was watching as more weed was dragged in from the sides, masking my efforts and making it look more of a mess that it did in the first place. After bending two of my favourite storm poles ‘hoiking’ bundles of weed up and over the bough, I ended up resorting to bear hugging and slam dunking the giant balls onto the pile. Dusk arrived sooner than expected, I realised I’d been at it for 5 hours straight, having not made even a visible dent amongst the froth. Dejected, soaked and exhausted, I retreated home for a much-needed shower.
For the next four days I arrived like clockwork at dawn – the only fish I could find were sunning themselves in the finger bay amongst the impenetrable jungle of surface weed and algae, whilst a gang of coots pillaged my baited spot in the distance. Time was running out fast, and I’d probably only had one rod out for about 12 hours during my time off. The birds had chilled by the fourth day, but I knew the rods would be wiped out within minutes at the slightest breath of wind, as small weed chunks broke away from the blue barrel’s barrier and scuppered my plans. There was only one thing for it. Donning the waders and rake again, I was back in the zone, raking like a madman in the hope I might be able to get one rod out onto the baited spot and swing another rod onto the close in spot. I was yearning for a night with the rods out. With burning forearms and biceps and an incredibly sore rash from the all the algae and weed abrasions on my skin, the sun was starting to set again. Mopping my brow and checking the time, I couldn’t believe it. It was nearly dark and I’d been ‘in the zone’ for another 4 hours. The weed mountain behind the bough towered above my head, dripping with algae and various aquatic creatures trying to find their way back home. One final cast out to the spot was made and smugly swung into hand, having collected not a single strand upon its retrieval. Covering my tracks as best I as I could, I left for home, never looking back as more weed slowly drifted poured back in behind me.
The date was Thursday the 7th September 2017. Looking aghast at dawn from my raked poke hole, the whole swim was covered in weed again. I could believe what I was seeing, it was like the raking had never happened. The baited area looked dull and lifeless, even the coots had lost interest and I was beginning to feel the same. My job at Thinking was meant to start on the Monday and it felt like all I done was walk, rake and bait with futility. Standing in the main swim further down the path, I watched as large mirrors poked their heads out at me mockingly, completely out of range and protected by a solid barrier of matted surface weed. Toing and froing between showing carp and my overgrown gap, a decent mirror subtly nosed out, right over my bait, but still completely inaccessible, due to the fresh clumps of weed which blocked the path of my lines as usual. The pink rashes on my arms still stung just as much my pride as I left dejected once more, huffing and puffing at home while the Coleman ripped through another vat of particles.
Enough was enough – I needed to get my rods out and chill and had just about given up with the weedy nightmare pit. The other half had just about had enough of me waking her at the crack of dawn and returning like a petulant schoolboy every lunchtime; she deserved a rest too. A fresh wind was due, but a total change of venue was teetering on the agenda. Driving up the lane, the indicator on my car was signalling right. I took a deep breath as an instinctive feeling washed over me. “Go back there… one more time.” Changing the indicator to ‘left’ and heading back to the weed pit, I drove straight past to the local shop and grabbed a couple of night’s worth of food. Driving back to the lake, Nige’s car was parked in the lay-by at the reeds end. Making a little pit stop for a quick chat, a brisk westerly wind pumped up to the distant finger bay. My eyes focussed into the distance at a solid streak, of blue stretching out from the bank beyond the blue barrel. “I need to go, right NOW.”
Arriving back at the gap minutes later I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. A perfect slice of clear water stretched out from my feet to the baited zone. The fresh wind had persuaded the impeding clumps to move along, as there was nothing on the bottom left to tether to anymore. After topping up the area with 20 large Spombs of still warm mix, I made sure to bury the tip deep into the silt at the bottom of the shelf, pinning the heavy fluorocarbon into the silt in a dead straight line to the two 4oz leads which had thumped down 10 feet apart on the same clip. After squeezing a third rod on the close spot for good measure, everything was fully installed. I sat back admired the perfect “3 rack” poking out of the bank. How long would it last until a ‘weedberg’ wiped me out? Only time would tell, but finally the rods were out, and I could finally rest and recover from all the anguish.
As dawn broke through on Friday the 8th September, the lines were miraculously still in place from the day before. A single bleep was the only unnatural sound to be heard. Despite the lack of bubbling or shows, an incredible sensation of expectancy hung in the misty air. The middle bobbin smacked against the middle rod and held there momentarily before the line clip gave in to the pressure. After a fairly uneventful battle from the water, a large chunk of a mirror with large, golden, slice scales adorning its shoulders and dorsal line lay beaten in the net. After a quick phone call to the soon-to-be boss, and Ben arrived with Paul to help me out with some pictures. After a quick tea and a gracious handshake, I bid them farewell as they left for work, with 38lb 15oz chalked up in my notes. After sending a single hookbait back out there to see the morning out, a 15lb common had hung itself within minutes.
Now I was in a quandary. It was nearly lunchtime and it felt like there might not be any bait left out there, so I texted Ben.
Me: 15lb common on the recast, more bait?
Ben: FEED THEM
After another heavy dosing of bait, both banker rods were bang on for the night ahead as the evening drew in. I’d got quite used to the logistics of raking, baiting, casting and landing fish from the tiny gap. There was just enough room to step into the waders and slip in next to the rods. I’d gone to the trouble of nipping away the tangled brambles from within the overhead branches and around the bivvy just to make it a little more comfortable, as well as strategically removing a couple of leafy branches that hindered the view from the bedchair.
My old mate Lee Picknell turned up in the afternoon, looking for somewhere to fish. Slurping hot tea and peering out through the little window towards the area, a nice mirror stuck its head out, just off the spot. Focussing intently, we both got the perfect view as the king of the pond ‘hoofed’ itself out, right on the money. An amazing spectacle of black, red and gold suspended momentarily for us both to gawp at. Gulping down his tea, Lee made his excuses and went for a look over in the Point swim opposite. I could have done without any additional disturbance anywhere nearby, but we both knew how weedy and unfishable the Point had become once the algae had taken hold. Lee stood there for some time as a few more shows dotted around between my area and the Point’s water. Lee decided against it in the end, courteously calling to let me know I was safe (he’s so ‘Big Carp’!) I sat there patiently with my feet in waders until darkness fell, but nothing else occurred.
Waking up to a take around midnight, all hell broke loose as another mirror battled for freedom out in the blackness. It looked a half decent thirty in the torchlight – the ‘Wildman’ Bennett was fishing the lake next door, but I knew the boys were up in Yateley partying, so I rang around to see if anyone would take some pics. The pungent blue green algae was a concern, and I didn’t really like the idea of retaining one for too long with so much algae and dying weed about. Luckily, they roped ‘Little Ben’ in as the designated driver and turned up at 1am, cans of Stella and cameras in hand. Having slightly underestimated the weight, the embarrassment was minimal, and it was all taken in good humour as a 28lb 8oz mirror melted away into the blackness. Little did we know, it was all a trial run for the main event.
I’d made a conscious decision to ditch the third rod, it was making my manoeuvres awkward and I’d actually run out of spare leads after two big fat tench had hung themselves on both rods the next morning. The way things were going, I was going to need some more. In typical big pit fashion, my waders had completely given in to the abuse when sorting out the mirror the previous night, leaving me damp and uncomfortable. Zipping down the front of the shelter I made a dash with my quiver and rucksack (it was a slightly iffy area), for a swift road trip, returning two hours later having stocked up on leads, food, spare clothes, a brand new set of waders, and having showered the stench of krill from my hair on the way back to the lake.
With the third rod now staying firmly in the quiver, and the other two wrapped and ready the phone rang and it was Bennett. He’d popped over for a tea in my absence and had taken a stroll round the bay, seeing a very large black carp show very close, if not right over my baited area. I was a little concerned I might have company, but he reassured me – “Mate you catch it, I’ll come back for him another day.” Wasting no time, I got another good hit of bait straight out there, before thumping both rigs beside each other.
My head had barely sunk into the pillow when a stockie mirror of 31lb lopped begrudgingly into the net at around 10pm. Bennett came over from next door (half-cut of course) with Benson the carp dog, but we got it all sorted and soon had the rods back out without drama, the 4oz leads splashing visibly in the moonlight.
I awoke to a blistering take at exactly midnight, line ripping from a tight clutch, whilst the fluted end of the butt section hung on to the rest for dear life, the rod tip hovering above the water. The carp swung out on a huge kite to the left and straight around the back of a triangular, half-acre, thick floating weedbed which was tethered to the blue barrel. I was in big trouble, or so I thought. Slowly gaining line, a rhythmic thumping of a big carp’s head nods transmitted down the blank, it was coming, slowly. I’d had the forethought to put the headtorch in the wader’s pocket, so was prepared as the unseen carp got closer and closer. I was fully prepared for a nightmare with the net. Seeing the first signs it was close, I flicked on the torch for a split second to see the most incredible sight, a long dark solid mirror, suspended near the surface, flank-on, with the most miniscule, cup-sized puff of weed over its eyes. Torch off and I made doubly sure with the net, swooping up the prize at the first attempt. Jamming the net handle in the tree, I grabbed my phone to get a positive ID (there was another quite similar looking mirror in there.)
I rang Bennett, “I’ve think I’ve got it mate. Wanna come over? Bring your waders.” After a 100% identification, we sacked it up off the front of the tree, using the cord from my wraps sticks as a secondary backup. I’d already made a few calls, as there was ‘no way in the world’ I wanted to sack it for hours until daylight – it was way too weedy and algae ridden, I just couldn’t take the risk. The only person who answered was Phil, and he’d just got back from a night of drinking, so that was a no go.
There was only thing for it. I reeled in the other rod and drove all the way to Yateley to wake my sleeping compadres. Trying to creep through the noisiest gate in Hampshire was cringeworthy, I felt everyone’s pain, wondering who the hell was turning up at 1am. Craig nearly flat out punched me in the face as I woke him. He just couldn’t get his head together. “Do you want a fag mate? What are we doing again?”
After rallying the troops, we flew back over to the lake where Bennett was snoozing on my bed and Benson was guarding my prize. With plenty of hands and cameras, we managed to get some decent night shots. It was a truly impressive carp on the bank; long, dark, muscular and in great condition. It behaved impeccably, whilst other carp leapt from the water as we did the returners. It was ‘going off’. At 45lb 14oz, it made all the pain and suffering more than worthwhile. After a little celebration and a couple of teas, they bade me farewell and left me to take it all in.
Ben returned my missed call at first light and wanted to stop by on the way to work. I was testing the out-turned eye hooks for him and had very nearly run out – the samples bag in the office was nearly empty, so I begged and pleaded with him to grab another pinch on the way down. I relayed the story of the night before, when another carp hung itself. This time a 23lb mirror. This was getting ridiculous. Shots done and rod recast, Ben left me to some much-needed shut eye. Byron popped in mid-morning to say well done. Not long after the first tea, I was away again, this one kiting straight round the back of the huge triangular weed bed to the left. Some forty minutes later I’d managed to tear off a minibus-sized section of the weedbed, while the carp swirled, far out of reach at the back of it. It really was the ultimate test for the fluorocarbon and hook – unbelievably we managed to get it all sorted and photograph a slender, 18lb torpedo common.
There was just about enough bait left in my bucket for one more hit. But now there was a problem. The barrier that was holding back the drifting weedbeds to the left had been decimated by the long common and it started to spin round ominously and break up. Time was running out. After putting 4.5oz leads on to combat the crosswind, it was a matter of timing to slot both rods back out there and bury the fluorocarbon into the deck, before the next green jellyfish loomed past on the gusts. Another fat tench broke the silence just into dark, and not long after, the first weedbed of the night inched my bobbins up to the top. The sheer amount of weed could be made out in the chop; it would have been futile to attempt a recast in the night. I rewrapped both rods and left them in the rests, with a dawn plan for more raking to try and clear the path again. With no rods out all night, I managed to catch up on a little lost sleep, whilst the drifting weed did whatever it liked.
I donned the chest waders well before dawn had even broken. A huge band of weed the size of a Transit had swung around on the undertow and stopped right in front of my rods – I could tell from painful experience it was a good four hours’ worth of work to fully extract it. There wasn’t really much option other than to have a go. The first cast with the rake had gained a good purchase on the back edge, but the poor old spod rod creaked in agony as the braid wailed in the wind. Inch by inch, millimetre by millimetre it came within a manageable range, when a bright idea popped in my head. The clutch squawked as I took dolly steps backwards, feeding the rod butt in into the left-hand snag, locking the reel handle behind the thickest branch I could – the whole set-up threatening to explode at any second, or the snag to become uprooted. Paddling down the shelf, I managed to locate the gravel patch I cast from, underneath the dense weed barrier. The weed rake had dragged a conveniently sized, landing net shaped hole right in front of the casting spot. I wasted no time in dispatching a single rod out to the danger zone first cast and getting a good sink on the line out near the rig, before the spod rod gave way to the immense weight it was attached to.
I took a quick pic and sent it to Matty and Craig with a covering text. “How long until I get wiped out?” They gave me 20 minutes. Well 10 minutes later, the single rod was off again, it was just getting ridiculous. Somehow my devious plan had worked, so I sent a quick snap of another mid-thirty mirror in the net. “How’s that?”
I rang Ben again and he made the familiar detour to the lake, recasting the remaining rod straight away before his arrival and stuck the kettle on. I just couldn’t believe my luck. We weighed and photographed “White Tips” at 34lb 10oz, before taking it next door to do some well-lit returners. Just as I dunked it in the lake for the last time, my buzzer left out a burst of beeps. “That’s another bite!”
Running the short distance round the bushes to the gap swim, the single rod stood sentry in the rests, tip slammed down towards the water. Another typical big fish battle ensued; but I bullied it a little on a short line to let it know who was in charge and keep it out of the dense weed band in front. A slate grey and deep purple lump of a carp breeched the surface in front of the net coughing water. “On my God” We both knew exactly what it was, the rarest of all, ‘Two-Fold’. It just seemed so surreal, as I sat on the bed preparing yet another rig with the last hook in my box, whilst Ben unhooked and confirmed it. “It’s definitely it mate.” I punched the air. “YES!!!”. It seemed rude not to recast before we did the pics, so slammed it back out there first cast once more.
This particular creature was something else. Dark grey above the lateral line with a deep purple hue to its belly, marbled with red veins, a yellow hue underneath its tail root and exquisitely marked with a trio of gold scales on its flank. Its thick tail flopped into the water as Ben got some of the best shots I’ve ever had. “Just hold it there mate, it looks incredible.”
Great times. It was now Monday and I’d already begged to start on the Wednesday instead. A few mates came down and urged me to do the extra night, but I just didn’t have it in me. The weedbeds to the left began to break away and the swim was a complete mess again by lunchtime, wiping out the rod again. I opted out of another few hours raking and left for home, sleeping almost the entire day on the Tuesday to recover. I rocked up early for my first day on the Wednesday, bright-eye and bushy-tailed as a new chapter in my career started. “Right then, who’s having a tea?”
All fish were landed using the incredible size 5 TA Out-Turned Eye hook, size 8 Ring Swivel and 45lb leadcore, with accompanying tungsten beads. Savagely strong kit, that just won’t let you down.”