Paul Claridge concludes his season with a tale about his purple patch of success on Burghfield lake.
Scotty K – ‘Spike’
23rd October 2019
After a couple of lost fish earlier in the season, the lake closing for a month for spawning, a savage blue green algae bloom and acres of drifting weed, things weren’t falling into place for Scotty K…
“I’d not found much time to get out this season, the weeks and months were certainly slipping by fast as I slotted in amongst the canoes, sailing boats and speedboats, not to mention all the other keen anglers on the occasional Saturday night throughout the season.
Doing my usual thing of saving up my holidays for an autumn assault, I waited patiently, watching them get caught. Coming into October I started to have the odd day off early in the week, trying to prime up a good area. I started in a spot that had been kind to me last season, where the carp harvested the bloodworm in the deep soft silty area of the lake. Pin-pointing the precise spot I’d fished the previous year, I put a good hit of my usual mix out into the soft stuff. Flitting around slotting in amongst the crowded park life, I tried to keep a regular bit of bait going onto the spot for later in the month when I hoped the planets would align and it would all fall into place!
After couple of strange occurrences and seeing a big fish show over my rod the previous trip I had the gut wrenching feeling I’d been ‘done’.
I arrived on the Saturday in relentless rain that literally didn’t stop all day. Luckily a guy called Chris was vacating the swim, so I stuck to the plan, dropped back in there and got my rods out onto the pre-baited areas. He said there were still fish showing out there and at the right sort of range too – I had a pretty good feeling, even though I was soaked by the time I’d baited up and cast all three rods out. The next day dawned calm with a few a fizzers and head pokes betrayed their presence out in the deep water. It really felt good, with an air of anticipation. I heard an almighty carp show over my rod, looking up to see a huge set of rings right on the money. The morning slowly fizzled out, and everything went a bit quiet. I sat there wondering what I needed to do to catch one as they were getting caught all around me, trying to reassure myself and just stick to the plan, I tied up three new rigs and contemplated when and if to redo the rods.
I had a chat with Ben over text in the morning…
Me: Lots of them about
Ben: Keep at it man
Me: It’s all consistent, should come good
Ben: It will
Me: Lots of fizzers about, seen a massive show on my rod
I was just wrapping up my marker rod when I heard a succession of bleeps. Looking down the steep steps down to my rods, I could see the tip bent round. I made my way carefully down treacherous mud steps to the rods – halfway down, the clutch started to give line and the carp kited hard right into the deep trench.
The fish tried every trick in the book to throw the hook, staying high, diving deep and kiting into the margins. I’d already had a sneak peek as it kited past about 15 yards out under the surface, I thought I was attached to a common called Petty’s at first. I finally got a glimpse of a linear scaling as the fish rolled over and dived down deep again. I was in no doubt I could only be attached to one of 2 carp that are that long. At one stage the fish head and shouldered and I saw it’s face as plain as day as it surged past. I was pretty sure which one it was, but once I’d seen the tell-tale dorsal, I knew for sure.
At one point I was knelt down with the rod held back and the net a full stretch. If I had a couple of turns more on the reel it would have been mine, but I knew from experience it wasn’t going to make it, so I prepared myself for another powerful run back down the shelf into the deeps.
I tried to keep my mind clear and focus on the job in hand, everything had fallen into place as an immense linear slid over the drawcord. I quickly slipped the hook out from it’s huge bottom lip. Turning round I saw my old mate Al looking down the steps. “Come and have a look at this” I beckoned.
It’s carp I’ve seen on the bank myself, and also one Al had caught himself a couple of times. We agreed it look absolutely huge – luckily the rain had stopped, and there was a good crew of people nearby.
Laying down two TA mats with a cover up over the top, we weighed it in at an immense, sling-busting 52lb 2oz. The immense creature behaved impeccably, I think everyone present was just as blown away as I was. What a day, the planets had aligned and the Hunter’s moon had paid out in fine style.
Tackle-wise, my favourite Out-Turned Eye size 5, forthcoming Think Link hook link, combined with 45lb Olive Camo leadcore and beads withstood the heavy battle with ease.
What a carp – a new PB, lake record and ‘season-maker’ all rolled into one.”