Tom Stokes – At Long Last

4th August 2020

Tom Stokes finally checks the last one off the list from his target water, the mighty Baby Black…

Setting your sights on a specific carp can be a real challenge, but Tom Stokes is no stranger, having chalked up a fair few in his time. As is often the case, his latest conquest, the mighty Baby Black, came after serval years of effort, having waded through multiple repeat captures to finally bag the ultimate prize.

Tom takes up the story, leading up to a prominent moon phase:

“I arrived on the Wednesday, using up precious holiday, but I felt that it needed to be done for a couple of reasons. Mainly just to have a hope of securing my pre-baited swim, and secondly to get the bait out well before the moon, which wasn’t until the Sunday night. Conditions couldn’t have been any better for getting the rods out that evening, and the three rigs and bucket of bait went out there perfectly, I could do no more.

“That first morning passed fairly uneventfully, although one did show not far off the back of the bait and there was a small amount of fizzing over the spot, so confidence was high for the coming days. As the day wore on the wind increased, and with it forecast to stay windy throughout the evening and into the night, I decided the rods would be best left out for a second night.

“At 3am the following morning, I awoke to a bite on the right-hand rod which turned out to be one of the mirrors they call the Triplets which weighed just under thirty pounds. Again, it was another repeat unfortunately, but this time I kept it until first light as Elliott and Dave had been down the previous day to do some filming for Cypography, so they returned to capture a bit of footage of the fish before leaving just after 9am

“By then bite time had all but passed, or so I thought! At 10am I had a take completely out of the blue on the left hander. I picked up the rod as the fish steadily took line and I slipped into the waders. I thought I had slowed it when again it took me on another forty-yard run, right out into the middle. It was probably almost two hundred yards out in the pond, something about this one just felt different from the off.

“When I eventually did manage to slow it, big head shakes had the rod jerking in my hand even at that range. Eventually it started to come, but it kited savagely right at speed. I held the rod up high and the braid cut up out of the water. I could see it heading straight for danger; out to the right of the swim there are two marker buoys for the sailing club. A blue barrel at about 50 yards, and then a pink buoy at forty yards or so beyond that on the same line. I could see my braid getting closer and closer to these buoys, and I desperately tried to decide what the hell I was going to do, when by some miracle the fish came to a halt in the weed, just beyond and to the left of the pink buoy.

“At that point I just started pumping on the rod, heaving whatever was on the end straight past both of the buoys with just feet to spare to the right. At any moment if the fish had kicked then it could’ve all been over, luckily it didn’t. I could see a ball of weed above the leader coming ever closer, and then just as it came short of the blue barrel the fish kicked and rolled on the surface. A big orangey flank aroused my suspicions straight away as to what it could be. The second time it rolled, I saw the shape of its head and the length of it, but I still wasn’t convinced. A few moments later, without much fuss, it was in the net. Lifting the arms confirmed my suspicions, there it was…. finally, the Baby Black!”

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