I took Nicky for a drive on Wednesday afternoon, the sun was shining and there was the promise of tea and maybe a cake. What she had not spotted was the bag of boilies and a catapult secreted in the rear of the car. I had ulterior motives.
And so our rambling journey happened to take us to my syndicate lake where the obligatory look around brought about a decision - I must fish here and bait was duly introduced into a favoured swim.
I had physio the next morning but talked her out of the usual agonies and hurried home to throw the last few bits and pieces into the car before heading off with a renewed enthusiasm. I was genuinely concerned that somebody may beat me to my prebaited spot but a look across the field as I descended through the woods confirmed that once again, I had the entire pool to myself.
I casually set up and put a couple of rods across to the gully that the fish seem to follow on their amblings. An hour later I had a bite but it was just a small bream that came in with the verve and attitude of a plastic bag. It's brethren spent the next few hours rattling my bobbins without result but doubtless reducing the amount of freebies left in the zone. I rectified this with some replacements, catapulted at the 'pult's extreme range. An arduous task but I couldn't find my throwing stick.
After a meal the sun was soon setting and the temperature plummeted. I read in the bivvy until a mixture of Bill Bryson's description of the Big Bang and BB's account of goose shooting had a soporific effect and I switched the light out for the night. I'd like to say it was restful but the owl that decided to sit about 2" above my head whilst continuously calling for a mate meant otherwise.
A lone raven woke me in the morning and I peered out to a cloudy start. I hate leaving the sleeping bag to get going but a coffee or two did the job and I rebaited then changed the 'snowman' set up to have a bright yellow pop-up on the top for better visibility. The other rod was left with 10mm boilies on the bottom.
Around 10 am I had a screaming run and a very hard fighting fish powered off up the lake. It then turned and, with equal strength, went off in the other direction. From bite to net it was a mighty tussle but, at last, I had it on the scales. At 27. 9 I was well pleased. A fit looking fish with muscly flanks.
Ian, a fellow syndicate member turned up and did the business with the camera before heading off for his chosen spot and a night's fishing.
My mid afternoon coffee was disturbed by a single bleep as I reached for the milk in the coolbox. The right hand rod was again bending and, as the clutch let go so a screamer of a run set off. This fish was not a fighter and it lolled about with copious amounts of weed hanging from the line and the fish's head. Despite having lowered the second rod into the water, it still managed to pick up this line and, as it's nose broke surface so the hook popped out. Ah well, I'd had a fish so I wasn't too upset.
The evening was even colder, so much so that I dropped the front flap of the bivvy. As I closed it I looked at the rods and thought "Please don't go off tonight, wait until I've had a good sleep". The owls were less active and despite the chill playing havoc with my bladder, I had a lovely kip.
I woke to a freezing morning and wrapped myself up in the sleeping bag for a bit of a lie in. Bleep! B.b.b.b.leeeep! "I'm coming!" I said as I opened the flap to see the left hand rod bending to the right. I'd switched to a similar snowman with the yellow 'head' on both rods and a carp had nobbled it. It again went fast to the right and I leaned hard against it whilst walking left and holding the rod low.
My efforts had little effect on the fish and it was kiting dangerously towards an overhanging bush where it would have doubtless found sanctuary. Not wanting a paddle on such a cold morning - I was in a T'shirt and a pair of pants at the time - I gave it some more stick and the fish relented and turned. It headed for open water where I let it have a good run about hoping to burn off some of its energy. It became ponderous and I felt I had the beating of it but, as it got within eight or ten yards of me, it turned and ran hard for the far bank. I was starting to realise it was a good fish...... and feel the cold.
Eventually it slipped begrudgingly over the net and was mine.
I rolled it onto it's side in the water to slip the hook out. I immediately recognised a scar on the left pectoral fin and knew that I had recaptured the big fish I'd had in June but had had to discount. A quick lift of the scales and a personal best was confirmed at 36lb 4oz.
I popped it into a sack, dressed and made a hot drink. It was 8am. "Morning dear, you didn't want a lie in did you?" To be honest, Nicky loves to see my better fish and was happy to make the long drive just to take a few pictures. She really did enjoy being part of it although the dog was far less impressed.
What are the odds, the same big fish from the same swim on the same bait (Quest Baits Rahja Spice), in two trips three months apart? Others have fished this swim and it's produced some good fish, even bigger than mine, in the mean time but my fish showed no signs of hook marks other than the fin scar. There you go, just one of those little mysteries of angling and I for one, have no complaints whatsoever.