FL02 PDF (212pp) - Page 90



Tale of Three Fifties
else happened during the night, and
once the first barge came through I
dropped the other rod in the near
margin for the day as well. I was sitting there just trying to picture the
big common that Jo had shown me
on the previous trip. Jo was due to
pop down in a couple nights’ time,
and I was thinking of sending him a
text, asking him to see if he could
drop a picture of the common off, or
send me a copy over the phone to
keep me motivated for this trip and for
future trips. Just before the light
started to fade again for my second
night, I baited up around six spots
with just a few boilies for couple of a
hundred yards to my left on the near
margin. I then got my left hand rod
back out on the opposite margin and
topped up the spot with around six
baits just to its left. I left the right
hand rod alone, but topped up with
some boilies, tigers and hemp.
Just before midnight the left hand
rod was away with a slow but steady
take. I struck into the fish sideways as
I was using back leads, and felt the
fish instantly and the rod took on its
battle curve. It felt a very powerful
fish, but did not fight like the previous
two fish from this stretch. The fish
took a few runs and used its weight to
hold bottom, but I got it in to the margins fairly quickly. Then the fish came
alive and got caught round my other
line somehow, even though I was
using back leads. I flicked the bail arm
open on the offending rod and kept
the pressure on the fish. Slowly I
made progress on the fish, and it
looked like a common boiling under
the crystal clear water, but it was so
dark I wasn’t 100% sure.
Eventually with some difficulty I
got the fish into the net. I had problems lifting the net, as it had got
caught on a bramble bush again, and
it was being held down by the other
line it had got tangled up with. I put
my knee on the landing net handle
and stretched for my head torch by
the bivvy. I bent over the side of the
canal and flicked on the head torch,
and then it hit me! Staring up at me
was the big common, and it just swallowed up the bottom of the net. Judging by the length and width from
above, this surely was going to be my
biggest fish ever. I sorted out the
mess with the lines, broke down the
net, rolled it up, and somehow managed to get the fish and net on the
90 FREE LINE
unhooking mat floating in the margins. Then I lifted the fish out of the
water with a bit of a struggle. With my
new scales, the needle settled on
58lbs exactly. I then placed the fish in
the sack and sent a text to pretty
much everyone.
Eggy, a friend I made during my last
trip, was on the VK canal around the
corner and said he would cycle round
in the morning to help with the pictures. I obviously didn’t sleep for a
single second, buzzing and getting up
every few minutes to make sure the
fish was ok. A gallon of coffee later,
Eggy came round in the morning during a break in the rain, and we took
some pictures. The fish was just perfect for me, never playing up. I then
returned her to the canal and packed
up for the final time on that particular
stretch. I wouldn’t need those pictures from Jo anymore, as I now had
my own! What a fish.
Tale of the Third Fifty
It’s taken me some time and several
trips to manage another 50lb-plus fish
from Belgium. I had several good and
stunning looking fish to mid forty over
the last nine years fishing the Belgian
canals, but it was not until this year I
finally bagged another lump and from
a different canal this time. I had
already made my plans before I’d
even set off. I usually have two trips to
Belgium each year, one in the spring
and one in the autumn, but this year I
was only going the once in the spring.
I had eight nights at my disposal, and
it didn’t actually start to plan…
I’d arrived at my first canal to bait
up a couple of spots for the end of my
trip, then headed to my intended
canal, the VK, home to some monstrous sized carp up to 80lb. VK had
no sluices and was connected to the
KK and the massive Albert Canal,
which is about the width of the
Thames in London. It has depths in
excess of 20ft for the big working
barges that use it daily, carrying sand,
gravel, fuel and shipping containers.
VK also had a very large sand pit in
excess of 100 acres connected
directly to the canal that was private
fishing where the barges carrying
sand were loaded up with sand and
then headed off in either direction
along the canal. The carp like this
area, but it is very deep lake, and is
generally colder than the canal, so it’s
not an area they use so much in the
spring/summer months or for spawning, when they are on the main canal.
I arrived at the canal just before
midnight on a Friday. It was May
bank holiday weekend, but in Belgium they had the holiday on Friday
not Monday, and after passing more
than thirty bivvies, it was time to
revert to plan B. I returned to the
canal near Antwerp where I had
baited up an hour or so before. I did
two nights – a night on each prebaited spot, but nothing occurred. On
the Monday morning, I baited up with
5kg of bait and then left for the VK. It
was now empty, but for a couple of
anglers by the VK/KK crossing. I

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