FL02 PDF (212pp) - Page 92



Tale of Three Fifties
my right – damn! Strike! Luckily I felt
the power of the fish, as it had already
made 30 or so yards on me, and was
close the bridge. I chose to walk off in
its direction, keeping the tension, and
before long I was standing on the
opposite side of the bridge 50 or so
yards away playing a fish in the mooring bay. I had no choice but to follow
it, with brick walled margins, scattered with snags, and a large metal
mooring for boats to the immediate
left of the bridge.
The fish tried to make sanctuary
under a couple of small barges
moored on the opposite side, which
were working on the canal’s bankside
at the time, and then it headed off
towards the spawning channel. I had
to put the brakes on again, and
clamped hold of my spool to stop its
run. It turned and boiled very close,
and then turned and made its way
back towards the barges, where I had
to clamp down once again. Eventually it was back in the middle channel, turning left and right, slowly making some progress, and then it kited
to my right and back under the bridge
53lb 15oz other side.
92 FREE LINE
towards my setup thankfully, as my
landing net was still there.
I kept the pressure on, and tried to
keep the fish from the bottom, as I’d
lost a fish in the past from under the
bridge, possibly due to a sunken bicycle. Finally I was standing next to my
landing net and could play the fish
out, and after a few runs and boils on
the surface, I got to see that I was
attached to a right old lump of a mirror carp. I was getting tired now, with
my arms aching, so it was a big relief
when I netted the fish, and what a
fish! It was stunning! The scales were
so random. I secured the net, and
then with shaking hands grabbed my
phone and sent texts out to some of
my Belgian friends, as assistance
would be required. I got the mat and
sling sorted, weighed the fish at an
ounce short of 54lbs, and then placed
the fish in the recovery sling.
My friend, who I’d met on my first
ever trip back in 2007, drove the hour
to get to me and did the honours with
the photos and video. We were both
like, wow, look at the scaling and the
length of this fish! It was actually
longer than my recovery sling, but I
didn’t have a tape measure on me to
record its length. The fish was
returned, and I asked several locals if
they knew the fish, but none had seen
it before, so it was a potentially
unknown 50 – just amazing! Still
today, as I write this, it’s got to be up
there for me as one of the most stunning carp I’ve been privileged to see
in my arms. After that I moved onto
another canal, and Jo popped by
again with a couple of celebratory
Jupilers (Belgian beer). I had a couple
of small ones and lost a right old
lump, with my knees shaking during
the fight before the line parted, and so
I will have to return to make amends!
Next year will make ten years consecutively fishing the Belgium canals
for me, hoping to catch my fiftieth
Belgium carp. It was the big fish from
KK7-8 that got me inspired to go out
there originally, and I’ve still not
caught from 7-8, although I have only
fished it a couple of times. I will be
making plans for next year to visit the
stretch again and hopefully be lucky.
Sharp hooks, everyone! n

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