FL02 PDF (212pp) - Page 42



Going Hell For Leather
The Leather head on.
rod back with an open bail alarm. I
sank the line, added a backlead, and
left it on the buzzer. I was going to
give it a couple of hours before giving
it to them large. In the meantime I
picked up my float rod and made my
way back to the shallows where, after
selecting the finest length of stick
that I could find on the ground to act
as a float, I attached it through a piece
of silicon rubber at the base of my
stick float, planning fish it lift-method
with a piece of corn as a hookbait.
The fish were still there in numbers, but I was sure they wouldn’t
stay for long due to the dwindling
temperature. I couldn’t make out any
larger specimens; they were mainly
the stockies. It wasn’t amusing for
me, as every time there was a plume
of bubbles I’d move the bait there, and
suddenly it would stop. It was more
like fly fishing the amount of times I
was bringing it in and casting it back
out again. Eventually I decided it was
staying in the middle, no more chasing them about; they could come and
find me. And they did come to me;
they seemed to enjoy my ‘au natural’
stick float, and proceeded to use it
like a roundabout for the next hour.
42 FREE LINE
Groups of five, seven, even ten fish
paraded themselves around it. I
couldn’t believe it – they were obviously ridiculing me! Even though I
was thoroughly enjoying being
teased, it became less and less frequent as I expected, and it was time
to get back to base and sort the other
rods for the night. I planned a massbaiting mission; I had about 20kg of
my Vitalin/hemp mixture to try out,
and hopefully cause some sort of a
response. I reeled in my first rod, and
was horrified to see one of the two
bottom baits was gone. This was only
after two hours had passed, and there
was no way I could re-bait with these
specials on the end, as there was no
way they would last the night.
At that precise moment, a bleep
from the Neville snapped me out of
my bait quandary. The reed rod shook
in the rest, and I thought it was a bird
briefly, but after scouring the water, I
realised that it must be a fish. I struck,
and was immediately met with a stuttery headshake – a typical stockie
fight! The fish kited out of the bay
along the dam wall and into deeper
water. I was sure it would be in the
net relatively shortly, but the more I
pulled, the more angry it seemed to
get, and the more protracted the fight
became, and all of a sudden it dawned
on me it maybe an original after all. It
then sat deep and just held its own,
but slowly I got it closer in, only for it
to strip some line off me. After ten
minutes I got it nearer the net, but it
decided to go for the reeds along my
right hand margin. Rascal was
perched eagerly alongside me, waiting for the leviathan to give itself up,
and then it turned in the margin. It
was light in colour, almost grey. Light,
grey? All the mirrors were a brown
colour, but the Leather was grey…
Although I only got a glimpse, my
stomach turned at the thought of
what just maybe could be on the end.
Nah, it couldn’t be, could it? I asked
Rascal, and surprisingly for a dog, got
no response! I kept on saying to
myself, relax, enjoy it, you have
waited three long years for this
moment in time, and I was trying to
keep myself calm. Although I was still
unsure whether it was my obsession
on the end, then in slow motion, like a
big old submarine, she surfaced, and I
my bottle went.
“It’s her, Rascal it’s her – we’ve got
her on!” With the net in my left hand,
and the rod up over my shoulder, she
slid into the mesh, and I lifted it
around her bulk. I laid down the net
and peered in. Sweet Jesus; I’d done
it! I unhooked her in the net, laid the
pole down on the platform, and just
walked around with my arms aloft,
pacing around in a circle repeating,
“Yes, yes, yes, I’ve got her, I’ve got
her, I’VE GOT HER!” I quickly put her
in the sling, lifted the weighing crook
up, and settled on a weight of 43lb
5oz. I then put her back in the net, left
her in the margin while I sorted a
photographer, and fast in the fading
light. I got hold of Treena first, still
saying, “I’ve got her, I’ve got her,” and
it still hadn’t sunk in. Callum was in
bed asleep so she couldn’t come out,
but she congratulated me on the
achievement.
Then I texted Tim, and I also managed to get hold of Lee, who said to
give him five minutes to cancel some
plans. Tim rang back to offer his congratulations; he really knew how
badly I desired her, the pain I felt, and
the bloody hard work I’d put in over
the last few years to make it a clean
sweep. Another fact I didn’t pick up
on at the time was that Tim and I had

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