FL09June - Page 208



From Horton to Paradise
blank nights that I’d managed to
notch up now in the swim, and I was
back to work the following morning
for a straight five shifts in the control
room.
It got to the Thursday, and I really
wasn’t feeling too well at work to say
the least. By 3pm all I could think of
was getting back to the lake, as I
knew conditions were ideal for the
end that I had been fishing. I still had
most of my gear in the back of the
van, and was starting to think of the
mad rush it was going to be for me on
the Friday night after work to get up
the M25 and get to the lake. The more
I thought of this, the worse my sickness became, until in the end I had to
give in and go sick. On my journey
home I seemed to make a miraculous
recovery from my illness, and it
wasn’t long before I was pulling into
the Horton car park with the chance
of doing another three-night session
in the Padded Cell. Luckily for me
nobody had set up in the swim, so I
got my gear round there asap. Del
was quite surprised to see me back
on the Thursday night, thinking that I
wouldn’t turn up until the Friday
night. The swim looked in prime condition – a steady westerly wind was
blowing straight down the lake, and
the ripple on the water stopping just
short of the overhanging willow
branches in front of me. Excellent, I
Shoulders at 45lb.
208 FREE LINE
thought to myself as I was setting up
the house. I got the rods both sorted
out on the spots, had a few cups of tea
and a smoke, and then got my head
down for the night.
The Friday morning I was awake
very early, having got a good night’s
sleep, so from 4am until 10am was
spent drinking tea and going up to
the top of the swim to look down on
the area being fished for signs of
activity. There were some very big
tench mooching up and down the
marginal shelf, and every now and
again I would see one or two of them
with their tails up, having a little feed.
They were feeding quite high up the
shelf on bits and bobs that I had put
there to keep them occupied, as I didn’t want them wiping me out on the
main spot, which was several feet
away.
I’ve always liked a bit of cricket,
and England was playing a test
match. It was the second day of the
test, and I was listening to it on the
radio on a very low volume, just lying
on the bedchair chilling out. I had not
long chopped up around 30 14mm
KG1’s into quarters, and scattered
them out over the general area of the
two rigs along with a few handfuls of
the small pellets. I must have dropped
off to sleep at around 12.30pm,
because all of a sudden all hell was
breaking loose in the swim. The right
hand rod was nearly being ripped
from the Quattro Pod, and line was
being taken from the clutch at an
alarming rate. With the rod now in my
hands, I slowly put some pressure on
the clutch and could see that an
angry carp had taken me through the
other side of the overhanging willow
branches. Not having a lot of room in
the swim, and not being able to fully
lift the rod due to the angle of the
overhanging branches above my
head meant that I had to crouch
down low on the small pontoon that I
was standing on, and put right hand
sidestrain on the fish to try and bring
it round into some more open water
to my right. This I managed to do
without much fuss, but when the fish
was just out in front of me it vortexed
on the surface and rolled, then took a
deep dive to my left.
‘Noooo,’ I thought to myself, ‘I’ve
got to get this fish under control, and
pretty damned quickly!’ There are
some snags just off to the left; mainly
dead branches and stuff, but I certainly didn’t want to lose this fish, as I
knew this was another good Horton
carp that I’d latched into. Anyway I
managed to turn the fish and play it
out to the right for a short while. The
fish made one more burst for freedom
as I tried to get full control of the situation, then it went into the waiting
landing net. I breathed a massive sigh
of relief as I opened the net to see
what my prize was, and I couldn’t
quite believe my eyes to see Shoulders in the bottom of it. The fish was
so broad across the top, I had to double check and pinch myself. For some
reason I didn’t give out a roar; I just
secured the fish and called Del on his
mobile phone to say that I had Shoulders in the landing net. I was shaking
like a jellyfish, and a small crowd soon
gathered to witness the weighing and
photo session of the great old warrior.
On the scales Shoulders went 45lb,
and was a new personal best for me.
Many thanks to everyone who helped
out that day – you know who you are.
Weedy Pete and I celebrated in proper
carpy style that night with a Chinese
takeaway, and we cracked open the
Champers earlier in the lodge. It was
certainly a day I will never forget for
the rest of my days.
By now it was August; I had caught
three of the Horton mirrors, and with
an average weight of just over 40lb, I
for one certainly wasn’t complaining!

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