FL10 (All 218 pages) - Page 97



International Virgin
(Left) Typical barge.
(Below) 39lbs – what a stunner.
into the net.
I flicked on the head torch, and it
was only then I realised what I’d
landed. The width and length was
incredible, and I knew it was going to
be a PB. But it wasn’t until I tried to
lift the fish out of the canal that I
really realised just how big the fish
was – I couldn’t actually pull her up. I
flicked on the baitrunner just in case
she made a bid for freedom, and got
the unhooking mat. I placed the mat
over the side of the canal, rolled up
the net with the fish in and slid her up
in the mat and net, all nice and safe.
The hook had taken hold about an
inch inside from the corner of her lip.
Into the weigh sling she went, and
the needle was bouncing around in
the white area past the 56lb mark on
my 56lb Nash scales! I got the fish
into a sack, making sure she was ok.
Then I ran, yes ran, to the end of the
stretch and thankfully found the
Dutch angler still there. He came and
assisted me with the pictures, and I
told him what I had caught on the
way. John (as I found out) was more
than happy to help out. It was very
dark where I was set up. We got the
fish on the mat, re-weighed her, and
settled on 56lbs 4oz. John spoke with
a friend on the phone to discover the
fish’s identity. It turned out that it was
the biggest fish in the stretch, called
the Leather, although it’s not really a
leather. We struggled getting pictures in the pitch black, and John
suggested sacking the fish until first
light, but I didn’t feel happy with that,
and so returned her. I thanked John,
wished him good luck and said I
hoped he caught something so I
could return the favour. He had been
fishing the stretch for two years, and
was still to land his first fish from
there. I sent a few texts out to mates,
and then I just kept reliving the fight
until I fell asleep, elated. The following
morning the sun was up early, burning off the morning mist. I was packing up when John drove by heading
for home, and I bid him farewell. I
moved onto the Verbindings canal for
my final night. It got very cold and
frosty that night, and nothing
occurred at all for me. It was a lovely
fresh morning as I packed up; the skyline had a lovely orange glow to it as
the sun started to rise. That was to be
the end of my first trip to Belgium.
After my success from my first trip,
I was really fired up to get back out
FREE LINE 97

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