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Off The Beaten Track The Haunted Mere
tree canopy, which cut out the glare
from the sun. The water was so crystal clear I could easily see down to the
bottom, which looked something like
15ft deep! The roots that were actually in the water were home to a mass
of tiny black snails, thousands of them
in fact. This was one rich lake, and
any fish present would be able to
gorge on the naturals to their hearts
The second area I found was two
thirds of the way along on the left
hand bank, alongside a huge bank of
reeds. It was no more than just a partially rotten trunk of a tree that had
died many years ago. There was just
one remaining branch, and I managed
to clamber onto it and was high
enough so I could just see over the
edge of the reeds. I could make out
the top of the marginal shelf just few
feet wide before the bottom dropped
of into the clear depths. It would be
from this very branch a few days later
I was to see my first two of the
haunted mere’s secrets. The sun was
getting high in the sky by now and
was really getting warm, and with the
humidity and sheer effort involved in
getting around the water I decided to
call it a day, as I hadn’t bought any
supplies with me.
That evening I had a call from one
of the lads at my other water telling
me that the carp were starting to congregate in the snags and in numbers,
and as I was yet to see my target fish
for myself the opportunity to see what
I was going to be fishing for was to
good to turn down, so the next day
was spent watching a mid-forty
pound common sunning itself with
some lovely looking mirrors well over
the thirty pound mark. Luckily
enough a few of the regular guys
were able to name quite a few, so at
least I knew one of my chosen venues
held a few whackers to go for.
The next few days were cloudy and
windy with a little rain, so I decided to
give the mere a miss for a couple of
days at least until better fish spotting
weather returned. I spent this time
getting all the gear ready for my main
water. I respooled the reels with new
mono, ordered bait for the spring
campaign, and then I just pottered
around making sure all of the gear
was ready for another year of abuse.
The better weather returned, and
soon enough I found myself doing
battle with the triffid-like vegetation
down at the mere once more. This
time I had cleverly remembered to
wear slightly more suitable clothing,
but still camo attire of course.
I quickly skirted around the edge of
the field and made my way in through
the back of the mere so as to avoid a
lot of the nettles and brambles. Also I
didn’t want to leave too much of a
sign I had been there by trampling
through the obvious entrance. Trampled down nettles was something I
was keen to avoid, even a couple of
leaves turned over can catch the eye
of a person, alerting them to the fact
that someone has been there. Without
too much of a drama I managed to
guess my entrance point about right,
missing most of the nettles and ending up somewhere near to the tree
trunk that overlooked the reeds. I
popped on my new Polaroids, climbed
the soft trunk and clambered onto the
branch. The sun was just over the
tops of the trees and the water was
flat calm – perfect.
Within just a few moments something caught my eye to my left. It was
just a slight movement of the water at
first, and then a tiny piece of dorsal fin
touched the surface. I could tell it was
a carp; it had to be, and as I watched
it intently from some ten yards away
it looked tiny! It was slowly working
its way along the reeds. I followed it
intently for a minute or so, and by
now it was only a yard from my tree,
and it slowly sunk away. Just as I took
a deep breath it reappeared right
below me, no more than ten feet away
now, and somehow it had multiplied
into two carp, and what I was witnessing blew me away. There were
two of the most beautiful carp I had
ever seen! Both fish were a deep
brown and chestnut colour with huge
scales covering their flanks like
armoured plates, and not only were
they the best looking carp I had ever
seen; they were both definitely over
thirty pounds!
I was absolutely dumbstruck. I
can’t find the words to describe how
beautiful these carp were – unknown,
probably never caught before, and my
heart was absolutely pounding, I can
tell you. As I strained for one more
look before they disappeared from my
view my foot slipped off the rotten
wood and sent me falling backwards
8ft down into the soft, stinky, black
compost mud. There followed a plop
as my brand new Polaroids made
their way to a watery grave. I just lay
there giggling, which soon turned into
a full-blown howl, as I contemplated
what had just happened. Every carp
angler dreams of a find like this, and
somehow the carp gods had chosen
to show me. Those long forgotten
carp existed, and what stunners they
were. Have you ever seen those two
fully scaled carp Martin Clarke caught
from Sheephouse? Well these looked
just like that, but just a little smaller.
However, the size didn’t matter to
Stinking like shit and covered in
black ooze, I decided to head home for
a shower and a cuppa. I had intended
to nip into the nearby pub for a pint
and some lunch, as it was turning into
a gloriously warm spring day, but I
thought perhaps I wouldn’t be too
welcome. So instead the afternoon
was spent trying to clean my car seat
and getting rid of the smell.
I was buzzing that evening; I went
onto one of the forums I use and
typed out a little story about what I
had found. I was almost exploding,
and I needed to let it out, but at the
last minute I decided against it,
deleted it all, turned off the computer
and nipped up to the pub after all. I
just sat in the beer garden replaying
in my mind the pictures of those two
carp swimming along that reed line. I
wouldn’t have been able to sleep that
night if it wasn’t for those beers; I was
just so excited!
The next day I contemplated getting a few bits of tackle ready and giving it a go that morning, but to be
honest there was no way I would be
able to fish anywhere near where I
saw them. There were just too many
logs and branches in the way to safely
land a fish, plus casting would be
nearly impossible with the trees leaning over the water so I decided
against it. No hurry, remember. I had
decided that I would spend as much
time as I could up the trees just
watching, trying to figure out any
patrol routes or feeding areas and
most importantly where the hell I
could actually get a line or two out
and have a good chance of safely
hooking, playing and landing one, that
is if I was lucky enough to hook one of
course. I kept reminding myself of the


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