FREE LINE 03 - Page 212



North Carping
(Left) The Leather, Halsnead Park
(Leney strain).
(Below) A brace of carp, Halsnead
Park, 1987.
their way out of the shallows into this
area and patrol the bank throughout
the night, and sometimes you would
have a fish or two, but sometimes you
would get nothing. Some of the fish in
Legga were right little characters, not
massive by today’s standards, but in
those days, they were the ones to be
seen with on the bank. Names such
as the Shark, the Italian, and the Disc,
great little carp that had brains in
their heads.
If you caught one of the named fish,
you could give yourself a well
deserved pat on the back, as you
knew you had put your time and skill
in. They were magical days to me,
waiting for the original opening of the
season to arrive, and it could not
come quickly enough, and I used to
get down there the day before. I feel
I’m getting romantic again, but I can’t
help it; I can just picture myself in the
Big Swim, getting all my kit into
place, everything perfect for the coming night. All the other anglers were
brimming with excitement, talking of
what the new season would bring,
and I certainly had butterflies in my
stomach, just like everyone else.
It had now come to the point when
we were running out of waters to fish;
212 FREE LINE
we had conquered them all but one, a
big local mere that contained some
fantastic fish, real fully scaled mirrors,
long hard-fighting commons, and
leather carp. It had us watering at the
mouth just thinking about it, and no
doubt about it, the mere was the
daddy of them all at the time. So Dave
and my mate came up with a cunning
plan in which we would fish military
style. We would arrive in the dark and
leave just before dawn. I could write
about these sorts of experiences forever, but this encounter stood out
from the rest by far – this was fishing
at its best. If we were to maximise our
time and effort, a quality bait was
needed, which Dave came up with. It
was bird food mix with honey liquor
flavour. Dave said at the time, “You
could rub it up and down the crack of
your arse and still catch on it.” This all
sounded good to me, so it was just
small details to sort out now before
we could test our talent against the
mere.
It was in the month of May, and we
had a two-mile walk to the lake and
then back home. Tackle was kept
down to a skeleton kit, one rod each,
a landing net, weighing equipment,
and camera. We had five nights ahead
of us for the campaign, each night
working out at about five hours’ fishing time, and nobody knew we were
there at all. To cut a long story short,

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