FREE LINE 03 - Page 72



Return to the Grand Union
bleeps. I tightened the clutch a little
further and let the fish know who was
boss. As it got closer to me I loosened
off the clutch, and let fish take its last
few short runs before eventually
bundling it into the net. I peered in
and I could see a lovely golden common sitting there, which weighed
25lb 8oz. This was my biggest scaleperfect common from the Grand
Union Canal. What a result!
That was to be my last fish that
year, as the following few weeks were
blanks, and then winter swept in, the
water cleared to the clarity of tap
water, and the fish moved to their
winter hiding spot, wherever that is.
I’d managed five doubles and 12 fish
over the 20lb mark, so hopefully
things would carry on the following
spring.
Spring 2007 came around and I
decided to start pre-baiting a little
later during March as the water
started to take on some colour. I had
changed bait; I was now using Perfection Groundbaits Choc and Orange
Nut mix. A big change for me, as I had
been using fishmeal and robin red
based baits for several years. I also
dropped the Amnesia, and was to use
Merlin on both rods as I had had 14 of
the 17 fish on the Merlin! I started
fishing in April, although the first cou-
26.14
72 FREE LINE
ple of weeks I didn’t receive any
action. At the end of April when I’d
organised a little social with my mate
Mogs for a night on the canal. It
looked promising as we set up, but as
the night wore on, the wind dropped
to nothing, and there was a chill in the
air, so eventually we hit our respective bags.
Shortly afterwards at around
1.30am I was away on the towpath
rod. This fish felt quite good, but
didn’t go on any long runs; it just
hugged the bottom for a while using
The fish was
really powerful,
and it took some
time to get it up
to the surface.
its weight, and then when it neared
the surface, it kept powering back
down to the bottom. It seemed like an
age, but it was probably only a few
minutes. My arm was starting to
ache, so I stuck the rod butt into my
waist to take some of the pressure of
my arm and shoulder. The fish was
using every ounce it had to avoid the
net. Mogs was on hand, and he kept
quiet for a while, but like me he had a
good feeling about the fish. Then
when we got a glimpse of its back
and shoulders as it swirled on the surface the fish gave away its size. Eventually I started to gain control of the
fight, and Mogs netted the fish on the
first attempt. In the net sat a mirror,
and I thought maybe it was an upper20, but Mogs was keeping quiet
because he thought I might break my
duck, and land my first 30 from the
canal. We both agreed on a weight of
29lb 12oz, just a few ounces short, but
I was well pleased with this fish. It
was actually one of my target fish, as
I had a clipping of this fish, from one
of the weeklies from a few years
before.
After that fish it went quiet for a
while, so I decided it was time for a
move, if only to the next stretch of
canal. Now I must say at this point
that I had changed my rigs this year. I
had replaced the Korda tubing with
20ins of ESP leadcore, and the 29lb’er
was the first fish on this setup. On the
new stretch, the bottom felt more firm
and clay-like on the towpath side, and
was slightly deeper by an extra foot.
The far side was reed-lined along
most of the stretch, with a bushy tree
on the bend in the middle of the
stretch. I decided to fish the margin
opposite the tree on the towpath, and
the other rod just short of the tree
along by the reeds, hopefully to give
me a chance of getting the fish away
safely before it reached the branches
of the tree. I placed my usual quantity
of a dozen boilies over each rod, and I
did also put some hemp, crushed
tigers and seeds of the gods on the
towpath spot.
At around 1am I got a good take on
the towpath rod, and another hardfighting canal carp put up a good
account of itself. Once on the mat and
I could see it was well hooked an inch
into its mouth. I recognised the fish
straight away, so I took a quick photo
for my records, and weighed it at
23lbs; it was the first fish I’d caught
last year. I clipped on another new rig
and got the rod back out, along with
six more freebies. At about 5am I had
another belting take on the towpath
rod. As I hit the rod, I felt the fish for a
second, but then all went slack. Once
I’d retrieved the rig the lead was at
the top of the leadcore, where it’s tied
to the mainline, so at least I knew my

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