FREE LINE 03 - Page 216

In Search of Monster Carp
‘The Eye’ from Sonning, 35lb 12oz. 1990.
Swimming Pool at midday. I asked
Richard if he’d seen anything, and he
said, “There isn’t anything around at
the moment, but…” So we just kept
wandering about, kept looking, and
then all of a sudden I saw one fish,
and then I think he saw a fish, and
they came in, because there were big
lily beds there. They normally come
into the pads on that spot, or they
used to anyway. So we were watching and watching, and they didn’t
seem to come into there, and we lost
them. Richard said, “I’ll go up here,
and you go down there,” so we split
up and I saw a fish. I didn’t see what
size it was, so I called him down, and
he said, “Get your rod and have a go,”
and I said, “How am I going to fish
that?” He said, “Sit on that branch,”
and I said, “Oh no, mate.”
So I was watching, looking into gin
clear water probably about 4ft under
this branch to clean gravel, and I saw
them come round. They looked as if
they were up for a bit of a feed, so I
said, “It’s looks like they’re looking for
bait on the bottom,” and Richard said,
“Well haven’t you got a bottom bait?”
I said, “I might have in my bag.” So I
opened my bag and found the bait,
and because I had my marker float
rod and all that set ready for a mixer, I
had to take off my mixer and put that
on. I think I only side-hooked it; I’m
not sure, I can’t remember now. I said
to Richard, “It’s about that deep,” and
I got down onto this branch, and he
passed me the rod. So I was sitting on
it, with clear water underneath me. I
lowered the bait down, but it was too
shallow, so I held the rod up, and I
said, “Pull that float up,” so he pulled
it up even further, and I said, “Yeah,
that’s about it.” I chucked a couple of
little balls in and sat there. Because of
the way the trees were, with the sunlight coming through, you had little
dark patches and light patches on the
gravel, so I could only just see my bait
on the gravel. “I’m watching,” Richard
said, “and they’re coming round.” Four
of them came through underneath
me, and I could see them make their
way to where my bait was, but then I
lost sight of my bait and everything,
and they had gone. They had moved
it, and it had gone into one of those
dark spots. So I lifted it up, put it back
onto a bright spot, and Richard said,
“They’re coming back again.” With
that I could see that one was taking a
couple of bits, but I didn’t know
which one it was, I mean, they didn’t
look that big to me. Anyway, the fish
went round, and I saw him take the
bait, so I lifted into it, and the water
I thought shit, what do I do now? I
let go, and he went straight out in the
open bay, underneath this bush, and
out into open water. I thought that’s
alright, I’ll let him play himself out in
open water. The rod, one of these
Mickey Mouse rods, was bent double.
Anyway, eventually, I don’t know how
long it took, but I got him back to the
branches. There was one branch that
was half on the water and half under
the water, and I couldn’t get him past
that. Every time I pulled, the branch
was moving up and down, so to
speak. I thought shit, what do I do, do
I jump in? But I thought I can’t swim,
I’m not jumping in that deep, so I’ll
just sit here. I said to Richard, “Get my
net, get my net,” so he sorted my net
out for me, passed it down, and I said,
“I can’t get it.” So he scrambled down,
and got into the water in the margins
up to his knees. So, he had my net,
and he was trying to get the fish, and
he said, “I can’t reach it!” He went out
a bit more, and of course as he was
going out, the gravel was sloping
down. He could just about reach the
branch, and he tried several times to
get it into the net. It was right on the
cord, and I could see the size of this
fish, well, I could see it, but I didn’t
realise how big it was. I thought, he
isn’t going to be able to get that, and
we’re going to lose it. Then for some
reason, he said to me, “Bite the line!”
Without even thinking, I just bit the
line, and the fish dropped straight
down into the net. How he got it, I
don’t know, but we scooped it in, and
we both clambered up the bank.
Richard said, “This is really heavy,” in
his northern accent. “I think this
might be a personal best, Pete.”
We got it up on the bank, opened
up the net, and I said to him “Bloody
hell, Rich, it’s that big one! Look,
there’s the scale.” He said, “Look at
the size of it.” So we unhooked it and
sacked it, and I just stood holding the
sack while he went off for the camera
and his big scales and what-haveyou. Anyway, he came back, and we
took it round into a bit of a clearing to
weigh it, and it went 45lb 6oz. He
said, “We’ll take the photographs
here, where there’s some nice grass.”
I said to him, “I’ll have to get my camera.” So I went and got my camera out
of the van, and I met this guy, Mickey
Tomkins or something, but it was
someone that I knew, and he was
supposed to be a good photographer.
Whether it was his profession or not I
don’t know, but he was into taking
photographs and all that. He said to
me “You caught any, mate?” I said,
“Mick, you won’t believe what I’ve
just caught.” “Oh, I’ll go and get my


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