freeline-21 - Page 233



November
to fetch it, and if the fish decided to
run it could be anywhere by then! So
I ignored the thought of the line going
over the gravelly plateau and bent the
rod double.
Nothing moved for a while, but I
was glad I had taken my casting line
off in the summer and replaced it with
a more robust version. After a few
seconds I felt it give an inch, then
another and another, before the fish
came out and went on another run.
This time it was at a right angle to me
and I managed to pursuade it my way,
until I had it back out of the bay and
my side of the plateau. The fish
charged up and down for a while finding three more weedbeds. Each time
I had to bend the rod double for a couple of minutes to get it out, and each
time it emerged it charged off on a
fast and powerful run. It was then
that it dawn on me that this was the
rod with the small bait on and the size
10 hook. I just hoped it was in well!
The fish then shot into the small bay
to my right, so I waded back on
myself and out to another gap in the
reeds, throwing the net in front as I
made my way through the sticky clay
and soft silt in the darkness.
As soon as I got there it changed
direction, forcing me to go back and
nearly topple over on the uneven
lakebed and sticky ground! I didn’t
think for a minute that this fish was
one of the big girls because its turn of
speed was far too rapid for a lump. I
just assumed it was a very powerful
upper 20. But once I got it about 20
yards out I could feel how weighty it
was between runs, and I knew the
weight was all fish (and no weed)
because of the turn of speed. It was
then I started to think about how big
and which fish it might be. I began to
shake; I’m not sure if it was nerves
about banking the fish or the cold
because I didn’t have chance to grab
a coat and it was a little too cold for
standing waist deep in water in a Tshirt! But the fish was determined to
keep me uncomfortable for as long as
possible and went on another big run
and nearly made it into the thick bistort weed in the bay to my left. I had
to clamp down hard on the spool to
stop it, and I slowly dragged it out
from its third bay of the fight! The
runs became less powerful but the
weight remained, and eventually after
30 minutes, five weed beds, three
bays and god knows how many runs,
I slipped the net under the fish! And I
breathed a huge sigh of relief…
I secured the net in the reeds and
waded back to the bivvy to fetch the
head torch and put my jacket on.
Back out in the water I parted the
mesh to see a big old common lying
there. I ran through the photos in my
head to work out which fish it was,
but I couldn’t think of one that fitted
this fish; it was much chunkier than
the ones in the pictures I’d seen. It
wasn’t until I flipped her over to see
the little smile on one side (with my
little size 10 in) that I realised it was
the Parrot. I knew this fish hadn’t
done 40lb in a couple of years, but I
could see she had filled out and
looked every inch a 40 now. I knew I
had got what I came to the lake for, a
40lb common – my first 40lb common! But I decided not to get carried
away until I got her on the scales,
because I had come very close in the
last couple of years only to fall onces
short. I need not have worried
though; the dial fell easily past 40lb
and settled on 44lb 2oz! The fish was
at its top weight and a true top
weight as well – without the addition
of spawn – and I had a new PB common. There is something special to
me about a 44lb common, because
when I was growing up, Dick Walker’s
Clarissa was the record and I never
thought for a second that I would
equal that weight. I know things are
I could believe how much I had to
whittle the bait down to make it
critical – the successful rig that fooled
the 44.
different now with fish weights being
much higher, but that fish was the
last (and I think only) common to hold
the British record!
I thought about setting up the camera for a few night self-takes, but with
dawn just around the corner I decided
to wait. I knew that Nick Burrage was
on his way down to look at the complex to hopefully get a ticket, so I
texted him to bring his camera, and a
steady hand. We got some really good
shots with the autumnal trees in the
background and we even got some
video footage for my YouTube blogs
before I released her to beat up
another angler!
I managed to wangle an extra
night, but I probably should have left
on a high, because the Friday bought
other anglers, and I think the extra
lines put the fish’s guards up a bit.
But credit to Dave who dropped into
my right and managed to bag a couple of cracking upper 20 commons.
Overall I was more than happy with
the session and the brace of November commons including biggest fish
of the year from the lake. I’m not sure
whether this issue will be out before
or after the New Year, but may I wish
you all a (probably belated) happy
Christmas and a merry New Year. I
hope Christmas has given you all a
whacker in its winter colours! n
FREE LINE 233

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