freeline-25 - Page 166



The Long Road to My First Fifty Pounder
The standoff between the Big Girl and the Swan.
cast when who do you think showed
up? The bloody swans! They were a
complete nightmare to me; they came
in from around the side of the island
and made a beeline straight for the
fish, and I swear one of them went for
the Baby Face and tried to peck him.
I’d really had enough of the swans,
and I totally lost it. Jim looked on in
amazement as I ripped the loaf of
bread into large chunks and
screamed abuse at the swans, throwing the chunks at them like a scene
from Fawlty Towers. “Go on then!” I
shouted. “Have the bloody lot, you
bastards!”
The swans loved it, ate as much as
they wanted and then drifted away. I
was so annoyed, but a fair bit of bread
and mixers was still left, and suddenly, the fish were back, and so was
she – game on!
I cast a long hook link past a group
of fish and slowly drew it back. As
soon as it was in the zone, it was
sucked in from just below the surface
and I was into a good fish. The water
is deep here, down to 20-odd feet in
places, and this fish dived down and
kited about for a while until it got its
bearings, and then it made a direct
line for the island and its snags.
Essex Gal with one of his captures of Chubby Chops.
166 FREE LINE
I really had to bend into the rod to
stop its progress, which I eventually
did, and I was so sure that this was
the big’un. The fight went on for a
long time with Jim by my side and we
kept looking at each other. Jim was
probably praying it was her so he
could get back on the lake; I’d told
him that he wasn’t allowed back on
because he’d already caught her
twice.
As the fish neared my margin, it
tried to get to a fallen tree and I was
able to see it. My heart sank because
I knew which one it was; it was my
old mate the Linear again, for the
third time. She looked about 30lbs and
I had a quick pic taken, just to remind
me later on what had happened –
another very close encounter.
As I now knew she was close to
getting caught on the top, I just had
to be on the lake as much as possible.
I was at home with all my gear
packed in the van, ready for my
return, and I rang my mate, Essex
Gary, for an update as he was at the
water. He told me to hold fire and not
to leave yet. There were only a couple
of anglers on, and one of the lads had
seen a few fish in the Boat swim.
They were taking mixers, she was
there and I just knew, there and then,
that she was coming out. A little
while later, Gal said, “Yep, she’s on the
bank.” Like I said, I can’t be there all
the time, and she does love the surface. Oh well, that’s angling, and well
done to the lad who caught her. I now
wondered if she’d be out again before
they spawned because as soon as
they looked like spawning, I’d be off
and probably wouldn’t be back until
the autumn.
Essex Gal and I had spent many
hours trying to catch Baby Face and
we were both now feeling a little low.
We had come so close so many times,
and to be honest each of us did
deserve to catch her. I had spent a
couple more frustrating days in the
Right-hand Oak battling it out with
the swans – they drove me insane –
and after that trip I had more or less
written it off until later in the year. Gal
lived locally so he kept at it, but time
was running out and soon they would
be interested only in spawning. Gal
rang me to say that he had them
going on the top and had already
caught Chubby Chops. That fish was
his friend, like the Linear was with
me, and that the big’un was there and

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