freeline-25 - Page 59



Made In England
the sun on their heads. They were
maybe ten yards away, but to get to
the opposite bank was a quarter of a
mile walk, so off I walked. When I
arrived, slightly breathless, I couldn’t
immediately see them, but then a disturbance about forty yards to my left
had me scurrying through the stubbly
grass and over a mound of clay. There
was a small, square bay here, and in
there, for all to see, were five, six,
seven carp. But there was only me to
see, and I just sat down and drank it
in. A couple were big fish, maybe
mid-thirties, maybe bigger. Then one
cruised in really close, a few yards
from the bank, and I could see that it
was a common, a very big common,
with a distinctive angled top to the
tail. I sat for half an hour and at one
point the common was joined by
another fish, which was a good 4-6ins
longer. It too was a common, and I
had no doubt that I was watching
two forty-pound commons in front of
me. (When I later described the common with the dodgy tail to Mark, he
told me it was JC, last out in June last
year at a few ounces under forty
pounds. The other would have been
the Long Common, caught a week or
so after JC at one ounce shy of forty
pounds).
Strangely, I didn’t even contemplate putting a bait to them. The bay
was almost weed free, the fish were
sunbathing and showed little interest
in the few, small baits I’d dropped on
some close-in clear spots, so I just sat
and admired the view. But what to do
later? The square bay was no more
than eighty yards from where I was
fishing; the channel I had in front of
me was no more than five yards
across. Surely, if I put one bait where
I’d had the fish from and one in the far
margin, they would have to pass over
one of them? With that plan in my
head I returned to my bivvy and prepared to attack. As I was baiting the
first rod I saw Roy strolling towards
me, so I went to meet him, away from
the channel. As he approached I
could see that he was soaked from
head to foot, and the look on his face
was so far removed from the word
‘happy’ as to be from another dictionary, totally devoid of words to
describe joy.
‘I’ve just lost Single,’ he said, barely.
My jaw hit the floor. What do you say?
One of the biggest fish in the country,
possibly nudging sixty pounds. What
do you say?
He went on, somehow, to explain
the course of stomach churning
events. The fish had torn off through
the weed but, with constant pressure,
Roy had managed to get it moving,
before it tore through another
weedbed. This continued for about
ten minutes, but then Roy began to
get the upper hand and soon it was
nearing the net. Because it was coming in slightly sideways on it wouldn’t
fit in the net and Roy knew straight
away what this colossal fish was. It
moved off, so Roy got into the lake
and began to guide it back towards
the waiting net, but then, just like
Mark’s fish, the hook popped out. Roy
An Oxfordshire cracker for Dean Goodwill – a 42lb mirror.
FREE LINE 59

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