freeline-27 - 178



Casting For ‘Cloopers’
weather was still very warm; the prevailing westerly had also sprung up
by midday and was rippling the surface of the bay nicely. All in all, it
looked perfect for a bite. I set up camp
on the sloped grassy bank, but as
close to my rods as possible. When I
say camp, all I used back then was a
50” brolly with some storm sides fixed
on with Velcro. I did have a proper
bedchair by then, and the legs were
adjusted to make myself as comfortable as possible on the sloping bank.
Once everything was sorted, I sat
back on the bed and put the kettle on.
It was one of those situations when
everything had (up to that point) gone
to plan, and everything felt right with
the world. Once my tea was brewed, I
just lay there sheltered from the sun
and took in the surroundings. I was all
alone on a Colne Valley pit, which by
all accounts had some uncaught
monsters within its depths. The
breeze rustled through the willows on
the far bank and the bird life on the pit
continued to go about its business.
Groups of Canada geese with their
young, the parents chasing each
other around and honking loudly,
coots squabbling madly with each
other, moorhens silently meandering
around the reedy margins and then
the odd kingfisher suddenly zipping
by in a flash of blue, with a high
pitched ‘chi-keeeee’. Then there are
the swans that lazily drift around;
their heads submerged, spending
most of the day grazing along the
margins, and the great crested grebes
tricking you into thinking you’ve seen
a carp turn over when they dived. I
never tire of just watching nature go
about its business; it is what we
anglers do to pass time… Oh, but
what a way to pass some time!
As I lay there just staring at the
wonder before me, transfixed by the
sun glistening from the rippled water,
I was suddenly awoken from my
dreamlike state. There, literally two
feet from the tips of my rods was a
carp lazily swimming through past
my little hidey-hole. After a few seconds of my brain suddenly registering
w h a t i t w a s s e e i n g, I s u d d e n l y
realised that this was no ordinary
carp. It was a stunning, long, lean and
mahoosive mirror carp! It had big
plate scales at intervals along its lateral line and was a deep chestnut
colour. The carp was definitely a
Leney and looked like a proper old
warrior; it blended into the ancient
178 FREE LINE
backdrop of this old pit perfectly. It
made its presence felt with such conviction, and swam confidently and
proudly like it knew every inch of the
lake; like the lake had been its home
for a hundred years; like it belonged
and it was a king amongst all its subjects.
The carp just lazily drifted by under
the rod tips, and I remained openmouthed in my frozen, trancelike
state. Not only was I in shock at
finally seeing one of the residents up
close, but my instinct told me to stay
perfectly still so that I didn’t give
away my presence to this majestic
fish. Gradually the fish drifted from
view to my left, so I gradually eased
myself up and quickly put on my sunglasses. I crouched right in the margin amongst the wild mint; the luscious scent instantly hitting me as the
margins squelched beneath my
boots. The slight ripple on the surface
of the water obscured my view; however I followed the blue-black shape
as it meandered out of the bay, suddenly going deeper until eventually
all that was left were memories in my
mind’s eye.
I certainly had been daydreaming… “Had it been a dream?” I
instantly said to myself. I eventually
convinced myself that what I had just
seen was in fact reality, and I sat back
down in wonderment. I picked up my
tea and stared out into the lake;
already I was imagining that great big
mirror carp scoffing on my baited
patch and sucking in one of my rigs. I
imagined back-winding as the huge
fish headed out of the bay; because
that is surely what it would do. The
fish had been browsing, so there was
absolutely no point moving my rigs;
they were nicely positioned, and I
was absolutely happy with them. For
the rest of that afternoon, all I could
think about was that fish. It was certainly the biggest carp I had ever set
eyes on, and would break my PB by
more than 10lbs if I was ever lucky
enough to ever catch it. Doubt started
creeping into my mind; why should
that wily old carp ever allow me the
pleasure of catching it? For all I knew
it had never been caught before;
indeed it may be ‘uncatchable’.
I went about the business of
preparing for the night ahead. My
mouldy old army sleeping bag was
unclipped from its bundle and laid out
on my bedchair, and my head torch
was tucked under the front rib of my
brolly. The sleeping bag was one of
those old army cocoon types with a
zip up the front and arms that made it
possible to strike a take without getting out of the bag. The only problem
with it was that it really stank of
mould no matter how well I dried it
out. I then found the extension leads
for my Optonic sounder box, and ran
them from my buzzers under the back
of my brolly. The sounder box was
then opened and rested on its hinge
across one of the brolly ribs; I was all
set.
The rest of the day passed
uneventfully, and just before dark I
cooked up a bit of dinner and listened
to the radio for an hour or so. The
wind had got up quite strong later in
the day, which called for the brolly
storm sides to be pegged down more
firmly. Pieces of weed and debris
were constantly getting caught on
my lines, so eventually I sunk the rod
tips beneath the surface to stop the
false bleeps on the alarms. Darkness
The gravel hump feature years later at low water level.

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