I started fishing for ‘Single Scale’ in March. The fish had just started to show themselves and despite the fact that the lake contained only a few elusive carp, the odd one stuck its head out to give me some encouragement.As the days got longer and the weather improved, the fish gradually became more active and on a good day they could be spotted visiting the snaggy margins and hanging around the submerged bushes. This is what I had been waiting for, because now I could really start to target these fish and perhaps get a bite. I arrived at the lake for a three day session at the start of April.The weather was warm and without any cold wind or rain and looked like staying good, and the swim I had targeted was free.This swim allows you to fish into the open water but also has a nice snaggy bay to the left in which the fish had been turning up in the middle of the morning.
There is also an overhanging tree that can be climbed to give a birds eye view of the area. The night passed uneventfully and I was up first thing watching the water for any sign of fish movements. I had decided to place a bait in the bay to my left on the edge of a big snaggy bush, where the water is quite shallow and I could just about make out the bottom from the climbing tree. I baited up with some mixed particles and broken boilies, but no whole ones though, and it looked perfect.After having a brew I got up the climbing tree to see if the carp would pay me a visit. It seemed like ages but at about 9.30 am two carp turned up and by 10 am they were feeding on my bait; game on! Soon I was back next to my rods waiting for a take. The line twitched and gave me a single bleep. My heart was beating faster and faster, but no take came. In the end I climbed the tree to see what was going on. Looking down there were still two carp and two tench feeding on my bait.
Going back to the rods, I was now thinking,“Please, not one of the tench.” By three o’clock however it was all over and the fish had gone, but at least they had been feeding on my bait. The next day was similar, two fish turned up - the same two I think - they were going down and feeding and I was sure they could not get away with it twice, but by the afternoon they had gone again. On my last day I was hoping it might be third time lucky, but the weather had taken a turn for the worst being much colder and no carp or tench turned up all day. I left the lake a little disappointed and knew I was up against some very wary fish, but I was up for the challenge.
The next couple of weeks were quite tricky. One day would be nice and the fish would turn up in the margins, then the weather would change and I would be wasting my time fishing close in. But with summer now approaching, the fish soon started visiting the margins every day and I had my second close encounter. I was fishing a swim known as ‘The Swamp’.On the right there is a massive sunken bush where, with a small underarm cast, you can drop a hookbait accurately close to its outer branches. I had woken after a quiet night but about mid-morning I had received a couple of unexplained bleeps. There is no climbing tree here, but there is a branch you can stand on and look down onto the edge of the bush where you are fishing. As I looked down from it into the water, out of the blue a carp came up from where I was fishing and its gills were going as if it were feeding. It then circled and disappeared under the bush, but despite waiting expectantly by my rods all day, there was no take. I left that evening and was beginning to get a bit concerned that fish were visiting my swim and feeding on my bait, but were getting away with it.
My next session was a four nighter and I was quite hopeful, but after spending three days in ‘The Swamp’ with no action, I was getting despondent. Every day I saw the odd carp in the swim but my gut feeling was that things just didn’t seem right for a take. On the Sunday, after the other anglers had gone home, I decided to have a look around in the small bay where I had fished before.There I found five or six carp milling around, which was quite promising, so I moved straight away. I dropped one rod to the left on a nice clean piece of gravel, the second rod I cast across the bay to the edge of the snaggy bush. I baited each rod quite heavily hoping that the fish would feed and gain confidence as they worked their way through the bait.
At first light the left hand rod was away with the tip bent round and the indicator screaming. Lifting the rod I was into a powerful fish that ran down the left hand margin before turning and swimming into the middle of the bay.The fight seemed to go on forever, possibly because I was nervous and did not want to loose my first fish from the water. I’d put a lot of hard work and effort in and I just wanted it safely in the net. Everything went to plan though and I recognised the fish as one known as ‘The Long’. It weighed 29 lbs and was an amazing torpedo shaped fish with its head and back so very dark brown that it was almost black, with an orange belly.This certainly wasn’t your average 29 pounder.
This event was to mark a change of fortunes as over the next few weeks I landed a 28 lb mirror, two of the lakes small commons and recaptured ‘The Long’. My sights were now firmly set on ‘Single’ though, which is by far the largest fish in the lake. By the height of summer, the fish were spending a lot of time in the ‘Swamp’ swim just basking in the sanctuary of the submerged bush. I remember spending hours one afternoon lying on a branch and watching ‘Single’ no more than three feet below me. At such close range it looked massive and quite leathery looking, apart from the single scale on its left flank and a small cluster of scales on the other side. I just laid there watching and dreaming. Single Scale was a really impressive fish and I dearly wanted to catch it.
When I arrived for my next session ‘The Swamp’ was taken and I decided to fish in the ‘Small Bay’.The swim was just right for two rods with one to the left and the other cast across to the snaggy bush. I carried on with the heavy baiting, as it seemed to be working if only to feed off the tench.With the traps now set I went off to sleep dreaming of ‘Single’.
I woke the next morning and made a cup of tea before two single bleeps sounded on the right hand rod; I had seen no signs of carp and put it down to tench. A slow run then occurred on the same rod and I struck and felt two slow lunges as the fish moved from left to right and straight into a weed bed. Everything went solid, so I increased the pressure then slowly, very slowly, a massive lump of weed slid across the surface towards me. It must have been at least 12 foot long. I cautiously waded into the margins with my landing net but I could not net all the weed, which was just too big. I could see my hooklink though, so I pulled it up to the spreader block and lifted the net. I started breaking the weed at the cord until I was left with what seemed like a net full of weed. I was sure there was a fish in there somewhere however and excitedly I started removing the weed. Straight away I came across a big tail and I started shaking. Next, I came across a cluster of scales on the flank of a large carp and I immediately I recognised it as ‘Single’. Only a week before I had seen that small cluster of scales in the water, this time the owner was in my net.
On the scales ‘Single’ weighed 39.04, and as I held her for the camera, all the hard work and effort I’d put into catching her seemed worthwhile. For hours I had watched this fish in the sanctuary of the snaggy bushes but now it was in my arms the challenge was over. ?