A carp pushing 30lb – and not a beer belly in sight (bream article, entry 199)

Now that the days are getting longer – and the nights therefore are shorter – I have moved away from the two-night sessions in favour of overnighters. After all, my chosen species of big bream are predominantly nocturnal creatures. And with the day beginning before 5.00 am and not fading away until after 9.00 pm, that’s a lot of wasted time. So this week’s article is made up of a couple of through-the-night sessions.

For the first I arrived quite late, but as my chosen peg was free, it meant I could proceed through to the actual casting out of baits in a fairly quick time. If the day is nice and dry then the shelter can always wait until last anyway, the priority is to get the actual baits in the water. And as I had been very busy during the day – hence the late arrival – once everything was set up I was soon asleep.

It was a quiet night, but at 4.00 am I was up and into a fish. Unfortunately though, the fish did not stay on long and so I ended up reeling in a fish-less rig. Knowing that I don’t get many bites of the cherry, I did feel that I had missed the opportunity to put a fish on the bank, particularly with it being late in the session. And so it proved, as I recorded my first blank of the campaign since the opening trip way back at the start of March.

But my confidence is sky-high at the moment and all that did was to motivate me even more for the second session of the week. In the meantime there had been some decent rain, and although we think in terms of rivers when we talk about venues freshening up, it still doesn’t do any harm wherever it falls. I was on the bank a little earlier than the previous visit, and although it was just an hour, it still gave me a lot of extra time so that I wasn’t racing against the clock.

For the sake of repetition I don’t go into the same old details each week about rigs, bait and so on when writing. Occasionally I may go over the same ground for the sake of keeping each individual article informative, but to see the big picture of what I do you need to read each campaign as a whole rather than just selected pieces. That is why I identify the species alongside each article in the archives, so that those who are interested in a particular fish or venue can gather the information much more easily.

So suffice it to say that if I keep it really brief and say that I cast out the hair-rigged pop-up baits of single artificial corn over yellow rig foam, the details can be accessed via a previous writing. But what is specific to each session is the actual fish caught, and so I am not going to skip over that, particularly as the story unfolds this week. And the action started at 11.15 am when I had a run on the left rod.

Lifting into the fish it felt good, and with a little kick at the end, it had to be a carp or possibly a tench. Either way, the resistance offered was not that great, hence my estimate of a low double carp or a good tench. But when it came to within a couple of rod lengths from the bank, I discounted the latter and settled on the carp option as it stepped up a couple of gears. In fact, for the first time since it took the bait it made me realise that I had a very good fish on the end of the line.

But it was only when it broke the surface and I ended up netting it did I fully appreciate just what I had been playing. And having to lift it from the water and onto the unhooking mat with both hands brought home just how big it was. Looking down on it, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the read-out on the digital scales went to 30lb. In actual fact it was a little lighter than that, but at 27-10-0 it was still a new personal best, and the second of the year following a perch that I had caught earlier. Funnily enough I had said to my wife just that morning that I am really hoping to beat a few pb’s this years. And that’s the sort of prediction I am more than happy to see come true.

If you read my Angling Journal regularly you may have picked up on the fact that I use an unhooking mat. Certainly if you are targeting specimen bream, tench, barbel, pike and so on then it should be an integral part of your tackle. More and more clubs are now introducing the rule that anglers fishing for certain species need to use a mat, so before you get legislated against anyway, if you don’t own one, go and buy one! As you will see from the photograph, as the fish is more than catered for by mine, the bigger the better, as a small mat can be restrictive.

And doesn’t it look a magnificent fish? No horrible ‘beer belly’ as you often see on so many big carp, but really well proportioned. Returning it to the water, the adrenaline was still running high and it was well into the early hours before I finally got to sleep. The next time I woke was to the sound of a run on the right rod. Not a carp this time but a tench, and a decent one at that, just short of 7lb. It looked so small though compared to the fish caught a few hours earlier.

(Originally published May 2007)

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