I have two real passions in my life – football and fishing. If you ask me to choose, it’s impossible to say, as they are very different and I find it hard to compare. For most of the time though there is no real conflict, but this last week I found that football took up a lot more of my time than normal. Monday saw me at Molineux, where I am a season ticket holder, watching Wolves take on and convincingly beat Ipswich Town.
Tuesday was taken up with playing – yes even though I am an ‘old guy’ I still love to not only watch football but to play it. I actually run a local league and also manage one of the teams. Then Wednesday it was back to Wolverhampton to watch our lads narrowly miss out reaching the final of the FA Youth Cup, where we lost on penalties to Southampton.
So as far as my fishing was concerned, this left just Thursday to get out. And even then I had a busy Friday ahead of me so it was just a small window of opportunity up till midnight that presented itself. Still, you never catch sitting at home, and as the day drew to a close I once more found myself perched by the edge of the local canal, trying to tempt a carp from the murky waters.
If you have been following my Angling Journal regularly you will know that I have not had a single carp in several visits. Seven previous sessions had all drawn a (carp) blank, but as always I was optimistic as I settled back to await some action. Surprisingly the usual hectic activity of the chub failed to materialise, only the occasional bleep indicated that there was any underwater activity at all.
Well into dark I did manage the one and only chub of the session, but I was delighted to witness some quite large surface disturbances as several carp gave away their location. This was very encouraging, because as we know we can only catch something if it is there. And if they are, then that’s a good start!
When the bait runner started to go and I struck into a good fish, I knew instantly that I had hooked my first canal carp of the campaign. So imagine my disappointment a moment or two later when I had a break! It certainly wasn’t due to the fish being a monster (that’s the assumption that many anglers make when they lose a fish) but rather a weakness somewhere on the line. I do check it regularly but all it takes is for it to grate along something sharp and the weak spot will instantly be highlighted when put to the test.
The weather was typically spring – warm days but fairly cold nights. So settling back again after casting out both rods, I was soon zipping my suit right up to the neck to keep out the cold. But with water temperature rise and fall being much different to that of the air, the most important thing was that the canal itself was still pretty constant. This is a common mistake that many anglers make – they assume that because the air temperature falls sharply at night so does the water.
I was very surprised that the chub had literally gone right off the feed. My previous visits to the canal had seen a steady stream of fish, but as the local church clock indicated 10 p.m. I had still only got the one. However I wasn’t concerned in the slightest, but rather encouraged, after all I am on a carp campaign. And my thinking was that with no chub to get to the bait first, the chances of actually hooking (and landing!) a carp would be increased.
And that logic proved to be quite correct a little while later when a fish took the bait and tore off at such a speed that my pod toppled over! (It was positioned rather awkwardly anyway due to the restrictions of the limited towpath) This could be nothing less than a carp, and with the memory of the previous lost fish still fresh in my mind, I struck. As the fish took me straight into a deep clump of rushes I feared the worst.
But with 10lb line I was confident. Barring a weakness in the line, as with the first carp I had hooked, then I knew that the odds were still very much in my favour. Walking along the canal to alter the angle, I eventually ‘persuaded’ the fish to leave the security of the natural snag, and once out into open water, I knew the battle was won. But it was still with a great sense of joy that I slipped the net under a nice looking common and lifted it onto the bank.
As you can tell from the photographs, it’s hardly likely to set the angling world alight! But it made my day, and that’s what really counts! After a run of seven carp blanks, it was certainly a relief to actually catch a fish from the venue. And just as the city of New York was ‘so nice they named it twice’, this fish was so good, that I photographed it again!
And as carp are notorious for having names, maybe I should call it The Big Apple! But one thing is for sure – it may only be a small fish but it has given me a fresh enthusiasm to seek out its big brother or sister. So as they say, watch this space for details…
(Originally published April 2005)