Winning the match that never was

July 21, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Last year notices appeared, by order of The Council, that fishing on two local ponds would be banned, unless a fishing club was formed, due to a litter problem. Now, I had been fishing one of these ponds for a year and witnessed a whole variety of people leave sandwich wrappers and drinks bottles within feet of the litter bins, while walking by, or picnicing. Placing the blame on only anglers was unjust, many of whom like myself, walk round at the end of a fishing session and pick up all the litter, which is then dropped into the bin.

Under pressure to avoid losing a local amenity, a club was formed by the usual suspects, those interested in their environment and who believe in sticking to the rules, while many others refused to pay for fishing, that had been free since childhood, which is understandable. Forwarding on a year, working parties had been carried out and banks cleared by the Few, but poor bailiffing did not get the message across, that this was now a private fishery, so returning membership fell away at the start of the 2013 season. The Committee of the Club, decided that a fishing match would be a good showcase, so today’s date was decided upon and notices posted.

Having  agreed to run the match, I arrived early to do the draw and take the entry fee, it to be a winner take all pool. The car park was empty, so busied myself unloading my fishing tackle and fitting it onto my fishing trolley. The allotted time, 8 am, came and went. A lone dog walker arrived for a chat, eventually being dragged off on her way by a tree sniffing mongrel. No Chairman, no Secretary, or Treasurer, let alone an ordinary member appeared on a balmy Sunday morning, just right for fishing. 

Shrugging my shoulders, I decided to start anyway, the others would have to slot in, when they turned up, first come first served. The sun was masked by cloud, but the air was warm and the wind light, perfect for fishing a short waggler rig over what was now becoming a jacuzzi of bubbles and swirls, as carp began to home in on my feed of pellets. It wasn’t long before my float began to dip and bob, then move slowly across the surface, as a carp picked up the bait, the line veeing over the surface. I lifted into the fish, bending the rod for a moment, before it sprang back, when the bait pulled out of it’s mouth, leaving a black muddy stain on the surface, as it sped away.

With no dedicated carp gear, I’d pressed a 10 ft heavy feeder rod into service, the reel, an old ABU 501 loaded with 5 lb line completing the set up. New to this form of fishing, the local tackle shop had advised me of the terminal tackle and bait, this being a pellet held onto the line with a small elastic band, the bare hook 6 mm up the line, the carp supposed to suck in the pellet and hook it’self on the bare hook. My carp were obviously, just holding onto the pellet and not getting hooked, so after my third miss, I threaded a small piece of Spam onto the hook, which resulted in a 3 lb carp dashing across the shallow pond, with my rod arced over in response. The initial run countered, it was just a matter of a few minutes, before I was able to slip the net under my first fish. I was winning the match already, even though no other competitors had turned up yet.

As the sun climbed higher in the sky, burning off the cloud, so the bites slowed down and when carp began to hover in the surface, their backs absorbing the heat, it was time to change tactics with a finer line and hook, to try for the plentiful rudd. I’d had four nice common carp to 4 lb and a couple of  stunning mirror carp, their large scales giving a metallic glint to their bodies. I started with thin slithers of luncheon meat for the rudd, but the bites were hard to hit, so white bread slices from the freezer were unwrapped and punched onto the size 14 barbless hook, bringing a 4 oz rudd first cast. The bread transformed the bites, the float no longer bobbing and dipping, but now slowly sinking away, as the soft offering was sucked in. The bread brought a few surprises, the first a hard fighting 8 oz common carp, which was no problem. The next was a gentle disappearing of the float, to be met by an explosion of water, as a larger carp panicked, when it felt the hook, speeding off in a shower of bubbles and black mud, the 2 lb hook link snapping like cotton.

By now I’d given up on the hope of another club member joining me to fish and when another big carp took the bread, I decided to enjoy the power of this fish, keeping only the lightest of pressure on, allowing it to run over to the island in the middle, before reining it in. This of course was a mistake, as once it had it’s head, there was no stopping it, my restraint being met by more acceleration and another “ping” moment from another hook link. There were no more surprises after this, the only one would have been the sight of the Club Chairman, or one of his henchmen, but no, it became a rudd a chuck, many slipping the hook, as I bullied them back to my net.

At 2 pm, the official end of the match, I pulled in my line and took stock. No-one had visited from the Club, my wife had walked down to see me, sitting on a nearby bench, but had grown tired of making conversation with someone preoccupied with catching fish “Oooh, did you see that bite!” I had around 16 lb of carp and 3 lb of silvers, not bad for 5 1/2 hours fishing and probably would have won the match anyway, although they would no doubt had more than me IF they had attended. Needless to say this will be the last match I will arrange for them and next season will join the ranks of the great unwashed and become a poacher on these waters.