Article - Coarse

The Diary of a Lake - Part Eighteen

By Mike, added on 24/03/2008

Stardate Captains Log; 19 March 2008

Sweating to a Glorious Soaking

I knew Friday was going to be a stinker. So did Sally. I kept telling her everything would go fine & afterwards we would be wandering what all the fuss was about. As so often happens right?

Wrong. Friday was chimney flue installation date. Us British, we are engineers, it’s in our blood. We have produced most of the world’s best engineers anyway, have we not. Being an engineer, to me, means trying to make every task as simple as possible. Sally & my kids must get tired of the times I say this, what ever activity is being undertaken ‘always try & make it as simple as possible, make less work not more’.

The French on the other hand, don’t think like this at all. I often think they make things as complicated as possible, perhaps to keep the economy going, by making all these complicated, part burden contraptions. Ever taken a French toilet apart? The flushing mechanism contains a ridiculous number of parts, looking like some kind of hi-tech potato planting machine. Then there is the toilet seat. Seat, lid, two screws, two washers, & two nuts. Oh noo noo noo – far to simple. Open the packaging & all kinds of parts fall out scattering across the floor in all directions. When you come to collect them all up, you are never exactly sure what you are looking for, some of the parts look like they have just fallen out of one of Frank Whittles original jet engines.

When you install a chimney, you start from the fireplace & work up – right? Hah aah – you’d be wrong there mister. The French, just for entertainment value, start at the top & work down. The result, with every single section of the flue pipe sections, is that while you are trying to locate the lowest pipe into the upper pipe & secure with these retaining rings, someone i.e. Sally, has a face which progresses from pink, to scarlet to crimson, due to holding the lower section in place. This is all proportional to the amount of wrestling & cursing you have been doing with the uppermost section. All this done very precariously on ladders.

By late Saturday afternoon (yes Saturday not Friday!) the chimney was complete & the worst was over. So time once again to direct my attentions to the lake. Time for a walk about & a potter about. We had visitors coming in one hours time for a nosh up, so I just wanted to relax. The rest of my family were occupied inside the Gingerbread house, so I took a quiet walk down to the boat house. I think it’s the male ‘shed heads’ thing, I just love pottering about, not really doing anything, bit of a tidy up here & there. The boat house housed a bundle of items; chest waders hanging down from the roof, out of the reach of Roland rat, oars, a few old rod rests, a few various nets & my weed dredging contraption. This incidentally was a great idea, great design, great construction but practically a 90% failure.

A big splash erupted just to the left, sounding like a hefty carp. I didn’t take too much notice, I just made a big smile. A few minutes later though, same again. I stopped pottering & looked out of the boat house, looking left along the bank towards an overhanging willow. A steady wind had been whipping the waves into the bank, but the semi-circle of larger waves was spreading out in the opposing direction. I smiled again, because the fish sounded a real lump. Just a few more minutes, there was another crash in the water in the same place. I stopped what I was doing & looked around me. There was a rod already tackled up, 10lbs line, small float, Korda size 10 on the business end. Mat, net which needed assembling & my tackle bag. I had bait in the freezer, but this would take another fifteen to twenty minutes to get ready for fishing. I had about three quarters of an hour maximum before our visitors came, not enough time. ‘I wander if I can find a worm?’ It had been raining after all.

Matthew & Ellie had planted some young spruce in some plant pots, just up from the boat house by the lock-up. I picked up the first pot & made a lunge for the juicy lob underneath, just before he retracted back into his hole – ‘got yer mister’.

The hook was barbless, so I slid the worm up over the eye of the hook to prevent him wriggling free. I walked very quietly along the bank with the baited hook draped over the reel handle, everything ready just to cast in. The wind warm mild & blowing strong, now directly full into my face. The sky was full of clouds, the lowest clouds whistling over head. I dropped onto my knees, lowering the net onto the ground with my left hand. I let the mat handles out of my right hand, let the tackle bag slide off my right shoulder, leaving me now, just with the rod in my hand. I lifted the baited hook from around the reel handle, then reached down & flicked some water onto the dry spool. I made the cast perhaps two rod lengths out, snapped the bale, dipped the rod tip, took up the slack sinking the line, leaving the float to pop back up just under the end of the overhanging willow.

Very quickly I felt damp coming up through my trousers & it looked like more rain was imminent. Normally I would have knelt on the mat, but this was a quick, no time for details attempt. I had probably only enough time to appreciate the warm breeze on my face, when the float cocked & slid under. It could have been a perch, a roach, a tench, small carp even, but it clearly wasn’t. Hooking a large carp at close range, in those first fractions of a second, really is like hooking the bottom. The line, where it entered the water went right, stopped, came left, stopped, pondered, then set off. A few minutes passed by, nothing dramatic happening, no fast runs, but no signs of the fish near the surface.

The low heavy clouds came straight towards me, the oncoming rain obscuring the fast disappearing view beyond the island. The first few spots, then the down pour. Three are four minutes passed then the deluge stopped as quickly as it started, but I was drenched, literally soaking through to the skin. My shoulders were wet & the dampness was spreading down from the back of my neck. Concentrating on the fish swimming about beneath me, I needed to keep blowing the water off the end of my nose & shaking my head trying the flick water running down my face into my eyes. I still hadn’t seen the fish yet….& because of this, I knew it had to be a big one.

Click to enlarge

My right arm was aching more now, but with the fish circling close to the bank, I helped out with the left arm, backing the clutch off a notch & keeping both hands on the rod. The fish headed way from me once more but had lost the strength to stay down & came up to the surface, tipping backwards. This time, backwards into the net.

At times trying to catch carp can be so difficult, frustrating & intense. Yet sometimes you just drop lucky. With the conditions, I guess such an event was on the cards really, it was just a matter of what size fish picked up the bait. The weight of the fish is not the by far the most important thing in the world, but when I went back to the Gingerbread house, I shouted to Sally ‘I’ve just caught a forty pound mirror’, knowing she would be as astonished as me, having only passing in front of the window twenty five minutes previous.

What makes these moments more enjoyable for me, is that Sally & my son Matthew came to see the fish, photograph it, release it & participate in the whole event.

Barry the Builder is coming fishing again next week.

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