Bait boss recovers from coma to bank a beauty!

September the 3rd...

A date forever etched into not only my mind but also the minds of my family and close friends. It was a normal day when, in the blink of an eye, I was involved in a near-fatal car crash that almost ended my time on this beautiful planet.

Mark's van, after the near-fatal car crash that left him in a coma.

Luckily, the Air Ambulance crew was carrying blood, because he needed several transfusions to save his life.

In that split second I had suffered a shattered pelvis and fractured spine. A severe head trauma had caused my brain to swell and I’d also severed femoral artery that should have killed me at the crash scene. It was the Wiltshire Air Ambulance crew, who gave me three full blood transfusions from crash site to Southmead Hospital, that saved my life that day, along with the emergency services that cut me from the wreckage. Amazingly, the Air Ambulance had only started carrying blood some eight weeks beofre. Someone was looking down on me that day.

Seven days later from an induced coma, and out of intensive care, the road to recovery has been long and slow with many physical and mental obstacles to face and overcome. If it wasn’t for the strength of my family and friends I know that the path would have been much longer. Learning to walk again had me crying after four steps, it just showed me how we all take for granted to simple things in life. Those first few steps made that day one of the best days of my life!

A week into my physio, I had a delivery of four large boxes turn up on my doorstep. Opening the boxes revealed an entire DVD collection including films, boxsets and also every fishing DVD that Korda had produced! Also in the box was biscuits and some Mojito mix! Thank you so much to Danny Fairbrass for such a thoughtful present. I have now watched so many fishing programs that the fire was burning ever so bright inside.

I found that the passion for fishing had remained consistent and I was relishing the thought of going out. I found that once all of life’s distractions such as Internet, phone and outside contact were removed, you end up reverting back to what truly makes you happy. From these early days all I was thinking about was getting back onto the bank.

So here I am, just 10 weeks from the accident and with lots of hard work and physiotherapy I’m managing to shuffle around on crutches and being able to free walk for about 40 yards. It has amazed me how quickly the human body can recover. With my improving strength and balance my thoughts quickly turned to fishing. Although I would struggle with certain aspects of angling, I could, with help, possibly go fishing for the first time since the crash.

This is where I must say a huge thank you to Tom Pollard who owns Churn Pool Fishery here in my home area of the Cotswold Water Park. Tom gave me a day’s fishing free of charge to help with my recovery (getting out of the house anywhere feels so good!). I invited Greg Taylor and Giles Harris to fish with me and to help me angle as bending down to low would be out of the question for me. Greg and Giles have both gone above and beyond in supporting both my family and partner Claire when I was in a coma in critical condition at hospital and have continued to help in so many ways. True friends.

En route to the venue with Greg I made sure to swing into my bait company, Baitworks, to pick up some essentials for the day. I armed myself with our Scent from Hell white pop-ups and a kilo of Monster Red 15mm boilies. On arrival we could already see that Giles had pulled a fast one and got there well before the agreed meeting time and, in true snaky, fashion already had his rods out, crafty devil! On greeting Giles, his alarm burst into life and we were treated to the sight of a lovely 20lb mirror, one of many from Churn Pool.

I opted for a sheltered part of the lake while poor Greg was left with last choice. I rigged up some stiff links with my trusty 20lb IQ2 tried to size-4 barbless Kurv Shanks. It felt so good to cast the rods in after such a long absence from the bank. Three rods were positioned at different depths on the egg box features in front of the swim. One hour later it happened! A fast take on the right-hand rod had me moving as fast as I could to the rod in question. It felt like ages to make that short distance! The fish was grating on the far side of a bar and I was fearful of the damage this might have caused to the main line.

After a tremendous tussle that was beginning to make both my back and rebuilt pelvis ache, the fish finally surfaced in front of us. We all gasped as a good fish came inching over the landing net and YES! It was mine. It’s hard to put into words how I felt at that moment and all I could do was shed a tear in a time of reflection over all the emotions of the last ten weeks. Luckily, the boys didn’t see this as they were to busy looking at the massive mirror that lay in my net! I composed myself and let the boys go onto autopilot, tending to the fish and weighing it. For the record it went 30lb 12oz and was a new thirty for the Churn Pool. The weight was irrelevant to me, as any fish that day would have stirred the same emotions. Tom Pollard came down to help with the photos and helps figure out how I was going to lift the fish! In the end we managed to come up with a plan that involved me laying next to the fish with Giles and Greg either side in case I needed their assistance.

That was all the action for the day but to be fair it didn’t matter if any of us caught anymore. Thank you so much for helping me that day guys. This has lifted me so much and given me even more strength to push on for a full recovery.

I would also like to thank the continuous support from all my friends and loyal customers. All those messages and supportive words over Facebook and Twitter really made my recovery even easier and was so lovely to read after I woke up from my coma. Thanks again guys and gals!

Mark's stiff rig setup, with Dark Matter loop allows him to change hooks quickly. He used a white pop-up on this occasion.

The famous Hell pop-ups, they worked well as usual.