02.11.15

Korda cameraman Jack Reid recounts an eventful few weeks!

“It has been one hell of a whirlwind year…” I was thinking to myself as I pulled into the unusually paved car park next to the sailing club lake. To be fair I knew the year still had plenty left in her including ten days at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan - hence my very brief weekend back in Oxfordshire (where I was born) to take a breather and a bit of fishing time for myself, as well as see the girlfriend and mates of course.

What I love about the lakes back in Oxfordshire that I fish is that very little changes and I always find myself dropping in even for just a look about. Everyone has waters with sentimental value and mine just keep drawing me back. Despite this I recently promised myself to cut ties with them for a while.

Repeat captures, old trodden ground and memories are all good and well if you have plenty of excess time, but this year has seen me shooting content all over the UK for Korda and Guru, as well as wild rivers and 150,000-acre inland seas in Europe, right through to witnessing 45-60-minute battles at Gillhams Resort, Thailand, in brutal humidity. Personal fishing time is at a premium and therefore best spent at venues I have not conquered, so to speak.

So with all of this, I was loading the barrow at a lake I have done perhaps six short sessions on in the last few years and in that time only had one fish. Needless to say I had not got my teeth sunk into this venue and the odds of a repeat capture were about the same as being hit by lightning. Whilst I don't tend to do many long sessions, I usually do all I can to stay in touch with a water and pick my battles when time allows.

Myself and the boat lake, however, are truly set for a day ticket relationship; irregular visits, no opportunity to pre-bait, observe or fish the nights. Wheeling my kit towards the lake, I already knew which way the wind would be crashing in as I could not smell the process coffee factory fumes that have characterised this part of the town for decades. It was a hard northerly slamming into the pontoons, the only visible feature on the 16-acre lake. A couple of local anglers were on the lake, one on the back of the wind and one on the end of it. My mind was split in terms of location.

Having NEVER seen a carp show in all my past visits combined, I setup half way down the lake, non-committed to the end or back of the wind until I had something to go on. I had arrived late in the day, around 3pm so every minute counted, but equally the time of day and year meant that any minute I was there it could happen. Vouching for a high-vis stiff hinge rig, and a 'match the hatch' hook bait over a few handfuls of bait at around 80 metres, as well as a low-lying choddy to roam around, I felt I was keeping my options open. If I saw nothing, I would hold my ground and wait for evening to set in. Today felt different and I was feeling sharp.

With constant eyes on the water in between getting the rods out, I caught sight of a splash hundreds of metres away, right round the reservoir on a far bank. With eyes fixed on the small roll I lined it up to a mark on the fence surrounding the venue and guessed it to be no more than 20 metres from the bank. I would be lying if I said I did not contemplate writing it off as a pike and staying put on my freshly laid traps but it was the only true sign I had ever seen on the lake and it was definitely not a bird. The rods were ungracefully placed on the barrow along with the rest of my kit and I was off.

Minutes later I was at the marker on the fence, staying well back and quiet near the margin. This area was sheltered by a higher bank and the usual blustering winds that desensitise the rest of the lake edges were absent here. It was warmer, it was still and it felt right. I assembled the net as quick as I could and debated what action to take. A bottom bait mini tiger nut and a palm full of free offerings is my 'go to' attack in the margins, but I felt like timing was of the essence and looking at the rods on the barrow I picked up the roving rod with a 10mm Squid Supreme Goo’d hook bait attached to a Mouth Trap and Choddy hook-equipped chod rig, clipped on a heavy lead to the HeliSafe and underarmed it to where I had seen the fish, stopping it at the surface with precision and causing as little disturbance as possible.

The drop thumped up the SubBraid main line telling me I was clear of the concrete slopes of the reservoir and in the area they meet the silt. The decision to not add freebies was partly down to choice, but mainly down to me rushing to get a tiger nut rig out there in a similar area, casting the choddy meant that in the time it took me to get other rods ready I was still fishing and making the most of the opportunity.

Back up the bank, I had just finished squeezing some cork into a drilled out mini tiger nut, the heavily fermenting juices oozing out, when I heard the beautiful sound of a reel clicking gently and the not so beautiful sound of a rod blank scraping on concrete. Turning around I rushed to lift the rod expecting in my heart of hearts for it to be a pike or large bream, a carp would just be a textbook bit of angling and too good to be true given my previous luck on the venue.

It was certainly a carp and felt heavy as it rose up in the water having discharged the heavy lead quickly into the fight. It was one of those fish that grows and grows as you do battle and get it closer to the net. It went from being 'a smallish common', to 'an OK mirror' to a 'fully scaled unit!' in a matter of seconds. The hook holds from size 8 Choddy hooks are next level, so bringing her to the net felt more like a 'when', not an 'if'. Even once she was in the net and transferred to a retention sling to protect her from the concrete I had not quite taken full stock of how nice the fish was. All I knew was the fish was a canvas of old scales and scars from decades of spawning in a harsh environment.

She went 29lb 6oz on the scales and after a few brief self-take photos I carefully returned the fish. It really was one of the sessions where you follow the rule book and are rewarded handsomely. Speaking to one of the local anglers, he congratulated and informed me it was likely the biggest fish in the lake around spring time – something I did not know having kept a lot of the stock a mystery to myself, maintaining some element of surprise in my fishing that these days is often missing.

It has been said time and time again, but location is the most part of the battle in fishing. So, if you see something that triggers the feeling that you can make something happen, then act on it!

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