On Home Soil - Ed Betteridge

In my last blog I mentioned that I had been made redundant. Well, things have changed again and I have secured some lab-based project work, but the downside is that it’s 90 miles away from my Derbyshire home, in Leeds! And to put a bigger dent in my fishing I’m working six days a week and commuting. So, the only chance that I have had to get the rods out are on local waters for overnight sessions. All the expensive tickets I have bought will have to wait until my contract ends, the mortgage has to be paid first!
Just before I started the contract I managed to get a few nights in on Christchurch so that Advanced Carp Fishing magazine could come down and do a feature on zig rig fishing with me and I was lucky enough to catch a 33lb 8oz mirror live for the cameras. I won’t go into too much detail on that because it is covered in May’s issue, but it was a cracking looking fish and they got some stunning pictures. I then followed that up on my next outing on a different water with another capture live for the ACF cameras, this time a lot smaller, but its good to catch right on cue.

Even though the fish aren’t that big by national standards on my local water it has been good fishing with a few old friends again, on a lake I have fished for over 20 years on and off. On my first session in early April I was lucky enough to bank a 21lb common on a single Citrus Fizz flavoured pop up from Vision, it was attached to a chod rig that I cast to a depth variation between two shallow bars. I love fishing bright fruit-flavoured baits in early season, they can quite often induce a take when the fish aren’t really feeding. On my next session down I followed this up with a 22lb, two-tone common, this was again on a single hook bait.

I saw a few fish showing at long range on that session so I put away my smaller-water, lighter-test curve rods and dusted off my long-range gear – 13ft 3lb Torsions. I had a spool of Adrena-line in my bag that I use for long-range casting because it peels off the spool very well, but work dragged on longer than I thought and I didn’t get to the lake until late so I had to keep the 20lb fluorocarbon on my spools. I was really surprised at how far I managed to cast with the thick line wiry line; I was clearing 120 yards and getting close to the area where the fish were holding with the Torsions. I positioned another rod on the back slope of a bar that comes off what is normally a sunken Island. However, due to us having the driest March on record it was now exposed. Just before dusk I watched several fish crashing out about 50 yards behind the sunken island and I wondered if I had made the correct swim selection, but then the rod bent round in the rests and a fish was on. Due to the shallow gravel behind the exposed bar the fish had no choice but to kite away from the feature and into open water and soon I had a 25lb 12oz mirror in the net. I was hopeful for more action the next morning but time wasn’t on my side and I had to wind in at bite time to get on the M1 to travel to work.

I juggled a few things around at work so that I could slip another night in on the Staffordshire water a couple of days later. My old school friend, Paul, was in the Island swim but, as there is plenty of water and bank space on there so he let me double up for a social and even allowed me to fish the productive spot from a couple of days earlier. The fish were again very active at long range so I cast a choddy as far as I could towards them. I took a risk and introduced 30 to 40 baits near the productive spot on the sunken island.
At 2am the long-range choddy burst into life and after a good scrap I had a nice 24lb common in the net. There is a barbless rule in force on the water and I did have a few reservations about using barbless hooks on choddies, but all the fish hooked on it were properly nailed with no issues. I think the in turned point of the Korda Choddy hooks help the hook to stay in place without the barb and reduces the movement and slicing effect that barbless can cause.

The following morning I was awoken by the hordes of semi-tame waterfowl as they decided to fight for territory outside my bivvy. Three pairs of geese had decided to make their nests on the island swim, so they spent most of the daylight hours squabbling over the boundaries. A lay in before work was near on impossible. But in this instance they did me a favour because I was awake when a single beep caught my attention, I looked up just in time to see my rod tip tap once before it bent round in the rests, followed by a screaming take from the firm clutch. The fish fought well at distance before kiting round into the margins. I saw a flash of colour as he turned under the rod tip and I wrongly assumed he was nearly ready for the net. The fish decided he didn’t want to be banked just yet and stripped 30 yards of line off my spool! The clutch was set as tight as I dared have it - I don’t really like putting too much pressure on barbless hooks because I believe they can work their way out and cause mouth damage (even with the in-turned point). The fish tore around the swim for another 10 minutes and wiped out all of Paul’s lines, much to his annoyance! But it didn’t interfere with my two remaining lines, even more to Paul’s annoyance!
Eventually, I coaxed it over the waiting net. When I parted the mesh I could see I had landed the Long Common, the biggest common in the lake. It used to be the biggest fish in that lake until a couple of years ago. On the Scales it went 31lb 14oz, which was my first 30lb from the water after 20 years of fishing there! I know it’s not a big fish by national standards, but for the area it is a rare old lump and I hold it in the same regard as some of the forties that I have caught from around the country. The fish had been in the water many years, probably since I first started fishing it in the early 1990s, and I wonder if our paths had crossed before when he was at a much lower weight? I will have to dig out some old photos if I ever get a minute to compare them. Although I didn’t want to leave the lake that morning the trip up the M1 didn’t seem as bad that day.

Hopefully, next time I write I might have a bit more time on my hands to get back on the road to start on the new waters I have joined.