Something Old, Something New - Ed Betteridge

My last blog ended with me catching the big common from the local water, that I was fishing due to work commitments. The project work in Leeds carried on longer than I expected and the money was too good to refuse so I had to carry on fishing locally and leave the big-fish waters until later in the year. The overnighters and occasional 24-hour session made it difficult to piece the fish movements together and it was often hard to work out where the fish were holding up when I only had a short time to locate them before dark. But my mates helped out with this and between us we could keep track of where the fish were showing and try to ascertain where they might be holding up. The first couple of overnighters were hard work because the northeasterly wind had put a cold chill into the water, which seemed to put the fish off feeding. I did find the odd one showing on the back of the wind, but getting a bite was proving hard work. However, I did save a 24-hour blank by casting to showing fish as I packed away and landed a chunky, upper-double common.
The following session I fished the point swim that controlled the entrance to the two bays that were the deepest area on the lake, and also on the back of the chilly wind. I split my rods between the bay, hedging my bets somewhat. The deeper of the two bays has an island in the centre. It took a tricky cast with the big crosswind but I eventually managed to get a bait just off the corner of it. I hoped to intercept the fish as they cruised round the island to stay out of the wind but remain in the warm sun. This tactic paid off when I received a take the following morning. The fish wasn't massive at 23lb 8oz, but it was a stunning linear and looked as old as they come. I didn't realise just how old it was until I spoke to a couple of regulars. It turns out it is one of the few original fish in the lake and its captures date back until the 1970s. In fact, it could well be one of the fish from the first stocking of the water back in the 1950s! I believe these fish were Leneys and at that age the linear is a very special fish indeed!
My next session was a Sunday night with a rare day off on Monday and I thought I would have the pick of the lake, but on my arrival my first four swim choices were all taken. I ended up in a swim that used to be a favourite of mine when I fished there in the 1990s, but the water level is three feet lower than back then and the productive spots are now dry land! I blanked during the night and morning and I had a family afternoon planned, but I had a feeling that a couple of fish might turn up in the shallow water to bask in the sun. So, when Zoe offered to come down to the lake to see me (and bring a lunch), I jumped at the chance to keep the rods out. Because Zoe is eight months pregnant there isn't many place she can get comfy, but luckily the Chub Cloud 9 bedchair is one of them, so while she caught up on some sleep, I entertained four-year-old Jamie by showing him what lives below the water’s surface - hopefully he might take an interest in fishing when he gets older. Then the relaxed atmostphere changed as my middle rod let out a few bleeps before crippling round in the rest as an angry carp tried to distance itself from the bank. As I picked up the rod the water exploded in the shallows as the carp powered off on a surging run. I then gained a bit of line before it charged off again. The water was about a foot deep so on each run the fish created a huge bow wave as it made a bid for freedom. It really was an explosive fight, but I finally managed to tame him. As I slipped the net cord underneath him I could see it was another big common and the scales confirmed it when the needle swung round to 31lb 4oz. I had now caught both the big commons out of the lake and it made it even better that my family was there to share it with me! Shortly after the photos I had another common at 23lb 8oz and lost a third fish to complete an eventful afternoon.
On my next session I had a three-fish hit, the biggest of which was 25lb. This fish was from a lightly scaled strain that was stocked 10 years ago. I held the fish I caught later that night in much higher regard – a 23lb linear that was a much older and better-looking fish. Incidentally, this fish was the first one of the year from the water that I hadn’t caught on a chod. It was caught on a lead clip system with a size 8 Kaptor Wide Gape, to 15lb N-Trap.
I received some very good news during that session; I had been successful in a job interview at the local brewery, so I no longer needed to travel to Leeds, plus I could now string a few days off together so I could finally fish my new Syndicate water in Cambs. I was that pleased with the job that I turned down a second interview for a laboratory managers position. It’s hard to get through to my non-fishing friends why I had turned down a chance of a Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm for a four-on, four-off shift pattern that included weekends and night shifts. However, I'm sure everyone reading this will understand! Three fishing days per week and free beer what else could I ask for?!
On my first session to Cambs I was lucky enough to see the big girl of the lake, which fired me up for the future campaign! I have seen plenty of photos of her but she looked so much better in the flesh! A new obsession begins......

Ed Betteridge