A day I will remember for the rest of my life by William James
A day I will remember for the rest of my life by William James
Right now I am sitting at the lake by my rods wondering if today is going to be the day I catch my first "twenty". Every time I read about someone catching their first twenty pound carp I cannot help thinking back to that day in the summer. It must have been about two seasons ago now but I can still remember it as if it was yesterday.
It was a typical late summer`s night, damp yet still warm enough to make it uncomfortable. I could hear the rain slamming against the side of my bivvie, driven by the cool wind that swept across the lake in front of me. My heart raced as I thought about monster carp that could be just about to suck in my bait. Could tonight be the one, after two whole seasons of waiting no matter what the weather, that I finally caught one of the few leviathans that haunt this huge lake? It was this thought that had kept me coming back night after night. It did not matter that I had never caught a carp from this lake it was just the knowledge that when I did finally land one that it was going to be huge, bigger than anything I had ever caught before.
Every so often a strong gust of wind would lift the side of my poorly moored bivvy and wake me from my fitful slumber. It was always like this - I could never sleep properly when I was night fishing, I was always far too excited. Although saying that, I had began to be a little cynical as to whether I would ever catch one of the beasts that I craved so badly. As I shifted to try to get comfortable while lying on the hard palette that jutted out into the lake a fish crashed out in front of me. That was it! Now I was never going to be able to sleep! The swim that I was in was a favorite of mine, a large jetty on a corner of the lake which gave me access to a lilly patch which just screamed carp at me. My second rod was placed out into the middle of the lake to a small gravel bar, which I had found on my last visit and I was quite confident that I would pick up a few smaller fish from it. The fish that had jumped in front of me sounded as if was near my second bait so that was even more encouraging. Around my swim there was boggy mud which is the reason why I could not secure my bivvy properly. Above that there were small trees which seemed to be creeping in me with their constant scratching against the loose canvas that sheltered me from the driving rain outside. Inside my bivvy the tangled aromas of sweet white chocolate flavouring and the sickening smell of crayfish boilies found their way into everything; after a night at the lake I would come home with my clothes stinking of the latest concoction I had decided to try.
After a while I had drifted into some kind of proper sleep and was awoken at around 4:30 as it began to get light by the rising sun on the water. It was a simply stunning sight: the large embankment of trees on the opposite bank were silhouetted by the flaming, orange mass of the sun behind it. Although I could barely make out the water, I could see from the shelter of my bivvy that it had stopped raining leaving the platform in front of me soaking. I decide that it was far too early to be awake and crawled back into the warmth of my sleeping bag. It was not long before I was awake again though this time it was for a quite different reason. My bite alarm screamed impatiently at me as a fish moved off at pace with my bait. It took a while for me to realize what it was but the next thing I knew I was next to my rod and ready to strike. Now this was the key moment: too hard - and I could knock the fish off; too gentle and I could not set the hook and I would have missed my chance. Then my instincts took over and I struck into a heavy fish. YES! It was still there! My heart raced as the fish swam towards me and then suddenly it dawned on me that this was coming in far too easily to be a big fish. Damn! Just as my heart slowed down, an almighty splash broke the golden, early morning silence. Hold on! This was no tench!. The fish powered out into the middle and I began to panic. Where was dad ? How am I going to land this on my own ? Then I looked round and he was emerging from his tent. A wave of relief spread through me. Suddenly my mind was back on task and the fish had finished its first powerful run. As I pumped it back towards me, I told my dad that this was it! I had finally hooked the beast from below. As it plugged away beneath the crystal clear, waters a strange calm entered me and I became incredibly focused on what I was doing. The fish turned left and made a dive for the lilies. My heart raced as the line grated past the thick, green plants and my dad offered little support with his cry of, "Don`t let the bugger get in there! " but then to my relief I turned its head and it swam slowly and begrudgingly back towards me. All I could see in my head was this big, fat, mirror carp lying in the bottom of the net and it did not seem possible that right now I was realising all of my dreams for the last two years, but here I was with a large fish on, with the hook apparently well set, and a big net waiting to swallow it. As the fish powered again out into the middle of the lake I began to feel under pressure, that if I lost this fish that was it my chance was gone. The fish was becoming tired now and I began slowly to pump it back in. Then to my horror it darted to the left and was heading for the lilies! All my senses were numb with fear as I realised that I couldn't let it get in the lilies, so I really had to hold on to the rod and give it no slack. This was, and still will be, the some of the most horrifying seconds I have ever spent as this thing and me were locked in a stalemate. Then slowly it began to give and then it felt very tired. I reeled in with relative ease until the fish was nearly beneath me and then all I had to do was lift.
As the boils erupted on the surface of the water I saw a long shape emerging and then my heart stopped. Beneath me lay a huge PIKE, my body went limp and I cried, "You bastard" it`s a pike!" I could not believe that I had been denied my first carp from this place by a stinking pike! I felt cheated! The next thing I knew my dad was urging me to step back so that he could get it in the net, but I didn`t want it. I wanted to walk away and leave it. Sense gradually overtook my emotions and I got it in the net, but I was gutted! Even though this was the biggest fish I had ever caught, I still wanted my carp, the carp that I had craved for hour upon hour during howling gales and driving rain.
The pike weighed twenty one pounds and eight ounces and I guess that I was pleased, but it still wasn`t right. Over the time I spent playing that fish my body had gone from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other and all I had to show for it was a "fluked" pike on a boilie which was intended for a carp! My dad still says to me now that it wouldn`t matter to him whether or not he was fishing for it but I think that it`s different for me and I know that in myself that pike will never be my best fish and even now I still don`t like to think of it as my biggest fish as I didn`t mean to catch it. I still haven`t caught a carp from that lake in the two seasons since that night, but next time I am there who knows what I will catch ? Well I do for one. This year is going to be my year and I am going to do it, although have I not said that for the last four years?