Mike Winter tells of elusive 20 pounder

I love fishing for carp, especially the long, streamlined, undomesticated ‘wild’ carp.

My first casts for these ‘wild’ carp were into a delightful west country lake. Everyone I spoke to who already knew of the lake said “You’ll never get permission to fish there!”

Undeterred, I wrote a persuasive letter to the owner, I had a reply from his wife. “It was our intention to stop all fishing on our lake after my flowerbeds had been trampled and ducks left trailing line. However, from what you write you may come for a day, if you telephone to arrange a convenient date”.

When I arrived, I introduced myself and was shown around the lake. It was a dream of a lake, triangular with large beds of lilies at its apex where a stream ran in and a large dam built across the valley at its base. The banks were beautifully managed and kept.

I’d caught a seven pounder when the owner walked round. He was a friendly ‘country squire’ type with a lovely sense of humour. We got on well and he told me about the history of the lake.

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There had been a Norman fish pond above the present lake (which had been excavated during the 1800s incorporating the Norman pond) to improve the view down the valley. But no fish had been stocked. The fish I’d come to catch were all descendants of the Norman carp!

That explained that long slim phenotype – golden bars of solid, streamlined muscle. The largest I landed in those early days was a 13� pounder that sped across the lake in a long surging 60 yard run. I was fortunate to land it on 7lb line! After that I changed up to 10lb line. The owner, who fished the lake occasionally, was a salmon angler. He’d seen carp in the lake as long as 20lb salmon!

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He also said I’d be welcome to come and fish again provided I telephoned beforehand. I went several times. The lake bottom was very silty, but, whilst plumbing the depths, I found a patch of harder bottom under an overhanging tree.

I was float fishing there with bread flake lying on the bottom. The ducks were fed with bread making this an obvious bait to use. Eventually my float stole away slowly. There was a tremendous swirl when I struck, my rod nearly taken from my grasp! The fish rushed off with tremendous speed and power, but after 15 arm-aching minutes I had it plodding around under my rod top.

I put my big landing net in the water, but each time I worked the fish to the surface it dived down again. It was huge, every inch a 20 pounder! I decided to push my big net out next time so the fish dived into it. But some of the steam had gone out of my rod arm and I didn’t get it quite right. The fish bumped the cord joining the two net arms, made an almighty splash and my hook pinged out of it’s mouth! A rare fish lost .....................

I wish my readers a Happy Christmas and a rod bending 2011.

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