A small pond and a new dawn…. a summer morning was enough inspiration to get out the float rod and try for some pretty mirror carp that had eluded me all those years ago.
Sitting beside the same body of water 40 years on I would not make the same mistake again of using tackle that was not up to the job….back then I was fishing specifically for Rudd, a beautiful fish with golden scales and blood red fins…and at the specimen level of 2 lbs were extremely hard to find. The younger fish were not that elusive but the older ones whose pictures I would see published in the ‘Mr Crabtree’ books or ‘Angling Times’ were never caught by youngsters …you see they were smart fish. Too smart for the likes of me with no experience…
I had thrown an entire half loaf of bread into the water by the reeds and the smaller of the fish in the pond were taking it apart…Whilst watching my crimson topped float for movement I noticed a deep swirl under the surface and then my float disappeared …. As soon as I lifted the rod I knew I was in trouble and would never get to see the culprit on the bank. It was a Carp …and a big one…it didn't even know it was hooked and slowly swam towards the other side of the lake without a care in the world. I might as well have been using a piece of cotton to play it on…10 minutes later it was gone…I never saw the fish….and I never caught that specimen Rudd either.
The trees had grown in the last 40 years but the same reed bed was still there and the water looked just as mysterious as it always had with lily pads, overhanging trees and bushes surrounding the pond….it was early morning and the smell of summer was still in the air.
Today was the day… I would have one of those carp.
I wouldn’t make the same mistake again and so my tackle was specifically chosen for carp under the rod tip with a float. These fish were smart though, and messed me up for the first hour….I couldn’t connect with anything…they were knocking the bread flake off the hook before taking it….having me strike when the float disappeared into nothing but air.
I realized this by throwing a slice of bread by the reeds and watching a carp swim up to it…ram the slice with his head or hit it with his tail and then circle back, taking the pieces as they broke off and floated towards the bottom. I sat and laughed…
After waiting to set the hook on the second dip of the float I started to connect with them…they were some of the prettiest mirrors I had ever caught….nothing over 10 lbs in weight but they were perfect in every way and the colors were like nothing I had ever seen before…beautiful gold and blacks in a palette of scales.
By the time the sun was high in the sky I had caught about 15 of the prettiest carp that I had ever seen…and so I packed up and called it a day before it became too hot.
In an age where everything seems to be measured purely upon weight it was clear that many Anglers out there…could really be missing the point.
On the journey home I started to think back to my youth and realized that 40 years on I still had not caught that Specimen Rudd that I had coveted…and so before getting back to the house I found myself making a detour to my local River where I had first learned to fish….sitting in the same spot where my father had taught me to tie a hook at the age of 9 I tackled up once again and cast towards the old reed bed on the other side of the river. One single grain of corn on the size 16 hook and I sat….and waited. The Sky’s had turned dark and grey and a change of weather was imminent.
I started catching the humble roach and little dace that were plentiful in the river…I was eagerly watching my float when something jumped straight out of the water right in front of the reeds…I recognized the shape and colors well….I immediately reeled in and cast to the showing fish that had jumped….the float hadn't even hit the water and it completely disappeared.
This was a small river and the fish on my line was indeed not a humble roach…it tested my light tackle and headed straight for the weeds…after a few minutes of battle I slipped the net under a mass of weed and a fish. I unfolded the net and parted the weed to see the fish that had eluded me for so many years….with its golden scales and blood red fins it looked like an oil painting…there she was…the specimen Rudd.
On a summers day 40 years on…the stars had aligned and my quest was complete…both the Carp…and the Specimen Rudd in one day…Mr Crabtree would have been proud.