This weekend was my second attempt at the FLE Fishery 24hr Carp match. Not so much of a match in the general sense, there is little or no money involved, the social aspect is excellent, and the only real gain is the awarding of points in a league. The last round saw me catching 2 carp, which at one point put me in second place, but as the match is fished with the heaviest single fish taking top prize (10 points), the second biggest taking second (8 points) and down to 4th place (4 points), I ended in 5th and with zero points, I hoped this week to get myself on that podium.
Thundery showers were forecast, so a late scramble saw me throw my army issue DPM waterproofs into the car along with everything else, Carpathia was present, and I dearly hoped I could catch my first carp on her. With the car ready and everything packed I left for work early on Friday, stayed until midday and then headed for Romsey. I arrived with Graham after a short 30 minute journey and after a chinwag and a cuppa we awaited the first of the Catch Club Crew.
The Catch Club is an event held at FLE every Friday and is where disabled anglers get to sample the delightful facilities FLE has to offer. Graham has recently obtained some lovely new kit too, Maver seat boxes, poles and other quality kit that ensures these events go as well as they possibly can and that entrants have just what they need. With everyone present we headed off to canal 4 and fished long poles with surface baits for the carp.
It was great fun and a joy to help out; smiles were abundant throughout the afternoon as were the obliging carp. With the event over and high fives and handshakes done we said goodbye to the Catch Club and hello to the first of the arriving 24 hour carp match attendees. At the previous match I only knew Graham, but by the end of it I had ten new friends and have kept in touch with them through Facebook, so this weekend it was lovely to see them all again, and hear all about their very successful recent trip to France.
In the draw I did quite well, I fancied 5 or 6 as there is a nice gap between them and a lovely margin. I drew 6 and was well pleased. A few journeys (no barrow) later I was in the swim and getting set up. I set up 4 rods, 2 Mark IVs with Intrepid Elites for my ledger and night work, a Chapman 500 with an Altex for free-lining and surface fishing and Carpathia with an Allcocks Aerialite loaded with 6lb Amnesia for float fishing, this was the method I thought would score well so I put my faith in it, and Carpathia.
As the bell rang at 7pm I threw out some ground-bait a rod length out, also baiting my right hand margin and started float fishing. Things started slow, before dark there was just one fish out to Damo, a 10lber which pleased him no end as he’d drawn the golden peg, the only money available for this match goes to the person who draws the golden peg if they win, although it only costs entrants £1 and is optional. My own fishing was much the same as everyone else; the float swirled and dipped some, but never once went under.
It started to rain; I donned the DPMs and sat out in it confident that the float might sail away at any minute, when I couldn’t see the float anymore I thought for a minute about swapping it for an insert float so I could add a starlight and continue, but being 3 hours in without anything to eat or drink I needed a break. I cast out the two ledger rods and made myself a cuppa and some supper. Whilst inside the shelter I heard the rain getting increasingly heavy, and it never subsided until well after midnight.
I woke early, it was shortly after 5am and everything was still. The first thing I did was to wind one of the lifeless ledger rods in and get back out with the float rod. Still no other carp were caught and it with half of the 24 hours gone it was looking good for Damo. That said, the nature of the beast is that it can all change at any minute, that’s the exciting thing about this event.
Throughout the morning fish started to cruise about, flaunting it in front of us, we could see them but catching them was another matter. Graham who’d packed up prior to a tuition he had at 7, popped along and told me that he had a bite on float fished worm and that they could be found under overturned logs. Never one to shy away from valuable advice I quickly set about searching for worms and soon had a dozen to get me going.
With the floater/free-line rod I attached a worm and cast it into the margin. I waited a few minutes then felt a pluck on the line, struck and was in to my first fish of the event. I was stunned at first, but then concentrated fully, I’d hooked a fish, but now I had to land it. It fought well, twisting this way and that but eventually slid into the awaiting net. It was a gorgeous common, quite chunky too, and spun the needle round to 10lb 12 oz, putting me into first spot.
It felt good, but I didn’t want to count my chickens, these matches can spin round at any moment, I’d found (with Graham’s help) a method that worked, now it was time to work at it and see if I could build some kind of a lead while the going was good. A working method only works for as long as the carp want it to, so I needed to cash in whilst I could. It was obviously what they wanted too, as it wasn’t very long until I was into carp number 2.
A group of three fish cruised through, I cast out a bunch of worms on my size 6 hook and allowed it to fall through the water slowly right in front of their noses. One of the group broke away, following the hook-bait down and as the sinking line gathered pace I struck and made contact with another carp. An angry fish this one with lots of head shaking, it certainly didn’t like being hooked. It was another epic battle but I triumphantly scooped up another good common, this one going over 13lbs and giving me first and second spots.
I was buzzing, after heading off to top up my worm stash I quickly made a cuppa, ate some breakfast and got back to work. I stood poised waiting for fish to cruise through, then cast slightly in front of them letting the worms fall through the water. Some snatched at them, some didn’t, but looking around it seemed the only method actually working. Mid morning and another carp just along the right hand margin snatched at scoffed the worms and after another hard fought battle, one with Graham snapping away getting some action shots, I landed a beautiful half tailed common of 14lb 7oz. A marvellous character fish with the most beautiful scales.
I was sitting in first, second and third now, but was still mindful that it only takes one fish to change everything. I even thought about swapping the rod and giving Carpathia a work out, but I was concentrating on the job in hand so kept things the way they were. Before lunch I went on to catch 2 more carp, both commons and both weighing 9lbs plus apiece. They took my tally to 5 fish, but still I held the top 3 spots.
Jordon caught 2 quick fish, a common and a mirror both weighing 8lb 10oz, and Aaron also had a fish around 9lbs. Soon after lunch I was stood in my swim watching the water chatting with Damo when a large ghost swam through. I cast out and drew the worms back to intercept the fish, the timing was spot on and I thought it was going to happen, just then a common going the opposite direction grabbed the hook-bait and tore off, I strapped myself in for another long drawn out battle.
The Chapman loved it, I yearned for Carpathia to get in on the action, but somehow loyalty made me stick with the 500, for this session anyway. I netted what looked like a good fish, perhaps the clincher. It looked chunky enough and pulled the scales down to 12lb 12oz. I had the 4 top spots, for now at least. It felt nice right there and then, but all the while I was mindful that it could be short lived.
Amongst the carp I caught a few small perch, and a few times I had to replenish the depleting worm stocks. I also caught the most adorable hand sized mirror, the star of the show it was incredible, I really wish I'd taken a quick snap of it for future reference. I did manage to hook and land one fish on Carpathia, but unfortunately it didn't count.
I switched to Carpathia for the final few hours, I thought she might bring me luck, help keep my nose in front, I was sitting pretty but never once rested on my laurels, tirelessly working at trying to catch more. The line tightened and thinking it was another small perch I struck and was shocked when she arched over. She arched magnificently too, in all the right places, the bend, the feel, the control, all spot on, then it dawned on me something wasn't right.
The fight was too central, up and down on the same spot. When I saw the tail break surface first my first thoughts were confirmed, it was foul hooked. Carpathia handled it well and brought the fish in quickly, and anyone who's hooked a mid double mirror in the tail will tell you it can take a while. Although a very brief encounter, I saw enough to know she is the real deal, next time out it'll be just the 2 of us. With the carp in the net I slipped the hook from its tail and released it.
So with a couple of hours to go something changed, the clouds parted and the sunshine, hot it was too, but it was the carps' behaviour that interested me the most. They seemed to shy away from open water, the majority stopped cruising and more could be seen patrolling the far bank. With most anglers casting all the way across I felt this would now be the way forward and cast both my ledger rods out.
With an hour and a half left Rich was into a fish, from where I was stood it looked as though he was playing a decent one too, and when the shout of 16lb 4oz was called I knew he'd taken top spot. Hats off to rich, he'd kept going and it paid off, but others were also wise to the change in conditions and concentration levels were high once more. I sat behind motionless rods hoping something might happen, then it did, a shout from Arron.
There was only 20 minutes left, but I'd said all along that in this kind of event it could be decided in the final minute. It proved a point to, Aarons fish weighed 18lbs and was the new leader. He was thrilled, and quite rightly too, his huge amount off effort had finally paid off in style. It was the last fish on the match, the bell rang signalling the end and after many handshakes and congratulations it was time to head home.