Thursday 17 May 2012

Carp Fishing, Roman Lake, Furnace Lakes Fishery, Slinfold

The one that got away

Roman Lake, Furnace Lakes Fishery, Slinfold, West Sussex. RH13 0QZ

Furnace Lake Fishery
Having spent the winter Pike and sea fishing, It was just about warm enough to do a nights carp fishing at my absolute favourite fishery, Furnace lakes. Apart from being a well managed and beautiful venue and in my opinion each lake has just the right amount of swims on to make it not seem to crowded. It also boasts some of the cleanest toilet facility's that I know in any establishment, not so much a concern for us men, but something that the girls really appreciate. You get a little ride from the car park to your swim with your tackle on a quad bike and trailer, and the place just stinks of big fish. On a quite summer night with no wind you can hear the fish crashing about all over the complex, it resembles someone throwing paving slabs into the water, and adding to the excitement of this magical place, your next bite could easily be a new personal best fish. Of which I have to admit that although I've caught 20 odd carp in the high teens, I actually haven't had a 20lb+ carp.

Here fishy fish!
Me and Sarah arrived early afternoon for a 24 hour session, after a frantic mornings shopping for tackle, bait and food, and a big spring clean of the tackle as it was the first time it had seen the light of day for at least 5 months. The plan was to fish for carp, three 12" Fox Ranger XTS 3lb test rods, two Shimano Baitrunner ST6000RA reels loaded with 15lb Fox Soft Steel mono, and an very old unbranded  baitrunner reel with about 18lb mono line, that I was reluctantly forced to use as I had forgotten about breaking one of my Shimanos and just hadn't got round to replacing it.

Long hair, chopped lob worm, Yum!

At the lodge we decided to fish Roman lake rather than the usual Kiln lake, for no reason other than a change. I never quite know how to fish with three rods, but I figured for a short 24 hour session, it would be best to cover as many options as possible. So I opted to fish one rod close in against the reeds in the margin, single popped up corn bait over a bed of sweetcorn, hemp and spod mix, very easy to accurately cast and feed during the night without big splashes, just a initial dump of bait on arrival and a little handful thrown from the bank over the reeds every hour. The second rod, in the middle of the lake in open water, with halibut pellet bait fished over a heavily halibut flavoured large ground baited area with lots of loose pellets the same size as the bait. The third rod was to be Worm bait, fished tight to the far bank under a over hanging tree against a lily pad, with no feed. I had been watching the lily pads moving whilst setting up, and thought that disturbing the fish with loose bait wouldn't be of benefit, and I'm absolutely certain that no fish can pass up the opportunity of eating a big, fat, wriggling, juicy lob worm, well that's what I tell myself. It's a tactic that has winkled out more carp for me than any other bait.

Caught all by herself, why am I here?
I have to admit, apart from one missed run halfway through the night on the pellet rod, it was dead. Not a bleep, no fish crashing, and unusually not a sound from any bite alarm on any lake. At around midnight after our bbq, I recast all three rods with fresh bait and extra feed, and tucked myself into the sleeping bag with Sarah and had the best nights undisturbed sleep whilst carp fishing I can ever remember. Night turned to day and still nothing! Sarah was Fishing the far bank rod, and we decided that maybe a change of bait was needed, she wanted to try a 20mm cube of luncheon meat, which at least was getting action, the small fish loved it, nibbling away at the edges, until it became a small marble sized ball, it was kind of annoying listening to all the little beeps on the alarm, but at least it kept us on our toes. I changed the margin rod to Red Robin 10mm pellets, and the middle rod to 12mm Monster Crab boilies, but no runs, although Sarah managed to hook and land a small bream all by herself, on the luncheon meat rod whilst I was in the toilet.

Homemade balanced pop up rig
Then an hour before leaving time, the annoying bleeping luncheon meat rod alarm continuously bleeped, and the bobbin gently rose until it reached the rod, the baitrunner kicked in, and slowly gave about 2 meters of line before I struck. I was in! It felt big, but it didn't scream off, instead the fish felt like it was just slowly swimming around without a care in the world, I had my suspicion that this was a catfish rather than a carp, or it was a big carp that really didn't know it was hooked yet? As the fish swam along the far bank, there was nothing I could do to stop it, stripping line slowly off the reel. It was then I realised why I had replaced this old reel, It was shit! The clutch kind of snapped violently releasing about a meter on line each time before stopping sharply, making the rod bounce! Not good with a small barbless hooks, and if that wasn't enough, I had made the cardinal sin of not taking the line out of the reel clip, which luckily snapped clean off the reel when it needed to. The fight continued, I was starting to ache, my back especially this forced me to find comfort kneeling on the ground, but my arms were shaking, I couldn't hide it, the whole rod was shaking. I gained 10 meters of line, he took it back, and vice versa, it was a very amicable tic for tack battle, during which I learnt to control the reel clutch by winding it down very light and use my hand to control the clutch, and was now able to use the minimum amount of pressure to pull back with out bulling the fish. This worked for about 30 minutes until I had the fish very close in, and he knew it! but I'd been expecting this! he run! and run he did! across to the island past my swim past my neighbours swim, hitting all his lines with a chorus a bite alarms, and then continued to the adjacent corner of the lake before stopping. I was back to the start but with a lot more line to recover! and this fish hadn't even surfaced yet! but now I knew he was big, very big, bigger than anything I had ever played before. I returned to the tic for tack fight tactics, I think the run knackered the fish, I was gaining line a lot more easier now and at about 30m out he finally surfaced. It was a big catfish! "F**k me!!! ohhh shit!" was Sarah's very out of character response to the gigantic fish! It was only the tail that showed and I still wasn't really aware of how big this fish might be.

It took another 10 minutes to get the fish ready for landing, Sarah had stopped filming and had swapped our 42" landing net for a larger 50" net which our neighbours kindly bought us, and then the fish's head came out the water, a big 12" wide mouth appearing to smile at me, I was now standing about 5 meters away from the edge of the bank so if he decided to run I would have enough line to stretch with it. Sarah attempted to land the fish, but was stopped moments from doing so, "Don't use the net! Its too big, I'll grab him!" shouted one of the bailiffs as he leaped off his four wheeled buggy. I was kind of relieved, I didn't know what to do!, I was in delirious state of ecstatic shock, Sarah hasn't the experience in landing big fish, or any fish to think about it, and the other people there seemed content with just watching. I wasn't even sure the borrowed net was even big enough! the fish's head came up again and the bailiff whilst laying on his stomach grabbed the line with his right hand and with his left reached out towards the open mouth and bang!! the hook pinged out!!! It took a moment for it to sink in, a deathly silence for a moment whilst the fish slowly sunk backwards into the depths and out of reach. The silence then continued until the bailiff slowly turned round holding the flailing rig "That's my fault." he said.

A very despondent angler :(
The fish had gone, my personal best lost, the excitement had turned to utter disbelief and a gutted feeling that churned my stomach for the rest of the day. It was just an accident, one of those things. I said to the bailiff "that would of been my personal best! it was about 40lb?" he replied shaking his head, "Mate, I don't know if I want to tell you this, that fish was over 60lb" I guess it didn't matter now. I really wasn't too sure weather to include this trip on this blog, but hey, Its fishing, I've lost more big fish that I've landed, blanked more times than I care to remember, its unpredictable and full of shocks and surprises, it's frustrating, and a sheer joy, where one fish can make a world of difference, I love fishing for all of this! and to be honest, fishing wouldn't be fishing without the old aged traditional tales of  "The one that got away."

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