Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Casual Angler

A very casual angler would be my closest description. Having completed a gruelling seven day blank on the banks of St Cassien (South of France) last summer I had not even managed to look at my carp gear once again. However with the April Easter Bank Holiday looming, two friends (Brendan and Jim) and I decided to plan a fishing trip to our local carp fishing lake Gyrn Castle, Llanasa, North Wales. Gyrn is set in beautiful surroundings and host both a pleasure and specimen lake.

My two friends regularly fish the venue and complete 48hr nights sessions with some joy. With this in mind I decided that being the casual angler I wouldn’t join them for the full 48hrs but just complete a day session on April 9th.

The Easter week grew closer and my two friends set about organising all of the food, baits, tents and other hardcore equipment required to complete a 48hr session on the bank. I sat at home pondering the weather forecast for the weekend, relentless rain and wind was being forecasted. My enthusiasm did start to wane and my one day off from my job was beginning to sound less desirable. Discussing this with my friend I was met with the usual ‘I have fished this lake with the snow coming in sideways through the bivvy and  having to crack the ice on the lake with an oar…’ this one as always is followed by the ‘remember when you were so cold you had to sit there with your feet on the kettle and I tied all of your rigs!’.

Goading aside I thought long and carefully about embarking on my 12hr day session and weighed up the pro’s and cons. The cons being the predicted weather, the fact they had already put my on the worst peg on the lake (being there 24hrs before gave them the choice!), getting out of bed at 6am on my day off. However on the pro’s side were 12hrs of fishing, seeing my mates which is always a good laugh, and the fact that they were bringing the kettle (although I was hoping 2 pairs of socks should see me through!). Sod it I thought I will go!

Wednesday my friends arrived at the lake and from my desk in work I was met with texts giving me regular updates on the trip and the all important fish tally 6 - 3 to Jim. 6am Thursday I jumped out of bed much more sprightly than if it had been for work. Collected my few fishing belongings (everything I needed was already at the lake with Jim and Brenden) hopped in the car and 15 minutes later I was at the lakeside.

Both Brendan and Jim were cranky from little sleep during the night and me turning up full of energy. I popped my head into the bivvy and to my horror Brenden had blood all over his face (I was initially concerned his snoring had finally broken Jim and he had taken matters into his own hands). Turned out Brendan had a screaming run during the night jumped out of the bivvy and landed on his face and was possibly unconscious for a short time. Sensitively checking Brendan was okay to continue fishing (Not!) I went about setting my rods up.

                                    Casual Angler    Casual Angler
The impression I had was that peg seven was going to be hopeless, right up the shallow end of the lake but with no one on peg eight or nine I did have a large section of the lake to cast at. The rain had held off and it was looking okay on the weather front (The weather forecast had been totally grim!). With my fishing liver boilies attached to my hair rig I was ready to go (this was no technical rig just a single boilie and off I went). My first cast in 8 months and it was spot on where I wanted it, just under a bush on the other side of the lake. I had considered casting onto the path because I felt that I had no chance.

Slates were cleaned 0-0 the new score for the 12hr session and it was game on. Banter and laughter followed for the next hour, mainly surrounding Brendan’s blood stained face. Within another half an hour my reel screamed away, I leapt out of my chair with my heart pounding, struck the rod like a frenzied caveman - fish gone! Still surely this was a good sign, no one else had even heard a beep from their alarms. As the next hour went by I was sure I had blown my only chance at fishing glory, bearing in mind I had not caught a Carp for over 18 months.

Then as if by magic my luck changed and my alarms became as regular as big ben. Anglers on the lake were sickened by the sound of yet another screaming run from rubbish peg seven (Brendan stopped getting out of his sleeping bag after the fourth!). One fish was followed by another until my tally hit 6. A mixture of common and mirror carp all above 10lb the best about 13lb.

So that was Paul 6 fish in 8hrs, Brendan and Jim ZERO! Then nothing for a while, I was sat in my new self proclaimed role of Welsh carp fishing champion when an unfamiliar sound broke my boasting. What was this strange beep, had my Argos alarms let me down and changed pitch? was this Brendan getting another text from his partner (mushy mushy, we are supposed to be fishing) Nope, this was Jim’s reel screaming away (definitely lifted his mood!), 15lb common on the bank and Jim was off the mark on the Thursday however did give him a total of 7 for the session.

Casual Angler           Casual Angler         Casual Angler
Darn, one more fish I thought. 7pm was fast approaching and the light was definitely fading, Brendan was ready for home and set about explaining how it was going to take a long time to catch another fish. Almost mid sentence my alarm screamed off and fish number 7 was mine.

Not long after this we packed up and headed home. The rain had not fallen for anything more than a few minutes, I had caught my biggest ever carp tally, and although I was missing a 20lb plus fish I can safely say this was one of my best ever days fishing. I don’t think I will be forgetting the carp fishing feeling for another 18 months and I might even brave a night session at some point!

By Paul Atherton

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