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The Ups And Downs Of A Thames Carper - Part 5

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Last Updated: 8th January 2014

It was 4am and I could not sleep due to being far too buzzed up. I sat and made a warm drink and just laid in my sleeping bag reliving the last few hours over in my head, when from nowhere ‘beep beep beeeeep’ -  off the rod went again. As soon as I picked it up I could tell it was not as big as the last couple of fish and at first I did think that it could have been a big chub, but once it was safely in the net I flicked the head torch on to reveal a small common of about 10lb.

What an epic six hours fishing! I really could not believe my luck. All the torture and grief that comes with fishing the mighty River Thames had been repaid tenfold and the blanks were soon forgotten about.  As you can imagine I really didn’t want to go home and stayed as long as I could, but the thought of a warm bath and some food was too much to resist and at 10am I was packing up and heading home to deal with the real world again.

It was only one day at work before another day off, so on Saturday I was settling down into the winter spot for another quick night. I had to be up early again as I had a guest down for a day’s pike fishing on the boat. A quiet night soon had me wondering if the fish had just moved through the area and I was lucky to have had the three bites I did, but before I left I gave them a few hundred Club & Cream dumbells just in case there were still any fish in the area.

I returned to the winter spot mid-week to put some more bait in ready for a night later in the week. By now the river had calmed down and was very clear. Lots of leaves were collecting over the spots and it made getting the rods out a real nightmare as every time I tried to sink my lines the leaves would catch and build up and after half hour the rigs were being dragged out of position. A long night of keeping the lines clear had me packing up the next morning, desperate to get home and get some sleep.

December 1st was my next trip and it made a pleasant change to be setting up in the daylight. With the rods out by 3pm I was happily sat back watching the kingfisher flying back and forth from its little hidey hole nest in the bank to its hunting perch where it plundered the small fry. All too soon darkness descended and my belly was rumbling for some food. I started to cook up some sausages and they had not been in the pan more than five minutes when one of the rods absolutely ripped off.

The take was so fast I was almost scared to pick the rod up, but was left with little choice. Whatever was on the end flat-rodded me and just kept going and going down stream. In thirteen years of carp fishing on the Thames I have never felt power like it. I was trying my best to slow it down but I burnt my finger on the spool such was the speed the line was leaving the reel. I had to just clamp down and hold on for dear life as it was already a good 150 yards down river from where it had been hooked and was getting closer and closer to a big set of underwater snags.

The rod was bent to the butt and there was no sign of the unseen beast stopping when the line fell slack. For a split second I did think it had turned and started to run back towards me but after a few turns of the reel handle it was obvious that it was gone. I dropped the rod and sat back on the bed chair, all the while shaking. I needed to roll a cigarette to calm by nerves.  Once I had composed myself I reeled the rod back in to see how the fish had got away. The hook link had parted about 2 inches from the hook. I had been using this specific material for a few years and never had a problem with it, upon closer inspection it was very frayed where it had parted and this did make me wonder what the hell I had just lost. I know of catfish being caught from the lower river, but never heard of any this far up. I’m not saying it was a catfish, but I do have my suspicions. There is no reason why it could not have been -  apart from it being December, but seeing as it was so unseasonably mild it can’t be ruled out.

To be safe I binned the hook link I had been using and tied up new rigs for both rods with the Solar Contour Unleaded (if it’s good enough for use on Rainbow then it was good enough for the river). With the rods both cast back to their spots I settled in for the night, only to be dragged back up to deal with a bream half hour later. At least there were some fish still out there! With this in mind I spread 50 Club & Cream large dumbbells over the spots and sat back, made a brew and had a smoke. I didn’t finish the tea as I fell asleep while lying on the bed chair.

It must have been 3am when I woke up a bit chilly and climbed under the covers to get warm. I had only just got warm when a few bleeps from one of the rods had me sat up thinking the bream were back. Just as I swung my legs out over the bed chair the rod burst into life. This was clearly no bream. Picking up the rod I knew it was a carp and it felt like a good one, but was nothing compared to my earlier loss and all too soon a nice looking Thames common was sat in the folds of my net. As always I set the boat up to bring the fish on board and was pleasantly surprised to weigh the fish at 23lb 12oz. With the pictures done I was soon watching it swim back into the depths to fight another day. I was buzzing to have landed a carp, but still could not get the loss out of my head.
It was now gone 5am and I could not get back to sleep so I filled the kettle up, made a coffee and watched the world come alive. Morning soon turned to afternoon and with not so much as another beep I packed away and made the familiar journey home again. The fish were obviously in the area and it was now just a matter of putting in the time to rack up some bites until they moved off. 


Log back on tomorrow, January 9th, for the next installment as Ben's winter hauling continues.


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Missed parts 1 to 4? CLICK HERE to catch up with the story so far.