Margin Magic

by James Nowell (Jamie)

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I awoke from my slumber and laid motionless on my bed chair, looking up at the shadows of the willow trees dancing on the roof of my shelter. The late august sun was still warm as it made its way through the afternoon sky to its night time sleeping place behind the hills in the west. I shifted my gaze to my right, away from the shadows towards my rods as they sat motionless on their rests with my rigs and leads hanging from the butt rings. I carried on looking past the rods towards the dark holes in the far tree line canopy where I would eventually be positioning my baits when the sun was finally setting in a few hours time. I knew the carp would still be lazing about in the snags as I had been watching them earlier in the day and their lethargic state suggested they weren't going to travel far in the warm humid conditions. I watched the surface in the surrounding area for any signs of movement that would give their locations away but it nothing seemed be happening and it stayed calm and remained motionless above their heads, the only movement I could see was the blue flash of mating damselflies as they dapped the surface as they laid their eggs into the depths below.

I contemplated how I would be positioning my baits for the night ahead and decided that as my casting was a little rusty, I had better make up some spare PVA sticks and bags should my initial chucks, into the tiny spots go wayward. I decided I would continue to use my tried and tested rigs and the baits I had been applying to the spots for the last 48 hours. I sat upright, belched and the unpleasant after taste of the burgers I had eaten for lunch a few hours earlier returned to my mouth. I grimaced and reached for a drink from my cool bag to wash away the flavour. As my hand slipped inside the bag, I was startled by a single beep from my receiver, quickly followed by another. I looked towards my rods slightly confused - I was resting my swim and I had no lines in the water and the remote was signalling a take which just didn't make sense???? Another beep and my still half asleep brain kicked into gear and I realised that it was the rod positioned behind my shelter, out of view that was fishing in a margin spot on the lake behind me!

I scrambled out from my bivvy to onto my feet and rushed around to the rod and picked it up as the take started properly. As I lifted the rod, I cupped my hand around the rotating spool and the rod bent into its battle curve as the startled carp made its way out from the shallow spot where it had been happily feeding just seconds before. It was heading off past the overhanging tree in my right hand margin at a fair old rate so I plunged my rod tip under the surface in a bid to prevent the line from getting caught in the partly submerged branches. I had been baiting the Danny out of the spot and had caught a few other fish from the spot over the previous three days but this felt much heavier than its previously banked friends so I held the rod fully compressed as the spool turned and the fished carried on along the marginal shelf. After a couple of seconds the line stopped leaving the reel yet the rod remained bent at an alarming angle. A million thoughts flew through my head? Weed? A snag? A sunken branch? Was the line snagged on debris in the margins? These were old pits and I had seen a few old steel cables, submerged oil drums etc in the edges of other pits on the complex and I panicked that it could be something like this, out of my site from the trees on the bank? The rod gradually straightened and I was immediately relieved as the weight started moving back towards me and I reeled in and pumped the fish back towards me until it had returned to the spot where it had been hooked.
As a carp angler you always seem to wait for ages almost wishing a carp to take your bait and get your hook stuck in it's mouth and as soon as that happens and you pick the rod up, all you want is to get it into the net to get it out again! I heaved and heaved to try and bring the carp to the surface but this seemed to anger it and yet again, it started off on another run along the bar to my left where it stretched out into the lake. I kept the rod bent over but loosened the clutch on the spool by one click as the fish took line on its run out into the middle of the lake. I watched the spool turning to try and get an idea of how fast the fish was travelling and then panic set in as I realised that the line was still positioned under the clip on the spool from when I had been casting around earlier that day and I had foolishly left it clipped up.

I swore under my breath and tried to remember how far out I had been casting and work out how much line I had left before the clip but I had no idea - it didn't help that the fish was now on a mission and slowly yet powerfully continued on its bid to make the centre of the lake even though my rod was bent double! My mind was racing on what to do. I decided I had no choice, I tightened the clutch on the reel and hung on for dear life in a bid to try and slow it down before the line hit the clip and run the risk of it being damaged and instantly parting. Something had to give and luckily it was the unseen carp which swirled on the surface out on the bar in front of me and in a couple of moments for the second time in as many minutes I was able to gain line on the fish. I made a mental note of how far out the carp was and decided that I could let it run out that far should it need to but the I would have to clamp down again. The toing and froing continued for 10 minutes or so with me panicking more and more worried about whether the hook would fall out! A voice called from behind me and I saw that another angler from around the lake had joined me by my side. I was still yet to see the fish as it was staying deep but the negative thoughts of loose hook holds and frayed hook links started to worry me even more. Would I be able to get this in the net? My accomplice scrambled down to the water's edge and as the lead core finally emerged from beneath marginal scum, he pushed the net out in front of him. A huge boil erupted as the fished gave one last kick for the bottom of the lake and then the silvery flanks of a common carp rolled just past the end of the extended net. Not long now I thought, not long now. I gave it one last haul, the fish was engulfed in the mesh and she was mine.

I threw the rod down, grabbed the net, checked the fins were all against the fish's body and scrambled up the bank behind me to the awaiting unhooking mat. The fish was slowly placed onto it and I peeled back the mesh to look at a big old silver grey common carp ? I knew it was it was certainly the biggest fish I had caught but had no idea of it's weight. I didn't want to guess ? certainly bigger than mid 20's. My accomplice said it was the largest fish that he had ever seen too so wouldn't guess at it either. As I watched the fish he wet the sling brought it up to me where we carefully transfer it across. I attached the sling to my Avon's and lifted them with the face away from me to let the other guy tell me the weight which he informed me was 28lb 8ozs and after I had deducted the weight of the sling I decided on 26lb 4oz. I lowered the fish back onto the mat and looked at the fish again. It looked massive. The guy couldn't be right so I asked him to lift it this time while I read the scales. Up she went and the needle rotated around once, twice, three times, the dial was red! He had read them 10lbs too light. In fifteen years of carp fishing it was my first thirty I was stunned - a dream come true.
  • What a silly hat!
    What a silly hat!
  • The spot was just to the right of the coots nest
    The spot was just to the right of the coots nest
  • EarlierSuccess.jpg
    EarlierSuccess.jpg
  • I was resting my swim and I had no lines in the water
    I was resting my swim and I had no lines in the water