Saturday, 17 January 2009 16:18

Well worth waiting for


The chairman’s letter confirming I had been accepted into the B.C.S.G also reminded me of the need for us to supply material for “The Carp” he said it didn’t need to be of a technical nature, whew, glad about that. The letter did however suggest sending in a picture of a good fish and a letter describing its capture and the circumstances leading up to it, so here goes.

Ralph Dennett - 27lb 12oz commonThe fish is a lovely Common of 27lb 12oz caught from Englefield Lagoon in late April 2004 and is one of the most satisfying captures I have ever made.

Now the problems start because the more I think about it the more I realise that it is not that simple. The circumstances leading to that capture take me back to that eventful day 30 odd years ago that was to shape my fishing life for ever. Who would believe that a quiet evenings Tench fishing would result in a life long Carp angler. I had arrived at Cottage Lane, 4 small lakes controlled by Reading & District that provided excellent mixed fishing for all. My tackle was a home made 12ft float rod, Mitchell reel loaded with 4lb line straight through, bait was sweet corn that had soured. Over the course of the next few hours I was to land 11 Carp to 16lb and lose 5 others, to say I was hooked is an understatement. The next couple of years saw me at the lakes at every opportunity learning my trade and catching some good fish to low 20s.

Being fortunate enough to live in an area that has a multitude of waters within easy reach has always been a bonus and enabled me to fish a fair variety of waters. So from Cottage lane we moved onto Orchid Lake in Oxfordshire, night fishing was syndicated so initially we could only fish days. Now this was a different ball game all together, low stocks and high natural food meant that we struggled big time that first year then our luck changed as we were invited to join the night syndicate. Life became a little easier as people talked to us and pointed us in the right direction and catches started to come our way culminating in the 31lb 11oz fully scaled that can be seen in, “Then & Now”. Over time we fished many local lakes including the Yateley complex but always came back to Reading & District waters as they controlled several excellent and challenging waters including Englefield Lagoon that held and still holds some very big fish. And there starts another story which I will only touch on briefly at this time. The big issue with Reading & District at the time was that it only had one lake on which it allowed night fishing so I approached the Association with a view to setting up night fishing on its suitable venues. The outcome of this was that I became heavily involved in the administration side of angling for the next 20 plus years setting up what is now a very successful Specimen Group and taking on various other roles culminating in my becoming Fisheries Officer for Reading & District.

Ralph Dennett - 27lb 12oz commonThe creation of the Specimen Group enabled many of the Associations members including myself to extend our Carp Fishing activities onto a number of other venues including Englefield Lagoon. Work commitments meant that I only dabbled on the lagoon until a few years ago when I was put in the envious position of being able to retire at the ripe old age of 52. My commitment to the Association increased around this time as I took over the role of Fisheries Officer but late Feb 2004 saw a baiting campaign being planned and put into practice. The previous year had seen an area that had previously been out of bounds due to the power lines become available for fishing as the lines went underground and this was the area we concentrated on. As we steadily applied the bait we could see the fish becoming more and more confident until we had over a dozen fish regularly visiting the area to feed and by late April we could hold back no longer and our first trip was planned. I arrived at the lake early afternoon and got set up, as everything was quiet I put out a little bait and got my mates bivvy up as he could not get down until after work.

I cast out around 4.00pm, one rod at about 80yrds just off a gap in the shrubs etc that grew out in the water and one rod at about 10yrds close to the roots of the vegetation to my left. This area of the lake was just like a Mangrove Swamp, probably why the fish liked the area with such a safe and convenient bolt hole to hand. The third rod would be a roaming rod fishing more to the main part of the lake to try and pick up the odd fish as they came and went from the area. Now it was a case of sitting back nice and quietly as fish had started to come within a foot of the bank. It was satisfying that after so many years of dabbling and playing about on the venue we had now embarked on a serious campaign, and as I sat there absorbed in my daydreams the left hand indicator screamed into life. As I lifted into the fish I knew it was a good one and the nerves began to jangle as my, at this point, unseen quarry did every thing in its power to get back into the Mangrove. The line sang as I held on for dear life, this one was not getting away, very gradually the fish moved away from danger and into the more open water from were I was able to play it to the net. By this time the light was starting to fade and as I lifted the net and fish onto the waiting unhooking mat I had still not seen it. My hands shook as I peeled back the net and shone the torch onto this glorious fish, my first from the Lagoon, a pristine common weighing in at 27lb 12oz to say I was over the moon would be an understatement.

I was still shaking 45 minutes later when my mate arrived and did the honours with the camera. What a way to start a campaign, since that first session we have caught a number of good fish and will continue fishing the venue for some time to come as we have seen some very large fish to keep fishing for. The nice thing about the venue is that these lovely creatures do not all have names, most have never been caught and that’s the challenge that keeps us going back.

Tight Lines

Ralph Dennett
Reading Berks


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