Second stint at the ressy started off just exactly where I left off last weekend. Same swim, same line, same bait, same plethora of bites. Those silvers do love their bread...
When I'd sorted my tackle about me and got around to actually striking bites rather than enjoying out of the corner of my eye the spectacle of a float plunging up and down like a misfiring piston, in they came one after the other, just as before, only this time the difference was the stamp of them. All little fish these and some greedy urchins with heads smaller than the bait they'd gobbled!
"Nevermind," I thought to myself, "groundbait will sort that out"
Meanwhile, directly opposite on the far bank fishing partner for the day, Phil Mattock, lobbed three or four great jaffa-sized balls of groundbait into the flat calm of early morning sending ripples to lap at the piles of my own staging.
In reply, I chucked a couple of handfuls of mashed bread into my own swim which killed it straight off, as it would, until they came back to clear it, which they did. Lo and behold a larger stamp of fish and getting bigger every chuck. But that's about when it all went a bit weird, the float behaving in a most peculiar way, dipping and ducking, rocking and swaying but not lifting out the water as it should...
Then it vanished.
The fish, which came straight toward me and then proceeded to run round in slow determined circles under the rod top, I thought to be a small male tench for a while. I couldn't get its head up and it was determined to not allow that, but after five minutes of this errant behaviour without much improvement in my advantage and the strength of the fish telling in the muscles, I was thinking about a very big female instead because she was getting heavier and stronger by the second.
A favourite of mine that old Dam Carbo Mesh, it has a lovely compound taper that makes it really stiff in the first two thirds of its 13 foot length but whippy in the last, and that's great for swiftly picking up line at distance when long trotting for roach and dace but it's also handled six-pound tench before now, however, nothing had ever managed to actually bend it beneath the corks and creak in the joints.
That alarming sound brought back a memory to haunt me...
I'd once broke its tip section in half through careless car boot stashing and then lashed it together on the bank with glue and a splint made from a section of a glass quiver tip sacrificed to make it serviceable for the day. It had stood the test of time that repair and for years I'd forgotten all about it... but I was afraid for it now.
Glancing across at Phil grinning ear to ear, amused (as I was to discover later ) by the sight of a rod bent in one great perfect half circle from tip to butt and from water to hand, I could feel my face locked in a grimace of alarm, because the fish was now piling on the pressure and I was getting out of my depth with it.
Twenty minutes into what had long become a lop-sided fight between heavyweight and fly, I was tiring fast and losing all ground to this bully I was very sorry to have insulted. Now it began to crash into the reeds to one side, passed under and back out the staging, headed to the middle of the lake ripping line off the equally ancient but trusty Abu, then sped back and got under the tree roots to my left piling humiliation upon abject defeat.
Here I was with my silly dace trotting outfit — hooked up to a John Deere tractor with its engine running on full power — a drunken dog at the wheel. I hadn't seen a glimpse of it, not managed to do anything yet but enrage it further and further with each soppy girly punch I threw, but then...
Things suddenly took a turn in my favour...
The carbo-mesh split apart at the splint audible right across the lake as a very loud "crack!"
The rod now reduced to ten-foot-six gained power — the 3lb line however remained the same thickness. But it made all the difference in the world to my fighting prowess, the bully now the bullied.
Now that it couldn't resist any further I finally saw the beast for what it was — not the huge tench I'd hoped for once upon a very long time ago, but a common or garden common carp scraping low double-figures who was roundly defeated now I'd seen there was little to lose but a hook. Nevertheless, a creature who makes an angler feel the captured one demands due respect, so an insignificant catch in gross terms of weight and measure perhaps, but I won't be forgetting a scale of her flank nor the scale of the battle she waged and very nearly won, in any kind of a hurry.