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Joe Chappell

A ‘Lucky’ First Trip

Since we have been allowed to fish again in mid-May, I decided to fish as many new waters this year as possible, wanting to move on from the local day ticket lakes where the average fish are single figure, and to break the 20lb barrier. I think it’s fair to say I have been fairly successful, fishing 4 new waters, breaking the 20lb barrier and beating my PB twice.

On my latest trip I fished Priory Park, it’s an urban lake of barely an acre in size however it has some beautiful specimens swimming inside. I’ve visited the lake a number of times, on my lunch breaks from school (I go to school 5 minutes away), and on dog walks and days outs. Having scrutinised every recent post on the Facebook group, and talking to a few locals I ordered some bait from a local bait company. The fish in Priory get caught a lot on this bait, giving me confidence.

The Rig, with an 18mm Bounty Hunter Boilie

The day came when I was to fish it, despite having enough rigs to last me a lifetime, I had tied a couple of new ones ready for the following morning. The approach was to be simple, yet deadly effective, a size 8 micro barbed curve shank, tied in a simple hair rig, around 6 inches long. My dad dropped me off around 8am, a bit later than I had hoped as I’d heard it could be hard to get a swim. After arriving at the lake, and having a short walk around, it was apparent that there was only 3 empty swims, one was right in the corner, the other 2 were adjacent, and had a few fish cruising on the top. I chose the swim with fish cruising on the top, in the hope that they might drop down to feed. (Surface fishing is banned) I decided to fish one rod mid water, with a scattering of boilies and corn around it, and the other one, a single hookbait cast around 10ft off the island. After a chat with a few of the anglers beside me, it became apparent that not much had been coming out the past couple days, one person had caught one shortly before I arrived, but apart from that, the night had passed uneventful for the other 8 or so anglers.

The Rods

My rods hadn’t been in the water longer than a couple hours when my rod to the island burst into action. The fish kited around to my left, wallowing on the surface, I could see it was a big fish and my heart started pounding like a drum and bass record. With another burst of power, the fish tried to bury itself in some snags to my left, but within minutes the battle was over and my newfound neighbour had netted her for me. It was a common. And it was BIG. (For my standards) “I think it’s Lucky” he said. My mind was blown, had I just caught the biggest common in the lake? We brought her onto the bank and after comparing a few photos, our suspicions were verified. I had caught her. A fellow angler kindly took some photos on his camera, and I was given a soaking. It was a new PB after all, 24lb 4oz. After a short chat, and finding out that the fish was likely to be nearly as old as my parents, we slipped her back. I phoned my mum immediately after, I had been telling her the names of the fish I was hoping to catch the previous night, Lucky being one of them.

Lucky from priory park
The Soaking

I put the rod back out on the spot, with the hope of another bite but no matter what I tried that day I couldn’t buy one. Zigs just off the bottom, zigs just under the surface, midwater, to the island. Nothing else was working.

The Zig

So that sounds like it, end of story, but not quite. I’ve been in lakes many times, to retrieve rigs, to save tethered fish, gosh I even fell in once, but they are all stories for other days. Well on that Wednesday I was in once again, this time to rescue a seagull. It had got its wing caught in some line on the island and, being a park lake with lots of people around the poor bird started to attract a crowd. Well we all know how the story goes, a video of a dead bird goes viral on Facebook and angling is banned. Well it was hot anyway and I didn’t mind going for a swim. So, I reeled the rods in, took my net around ready to jump in. Rolled my shorts up and hopped in, it soon became apparent that it was a bit deeper than expected. Well out I got, the shorts came off, and back in I went. Now I didn’t want to get my t-shirt wet, so I took that off too. Ah I left my hat on, I’ll Frisbee it to the bank. Nope. Forgot I left my glasses on top, ready to spot that next carp. Well the glasses started to disappear in front of my eyes a good 10 feet away, good job I had the net, no worries because I scooped them up with a sigh of relief. Well back to the seagull, I managed to get it untangled, got the line out of the tree too so that was my heroic action for the day. Somehow it wasn’t a disaster and with a round of applause from the growing crowd I made my way back to my swim, in the hope that the Carp Gods would recognise my bravery. They didn’t but it was a great day out and I met some cracking anglers. A day I’m not sure I will ever forget.

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