Bright green elastic melted from the pole tip. I eased the fish away from the tree roots to my left. At least I tried to; the fish hell bent on finding sanctuary. In the end I had no need to panic as suddenly my opponent changed direction and surged straight toward me. I can’t recall ever shipping a pole in so quickly. What was this fish? A supercharged genetically modified catfish? No, it was more likely just a carp, but playing any fish on tackle lighter than is necessary will always make them feel like a force to be reckoned with. I had been enjoying catching hand sized brown goldfish hybrids before the party was crashed by this outsized intruder.
I had unshipped, maybe prematurely, at the top kit. The fish now plodding around in the margin in front of me. With every swipe of its tail the waters surface broke into vortexes and I finally caught a brief glimpse as to the identity of this battler. A creamy back flashed tantalisingly for a second before the fish, that I would now confidently say was a ghost common, bolted on another terrifying run at such speed I could do nothing but plunge the pole tip underwater and grit my teeth. What was that about unshipping prematurely?
I was fishing in a kind of point swim. Water to my left, straight out in front of me and behind me, too. The fish had arched around full circle and was now running parallel to my shipped back and unattached pole sections. Oh dear. It had made for the far margin but the elastic had began to take effect. Quite how my two pound line had not snapped at this point I had no answer. Once more the fish arched under the pressure and in slow motion, headed straight into a small, overhanging tree. Disaster! I thought the surprise tench I had hooked mid way through the session fought well. This fight was something else.
For a few seconds I stood in disbelief. I felt totally outwitted and outmanoeuvred. Though the fish had wedged itself in the snag, I could still feel it kicking. It didn’t feel a solid snag more like a bed of weed than the tree itself. I felt sure that if I could change the angle of pressure the fish would come free. How not to play a fish 101. I held the top kit in between my knees and proceeded to ship out the unused pole sections. In the confined swim, I had to perform a kind of three point turn to orientate the pole in the direction I needed it to be, but eventually the top kit was married to the bulk of the pole sections and shipped out. Once the angle had been changed I increased the pressure on the fish and hoped this hook would hold. Quite incredibly, the fish suddenly popped out from the snag and, sulking all the way, swam back slowly toward me.
I was amazed to be in with a chance of landing this fish. I had been totally out played by this fish and felt I in no way deserved to land it. But I wasn’t going to give up now. On tenterhooks I once more shipped down to the top kit. This time the fish felt much less like a coiled spring. I reached for the landing net and teased the fish to the surface. On the first time of asking a solid ghost common reluctantly admitted defeat. Much like the brown goldfish had been doing for much of the session. Their brutish, jagging fights tame in comparison.
What a beautiful fish it was. Toned and bristling with attitude. A real wily fish and a tremendous encounter. One that I will remember for a long time. As I took a few pictures I pondered how the fish was not lost. On two pound line and a small size 18 hook, after a more than fleeting brush with a formidable snag, the fish was beaten. That last statement doesn’t quite seem true. It was I who was beaten. A few occasions at least. But or some reason the fishing gods were smiling on me and the hook didn’t pull. That sharp edged tree root narrowly missed the delicate line. The fish decided on the first attempt at netting it to succumb and not bolt off for a third time. For all the times in the passed where I had lost fish, be it my own fault or an unforeseen reason, I accepted the victory. It didn’t stop it feeling like a hollow one though.
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