When Chris and I moved to a rural village in the Weald of Kent almost 5 years ago I expressed to Chris an interest in taking up fishing and before I knew it a rod and equipment appeared as a present which was very thoughtful. However, at that point I had thought living in the country would be quiet, idyllic and there would be plenty of days to fill…..how wrong could I have been. Country living is fabulous….but full to the brim with things to do and so I have, as yet, not quite got around to starting fishing. I therefore added it to my 50@50 challenge list to kick start me, and then sought out someone to teach me.
And, rather bravely I think, in stepped Dan, a great friend from the village who kindly gave up his evening to explain to me the rudiments of fishing and how to set up my rod. And wow what a great teacher; he was patient, funny, encouraging and within five minutes we had our first strike. Firstly we tried a rig set up with the bait on the bottom ( excuse me if my terminology is not quite right) and we swung rather than cast to get into a close position by some reeds. On this occasion I landed a 2-3lb carp, we were up and running and we were all stunned at how quick we had caught a fish.
We were fishing at Shirkoak Fisheries which is a fabulous, family friendly establishment and tranquil and beautiful this evening.
Dan then showed me how to set up my own rod with a float and hook. We used sweetcorn as bait and once more I was off, side casting as we did not need to be too far out (the lake is well stocked so ideal for beginners) and also because whilst a lovely evening the wind was getting up. After a few false strikes, I began to realise the difference between a nibble, the wind moving the float and a proper bite!! I then caught a small mirror carp which Dan explained how to let out some line, play the fish, give it time to wear itself out and then reel in. It was so exciting and when I had landed the fish it was beautiful. In the water they can look quite dull, but once pulled from the water their scales shine iridescent in the light…quite stunning. I wanted to be able to take the hooks out properly and I was showed how to do this causing as little damage as possible.
We then moved onto surface fishing where you throw quite a bit of bread onto the surface (once the Ducks had gone) and then secure a largish piece on your hook and place it near the bait on the water. So many carp came to the surface then it was hard to concentrate on which was your piece of bread as my eyes were darting everyone…..and this is when it happened. I actually have a fishermans tale about the ‘one that got away’…..the ‘big one’. I struck and could tell instantly that it was large as the rod bent and I needed two hands to just hold it. I let out some line and it swam close, left, stayed still then thrashed to the right, I began to bring it in but I think amateurishly too soon as…….snap…..it was gone. My arms were aching and the adrenalin was genuinely flowing. It was certainly this big!!!….please visualise my arms stretched out to their extremity 😉🎣🐟 and whilst disappointed it was gone, I had enjoyed the battle ; 1-0 to the ‘beast of Shirkoak’.
We carried on, enjoying some food, good conversation and a drink or two and I managed to land 9 fish in total in 3 hours. Thanks go to Chris our official photographer, bag carrier and occasional landing net attendant. Near the end of the evening Dan and I even managed to have a catch on each rod simultaneously which truly was the icing on an already delicious, if somewhat fishy, cake.
Thanks Dan for passing on your obvious love of fishing, your enthusiasm and knowledge. I love that you know so much about the fish, what is best for them, how to handle them and a general respect for nature ( ensuring we don’t litter etc) all of which I really respect. Please excuse the pun……but I am hooked….and already I now have a fishing date with my son lined up so no excuse to stop now. Especially as It would seem I have been interested for quite some years ( My brother Paul, my sister Nicky and me….worrying that this is black and white!!!!)