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A Weekend Away with Michael

Tossing and turning waiting for the alarm to go off, it was just coming 2am so I got up and went downstairs. Kettle on, bowl of cereal sorted out, coffee made then a quick shower I was out the door heading on a 360+ miles road trip. The journey down to Westfield fisheries from Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway Scotland went not too bad till I was just about Birmingham, where a truck fire had closed the m6. After an hour of being at a standstill the traffic started to flow, with no further stops I pulled up the drive roughly at the time I had said to Michael.

Michael had been there for about an hour and had a good walk round. After we had a catch up we both had a walk round, there was already 4 people on but they were leaving about midday, we noticed a few carp held up in a bed of lilies along with another handful hidden away in some snags. As we carried on having a look Ian and ade appeared, as Ian was bringing me some size 4 needle points and some zesty boilies as they were supposed to be fishing with us but ade had just had a throat operation and Ian was busy having to catch up on orders due to his work over running. We all went to the swim that the fish were held up in to see them, as we had a catch up there was a shoot happening, Michael joked one of the pheasants are going to land on us then BANG, Michael stepped back a bit, thump a hen pheasant landed right between Ian and I then bounced right across the peg in between Michael and ade, we all looked at each other and just burst out laughing. Michael said " I called that so I think we are going to get a biggie"

After the shoot passed we decided to get a swim selected, as there was limited swim choice we opted for the double swim known as the fridge, we got the cars down, then started to set up but first things first we all agreed that Michael should get the kettle on. Brews sorted, rigs sorted it was time to find spots for them to go, I picked a spot that had produce for me before to the right of my side of the swim, right into some snags. I put the other rod over to the lily pads that the carp were held up in, with a scattering of zesty over both spots. Both rods had multi rigs on with matching zesty pop ups.

Saturday passed without any action so after breakfast on Sunday we brought the rods in and went on the search to see if the carp had moved as it was only us pair on the lake, we spent the next 2 hours checking round. We found some still in both snags that we were already fishing to, we got round to the fridge and I decided to change rig. After seeing the German rig(Ronnie rig) I dug out the flexi quick release swivels, the needle points some tungsten tubing, bait screws and shrink tubing. I slid the bait screw on to the shank of the hook, trimmed a bit of tungsten tubing(about 5mm) and used that as a shank stop, slid on some shrink tubing then attached the flexi quick release swivel. I pulled the shrink tubing over the swivel, then steamed it. I tried it to see how well it turned with the palm test but I wasn't too happy with it so I done another one, but the next one I didn't pull the shrink tubing on to the barrel of the swivel I kept it short, steamed it then done the palm test, the difference was like night and day the second one turned instantly compared to a slight twist from the first one. Happy with that I peeled of some brown snare hook link to make a boom section about 7 inches long, with it all tied up I decided to tweak the the lead arrangement with fishing tighter to the snags, I made up a 3ft leader but I used a half swivel as I was going to use an inline lead drop off, my thinking of using the half swivel instead was there would be less resistance, after I had set it up like that I got Michael to help test it, sure enough one quick pull the lead dropped instantly. Happy with how everything was working, I got everything set back up then proceeded to get as close as I could get to the snags, as there was over hanging branches it took a few casts to get it to a spot I was happy with. When I was happy a scattered zesty boilies around the hook and made sure I was getting some right into the snag to try and get them to feed confidently on them.

The other rod I setup exactly the same as I was going to fish as tight into a snag on the other side where we had spotted a handful of carp held up. This time to get to where I wanted to be I had to cast to the swim next to the snag. First cast was spot on landing at the back of the swim, hook link in my hand I wondered round with the landing net handle as Michael and I had a talk about how to get it under the bushes over hanging, Michael helped out with the line as I clipped on the hook link, placed the lead in the fork of the landing net handle, with that in my right hand I pulled the line tight with my left hand and guided the baited hook into position. I slowly let the line slide through to place it on the spot, Michael tighten up the line so it was going straight towards the rod, happy with the placement I scattered the boilies around hoping for the same as the other one I had just set up.

The night wore on, with us exchanging stories, watching films and drinking a lot of coffee nothing happened, before getting sorted for bed a handful of zestys scattered about both spots I checked the drag on my reels, screwing them tight so there was no line can be peeled off if anything occurred, rods placed right at the bivvy door for a quick pounce on. About 5ish a single beep on the rod over to the other side, poised to strike it the bobbin remained motionless, I slid back under the sleeping bag, watching, waiting and hoping. The sun began to rise, the glow of orange came across the water, there was a splash under the far snag and another beep from the same rod. I was on it but it was a coot which had picked up the bait, with doing that it the hook got stuck on a twig in the water. I started to try and get it back but it was stuck fast. I started to lower the rod on to the buzzers, as I set it down the other rod just erupted into life, rod lifted, I began to walk to the left to help move her away from the snag, Michael was straight out of his bag and beside me. I had a fight on my hands, as she darted between the lily pads in front of the swim and back towards the snag, from where I was standing it looked a nice fish, then the words you really don't want to hear when you are mid fight, "what's your pb Barry", "it's 22 and a half mate", "well I think you have broken it this has huge shoulders", as Michael had just finished saying that she tried to go up the back channel, I managed to turn her back, I got a good look at her and my face changed, my arm aching, the bend in the road taking the strain of each dash for freedom she tried. I was time the battle coming to an end Michael ready and waiting to slip the net underneath her. She was in the net, what a fight, Michael smiling and saying "well I think this has become your new pb", I dashed about getting everything sorted out for her to be lifted on to the bank, Michael took the strain and lifted her out, sling and scales all set. Hook removed for her top lip, we slipped her into the sling, Michael tried to lift her up but was just a bit short of height, so I lifted her up but I was shaking to much for the needle to settle, so Michael help steady the scales, he smiled, you've done it plus you are now in the 30 club, just though. The scales settled a 30lb 1oz, I was in awe, we put her back on the unhooking mat, splashed her with some water. I went and got my phone so we could take pictures, but firstly I text Ian to let him know what had just happened.

We moved everything around so we had a better background for the pictures, I uncovered her, she was a stunning mirror, I slid my arms underneath her making sure my hands were positioned correctly, then I lifted her up straining to begin with til I got my elbows on my knees. It was a beauty, after we got some pictures it was time to release her, trackie bottoms pulled up, socks flung off, I jumped in to help her back in, a few release shots and she was away. Still in shock of what has just happened Michael pulled me back up out the water, then he said that it was definitely time for a coffee, I just crashed on to my chair, Michael past over my coffee, I phoned my better half Carrie to tell her all about it, by the time I had came off from speaking to her Ian appeared to say congratulations to me and look at the pictures. I sent Ian a picture for him to post on Facebook, within seconds my phone went into meltdown with everyone saying congratulations. After Ian had left I realised that I hadn't put my rod back out or unstuck the other rod. We got it all sorted out, then I began to pack up so I could head back up the road. It was a long trip home due to a couple of crashes but my smile never faded.............