Moments – Martin Crackoff
Looking back through 41 years of carp fishing, there are many sessions that stand out as something special, for whatever reason, these times will always remain the very reason I go fishing. So as a reminder to myself as for any other reason, I wish to get some of my memorable moments in carp fishing down in writing, some are good, some great, and some not even close to being enjoyable, moments that make me the stupid, uncontrolled, single minded angler I am, I hope you enjoy. I will stick these up on the Cherry Carp site every so often, just so you all know I’m still alive.
Boats and the Big Pond – Over the years of using a boat, I have gone through the phase of rowing out the lead, but found it much better to row the rod out, and lower where I need it. This gives me much better control of the line as I can tension it to the desired degree as I head in. As most of my boating has been done with small dinghies, I use single handed oars, these can obviously be used singly, and so I have mastered the art of paddling one handed, whilst the other hand controls the line coming off the reel by way of feathering the spool. Whilst this method is good, it does mean that during a long row back, I may have to change hands quite often as one arm decides enough is enough and gives up the ghost.
My latest reincarnation of my one man dinghy, ‘HMS Hissy’ was getting close to needing a damned good cremation as I set up in the Gaps swim on the Big Pond. A pretty featureless swim (or so I thought at the time) The Gaps looks out over open water until you get to the islands some 200 yards distant, and other than a couple of small rises and drops, it remains quite flat until the depth rises up sharply at the islands. Covering just over 5 acres (yes, five acres for this one swim, which is about average for this lake, mainly due to how I decided to cut the swims) this swim is ripe for a touch of boating fun, especially as the first decent feature is out at 200 yards. HMS Hissy had got to the stage where the various leaks and repairs were lasting about three trips out, two if I wanted to do it safely and leave myself a comfortable return trip after the second rig drop. After which, things got decidedly iffy, and a serious pump up is needed or she starts trying to fold in half before I get half way back, she sinks low in the water, and paddling one handed becomes a serious struggle.
Wanting three rods out at range by the islands, where the fish had been showing over the last month or so, my first job was to get the rods ready for dropping off. Rigs were checked, and newly glugged wooden balls were attached to the hairs of the three long rods. Then a quick play with the funnel web and three small bags added with crumbled boilies and a couple of PVA nuggets in each. The boat was then pumped up and a small amount of boilies and particle in small buckets dropped in for a quick scattering of freebies, before grabbing the first rod and heading out for the first 200 yard row to the islands.
As I headed out to the islands on my second trip, I could see a large storm bank gathering on the horizon, and knew my time was running short, the second rig was dropped in double quick time, and I made my way back… all the time checking over my shoulder to see the approaching storm and to guess how long I had. Not long was my guess, so on arrival back at the swim, jumped out into the waist deep margins, dumped off rod number two on the buzzer, grabbed rod 3 waded back to the boat, and jumped in.
The dinghy wasn’t too happy at not being pumped up, and hung low in the water as I paddled frantically towards the distant margins of the island where I knew I would be relieved of the last rig. I paddled hard, with both arms pulling the paddles, dragging me nearer and nearer my destination, the rod pointing out the front like the lance of some medieval knight galloping toward battle on his charger. Though I was managing more the speed of a failing old donkey than anything like that of a spirited mare… I was at least going forward.
Now, a man of my age can only go so long kneeling down in a tiny dinghy before he starts getting aches and pains, and by three quarters of the way across to the islands, I was really starting to suffer. Being of a certain mind-set though, I continued to push until I’d covered the last 50 yards or so, and dragged myself to the required spot, and as I know the little pva stockings attached to my rig would probably take a minute or so, before releasing the nuggets, allowing me to sprinkle my particles and boilies with accuracy, I decided to get the rig positioned before doing a few on-board stretching exercises to get the blood flowing back through my legs. So, knowing that the bottom of the drop from the island was one rod length from the bush I was sat next to, it was a simple case of lowering the bait onto the silt at the bottom of the drop. This done, I began my stretching and moving… tensing muscles, and moving my legs still in a kneeling position.
This is sort of where things started to go slightly wrong. When jumping in and out of a boat in any footwear, there is a certain amount of water that come in with you. Along with this water, is usually a small amount of small particles, like sand, and the odd very small piece of gravel, and of course, small pieces of gravel can end up digging in your knee, making things even more uncomfortable… or they could instead, go the other way, and as you move your leg in an attempt to get some blood flowing again, these could tear a small gash into the one remaining inflated chamber of the boat, and make it as useful as a carrier bag in the same situation…
The sudden sound of escaping gas made me a little less worried about my discomfort, and quickly looking to see if the nuggets had popped up yet was none too pleasing either as they were still wrapped up nicely in the PVA stocking at the bottom of the lake. A panicked few hand fulls of particle were launched in the general direction of where I thought the rig would be, followed straight after by some boilies. Then I turned the boat and made haste towards the swim, a very long way off. Feathering the line with my left hand, I dragged myself unceremoniously through the water, the boat getting harder and harder to move with every paddle as it slowly got lower and lower in the water. I changed arms regularly to try and keep the speed up, but about the only thing that did was prove that my left arm is completely useless at stress paddling, and kept giving up after only a couple of minutes.
I paddled for what felt like ages, before about 50 yards short of my destination, the boat started to fold and take on water. I threw myself forward, and lay down in an attempt to spread my weight across the entire boat, luckily, this worked to a degree, and though I was as close to swimming as anything else, with the first couple of inches of my body in the water, I was still able to paddle and control the line. Soon though, as the paddles were gaining less and less movement towards my intended goal, I came to the conclusion that the “boat”, and most of myself, were actually underwater. Drained and soaked, I grabbed what I could from the dying vessel, and launched it as hard as I could towards the bank, buckets of bait flew through the air like a goose… just after it had been shot, and landed just over a yard in front of where I lay, floundering like the aforementioned “shot goose”. Once that was done, I abandoned ship. I was only about 6 or 7 yards short, but I was getting nowhere with the paddling, and was just too tired to continue, so I kind of slid off the side of the remains of my boat, like a half dead slug, into the 4 foot of water, before wading a bit closer to shore, and collapsing in the margins.
Sat in the edge some ten minutes later, I had regained some energy when the first drops of rain hit me. All I’d wanted was to get the rods out without getting soaked by the rain… I’d call that mission accomplished.
PS, some blanks are more memorable than others.