Cuckoo carp

Opening day – for me anyway – of the coarse fishing season yesterday. I decided to give Cuckoo Drain a try; we fished there quite a bit last summer and had some reasonable tench, but have heard lots of fishermen’s tales about the size of the fish in this small, weedy drain. I have to admit I did see a carp that frightened me last year! It always sounds like you’re exaggerating but I’m convinced it was closer to thirty than it was to twenty. I was really after some of the seven pound tench that I’ve heard several people claim they’ve had, but from the off I had carp in the swim.

They were drifting in from the right and feeding for a few minutes on my free offerings, and then drifting off again. It’s what keeps me fishing I think: the anticipation. When I finally hooked and landed one – after a twenty minute fight on my light Hardy Marksman and six pound line – I was more relieved than excited, but every time I saw the reeds knock to my right and a bronze torpedo glide into view I kept holding my breath, and could feel my pulse bounding. And when the float was dragged by a stray tail or fin the urge to strike had to be severely dampened down. I was using a single worm on a barbless size twelve which on one occasion – when I did actually strike and make brief contact – came back with two fifty-pence-size scales both tinged with rich bronze. I can only assume that the fish had been over the bait, and moved the float with it’s body rather than pick it up in it’s mouth.

I apologise for the poor quality of the photo, but it’s tricky when you haven’t got your tripod, and only a ten second shutter delay! Also, the fish had put up such a monumental scrap that I was keen to get it back in the water as soon as possible. I can’t tell you its weight because I don’t carry scales.

I can tell you it was a lovely deep-bronze proper English common carp. Between the caudal fin and tail it yellowed to the bottom lobe of the tail which was a rich red. I can also tell you I’d rather catch a fish like this – at maybe fifteen pounds – than one twice or three times the size from the Monument or Horseshit lake or any other of those god awful holes in the ground. To me this is a truly wild fish; it may never have been caught before; it certainly hasn’t got a name and been hauled out countless times on three pound test-curve rods and fifteen pound line. Maybe there’s a hint of snobbery there, and a whiff, even, of hipocrisy – I’m quite happy to fish for stocked trout up the road at Ingoldisthorpe. But, you know, we humans are complex beings and so to be quite honest I don’t care.

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