I was sat in work on Friday afternoon staring out of the office window like carp anglers do!. The weather didn’t look too bad, it had been dry all week and I couldn’t help thinking that the river dee would be in good shape. After a couple of weeks break from the fishing and a couple of particle bait entries on my blog I was ready for a few hours on the bank in search of another carp.
I’d already decided to visit one of my chosen north west winter carp venues on Saturday but I didn’t feel like sitting at home twiddling my thumbs on Friday evening. I thought long and hard about an evening carp fishing session during the slow afternoon in work and decided to have my tea when I got home then grab some gear and head for the river dee. Friday afternoon passed slowly, eventually 5pm arrived and I headed off home to gather my carp gear and have a bite to eat.
I sorted out a few bits and pieces, the carp rods, rod pod, bite alarms, rucksack, fishing chair and my thermal suit so I would be comfy after dark. Unfortunately I had no particles prepared as it was a spur of the moment decision to go fishing so I grabbed the last of my birdfood boilies out of the freezer and put them with the rest of my gear.
My birdfood boilies were mulberry flavoured and were rolled by dave doubleday of bandit baits in Shropshire, dave’s baits have done the business for me and a few of my mates in the past and I’d been feeding in mulberry boilies along with my tiger nuts and chick peas when I’d been prebaiting the river, I’d already had a couple of carp out of the river dee on the mulberry boilies so I had no hesitation in using them.
The river dee is actually the closest water I go carp fishing on so the journey is a bit shorter than getting to my normal Cheshire carp lakes, after packing the car and negotiating the motorway I reckon I was on the bank about 40 minutes after leaving home, that’s a relatively short journey for me these days!.
I arrived at my swim about 6.45pm and began setting up, after fiddling round in the dark tying and baiting a couple of carp rigs I eventually lobbed two mulberry hookbaits with stringers into the centre channel of the river where I’d found plenty of success on previous trips. Once the lines had been sunk I put a couple of backleads on to help pin the line and to stop my lines picking up any debris in the flow then it was out with the catapult and the mulberry boilies. I baited both spots in an oblong baiting pattern so any patrolling carp would come across my baits, the hookbaits were staggered from the bank so the two baiting patterns overlapped and covered the whole of the centre channel of the river, if a carp swam past there was no question it would latch onto the bait and eventually the run would come.
It was mild for the time of year and I was hopeful of a run or two, I intended to fish 7pm until 11pm, maybe midnight if things were happening but I’d be happy with 4 hours as I still intended to visit one of my north west winter carp waters in the morning and I was really just out to get some peace and quiet and chill out. I settled down with a brew from a flask I’d made earlier and just watched the river for a while. It seemed quite lifeless, no fry splashed in the margins and no silver fish topped mid river unlike a few weeks previous when the river looked alive with fish. I was still hoping the carp would be around, on my last trip I’d taken a mate with me and he’d picked up several carp between 7 and 11pm hence me fishing at these particular times!.
It was approaching 10pm when the upstream rod was away in typical dee carp fashion, up until the run I was thinking a blank was on the cards and that the carp had moved on to a holding area elsewhere on the river so I was pleased when it actually screamed off. I hit the run and straight away felt there was something a little different about this particular river dee carp, all my previous fish were exceptionally strong on the initial run and fought extremely well but being high singles and low doubles they didn’t have the weight behind them to trouble me even in a decent flow, this particular carp however did!. The fish was slow and deliberate and it wrenched the rod over and just kept going slowly, after 30 yards of taking line steadily off the clutch I found the fish was going beyond a near bank snag and I was in a bit of trouble, I had no choice but to follow the fish down the bank. The plan was to make my way down to the snag then hope that me pulling the carp towards it would see the carp naturally pull in the opposite direction, if I gave it enough line it might clear the snag on its way back up river…if I ever managed to turn it that was!. I made the fish scrap for every inch of line and eventually I arrived at the snag minus my landing net, by this time the carp was another 40yds further downstream and it was here it eventually came to a stop which was just as well as I’d run out of bank space and couldn’t have followed it further downstream even if I wanted to!.
After another five minutes of stalemate I eventually began to make some line back but it was slow going, the carp felt heavy and I was trying to bring it back upstream against the flow. Fortune must have been in my favour as the carp kept deep in the centre channel as I slowly gained line, after what seemed like an age I had the fish level with the snag and out in the middle of the river, would you believe it, exactly where I’d hoped it would go!. Once clear of the snag, I slowly began making my way back up to where my rods and landing net where. It was when I got back to where my landing net was that I finally felt in control of the situation, the carp still stayed deep and made the odd short run but I felt like it was just a matter of time, only the carps weight was keeping it from my landing net and every time it surfaced it was a little closer in, eventually it rolled on the surface in front of me and I was able to scoop it up into the waiting net. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to lift the landing net around that carp, I had a quick look at my watch and it was nearly 10.30 pm, I’d been playing the fish for just on half an hour!.
I peeled back the mesh to have a look at my prize, I could see it was a mirror carp but my first impression was that it wasn’t a twenty, maybe an upper double but I didn’t think it would make it over that magic 20+ barrier. I secured the fish in the net and sorted out my unhooking mat, scales and camera ready for weighing and photographing. It was when I lifted the net out of the water that I began to change my mind about this one making 20+, it had broad shoulders and quite a belly underneath, on the mat and under the light of my head torch it looked every inch a kipper and I was beginning to think this was my first river dee twenty after all!.
Weighing and photographing carp is all about routine and I’m well versed in getting things done quickly, I had the fish up on the scales first and much to my delight it registered 21lb 4oz, my first river dee twenty, after a quick ‘clenched fist’ shout of ‘yessss’ I rattled off a few self takes with my flip screen canon g6 and remote control then got my prize river dee mirror back into the water, I held the fish a while whilst it recovered and when it was strong enough a kick of the tail saw it return to its watery home.
Me, I was delighted, I kept muttering ‘20lb river dee carp’ to myself along with a few other expletives I won’t mention on this blog!.
I didn’t bother casting out again after catching that fish, I didn’t think it was worth casting out for just another 20 minutes or so and with this in mind I packed my gear and headed for home a happy carper.
It’s been a tough year for me this year but this particular river dee carp really made my season, the river is largely ignored and un-pioneered by north west carp anglers and I’d always hoped there was something a little bigger than the low doubles I’d been catching this season. This fish was also another step towards my target of catching 20lb+ carp from 20 different carp waters in the uk, a little mental target I’ve had for quite a while and I’m getting there slowly, the river dee is now the 16th different water I’ve had 20lb carp from so I’ve only 4 more left to crack before I reach my goal. I may be another few years away from that yet but it is getting closer slowly!.