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Take 2

Fortunately, we don't have to repeat the rigmarole of the previous entry with its seemingly endless list of preparations, building up to the 'gag' whereby I've left the landing net behind. Instead, we can press straight on to the fishing.

It's the next day and the weather's not so much changed as shifted so that it's colder and more overcast. As I arrive at the lakes another club member is leaving. He's cheerful enough but reports one skimmer all day - and he's been there since 10.00am. Ouch.

"I'm fishing the little lake," I say.

"Same there," he replies.


I walk over the path between the two lakes and someone's in my swim. This is the first time in living memory I haven't been able to fish in the corner and I don't like it. Instead, I settle into Ray's preferred spot under the tree and cut up some tiny chunks of luncheon meat before lobbing them in as loose feed. It starts to rain. The bloke opposite packs up after a couple of drops. I guess he's been looking for any excuse to go home. The guy in my swim gets his brolly out. He's here for the duration.

I tackle up and rummage for a float before discovering some strange new additions to the tackle box. Then I remember that Sam gave me some floats when we came here last year, working on the assumption that he'd never use them in his sea fishing. I pop one on, plumb the depth (wow, that's shallow) and then shot the float. It cocks perfectly first time. So here we go. No bites all day. Could be a long evening.

The float barely settles in the water before it meanders off in the kind of bite that not even I can miss. It's a nice bream. The first of four as it turns out - three the same size as the one shown here (about 3llbs or so) and one slightly smaller. Along the way I catch a nice 6oz rudd and last cast, just as I'm thinking there won't be any more bites, a lovely tench of about 3lbs.

I miss a carp. It's the centrepin. I hit the bite fine, the contact's strong, and the fish pulls hard towards the reeds. Then it comes out in front of me, lifts in the water and - oh crap, I should have seen this coming - tears off straight into the middle of the lake. I can't stop it. I try and control the run with my other hand and the spinning handles of the 'pin nearly rip my thumbnail off. By the time I've recovered, the fish is off and my nail is slowly turning an interesting shade of deepest blue.

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