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I'm a giver, me...

It's nights like these that I feel extremely fortunate to be living here and now. There's enough wrong with England in the 21st century - this spiteful government for starters - that it's easy to forget places like this still exist, pretty much on your doorstep. It's also easy to forget that one of nature's properties is the extraordinary ability to ease a troubled spirit or make still a restless soul. There's a rejuvenating side to fishing that non-anglers - who see only the caricature of sitting by a canal in the rain, chin in hand - don't get, but if you've been lucky enough to experience it, you'll know.

A quick raid then, with Sean as a guest, to see if we can't sort out his recent tendency to blank whenever he looks into the water. To be fair, this is because he's been on the Avon three times already this season and is after not just a particular species (barbel) but a particular fish (Hubert? I don't know, and Sean's not telling). Anyway, given Sean's skill level (high) and the water's inhabitants (plentiful, obliging) I'm pretty confident we can do something about it. Last time I bought someone here they caught a 22lb personal best mirror carp. Bodes well.

It's overcast but warm with a wind from the west and conditions are pretty nigh perfect. We both start catching roach and rudd, Sean on some mad strawberry mini-boilie and me on sweetcorn (I've also brought a couple of handfuls of crumb from the tail end of one of my home made loaves which produces the best, stickiest groundbait I've ever used). I catch a little tench. Then a bigger one, then Sean shouts something. I reel in and scoot along the bank to find him deep in negotiations with a rather large fish. Because he's using 6lb line and a centrepin, this turns out to be great fun. I video it and we take turns in guessing the weight. I start at 12lbs, mainly because I can't see the fish yet. When I can it immediately becomes clear that this is a mirror carp that won't be seeing 12lbs again - it's considerably bigger. Sean plays the fish gently, coaxing it round the swim, calling it 'fishy' from time to time as if in reassurance. There's the occasional powerful run but mainly it stays deep, pulling hard rather than tearing off. When it finally comes to the net it looks nearly 20lbs and turns out to be a spit over 17lbs. It's a beautiful fish as you can see. Sean's the one holding it, looking ridiculously pleased with himself.

I went back to my swim and caught more roach and rudd, a smashing 4lb 1oz tench (I love having a set of scales after all these years) and then inspired, tackled up a carp rod and tried the swim next door on the other side of the tree which I'd been baiting up with corn and bits of luncheon meat. If this were a story I'd have saved myself a 20 pounder to insert into the day about now but all I got was a couple of taps from a passing rudd.

So that's Ray and Sean sorted out with big carp from the lake, both from the same spot. My turn next.

Postscript: My various attempts to catch this particular carp have been chronicled in Waterlog, the world's finest angling magazine.

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