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08 Jun 2016
by Lou Bowes
''A moment I'll never forget...''
Talking about the lead up to her first forty, Lou Bowes relives the before, during and after of the momentous occasion

I’d been baiting the bottom end of the lake for some time before it really kicked off. Frimley was busy, but everyone wanted to be up the top end, leaving me a great opportunity to drop a bit of bait into that end of the lake on a regular basis. I’d spotted the fish down there, and along with numerous sightings further up the lake, I came to the conclusion they were moving fairly freely, but only up to the middle of the lake and turning back before passing Double Boards.

I arrived on Saturday afternoon and, with the wind pushing down the lake, dropped straight into the swim I wanted, putting both rods onto two of the pre-baited spots. Within minutes of my rods being settled I had a liner and saw a couple of fish roll so felt fairly confident for the coming session. As the light faded the fish gave away their presence and I lost count of the amount of fish I heard roll out in front of me. By the early hours of the morning my left hand rod was away and it wasn't long before I slipped the net under a lovely common – the fish were clearly confident feeding there and the free meals I’d been leaving were obviously welcomed in the less pressured area of the lake. I unhooked it as quickly as possible and slipped it into a retainer in the water while I got the rod back out as I could see there were still fish actively feeding in the area.

This huge common, which went on to weigh 29lb, was safely waiting in the sling and Nigel Sharp was making his way over to take the photos for me. Just before he arrived in the swim a 23lb mirror came from the same spot, resulting in an epic brace of carp. Both fish were resting in retainers in the margins as Nige entered the swim – what a result.

This zig-caught fish came in a few hours after work

The following week I was down one evening after work. Like most weeks, I try to have a little look around on a Tuesday and a Thursday and sometimes do a few hours' fishing. I could see a few fish milling about in an area that I’ve fished before. I know there’s a gravel bar that runs between the pads and could see they were following this route. I grabbed my rods and, with the fish high in the water, decided to cast a zig at them. I waited for them to move off, further along the bar and then cast the zig to intercept them on their way back. With the rod lying on the deck, the tip pulled right round and had me scurrying to pick it up. The fish made a break for the pads but before long I had it under control, and a nice 27lb common was safely in the net.

My next session was spent in Fallen Tree, and although there were fish moving, they were not reaching the swim I was in. Needless to say the trip didn’t produce anything and it was off home with my tail between my legs.

A short evening session in Daisy Bay the week after didn’t produce a fish, but gave me a wealth of information in terms of fish location. As I sat there late in the day, hoping for an opportunity to land one of the Pit 3 monsters, I noticed a few carp moving and travelling along a route round to the right towards Deep Point, instead of the usual one past the Double Boards swim and down the lake towards the far end. I’d been baiting the area with a small amount of bait waiting for the right time, and seeing what I did that evening, and knowing the weather forecast was the first warm easterly of the year, I felt the conditions were perfect for Deep Point come the weekend, the area I’d been baiting, and the one I watched fish move into and around that weekday evening. I dropped a bit more bait onto the area ready for the weekend.

It was like being on the red carpet

As Saturday came around, I opted to arrive early and Deep Point was visibly holding fish. Fortunately the angler in the swim was vacating it later that day, so I wheeled my barrow in behind him and after a chat and a cup of tea left him to it, and went off for a wander around the lake. I returned at 1pm and I wasn’t worried about following him in as he’s a quite a stealthy angler, making little noise and he hadn’t put much bait out either.

I got my rods ready and sat watching the fish milling around the raised bar in front of the swim. With two fresh rigs tied, the swim now vacant and everything ready to go, it wasn’t long before I could get the rods out. The fish were now coming from under the pads at the right hand end of the bar, moving up and along it and sunning themselves in the shallow water, high up the bar. I catapulted a few boilies out one at a time to move the fish away from the area without spooking them too much, and as they drifted away, the rods could be cast out.

It was 2 o’clock by now and the rods were set, baited, and there were a few fish in the area. A visual pop-up on a hinge rig would be the downfall of the biggest fish I’ve ever landed within little over an hour of casting out. The rod tore off and the fish instantly made a break for the pads to the right of the bar. Instinct kicked in and I walked backwards as the fish boiled and swirled on the surface inches from the lily pads. It was a great fight, the fish stayed deep in the channel in front of the swim, and the swirls and weight indicated it was a decent fish. It tried to take me into the bay to the left and with a bit of side strain I brought it back round in front of me. It then kited to the right heading straight for a snag but again I steered the fish back to the channel in front. I layed the net in the water and played the fish until it tired enough, before scooping it up, relieved to have landed my first of the session. I knew it was a big fish, and after getting into the water and staring down at this colossal common, it was then I knew it’d be close.

A good soaking indeed...

It was one of those moments where you look down, I could see this wide back and it was massive. I knew it was a new pb, but it’s one of those moments where you don’t want to say the words, “I think it’s a forty”.

I stood in the margins with a smile from ear to ear. Two chaps standing in Double Boards, as well as others on the lake heard my screams, and before long there was a long procession of anglers meandering into the swim to see what all the fuss was about. I knew it was a big fish, so I text Nige and rang a friend on Pit 4 too. I was gobsmacked, I couldn’t believe it. By now it seemed like everyone on the lake had turned up, it was great, they’d all heard the commotion and the cameras began to arrive. I was still standing in the water in shock and everyone was teasing me saying it was at least a mid-thirty.

I wet the unhooking mat and got in the water, and with help from a few others, the fish was lifted onto the unhooking mat still in the net. Carefully transferred onto the bank, Rick held the sling off the ground before releasing the weight, and the scales continued to climb until they recorded a weight of 41lb 4oz. I was jumping around bear hugging everyone, it was a good moment, I’d caught my first forty. After the photos had been done the traditional soaking followed as the fish swam off none the worse for its ordeal.

Fortunately I had a spare set of clothes so i could dry the others off

It wasn't long before the beers began to flow. Everyone was overjoyed and people were still turning up to congratulate me. During these celebrations I put the rod back out, and shortly after banked a 31lb mirror off the same spot. The fish took me straight over the bar and it was a bit touch and go whether it would come back across. I gingerly guided it across the slightly deeper bit of the bar and led it towards the net, as it made a good account of itself, before landing my second of the session.

I’ve been fairly consistent with my catch rate on Frimley Pit 3 since I started on there, and although I don’t ever have big hits, it’s been a real pleasure to keep catching from as early as February this year. I’ll forever remember the day I caught my first forty.

This 31lb common came a few hours after the initial capture
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