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  • Leigh Leavesley

THE BEGINNING

Fishing started at an early age for me, living in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but nature and fields of green as far as the eye could see. My boyhood adventures took me to the local streams in search of minnows, sticklebacks and small brown trout. From there I joined a local angling club where the competitive side of match fishing took hold and endless evenings watching a float disappear into a jacuzzi of bubbles and another red eyed, green bodied, hard fighting doctor of the deep would be attached to my float rod in the fading light. Living in wales fly fishing was also a big part of my youth fishing babbling brooks

to large reservoir. All this was going to put me in good stead for the progressive journey that was to come.

Moving forward I was in my first year of high school when I joined my first syndicate. This water was more of a mixed fishery with the main species being carp to low 20s, which was a very big fish for the area as there were very few dedicated carp waters and even less with fish over 20lbs. Back then the popularity of carp fishing wasn’t what it is today. I had been for a look around this stunning little water. It is hard to put into words how this water made me feel, being totally different to anything I had experienced before. Islands, large lily beds, reed lined margins, tree lined, and maintained and mowed to perfection with its own little wooden bridge, it wouldn’t have been out of place in gardener’s world magazine, it was a perfect little oasis. My application was accepted after that initial viewing and the excitement was beginning to build. With several weeks of the old close season left to come up with a plan of action. As I was totally out of my depth the carp were to be my target species and though I had caught carp before from several other waters this would be the first time I would be specifically targeting an individual species and trying to catch them by design. The old close season was a magical time and one that I dearly miss it was a time to reflect and prepare for the new season ahead, that experience and the anticipation of midnight on June the 16th is something you can never describe in words and such a shame that experience is lost for generations of anglers to come.

Although it felt like a lifetime June the 15th was upon us. Arriving at the lake late afternoon, the sun glistening of the glassy water, the lake now in full bloom and looking absolutely breath taking. The butterflies began to appear in my stomach my whole-body tingling with excitement. I settled into a swim; gear all sorted. Time to really appreciate and take in the atmosphere of this unbelievable experience whilst waiting for midnight before I could wet a line for the first time. Midnight came and the plop of the first lead broke the silence in the eery darkness.

Now with both rods in position one with a cube of luncheon meat and the other with a chickpea time to sit and wait and try to get some sleep. My gear back then was a world away from today’s armoury of equipment. No matching rods and reels here, not a single boilie in sight, things were much simpler back then with running rigs or simple free line tactics being the norm. That first night came and passed with no action and very little sleep. As the sun began to rise and dark turned to a hazy light with the mist rising from the deadly still water, the dawn chorus began. Shapes in the distance followed by the sound of a carp sliding back into the depths of its watery home, there is no greater way to start the day. With no action by mid-morning the day was spent freelining bread crust to the gaps in the lilies pads, even though I came very close on several occasions, that unforgettable slurping sound and a pair of rubbery lips engulfing my crust, each time managing to rid the hook without so much as a twitch on the line. By late afternoon I decided to have a change of tactics setting a rod up with a float and a piece of peperami on the hook.

I flicked this to the edge of the lily pads catapulted 2 pouches full of hemp around the float, lay the rod on the ground and sat down in the grass leaning my back against a tree. About half an hour had passed when I saw a few of the lily pads starting to twitch and move then a few bubbles starting to rise around my float. Leaning forward with my hand hovering above my rod, my heart pounding, the float rocking from side to side as the fish fed beneath it then suddenly the float slid away and out of sight. Lifting the rod, I was met with solid resistance and a rod bent double I could not believe it my first carp. Praying I wouldn’t lose it, not once being in control, this fish totally beat me up but some how it went in the net. To this day I have no clue how I managed to land that fish, not a massive fish but at that moment I did not care. Time stood still, that moment that will live with me forever, the fire was well and truly lit. You can’t explain it to anyone that does not share this pastime. Maybe its madness, the inner hunter, anyone can guess and have their theories, but as the years have passed and this passion has turned to borderline obsession, there is one thing I know, memories are made and moments like these shall never be forgotten.

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