Goulder on the Lea

With winter and the 'river season' approaching, Fortis main man Darran Goulder brings us a short tale of the capture of a monster and provides a little inspiration for some winter diversity to stoke the fires and keep the buzz alive through the dark months 

A tale of a cold water river capture, one which I had been plotting for quite some time. I had fished Fishers Green on and off for nearly ten years, in that time straying to other rivers like the Stour, Great Ouse and Thames, but there was always something about the lure of monsters residing at ‘FG’ that kept drawing me back. It’s a special venue with some wily old fish to almost record size. Where fish are free to roam miles of snaggy river, and just as much featureless slow moving channel.

'I had an inkling that a special fish would feed, so whilst gazing out the window I rehearsed my plan'

When it gets to Christmas time, my attentions often turn to Chub. Typically the water runs low, clear and cold – however this year had seen severe flood warnings on a national scale. Rivers were a raging bank-high chocolate torrent - not good!

Big Chub were on the mind though and nothing Mother Nature was to throw at me would get in my way. I had an inkling that a special fish would feed, so whilst gazing out the window I rehearsed my plan, over and over playing out my session which just so happened to be simultaneous with even more rain. Find the slackest water with the most cover, and a leg trembling capture would be mine.

On this particular morning I arrived well before dawn, and with temperatures below freezing I was a little reluctant to get out of the car. Before long, after crunching my way through the frosty undergrowth, a link ledgered piece of homemade Cheesepaste was tripping along the gravel before settling in a crease out of the main flow. This batch was extra potent, a blend of the smelliest cheese money could buy, it just had to work. This was repeated all morning whilst dawn broke and the white landscape thawed, but nothing was forthcoming.  The light quiver tip remained motionless; a move was on the cards for the afternoon.

A walk to the top boundary, and then back down to the bottom, was the order of the day, peering into any slow moving water that took my fancy along the way.  By lunchtime, and a change of scenery, I had a renewed confidence.  Out went the ‘Old Peculiar’, but this time a little further downstream to cover some water I was yet to explore. A brew or two later and the light was already starting to fade, so a few preparations were made for dusk.

A boilie wrapped in paste replaced the cheese, and a swan shot was substituted for a Grippa lead, I intended to lay a trap before dark set in and not move it until it was either picked up by a fish or it was time to go home. I was chatting to another angler, when the rod tip signaled the first bit of interest all day.  The rod tip sprung back, as if a Chub had mouthed the bait, before spitting it back out content that something was not quite right. Not ideal, but it was a start. We were talking Pike when the second time – the quiver didn’t flex back at all, it kept going, and going!

A strike was met with resistance, as I bullied the culprit away from harms way downstream. It felt weighty but not taking line like a Barbel, I had a gut feeling what this might be.  The culprit made a few efforts for cover, as a wide chunky back of a chub broke the surface.  A big white tell tale mouth gasping for air was swiftly scooped up with the waiting net, she was mine. Although it wasn’t until I looked inside did I realise quite how big it actually was…

The fish was long, pigeon chested and very broad and as it was placed into the wet sling, I prayed it would make the magical 7lb mark. The scales were zeroed then held aloft and as the needle spun round to nearly 8lb, I was in shock. 7lb 14oz. A new personal best by 11ounces - the hard work had paid off.  A fish I felt proud to call a monster, just like the ones that had appeared over the years, but ones I had yet to find.  Phone calls and texts were sent out, I had done it, and now it was time to sit back and take it all in. I did recast, but knew deep down that there was no way that tip would move again. It was just nice to sit there, relieved that it wasn’t quite impossible after all. 

If you really want something, which you wish and hope for enough, dig deep to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can finally wish for something new when the next candles are blown out… but the quest is not over just yet because there are still bigger to be found.

'The scales were zeroed then held aloft and as the needle spun round to nearly 8lb, I was in shock'

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