My first overnight carp session of the year was a dogs dinner in many respects. I say my ‘first’ but don’t get the idea this is a regular weekly event. I gave all that up years ago.

These days I try very hard not to spend nights on the banks because whilst there may not be anything in life to beat fishing there are one or two things that can and do equal it. One of these equalities, for me, is Love. Don’t laugh.

There are three types of it according to the ancient Greeks. Eros, which is romantic love, then there’s Philia which is brotherly love, and Agape, the love of a deity or God. Nothing is easy is it? “Do you love me?” once demanded a simple cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back answer. If you wanted a sex life anyway. Just be thankful you’re not Greek. But I think I’m getting off the subject as usual.

What worries me is what kind of love is it that Hugo, my dog, shows for me? It can’t be Eros thankfully because he’s had the equipment removed (ouch!). And it’s not a brotherly love because we are both pretty sure I’m boss, so I guess he thinks of me as a God. Now, I respect that kind of thinking and sort of want to reward it – but it’s not possible to just return it when you’re a deity. I mean, it isn’t like we are equals is it? So, I kind of look down on him with affection but stop short of Love. Power corrupts see.



Hugo is a bit of a wuss

Dogs vary. Some blokes have lovely friendly dogs that go fishing with them all the time. Mr Mushroom’s doggie Mr Fisher, or Gordy Howe’s dog Billy for instance. They’ll go in the boat or bouncing down the bank responding instantly to every called command and are wonderful angling companions. Then you have dogs like Hugo, a Staffordshire bull terrier.

I acquired Hugo the day our teenage chav son brought him home and instantly dumped him on me. I have since learned that he was to be a ‘status’ dog so he’s not exactly the first breed one thinks of as the angler’s friend. He is supposed to be more you-come-any-closer-and-I’ll-rip-your-nads-off kind of dog – but he fails on that count because he’s too loving. Unless you are a swan. Or a fox , or bird, or anything else that moves, other than an adult human being. This means he cannot be let off the lead at all, as all it would take is a duck farting on the other side of the lake and he would be off, crashing through anything or anyone between he and it.

So I didn’t have him there by choice. It was the IAC club fish-in, arranged months before. I was not expecting the missus to take her mother on holiday that week, so leaving me short of a dog-sitter. It was either leave him at home unattended for two days and nights or… And that’s how I came to bring him along. Very reluctantly it must be said.

So there I was at the Blue Pool, merrily blanking away, just the same as five of my six fellows – Mick had caught a few – when I spotted a shadow a foot below the surface tracking left to right. Hah! Typical. So now they are coming up to the surface and I’ve left all my chum mixers at home. I had forgotten every thing on this trip as my mind had been focused on the dog. I’d remembered to pack Hugo’s bed, harness, ropes, leads, bowls, and food but forgotten the floaters; and most of the rest of my bait, all the forty quid’s-worth of bits I’d bought two days ago, my chair, my kettle, my cup and several other things I’ve forgotten again. It’s my age I think.

Anyway – always try to see every failure as a lesson and turn every disaster into a triumph by seizing the opportunity presented. What a load of old cock. I never was any good at Dale Carnegie so I got depressed and lost all my confidence instead. And then I remembered Hugo’s dinner.



Neil winkled out a nice 20 on the second night

Hugo is a bit of a wuss. He also has a sensitive stomach, poor thing. A kind of doggie IBS, or so the vet said, and he has to be fed a special diet, a biscuit that costs a bloody fortune. I nearly fainted the first time I had to cough up the £60 a sack I get charged. But it must be pretty good stuff because Hughie does look rather good on it. So I wondered if perhaps the carp might also like a nice shiny coat to go with their cold wet noses? And Hugo could go hungry.

Yesterday morning BarbelDave had been firing floating pellets at carp cruising just under the surface but they were just not interested. Same thing happened with some mixers and floating boilies. But these fish had never been shown Hugo’s dinner so it was worth a try.

Having also forgotten my catapult, and not too confidently, I lobbed out a handful of Hugo’s dinner by hand. I expected the same lack of result as Dave had managed yesterday. I had already set up a rod with a candle and six feet of 12lb Trilene hooklink. I couldn’t go much lighter because of the nearby snags and, yep, I’d forgotten all my lighter line. The candle? It’s for night fishing! But it also makes a great controller which can be cast a long distance – and most importantly it is very, very inexpensive – always a recommendation in my book.

I watched a shoal of five mid doubles approach the floating bait. They looked at it, and turned away. Typical. The wind picked up and my hook bait started to drift away to the right. In my peripheral vision I saw another carp, a much larger one, approaching from the right. I wondered if it would see the bait, as it was due to miss it by about ten feet. It did. It slowly turned and cruised up to it. I knew what would happen because it is what almost always happens. The fish would approach the bait and as soon as it got close, it would either see the line or taste the hook in the water and take fright, and swim off. A refusal in other words. So when this carp just opened its mouth and engulfed the bait I was a little gobsmacked. I just wasn’t expecting it. And when it turned and I belatedly realised that this wasn’t a dream after all, I lifted the rod,

set the hook and the fight was on. Hur hur hur.



Mick was the hero of the session with six fish

to 28lb 09ozs from what was a very quiet lake

Glenn saw the commotion and came to assist. He helpfully started to wind in my other rods. Unfortunately, these had been back-leaded so didn’t actually need touching – until they were touched that is, whereupon my carp swam straight through the pair of them creating a very nice fashion statement sweater knitted completely out of monofil and braid.

Eventually Glenn netted the fish for me and assisted BarbelDave in the weighing. For some reason they never like me to weigh fish alone, and they always do it wrong too. They always subtract the weight of the sling – well, the fish is obviously going to weigh less like that isn’t it? And so it was with this thirty-pounder. The final weight was declared at 28lb 8ozs. My personal best floater-caught carp. Hugo wasn’t interested. He was busy picking a fight with the swans. That evening however he did not go hungry after all. As a reward for his contribution he ate barbequed meat with the rest of us and doggie-IBS be damned.



My floater caught common of

twenty-eight pounds and eight ounces

The sudden hot spell had killed the fishing. Even Mick who’d had a booming start with three fish in the first three hours found the going very slow thereafter. He managed another three fish over the next 45 hours, slow fishing for the Blue Pool. Neil had one fish and that was it. BarbelDave was having one of those sessions too, having lost three fish due to unforeseen accidents but we were all happy. It was a bit like being on holiday.

On the first of our two nights – Hugo’s first ever night away from home remember – I’d had just two single blips on my right hand rod and Hugo kept me awake all night pining for his mummy. So I was not well rested in the morning when I discovered the hook had turned over, as it can sometimes when using a too-soft hooklink. This second night however was slightly different.



One dog and his man

At around one o’clock I was sound asleep emulating a buzz-saw no doubt. Hugo was tied to the leg of the bedchair and was supposed to be asleep in his basket beside me. Instead, and unnoticed by me in my exhaustion, he had crawled onto the bedchair and into the sleeping bag with me, entangling me with his restraining rope.. So when, in the pitch dark, the buzzer sounded a screaming take, things got very interesting indeed. We were both now tied to the bedchair. Like a giant twitching caterpillar, sleepy man wearing sleeping bag, containing a very confused dog, dragging a collapsed bedchair, emerged from the bivvy, all attempting to hop the five feet to the rods before the fish managed to eject the hook.

It didn’t happen of course.

I guess overall the result could have been a lot worse. Hugo had caught me one fish but lost me another. I won’t willingly be taking him fishing again and could at times have cheerfully murdered him. But there’s something not Greek about the love of a pooch. He’s lovely really!

Geoff Maynard .



Get off!