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Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good


Tony Locke
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I am getting VERY fed up...every weekend arrives with absolutely horrible weather and I haven't got a decent session in for an age. So I got to thinking about similar times long ago.

The scene: A cold snowy Germany( Frankfurt Am Main to be precise) in the winter of 1985. I had been stuck inside during the harshest winter I had ever endured.  Snow was on the ground  for seemingly months- it had frozen solid and when you went out driving pretty much all you could do was follow the ruts...which might not be the way you wanted to go. Temperatures had been well below freezing for a long long time and I was getting serious cabin fever. The "highlight" of the past few weekends had been my Sunday walk through the icy city streets to the Hauptbahnhof to buy a British newspaper so i could read the sports pages. Even this was fraught with danger because the city apartment blocks were typically 4 floors high and hanging off the gutters were monstrous icicles that would drop without warning and shatter on the pavement below. While one never actually hit me, a few came perilously close.

Finally a weekend had arrived with air temperatures  hovering around freezing and, over the past few days, the snow on the roads had finally begun to clear  up and so I just had to get out fishing. I chose a spot in the city where I could park close by and thus retreat quickly when frostbite started to set in. The concrete bank was frozen solid but my plan was to work a stick float right down this bank with maggot as the bait. So it was that I set up a 4x #4 shot stick float on 2.6lb main line with a #18 hook to 1.5lb hooklength and a single maggot as bait. Fpr Americans, I am talking about a float attached top and bottom taking 4 very small sinkers...this type of float gives brilliant presentation if fished close in. The water flow at the bottom of a river is slower than higher up due to friction and so the idea is to slow the baits passage downstream until it exactly matches   the flow in the bottom few inches of the river.

The target species were small roach, a fish somewhat like a shiner, although they can reach a few pounds. A bonus fish in these conditions would probably not be a pound in weight.

So it was that I sat there in the freezing cold inching my float downstream and chucking a  couple of maggots in every cast. The result was ....nothing....not a sniff of a bite. So I kept addinga  couple of inches to the depth and worked the bait through slower and slower as I held the float back harder and harder. Finally though, my feet and hands felt like blocks of ice and it was time to call it quits. Thus I decided that this cast was to be my last cast and would it please hurry up because my hands were really hurting by now. So I stopped holding the float back and as a result hooked bottom and the float slowly sank. GOOD! That is it ..pack up, go home to a warm bath. However my hook was firmly snagged on the bottom and I could lose a precious float if I rushed now. So it was that I walked along the concrete bank to where I was hooked up BUT I took my landing net with me in case I needed to net my float or possibly dislodge my hook. I slowly added pressure to the system and was pleased when the  crap to which my hook was attached began to slowly com up off the bottom. Fully expecting a log. I was shocked to see a large carp come to the surface, clearly totally oblivious to what was happening! Luckily I had the net in hand and so before it woke up, I had it safely in the net. It weighed in at a shade over 22lb and still holds the record for the following : It is the only snow carp 20 I have ever caught; it is the twenty that I have landed the fastest; it is the only twenty I have landed  with line below 2lb and hook size less than a 12.

If that capture wasn't lucky, then I dont know what is!

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Yeah, there may have been just a tad bit of luck in netting that fish. Just a wrong touch of the net on the line could have spelled total disaster. I have caught cold water carp that fought like the proverbial sack of potatoes, but I could always at least tell I had a fish on the line.  That poor fish must have laying in an ice water spring on the bottom of the cold river water.

And then there are the times when you are good, but not so lucky.  Last summer I was on the river, not exactly having a stellar day, with both uncooperative fish and snags, and had an experience completely opposite of yours.  I had a decent take which stopped, and turned into another not- so- uncommon- Hudson River bottom bite:  another snag.  It felt like a log buried in the mud, not moving an inch.  After letting the river god know how I felt about getting hung up again, I started the walking up and down the shore routine, hoping for a new angle in which the hook would magically pull loose.  It didn't.  But it did start moving off on its own, heading upriver, and at a pretty good clip.  It was quickly and steadily taking a lot of line, non stop, in spite of my thumbing the spool harder and harder.  I was nervous enough now that I had started running up the shoreline, dragging my landing net clamped in my armpit, trying to regain some line.  I definitely had that tight jawed, adrenaline fed feeling that I'd G. D. better not loose this fish.  And then the hook pulled.   Yup, the river gods took some pretty heavy punishment that day.

So, hoping that fish are fairly territorial, I will be back there putting in some time come spring, and hoping for a little more luck.

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Been there., done that. I fished a seriously swollen river in NW Georgia...rod suddenly lurched over and pretty quickly it was obviously a big log rolling down the river. I pulled for a break, but then the log turned and went upstream! I was fishing 20lb line straight through and could do nothing with it...neither turn it or slow it down. Eventually the line broke. I reckon I was (foul) hooked into a lake sturgeon...either that or a log that could swim!

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