Special Chapter – Ben Finlay

Published by on April 30, 2020

Special Chapter – Ben Finlay

It was like any other morning, I finished work at 6 am from doing the night shift and headed straight to the lake, the lake being Charnwood Water which I had fished for three years or more. I knew it was going to be another warm day with a temperature well into the 20s with no wind. When I arrive in the car park at 6.20am I was very surprised to see there were no other cars or vans parked up as the last few weeks the lake had been busy. It had been fished very heavily with three or four people on nearly every weekday and even more at weekends. I jumped out of my van made my way to the point swim. From the point you can see a lot of the lake and also check who is fishing. From what I could gather there was not a sole on the lake, the choice was mine! I rushed back to the van and started to load my barrow up with all my kit. I had decided to head for the dugout which can be a real sun trap but was not the best for sleeping after working nights but all round a very good swim and one of my favourite swims on the lake. It seemed to be a very strange morning, very quiet and very eery too, most mornings there would be dog walkers around and people walking to work but on this particular morning it was like a ghost town, I had only every experienced this once and that was when England was playing in the world cup and there was nobody about apart from my mate Andy who stayed on and fished and had a great result but that is for another time.

I make my way to the dugout checking a few areas on the way, I always check under the willows to see if there are any fish lying under the overhanging trees which is an area the fish do like and its only about four foot deep with gin clear waters but there was nothing there this morning. I briskly move on and arrive at my chosen swim I park my barrow up and have a good look across the lake it really does look mint. The mist was rising off the warm water and the sun was glistening against water, it really was a picture. I chose to fish the dugout due to the large island that is in front of the swim which you can fish up against and get some really nice depths, the lake its self was originally an old brick pit and it has some real deep areas with the A6 bank being around 18-28ft which is to the right of where I am fishing. With it being such a warm day I did not fancy the deeper waters and really wanted to get on the shelves or just the higher grounds in the lake if possible. In the end I decided to put all three rods along the island which stretches about eighty yards in length. I planned to have a rod at each end of the island and one just in the middle as these spots have served me well in the past, there is no need for a marker rod I just need to pop the lead on and clip up to the spots, nice and easy fishing too. My left hand rod was placed to the and of the island where the trees overhang the water by about seven foot and there is an small opening into which you can get a lead to it is almost like a cove. The depths here are around eight foot before it drops off the shelf into 20 foot deep water. On this rod it was a choddy with my corked ball pop-up on the end with round 70 free offering fired out with the throwing stick, game on, one rod done!! The other two rods were all rigged up with my tried and tested snowman on to a multi rig which I use for nearly 90% of my fishing and very rarely does it let me down. The middle rod was a boilie snowman with 70 or so free offerings tight to the overhanging trees. With two rods out and I was really pleased with how things were going. Time for the third and final rod which again was a snowman but with tigers instead of the boilies. I drilled out one the tigers and placed some cork into it looked great and perfect for a boilie alternative. I get the this final rod

out which was to the end of the island and a couple of rod lengths off the island in the slightly deeper water, the shelf at this end is not so steep it is around 12 foot gradually dropping to 22 feet. After about 15 spods of tigers and hemp all the traps are set and ready to go, I quickly got my brolly set up and time for some well earned sleep.

The weather was calm and the August sun was getting stronger and the temperature was rising, it was now about 22 degrees and with this kind of temperature I didn’t fancy my chances too much as on days like this the fish are normally cruising around on top and are hard to catch to say the least.

It was about 9am I was woken by few bleeps on my right hand rod I opened my eyes to see a kingfisher had landed on my rod, what a nice surprise this was as I have never had a kingfisher land on my rods before. It was like a scene from a passion for angling, what a great moment it was, it was a shame I could not get the camera out and get a shot but before I could do so it was gone just like that.

I fell back sleep straight away as I was completely shattered but before I knew it I was awake again this time to the sound of my left had buzzer it only let out a couple of bleeps but enough to get my attention. I shot up and looked over to the cove no sign of any bird life and then a few more bleeps turned into a slow take with my bobbin being pulled the top and line starting to slowly come off the reel. I flew down the bank and hit the rod, I was in, game on! I took a few winds on the reel and can feel the fish pulling and it started kiting straight away to the left away from the big island and out into the open water heading towards the small island. I knew if I didn’t get the fish my side of the island I could be in big trouble. I kept the pressure on and not giving the fish too much line I was the one who was controlling the battle and from this fight I felt that It was a good fish with it staying low in the water and just plodding about like big fish do, every now and again it would try and make a run with short and intense bursts. During this time the fish is getting closer but still staying deep. I needed to get the fish up and away from the shelf which on the close bank had all sorts of snags and sharp edges on the shelf which are potentially a getaway for the fish. My legs are now like jelly and my heart is really pumping with all the adrenaline rushing through my body. There is still no sign of the fish but it is under control and slowly moving closer all the time, I feel like I do have the upper hand and once the fish has come up it will be a scrap under the tip. Finally, the fish is coming up in the water there must only be about 10ft of line until the long length of leadcore starts to appear after a couple more small bursts of power from the fish I know that I am now winning the battle and god forbid I will not lose. I finally get to see the leadcore and a great big flash of golden flank through the gin clear water but I can not make out what fish it is, but it looks huge! My whole body is shaking and with one last burst from the powerful fish that I am doing battle with I find myself frantically back winding I soon get the beast under control again and the laedcore reappears. I slowly pulled the fish up through the water and got the net ready. I feel that the battle is nearly over, I jump into the water and get on the shelf which is only about knee high this will help keep the fish away from the shelf and give me a better chance of landing the fish. The fish is still coming in the right direction I got a real good look at it and now I know what is on the end “it’s scaly” I say to myself. This made me even more nervous knowing what I am

so close to catching, but I have to put all the silly thoughts that go through your head out of your mind and just deal with what I have to do and that was getting this great fish into my net. Before I know it the head was coming up then the lips I knew it was ready now time to slip the net under this massive framed fish! What relief, I had won battle and she was in the bag! I peer in to the net with looking I can see that’s she is well in to the magical 40lb plus but was unsure of her weight. I thought that she would around this weight having seen her just a few weeks before in the edge looking in tip top condition. I let out my relief with shouts of “who’s the daddy” and “yes yes yes “ all mixed in with other noises of celebration. After sounding like a man who had just won the lottery it was now time for a quick weigh and unhooking of the rig as the fish is still in the net. I get all the equipment required to get the weighing ready, plenty of water, weigh sling and the big euro mat, I brake my net down and walk her up the bank straight on the mat. I open the net up and see that she is in absolutely mint condition, not a scale out of place and feeling very heavy too. My friend Adam had caught her a year before at just over 40lb, she was looking a lot fuller now. I get her into the sling, the scales are set, time for the big weigh. She weighs in at 43lb 6oz! I am absolutely over the moon. 43lb of pure Leicestershire beauty this was a new lake record too but this didn’t cross my mind at this time as I was enjoying the moment and soaking up what had just happened!

It was now time to put her in the sack in the deep waters off the shelf to protect her from the hot sun that is beaming down. After the sack was sorted it was time to have a brew and chill for 5 minutes. Just I was getting the kettle on a dog walker and his wife came round and asked ‘ what was all the shouting was about’? I told them that I had just caught a fish they looked at me gone out and carried on walking their dogs. I am sure they thought I was totally mad and I think in some sense they where completely right.

It was now time to phone my trusted photographer Nath who at the time was not working and would be able to come down in a flash. After telling Nath what a result I had he was completely over the moon for me and he could not wait to get down and hopefully get some great photos. Within 30 mins Nath was here camera in hand, “ some boy” he says. We get the kettle on for a quick brew and could not stop talking about what had happened. We talked about the battle, spots, rigs and reminisced about other captures.

We finished our teas and now it was time to get some real work done! I had put the sack deep down the shelf to keep Scaly in the shade as this part of the lake was a known suntrap. I gently pulled her up and she slowly she came to the top so calmly and without any fuss, maybe she was going to beat me up on the mat? As I was getting her out the water Nath looked at me with that “WOW” kind of look, both of us getting excited but who could blame us, two kids in a sweet shop! It’s photo time and Nath is known to be really good with the camera and always gets the greats shot that you want. I poured plenty of water on the big girl to keep her moist and looking at her best! At this time Nath is snapping away, my arms are aching but she looks absolutely stunning! The colours from her flanks are glistening in the bright sunlight I had never noticed her scrape like marking along her flanks which made her look like an oil panting, this may have been caused by spawning earlier in the year. After some great shots and tired arms we

cradled her the waters edge in the euro mat. We were both about to say our good byes to Scaly when I got a few bleeps on my right hand rod over the tigers and hemp. Before I could do anything my rod starts to slowly peel off therefore I pass the mat to Nath who puts Scaly safely back into her safe sanctuary. By the time I get to the rod the spool is just ticking over due to the tight clutch to stop the fish going in to the channel which is directly behind the area that the trap was set. I pick the rod up and it was like hitting a snag completely solid but moving at the same time kiting away to my left along the front of the island with some real power this fish was not a happy bunny! Nath comes over “you in” he asks I reply with “yes mate Slate” I reply he does not believe me and it was only a wild guess but having caught this fish 3 years previously I knew what it was capable of and it was really taking me for a ride. I just could not stop the fish it was moving so quickly and with so much power it was just a case of hanging in and see what happens, it could go either way, but I knew that I had to try and turn it around. I need to act fast as there is a small island to my left and buoys that are held down with steel chains that are covered in razor sharp mussels which could cut through mine line in a flash and if the fish gets close to these I knew it would be game over. I knew I had to do something before it reached these areas so it was time to give the Slate a bit of his own medicine. I tried to tighten up and hopefully start to gain some line back as the Slate has taken some 50 yards of line. I managed to guide this brute of a fish in front of the small island which is a real god send at this stage but the fish is still not out the danger area as the buoys and the razor chains was now the next obstacle that I had to deal with. It was all getting rather scary! At this point Slate was in control and all I could do was to not let it gain anymore line and try and fight rod and line with power of a big angry carp. It was time again to start and try and regain the battle I tighten the clutch and with the power of the 12ft 6” 3.5tc rods I start to wind up the line is bow tight the rod is creaking. I manage a couple of turns on the reel, more stretch than anything but slowly the fish is no longer taking the line and before I know it I have managed to turn the fish around. I know in my heart that the first turn is the crucial one and with this I feel for the first time that I am in control of the battle. I am gaining line slowly but its all counts. A couple more lunges from the powerful carp but nothing I cant handle. I now feel that the battle is won but I just need to bring it back safely to the net. By this time Nath is standing by with the net waiting to pounce on our quarries. All kinds of thoughts are going through my mind “please don’t come off”. I know I trust my rigs and the fox series 5 hooks to stand up to the challenge having caught loads of fish on the ultra sharp long shank hook which very rarely lets me down. I manage to get a glimpse of the great fish and the big scales on the shoulder indicates what I had thought all along SLATE GREY! Nath cannot believe it; he is more excited than myself! I know there is still work to be done as its not yet in the net my legs again have gone to jelly and my heart is racing. A few more turns on the reel and I know that its now ready. Nath gets into the water on the shelf and calmly slips the net right under the fish at the first attempt we both let out a massive “YES”. We both jumped around absolutely shocked to what was happening! I then get into the water to get a good look. Slate looks absolutely mint and looks a good weight too, the big scales across this great carps shoulders and back which can only be described as body amour for carp! What a sight and what a moment for myself and my net man Nath.

I then find the leadcore and take the rig off from the quick clip so I can put the rod down and enjoy the moment before we get ready for the big weigh. Nath stays in the water with slate while I get the mat and the weigh sling ready, every thing was already out after the capture of scaly it just required being put into its place and for us to find a good area for the photos. We both get the fish onto the mat we pour lots of water over Slate to stop it him from drying out as the sun was still out in full force. I set my scales to zero for the big weigh in! 42lb 3oz!!! Oh my god what a great weight this was and what an achievement this was!! Two 40lb fish from a day ticket water within an hour of each other on a day that was so hot you that you would only have assumed that you could catch them off the top!

We got some wonderful photos and for the rest of that day I was buzzing and there was not a chance to get anymore sleep as soon as the word got around about my brace my phone was like the bat phone and never stop ringing! My friends and many people came down to have a brew with me to celebrate and congratulate me on my achievements!

This day will stay with me forever, in my heart and it has become a piece of Charnwood water history.