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Good Fortune at Frimley
22nd November 2017
The odds were against Mark Betteridge on his recent trip to Frimley Pits, little did he know he’d be leaving with a new lake record.
Mark retells his visit; “So, where do I begin? I suppose I will start from when I arrived at Frimley late on Sunday afternoon, but just in time for the 3pm crossing! For people who don’t know, the entrance to Frimley Pits is across a train track, and you can only get across on the hour, every hour, escorted by one of the friendly attendants.
On this occasion, I was half way up the bridge going over the main road and there was an elderly gentleman strolling in the middle of the road, presumably after a heavy weekend. After following him about 20-yards for five minutes, he fell and split his head open. Well, I couldn’t just leave him there and about 30 minutes later I finally had him back on his feet and on his way home.
When I got to the car park at Frimley Pits it was starting to get dark, so I quickly set about a lap of the lake, which was looking bleak after seeing no signs of fish half way round. As I made it round to the back end of the lake I could not believe my eyes! Now, you’re probably thinking I’ve found a load of carp or bubbles. No, it was only the old chap again, laid on the path on the other side of the fence. Well how’s your luck, I spent a further 15-minites of talking to him and someone finally came to his rescue and took him away, hopefully back to the comfort of his home. With that sorted, I carried on around the lake and finished my lap. When I arrived back at my van I got my gear out and decided to head round to the ‘Double Boards’ with my only reason being that the week before I had seen a few fish sheeting up, about 60 yards out in open water.
Darkness was nearly upon me, so I set up two rods identically and cast them to the area I had seen the fish show the week before. The approach was, The Krill straight out the bag and half a 14mm Signature Pop-Up, to help balance the bait. Both rods were presented on my ever-faithful German rig, using a Helicopter set-up. My third rod was cast out around 30-yards to my right. All the rods went down with a donk and I was happy to leave them. With a throwing stick, I baited both areas with washed out Krill boilies which had been soaking for 48-hours. I didn’t want to over do it with about 30 over my two-rod area, then 10 to the single rod. I have found this is a massive edge in the winter as it makes the bait easier for the fish to digest in colder temperatures.
As darkness came, I was slowly dying from man flu. I decided to get in my bag, as it wasn’t really looking great for a bite and with the last fish out over a week ago, I wasn’t too hopeful. At around 7.30pm I received what I thought was a liner on my left-hand rod, the bobbin slowly creeped up and sat motionless right up against the blank. I got out for a closer inspection and as I reached the rod it slowly started to take line, with that I picked the rod up and I was in! At first, I was a bit unsure what was happening, as it was just solid, but after a few seconds it started to move like a typical big fish, with a nodding of the head and heavy lunges.
It did this all the way in, until it reached the marginal shelf where it used its weight to move round to my left. At this point I was bricking it after getting cut off and losing a fish here on my first trip, 3-weeks before. However, on this occasion the fish slowly lifted over the shelf and hit the surface, sitting just out of the reach of the net, holding its ground for a short time, but eventually it rolled over the net cord.
At first, as I pulled the net towards me I thought that it looked like a mid-thirty, but as I turned her on her side it was clear it was a big fish. I made quick phone call to my good mate Ross Jelfs and explained to him I had the biggest UK carp I had ever seen in my net. He asked me straight away, if the fish had a dent in its back, a trait known to belong to ‘Charlie’s Mate’. At this point I couldn’t make it out, so with the fish safely pegged out in the net, I quickly ran next door and asked Mark, who is also a winter ticket holder to come give me a hand.
Back in the swim, we got the weighing equipment ready; I jumped in my waders and got the fish ready to be moved to the weighing station. As soon as I attempted to lift it out the water, it was clear it was not small to say the least! As I laid her down on the mat, I noticed a dent in the back and at that moment I knew it was ‘Charlie’s Mate’. Mark, kindly lifted her on to the scales with a bit of a struggle and the needle shot round to dead on 54lbs. I couldn’t believe it, as there had been a lot of talk about her being over 50lb again, as her last capture was at 48lbs plus in the summer, but 54lbs was massive!
The next bit was a bit scary, as we had to take her back to the water in the retainer while we waited for Marks friend Lee, to come help with the photo. I waited next to the sling, but it was only when we got her back on the mat, that we noticed one of the zips had burst open parting the teeth. This could have been on the way to the water or on the way to the mat, but was not worth thinking about. Imagine a 54lb common swimming away from you!
Thankfully, everything went smoothly on the bank and she behaved herself for the photos until I had to give up; as my wrists felt like they were going to fall off! The rest of the night was quiet, but I didn’t get much sleep as I was buzzing! What an incredible moment at Frimley it was and one that hasn’t quite sunk yet. I’m putting it down to good karma, for helping the old chap that evening!”