Tom Maker explains how keeping it simple but effective with his go-to mix will keep the bites coming in the colder months
Pinge Pearlers Part Two - Text Only
Even the bitter frost couldn’t deter Marcus Howarth as his pursuit continued for the ultimate Pinge prize.
It was around the middle of September when I came back. The lakebed was rancid from the rotting weed. The water had a brown tinge to it and after watching some fish in the edge, they still didn’t seem quite right. I did the night, but left that day, not overfilled with confidence. A week later, the Brute actually got caught. She didn’t look great at all, low in weight and not in the best condition. I was burnt to be honest; I felt that I was looking at a carp that had sadly come to the end of her life.
She is an old carp and it was a tough year, so I feared the worse. A few weeks past and I decided to have a drive up and have a look at the lake and see how it was doing. The clarity was still rubbish, so I didn’t hold much hope out. I got round to the weedy bay and climbed up a tree and not ten seconds after scuppering up the tree, one showed, which I think was the Pearly Lin. The sun was out and I could just make out the odd black shape, swimming round in the bay.
Then, out of nowhere, the Brute bobbed up right in front of me. I watched them for hours and even saw her show twice. They looked happy and well, which gave me such an amazing feeling. Almost relief I suppose, but she looked good and there was a chance of a bite. I did the night, but nothing happened. I began to formulate plans for the autumn with my mate Benny. I wanted to use maggots and boilie crumb, which was something that had worked so well for me in the past, especially when bites were hard to come by.
I saw a couple show out in front of a swim known as Tails Up, so marked it down for my next trip. I went round with a leading rod and found a couple of areas. I wasn’t confident of finding anything, but there was one area that was better than anywhere else. I dropped a bit of Manilla crumb and some Maggots on to the spots, knowing I couldn’t get back for another couple of weeks. I had a trip planned to Cassien the following week, so it would have to wait until I got back. A friend had a similar plan and he was down the following week. He managed 5-fish and I knew it was going to happen. I loved it out there, but wanted to get back down to the lake, buoyed with confidence that the plan was going to work. I did three nights, giving them a big hit of bait on the first night. I didn’t see anything, but I did catch a Tench on my final morning. I put a bit more out before I left and returned the following week.
It was just after a moon phase and I got down a day later than I had hoped due to work. It was late afternoon and I was rushed for light, but got back in the swim and knew the marks I had to fish. Everything went so smoothly, which is so unusual for me. The rods went down with a real crack, much harder than the week before. I knew they had fed on it while I was away, one even showed while I was getting the bait out, filling me full of confidence. My maggots had been treated with Krill and Liver Powder to give them an extra kick. I had 5kg of hand-crumbed Manilla out there too; the confidence was off the scale. I had been using my Amnesia-D rig, with a small piece of foam and a few flossed maggots on top. It sat perfectly and is something that has caught me a few real big fish in the past.
That night a mate came down for a pizza and a bit of a laugh. While chatting, I did hear a couple show near the spot. It was bitterly cold, with frost littering the banks by around 8pm. I went to bed that night wondering if I ever would catch her. It was around 2am and I began to get a couple of liners. Shortly after, I was woken up by my left hand rod and I picked up into a carp but it didn’t do a great deal to be honest. It was a nice common of 25lb, which is the third time I caught it this year. It was so cold; I couldn’t wait to get back in the bag. I tied up a fresh rig, got it back out there and went back to bed.
I woke up later to the same rod melting off. I latched on to a powerful fish, ploughing from left to right. In my mind I thought it could be her, but then I would convince myself otherwise in a flash. It wasn’t her, but a lovely original mirror instead. It was one called Two Scales and went just under 30lb. She was a lovely old, long carp and went back happily. While tying another rig, the middle bobbin pulled up twice, then back down again. I honestly thought I had been done and debated re-casting it. I decided not too and ended up leaving it, which turned out to be a good call.
It was just getting light and that same rod was away. Straight away it kited left and buried in to some old weed. I got her out pretty easily, before she flat rodded me. The fish was going mental and I was convinced it was a hard-fighting common. The battle was savage and I was cold and tired. My teeth were chattering to the rhythm of the clutch and remember clamping down on her a few times. She was close and I could see a large, black silhouette pop-up. I thought it could be one of the better mirrors, never once crossing my mind that it could be her. I eventually slipped the net under a big mirror. It all settled, I calmed myself and the fish was safely in the net. I went back to get my torch, peered in the net and was met by this large, crusty back. It was her, The Brute and she was in my net! I was totally blown away, falling to my knees and just overjoying with excitement. It is so hard to explain when you catch a fish that you have wanted to for so long. Everything seems possible then, no self doubts and only positivity and happiness.
I had watched her so many times, but now I could touch her and hold her myself. I gave Ben a call and he was still half asleep, so he didn’t quite believe me. He told me to calm down and have a cup of tea, which I did. He then phoned me back mid-tea and asked if it was real. Eventually he came round and was buzzing for me and was on route to the lake. Not long after, he was in the swim and we waited another ten minutes for the light to be bang on. He did a great job in helping with the pictures and weighing, it was great to share the buzz with such as good friend. She went back perfectly and I couldn’t believe it, three bites in a night and the one I had really wanted too.
I stayed on for another night, chilling and taking it all in. I got the rods done and gave them a bit more bait. I had to wait until 5am the following morning before it ripped off again. Another long and hard fight in the frost ensued and in the back on my head, I hoped it would be one of the other old mirrors. It wasn’t, but a solid, proper looking common was the culprit and she looked every ounce of thirty-pounds. We did the pictures once it got light and they came out really nice, showing off her immense shape and colour. I don’t remember the name of it, but it is apparently quite a rare one and the first visit to the bank that year too.
It was the end of my time on Pinge and what a ride it was. So many ups and downs, but eventually I had the prize pearler in my album and loved it all.