Life appeared to be moving at a crazy pace of late, I felt like everything had been accelerating around me. It was like I was on a carousel and I couldn't seem to get the hell off of it. It's hard to feel grounded when your feet barely have time to touch the ground. Through recent weeks it had become clear that I wasn't going to get as many winter trips in as I first thought. This made it all the more important to make the most of the time I did have. My job is chaos and being self-employed you have to take the work when it comes in, however heavy the schedule is, you've just got to get your head down and do it. To help me through, in my mind, I always picture the waters, the stillness that they hold, and the solitude that they offer. I know that however hard things get on 'the outside', they'll always be waiting for me safe, on 'the inside'.
For me 'the outside' is a place that's unrecognizable to the one I grew up in. It represents constraint, conditioning and a constant attack on the mind. I guess its always been that way but I was to young to realize. It's as if we're all part of some 'twisted theater' passed off as real. I get a very strong sense that we're all, 'unknowingly' following a script that's been written for us years ago. You only have to look on both TV, social media, or open a paper, to realize that the troubled times we live in are breeding hatred to epidemic proportions. I find it very hard not to get caught up in it all. But, I truly believe that's what 'the hidden hand' that controls every aspect of our life wants, I refuse to play their game. A population living in fear and fighting amongst itself is a population that's open to manipulation and control - both of these things are happening on a daily basis.
I try to find a very fine balance between being aware of what's happening around me, but also understanding that it's always going to be a mess. It's either a big one or a small one, but, a mess it will always be. All we can do is try to live our lives the best we can with what we've got. It's realizing what's important to you and holding it close, trying not to let the bad things around you change you as a person. In times of unrest, we've got to hold on to both ourselves and the ones closest to us. I yearn for clarity, the clearest of moments I've ever experienced have been when I'm fishing. Applying your mind fully to the water creates the perfect head space to refuel and realign your perspective on everything in your life that has been giving you a hard time.
It's here on 'the inside' where the magic happens, it's forever contained within itself. It's a place that functions perfectly without any outside influence. It's where the sun rises over misty pools, where the glimpse of a dorsal cutting the waters skin stokes the imagination. We watch and wait for the unknown to unearth itself, if only for a second or two. All of us anglers, we don't need the 'outside', we're chasing something far greater, something that those without a rod in hand will never understand. That to me is a gift, it's a gift that can't be taken away from us. So let us all forget the worlds bullshit and concentrate on getting out there and making them penultimate casts - that's what 'the inside' is all about.
When the day of my session came it was very clear how I was going to approach it. I'd had a great result last time so I was going to stick with cutting my hook-baits right down and squashing my freebies. I felt this subtle change was the reason I managed to tempt a few more bites. The only downside to this specific approach was having to walk around the water and introduce my freebies by hand. As crazy as it sounds though, maybe removing the lines from the swim, if only for a short time, might just work in my favor. I was out the door and on the road by 8am, the weather was bitter and pretty dam unwelcoming. I was cruising down the motorway at a leisurely pace, the road in front of me was clear, I was making my escape, determined to get on 'the inside' as soon as I could.
On the other side of the road the traffic was already backed up to a stand still, hundreds of lives were trapped in strange metal boxes with four wheels attached to them. Each fighting their way through the 'everyday' to scratch their fingers to the bone, trying to earn a living. Each of their bodies, a 'metaphorical cog' in the broken system that helps to keep both our country and economy running. Somewhere within it all 'living' had to be slotted into the equation, but I fear for many, that's nothing but a brief encounter. I feel blessed I have the time to step away from work commitments to transplant myself into something that I enjoy.
Arriving at the gate to the complex, I unlocked the padlock, it felt heavier than usual, it was wet and extraordinarily freezing to the touch. It was clear the season was going to bite hard today, I hoped that the six or so layers I was 'struggling to move in', might just give me a little comfort during my quest to try and land another few fish. This time of the year there is still a very muted voice in my head telling me 'You must be mad', being out in such conditions, not only being outside, but morphing myself into an environment that's doing its best to exclude me. But being 'careless' and utterly obsessed with the adventure, there would have to be a pretty serious natural disaster to stop me from making my casts. I crept up the muddy path in the van up to the car park, it was empty, I was totally alone, it was me, the water and the carp ..... PERFECT!
Review Of The Swim In Summer 'Red Dot Is The Sunken Post'
Everything was thrown on the barrow in a god awful fashion, carelessly locking it all in place with two fraying bungee straps. I started, what I can only describe as a 'bloody endurance test', trying to push it around the clay ridden, water logged paths to get to my swim. After what felt like a marathon, I plonked the barrow down and before setting anything up, I thought I'd take a wander to deposit my freebies in the usual places. Walking around the top end of Burrows where the cages were situated, the atmosphere was exhilarating. Everything around me appeared paralyzed, just like last time, the water had no ripples and the skeletons of all the trees stood rigid and wiry. I felt like an anomaly, the odd one out, even though there are times when I feel completely dead inside, today I was very much alive.
View Up Into The Cages 'As Spring Wakes' 2016
Arriving at my spot, a swift handful was spread along the edge of the marginal growth. I legged it back to my swim and proceeded to get everything constructed and ready to go. I was using the exact same rigs as last time, except this time my hook-link was a very short 'trigga-link combi'. Using this in conjunction with a 3oz lead was going to enhance its springlike qualities perfectly. Both cut down boilies were threaded intricately onto the hairs, rods were wrapped to 12.5 rod lengths, finally those penultimate casts were made. The lines kissed both clips, both the drops felt satisfying, with bobbins hung I was now ready for the inevitable 'wait'. Despite the harshness of the world around the water, I felt quietly confident that I could tempt at least one bite.
I put my brolly up, got the kettle on and quietly worked on existing perfectly within the moment. Here I was, alone, perched by the water, safe on 'the inside', nothing else mattered other than the mystery below the surface and the life that surrounded me. I sat silently, knowing that beyond the gate to the complex there was a fight for survival. All those souls that were at a stand still in the morning would've now reached their destinations. Each with a different task they had to complete, clocks would've been punched, rotas put into practice, all with endless rules that had to be followed. I hate all of the above, it's as if humans are being moulded into machines, and through repetition, becoming desensitized to what life should really be about. I believe the life style that's forced upon us is contributing to the ever growing problems with mental illness.
Both the human mind and body wasn't created to be contained, it isn't suppose to be 'mechanized'. A caged mind can only take so much and I feel when people have a 'breakdown', that's the minds way of telling you it has had enough with the constraint that's being forced upon it. I hastily reverted all my thoughts back to the water, what was the point in pulling 'the outside' into a place that it doesn't belong. Suddenly my right hand rod rocketed off, the tip swung round and the clutch whizzed away. I lifted into the fish, it was darting around like crazy, the minor tugs and lunges indicated that it was no monster, I was just happy to get a bite. After a spirited little battle I slipped a lovely little mirror carp over the net.
Slipping her back I got the rod straight back out, I decided that I wouldn't walk around and top the swim up. For some reason I was feeling rather lucky, I had a feeling in my gut that, whatever bait was left out there, it was enough to get another bite. Time was passing and as midday melted into afternoon the temperature started to drop, with this came a slight breeze that was gently pushing down towards the bowl end of the water. I was glued to my rod tips urging for one of my alarms to go screaming off, both remained static. After another hour or so I decided to reel in and take a wander to apply some more bait. Along the path and up around the cages I went, the mud and clay was 'squelching' beneath my feet, slowly sticking to both my boots. By the time I got to my spot, both of my feet weighed a ton, walking with a combination of clay, mud, and now sticks stuck to my boots is no easy task. Freebies were once again thrown along the marginal growth, this time tighter than before.
When I got back to my swim I decided to wrap the rods up to '13' lengths, I wanted to be kissing those branches, getting my bait as tight as possible. Both casts were perfect and with a new enthusiasm I popped the kettle back on and proceeded to see out the final stages of the day. Time passed quickly and I was starting to think that maybe the swim wasn't going to offer anymore prizes. I waited .. and waited some more, just at the point I was thinking of reeling in, I got a savage liner on my right hand rod. I was now perched on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, the universe shrunk around me, it was just me and the rod tip, nothing else mattered. Another small jolt on the tip communicated a single bleep on my alarm. Something was going on, maybe there was a monster just inches from my bait.
There was a moment of calm and then all hell broke loose, the rod tip arched around, the clutch kicked in, my bite alarm could barely keep up with the pace of the chaos. I lifted the rod, immediately I was met with a heavy weight, I knew this was a good fish. It raced towards the sunken post but I managed to steer it well clear. However that didn't stop it from pile-driving itself sharp to the right, I was literally hanging on, slowly tightening the clutch as it went. I was managing to slow it down and after a minute or two it started to lose its fire. Now directly in front of me in the open water, I proceeded to edge her closer. A short distance out, there was a massive vortex and I caught a glimpse of a deep colored tail-fin.
Closer and closer she came until she was under the rod tip, I still hadn't got a clear sighting, all the clay in the margin was being kicked up like crazy. I lowered the net into the murk, suddenly it came to the surface and went over on its side to signal defeat. I couldn't quite process what I was witnessing, the fish blew my mind. It was a relatively big common but both its shape and proportions where unbelievable. It was dumpy, short with huge shoulders and I can safely say that I've never caught a carp from Burrows like it before. Once again the water had given me yet another amazing gift, through all the years I've been fishing the place it never ever ceases to amaze me, all the different kinds of carp it keeps hidden. Out of all the waters that I fish Burrows holds a large and unique variety of fish that I just haven't come across anywhere else.
Most know I don't usually bother weighing my fish anymore, I refuse to give such amazing creatures a number. However on this occasion I was intrigued to know what this fish went. Sorting both the scales and sling out, the needle fell to 23IB 8oz, I must admit, I though it might of gone a little bigger, but none of it mattered. Taking pictures of it was challenging because every shot seemed to make the carp look super huge. Due to its shape and build it was tricky to get it in perspective. Once done, she was returned safely, off to become a secret once more. - I just hope whoever catches her in the future takes great care.
Such An Incredible Carp
It was the perfect way to end the session, it was such an incredible fish and one that I will remember forever. Now with temperatures dropping and the light starting to slip away, I decided I'd pack up and prepare myself to venture off into 'the outside' once again. I'd refueled and refocused enough to deal with whatever it was going to throw at me. I knew it was a temporary visit though, I was already planning my next getaway. Driving home, passing all the strange metal boxes with four wheels attached to them, all us 'metaphorical cogs' were once again on the run, all homeward bound to switch off and rest before heading out to do it all again tomorrow - I will be one of them. The one saving grace though, is, I know that 'the inside' is waiting for me, contained within itself, functioning perfectly without any outside influence, calling for us anglers to make those penultimate casts. It's a world that's only accessible by a chosen few, those of us with a rod in hand and a head full of dreams.
"Here on the inside, outside's so far away"