While putting together this magazine I managed to witness one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen at the lakeside. I was busily snapping pictures of Steve Ringer when a massive carp leapt out of the water. Now this is quite a common occurrence, I agree, but this carp was getting on for 10lb and tail-walked with two thirds of its body out of the water for six or seven seconds! It just kept wagging its tail violently and must have covered a couple of metres before it dived back down again. This is no exaggeration; count six seconds in your head and you'll appreciate what a long time that really was! I assume it was trying to rid itself of a parasite but it looked just like a performing animal to me!
I love seeing big fish rolling. I love it even more when they are rolling in my own swim! I’ve seen countless bream, tench and even big barbel crashing. It’s one of those wondrous sights that give you a real boost of optimism. I sometimes think they are sticking their heads out of the water just to see if us anglers are about – but I’m probably giving them too much credit!
A similar thing that I wish I had witnessed happened to my good friend and former Fish ‘O’ Mania champ, Neil McKinnon. He was pinging pellets at 14 metres on the Speci Pool at Larford Lakes when a big carp leapt clean out of the water directly over where he was fishing and landed on his top kit. It whacked his pole down with an almighty thud and he still doesn’t know how it never broke!
I’ve even heard stories of pike leaping out to attack pole pots at Porth Reservoir! On a similar vein, I’ve witnessed Woodland View Fishery’s infamous population of Hungarian Singing Frogs attacking an angler’s pole pot every time he went to ship out on Ghost Pool. I’ve even heard tales of a rat scarpering down its hole with a pole rig on tow after an angler forgot to take his bait off a spare top kit! I’ve had clumsy pigeons trying to perch on my pole several times, too, but this year I topped that when a couple of house martins kept trying to land on it!
All these things are great fun to see and we are really spoilt with some of the spectacles we witness while fishing. I’m privileged to regularly see birds of prey hunting, the occasional snake swimming across the lake and I once saw a fox calmly walk down the canal towpath while a match was taking place! And who else but an angler could regularly get so close to a tiny wren or robin and have it feeding out of their side tray?
That tail-walking carp I witnessed really made me remember why fishing is so special. Trying to catch fish is great but there’s so much more to this game than simply that. Keep your eyes peeled and I’m sure you’ll never be short of surprises.
– First published, January 2012.
Jon Arthur is the editor of Pole Fishing and a top all-rounder who loves catching fish on lakes, canals and rivers.