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An Interview with Neil Messenger Pt.2

08/04/2018 - DT History

DT - So we finished the last piece just after you’d caught your target fish, the Mommon from Fryernings at over 40lb’s. We hear you’ve been dabbling on a lake that is quite close to the DT Factory and have already had the lakes second largest, how have you been approaching this venue?

Neil – Well I did something I don’t normally do, and that’s to use two baits at the same time. The N Blend and the Cold-Water Mix with Green Beast. That’s because this particular lake is quite silty, and the Beast really stands out against the smell of it.

DT – Why the mix of the two baits though?

Neil – Two reasons really, to trip them up a bit and also because the Cold Water Mix is a bit of a git to roll! Both of those baits had a good track record on there anyway.

DT – So did the plan pay off?

Neil – Well yeah. I was consistently catching on every trip. Nothing big, mainly doubles with the odd 20. When we got to late May the weather was perfect, I did an overnighter and had a 22 and I thought that the big one was really due. I got straight back on the spots again the following night after work. Within minutes I managed to catch Jasper the koi at about 14lb and as I was popping it back Jonny Mann on the far side netted a fish and punched the air. The biggun. Fair play to him, he’d done 3 seasons on there after it and I was the first one round to shake his hand.

DT – So what was the plan then? You weren’t following the fish around, were you? Just sticking to the same areas?

Neil – Yeah, they do move around a little bit but virtually all the captures of the biggun were from the one area. With me being quite single minded I was simply not going to fish the car park end – regardless of conditions! When you’re competing against other people for a particular prize you have to take any edge you can get. And it is harder to get bites down in that area anyway but I wasn’t there to catch the smaller ones – I wanted that big one.

DT – So after Jon caught it what happened then?

Neil – Well I wasn’t going to keep fishing there as most of the carp are between 8 and 14lb’s so I just had a break for a couple of weeks and came back refreshed and ready to go again! I don’t go and fish other waters, I want to stay in the zone and not get my head mixed up with different things. But to make matters worse just as I was getting ready to go back over it slipped up again! So, I basically didn’t fish for a month. And when I came back the fishing was much more temperamental. One night I’d catch, one night I’d blank. But I did have my best night over that period of about 7 or 8 weeks with three in one night. They moved into the edges and the silty deeper areas, where I expected I might catch the biggun just totally dried up. Instead I had to fish in the edges and drop baits off bushes, etc…

DT – Were you getting any good ones?

Neil – Not really, lots of doubles and low twenties. They were a real test of patience. Getting a bite at 2 in the morning and having to get the rod exactly right for the next chance, it was hard work.

DT – They’re not really much more welcome than a bream then!?

Neil – (Laughs) – No not really! I knew I’d catch the fish I wanted but it wasn’t going to be simple. In fact, the week before I eventually caught it I was sure she was due, but I couldn’t get into the areas I needed to. You could see that the fish had started returning to feed in the right areas, it was as if they were preparing for autumn and returning to the deeper water. So, the weekend before I wasn’t able to get in the area I wanted but I got very close to it. I blanked the first night which was unusual, but then the second night I had a little one about 14lb. But on the third (the Sunday) night, I had the 30lb’er again which was nice as she scrapped really well and is a lovely looking fish, just not the one I really wanted. I popped her back without a photo as I didn’t want to stress her too much.

DT – Now most people would want to get straight back in a swim they had caught a 30 from, did you change your plan?

Neil – No! The peg I’d been targeting was free, so I was straight back in there! I just knew it was the area I needed to be in and I decided to up the stakes and was pumping in the overnighters between work. The first night I had a small one, and they were showing quite well in the area too, mainly around the area I had positioned my right-hand rod.  My left-hand rod was fishing a tiny little patch of gravel in a sea of silt and it just felt like it had to be a good spot. One for the biggie. I kept doing the overnighters between work and got in the same spot each time, catching one or sometimes two a night, all on the right-hand spot but I kept the left hand one there on that little spot. It wasn’t far out, and I’d found her under a few of the bushes nearby so I felt sure she was close by.

DT – Was it busy over there?

Neil – No, not really. From mid-August the anglers were starting to thin out as the bites had begun to dry up. I was still getting bites though and was sure about that little gravel spot. Eventually, I got to my last trip and I blanked the night which was very odd. Then at 7.10, the rod went off and it was a tench. My first bite from that spot. Now, I knew it was only half an hour before I had to be off, but, and here’s a lesson for you, most people would have put the rod back in their bag and started packing away, but I stuck the bait back out there and then started to pack up. By 8am, I had everything packed down, even the net! (laughs) Then, just as I walked towards the rods to wind them in, the bobbin pulls up to the butt and it’s away! As soon as I lifted into it there was a huge vortex on the surface, it was enourmous!

DT - So did that give you an idea of what one it was?

Neil - Well a little bit, seeing as most of the fish in there are double figure commons, Judging by the vortex, I knew it was likely to be at least one of the bigger ones. As soon as I bent into it, it kited down the margins to my left and was headed towards some overhanging trees. Before it got too far, I got right down into the edge with the rod tip right under the water and slowly started to guide it back to me. It wasn't a big epic fight and there was no messing about. Within 3 or 4 minutes it was under the rod tip but stayed deep. It was constantly trying to get into the weedy margins and every time I got it back out again, it'd dive straight back in again. Luckily, Paul heard me shouting for help and came back to set up the net. Eventually, it started to give in and I slowly managed to drag a big ball of weed towards the net. I couldn't see anything at that point though. To begin with, I could only see the leadcore loop, then it dropped down to the lead and still nothing, then it dropped halfway down the hooklength and at this point I wasn't even sure if there was a fish on as I’d not felt it for a while. Paul netted the lot and we still didn't know if there was one in there. Then. As Paul removed the first lump of weed from the end of the hooklink, I could see this huge mouth and immediately knew it had to be the biggie! I then dragged a huge lump of weed off its back and I could see the huge shoulders and I knew. A big shout across the lake "get in there, big girl!". After a moment, we weighed her in at 43lb 4oz. A new lake record which beat my brothers previous record with the same fish! , it was a quick pack up and off to work - just a little bit late!

DT - So where too now?

Neil – Well, after that fish there wasn't really anything left I wanted to catch, so it's time to move on. A new challenge on an old stomping ground. I'll let you know how I get on!