First Time At Linear!!

8lb 15oz PB tench.

A stunning 24lb 12oz PB common.

Grahams pike caught using maggots and worms.

10 June 2009

We were as excited as 2 schoolboys at 11am on Sunday when we set off for Linear Fisheries in Oxfordshire for a 48 hour session. We had both done plenty of research and while Gaz had a fancy for Oxlease, my first choice was St Johns because of its superb carp average size and tench population. Gaz had spoken to the bailiff in the week who suggested St Johns, so that was plan A.

When we arrived at 2.30 we decided to check out St Johns first. It was a lovely looking pit but it was busy, and no one seemed to have caught much all weekend.

However, we fancied our chances of a bite or two as there were plenty of fish showing and as hoped for a couple of anglers vacated a double swim on the road bank and we decided to drop in these noted swims.

We spun a coin for which side of the swim as the left risked getting cut of by someone fishing the other corner and the right was a bit more cramped overhead. I got the left which proved easier to fish with a gravel bar extending left to right going further out by 45 degrees, about 40 yards out for me.

After finding the bar - how to fish? Confidence was low with how few had come out over the weekend and our lack of knowledge of the venue. The recurring theme we'd heard was don't spod as they see so much bait and small baits work....which was to prove sound advice

I started with a method as I figured they wouldn't get used that much on here, a single pop up and a PVA bag about 15 yards out. Gaz fished 2 variations of these methods.

To cut a long story shorter we had nary a bleep on the first day and going into the first night confidence was at its lowest. It was a quiet night with more sleep than we would have liked but we were both awake at 4.30 with a fresh brew on and renewed optimism. Just before 5, without a warning, I had a good run on my method rod - my old Wychwood again with a 12 Korda curved shank to 15lb braid - with 2 pieces of strawberry maize and a pop up fake corn. Small baits work

I struck into an extremely heavy fish. What a difference a run made to spirits as I guided it away from initial weed. It soon became apparent that this wasn't just a big fish but it was exceptionally powerful. When it went it went with the power of my 30 pound cat, but 10 minutes in I was still in contact and gaining. Both of us were thinking this must be a very special carp when PLEASE NO the hook hold gave and I reeled in to find everything in tact. I can't explain how gutted I was - but I probably don't need to. We've all lost special fish on hard days

Back out went the method and I crawled into my sleeping bag to sulk. I fell asleep dreaming of 30s and about 7.45 I was awoken by the same rod screaming off. I scampered out the bivvy and was relieved to feel another very heavy fish on. Another powerful fight ensued. Initially we thought it definitely isn't as big as the first one, but as a terrific fight continued we knew that this was still a special fish in its own right. Having lost the first one I was absolutely a bundle of nerves. Gaz saw it and thought big mirror but when we got it a couple of rods out we could see a huge common. 5 more incredibly hairy minutes later Gaz netted it expertly and I punched the air from joy and also sheer relief.

A dream common lay on the mat and the unhooking, weighing and photography was pure pleasure. We both guessed 24 and we were nearly right.

24lb 12oz on Gaz's Fox Digis - a PB carp and a PB common and as perfectly proportioned, fin and mouth immaculate a fish as you will see:

Soon after Gaz cast out pop up corn and had an instant run but unfortunately missed it - gutted for him as he didn't get another chance

Things then went very slow again and I decided to fish a feeder with worm and maggot all afternoon in the hope of a tench or big roach or perch. It produced plenty of bites and a few small samples and then a hard fighting fish which didn't feel like any of the above taking line in some short fast lunges. A mystery until it leapt out near the net. Hooked perfectly in the scissors on a worm on a 14

We then were fast approaching our last night as the evening produced nothing but the odd bleep. I'd decided to go for 2 methods as that had been the rig that had worked. Just as it had got dark, about 10.30pm I had a knock on the new method rod, on half a cell boilie with fake pop up corn. A few seconds later it was off and YES I was in again.

It came towards me at first and seemed like quite a small fish before fighting hard closer in. We thought mid double carp. I joked it could be a tench but it's a big one. I hoped it was and, sweet Jesus, I was sure it was a green looking carp coming to the net. After a great scrap a superb tench lay in the folds of my net, glistening in the torchlight. It's a PB I thought, but I was amazed when, after carefully weighing the sling, it pulled the Fox Digis through right to 9lb..alternating between that and 8lb 15oz. I was very happy to settle for that, another stunningly proportioned and fit and healthy specimen as I hope you will agree. 8lb 15oz, the tench of my dreams.

That was it - Gaz and I were so tired that we slept through the early morning with no further action. 4 runs between us in 48 hours, it wasn't easy going, but after catching my 2 target fish, it was a session and a venue I’ll never forget.

We'll be back, but maybe for 72 hours next time!


Graham Hunt