8lb 9oz BOOM!! - by David O'Sullivan
I have spent a lot of money on booze, women, worms and slow cars-
& the rest I have just squandered!) I cut a lonely, but dashing figure as I set up on the pit. I decided to fish at the back of the only island in the place, and my plan of action was to start with 2 worm rods, then when it got dark, to swish some fish. I was getting quite a few knocks on the worm rods straight away, and I thought, “This is going to be a problem all night.”
The sun sinks into the western sky,
To rise and wake a foreign eye.
It leaves behind its dying hues,
Of crimson shades and un-named blues.
It had been the warmest April for 100 years, but tonight (1st May) there was a real cool breeze. As dusk gave way to darkness, I started swishing for bait fish and selected a very small roach as hook bait. I squashed the end of the tail and cast it into the bay area of the island. I was also using a feeder with salmon and trout cat food in it on a JS rig. I then re-cast the worm rod 20 yards further left of the island. This was at 10.10 pm and I got in my bed chair, and watched the bats.
I’m cooled by the breeze in the sultry shade,
As I watch the trees in the distance fade.
For the night slowly draws a curtain on the lake,
And then the whole bank side seems to wake.
My dead bait lies in shallows by the reeds,
Unbeknownst to me, it’s right where she feeds.
At 10.30 pm I had a couple of bleeps. I look at the rod like Quint, in Jaws, watching the line and getting ready for the explosion he knows will come. Suddenly, it goes off and I strike- and it’s fish on! All hell breaks loose. I know I’m in to something really big.
Suddenly, the alarm shocks me from my rest,
And my ambition screams, “Are you up to the test?”
For the savage, angry resistance I could feel,
Can only mean that, at last, I had caught a monster eel!
I had difficulty keeping the rod up. I’ve never known such a violent struggle. I remember saying to myself, “Dave, come on! Give it some welly!” At the exact same time the eel must have said the same thing to itself, because it pulled back even harder. Slowly, but surely, it got nearer to me. I honestly can’t say how long it took. It seemed a long time, but then again everything was happening so quickly.
When she surfaced, that was the time I did lose my focus and I made a poor attempt at netting the fish (followed by about another 19 poor attempts to land it!) I did the classic of lifting the net up, thinking the fish was in, and it was just the other side. Also, as the eel was so long I’d get it half in and half out, and as I’d lift the net it would drop out. Again, I had a Jaws moment, and thought to myself, “You’re gonna need a bigger net!”
I’d said I was going to get a bigger net this year, after seeing some of the other club member’s nets- 42 inches is not enough! 42 may be the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, but it’s nowhere near big enough when you are trying to land an angry eel over 4 ft long by yourself!
There was only one thing left for me to do. I prayed to God, and then she suddenly went in a treat. I took her up the bank side in an absolute state of shock.
I heaved and struggled with all my might,
It furiously pulled and thumped out of sight.
Then my dream broke the surface at last,
The way it writhed and spun, I had to be fast.
Then a moment of Divine Intervention I’ll never forget!
For I somehow,I got it safely into my net.
I unhooked her and tried to weigh her, but when the dial went over 8 ½ lb I went doolally, and nearly dropped the phone in the water when I tried to call Andrea. She knows what I said, but I can’t remember what I was babbling about when we spoke. I do know that she came straight over with our 2 daughters, Alanna and Lauren, in the middle of the night and brought every camera we possess.
I then rang Nick Rose, but got no answer so I rang Nick Duffy next, who was “dahn sarf” at the time, to ask him what I should do next. Once again, I was in babbling mode, and he told me to calm down and he would phone Glen. He then became an air traffic controller, guiding Glen in to the pit, and telling everyone else about the eel. Then Andrea, and our daughters arrived, and Alanna will tell you that they found me wandering around and talking to myself like some lost, demented traveller in the desert.
When I showed them the eel, Andrea described it like watching a magician pulling hankies out of a hat- it just kept coming and coming! We took some pictures and measured the fish at 49 inches long and 9 inches round, and re weighed her- although my arms were shaking so much at this point I realised I needed steady hands. After an hour, Andrea took the girls home, and the triangle of phone calls between me, Nick and Glen started (It was a good job I had charged my phone fully that afternoon)
I am lousy at giving directions, and can get lost in a paper bag. Being outside my home county meant I was well out of my comfort zone and at one point I said to Glen, “Isn’t there anyone you can ask for directions?” To which he replied, “Sull. It’s 1 o’clock in the morning.There isn’t anyone about for miles!” But fair play to him, he found the place and it brought joy to my heart to see Glen’s dog running up the bank side towards me. I was on the phone to Nick at the time, and we both made out to Glen that it was a big 3, to which he replied, “If it is, you and your tackle are going in!” I then got the eel out of the carp sack, and we were both dumbfounded.
We weighed and measured the eel again, and it went to 8lb 9oz. Glen put David Bailey to shame and took some great pictures. Then we put her back in, and as she swam away, I thought to myself, “Did that really just happen, or am I going to wake up now?”
Glen and I went our separate ways, and I turned on the CD in my car, only to hear Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” which aptly summed the whole thing up. I love the line, “You’re gonna reap just what you sow” which in many ways is just what eel angling is all about. I remember, as a kid, fishing farm pond, lakes, rivers and canals and having that dream but not having much idea about how to make it happen. 30 years later, I still haven’t got much idea! But a farmer doesn’t just sit at the side of the field hoping for the crop to grow; he has to sow the seeds. The point is- if you are out there, one day or one night it will happen for you.
Should I have ended this journey at the start?
And saved many a frustrated and broken heart?
No! For it’s not the heights of first love that keep me going.
It’s the endless nights of trying and ultimately not knowing.
Thanks to you all. This is the best club in the world and I wish you all P.B’s in the coming season.