Battling musical earworms from Grease, Platon Trakoshis gets to grips with some hyper-spooky Berg River carp.

DAY 1

I had just come back from the river after messing up a couple of takes like a complete rookie. Having spotted some tanks on my dog walk the day before I decided to head down for a short session, hoping they were still there.

 

It was a clear, sunny day, essential for spotting carp. But there was a bit of wind which made the fish further away from the bank hard to spot clearly. Only darker shapes that moved gave them away. Some of the fish moved closer to the bank, which made them easier to spot and, more importantly, better for me to see if they have taken my fly.

“You don’t take missed eats on this river lightly.”

A good fish about 10 metres out from the bank was feeding hard in the current. After a few challenging attempts at getting the fly to sink in the right spot, I finally got it right. The fish moved slightly forward but I wasn’t sure if it was on the fly. I waited to see the mouth flare, my instinct said strike, but I paused and as my muscles finally started the motion of lifting my rod, I watched as the carp spat the fly. Damn, I had waited too long! You don’t take missed eats on this river lightly.

Berg River carp

There were more opportunities as the fish were feeding hard today. Another fish came into range. I made a few casts that were too short not wanting to spook it, but then it started moving in my direction. My fly dropped in front of it and the interest was clear. The current pulled the fly down a bit and the carp followed and dipped down onto the fly. Thrilled, I lifted the rod, too soon, and watched as the fly pulled out from under its mouth and the carp shot of like a bullet, I was bleak and had to call it a day.

EARWORMS

I suffer seriously from musical earworms, as do my two boys, but in my opinion they seem to get stuck on the worst tunes. No, that’s not because I’m an old dog and don’t get their music. It’s more that they seem to find the worst music from my youth like Rick Astley’s, “Never Gonna Give You Up”. It honestly makes me feel nauseous.

I couldn’t stop thinking about those fish and was free to head out for a few hours the next day. I spent the evening tying up a few heavily weighted Lalu bugs as the current where I had seen the carp were feeding was quite strong. It’s also a spot that’s sometimes quite deep, so I knew a fast sinking fly was the way to go to get the fly down.

While I was tying, my wife asked me the lyrics for, “You’re the One that I want” from Grease. She’s Belgian you see, so half the lyrics to English pop songs from her childhood are hilarious – not unlike the Bulgarian singer attempting Mariah Carey’s “Ken Lee”.

 

Then while watching a series later one of the main characters launched into a full rendition of, “You’re the One that I Want”. Now the earworm was fixed.

DAY 2

After getting some work out of the way I headed down to the river again. The fish were there and feeding hard, I was stoked. It was a bit windier today so spotting fish was harder. I was mainly looking at dark shapes rather than detail. I watched what looked like two fish moving very slowly so I focused on the first fish. The fly landed with too much of a plop and the dark patch of two fish swam off as one fish. It was a monster! I watched in awe and hoped it would settle for another shot. The Travolta zombie in my brain said, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, honey!”

But every cast spooked them. The sound of the plop felt magnified by the scattering of fish and remaining mud clouds.

I headed off downstream with my earworm firmly implanted to see if I could find some other less spooky fish. I found them, but the response was the same so on my way back to the one that I wanted, I switched to a smaller fly. A very productive pattern of Leonard Flemming’s, the carp jig fly, read about it Bling for Carp.

Berg River carp

As I came into the area I froze, a feeding fish moved slowly over towards me. It was a smaller one but time was running out. I stood there, just watching and listening to my heart speed up and start throbbing in my head with excitement. I made a short roll cast which my ancient Cortland glass rod does so well. The fly landed in the right spot and sank close to the fish, which slowly turned slightly onto the fly. This time my timing was spot on and the carp shot off downstream with my reel screaming. I finally landed it. It was not the one that I wanted, but what it didn’t have in size it made up for in colour.

Berg River carp

Apart from the golden glisten off their big scales, the tails, and anal fins are often fringed in orange, some more than others. Not koi, just good old common carp. The previous carp I caught further upstream a week ago had similar, bold colourations as have many others in the past. I don’t quite understand my past disdain for this fish, which has developed into a sense of respect, and admiration. These strongly orange finned common carp are probably a good place to start.

Berg River carp