In Pursuit of a Dinton Dream – Tony Kingdon
South-West carper, Tony Kingdon recollects his highlight of 2020 – The capture of Dinton’s awesome, Saddleback Lin…
Well, 2020 has certainly been a strange year. All through the winter I planned and pondered over my spring assault, and just as my plan was about to be put into action, it was stopped dead in its tracks by a country wide state of ‘Lockdown!’
Eventually, after twelve long weeks, Black Swan was re-opened. However, the weather had been exceptionally warm throughout lockdown, and as such, the fish were close to spawning.
With the banks also being super busy as anglers came from far and wide too wet a line, having been starved of angling whilst stuck at home for 3 months, I decided to wait a few more weeks before I made the long jaunt up from Devon.
The time had come
Finally, my time arrived, and it was time to set those now seemingly old plans into action. Better late than never as they say! With the van loaded, and my wife and kids tucked up in bed for the night, I hit the road with an intense feeling of anticipation.
It was 4am when I pulled into the car park, and just as the first signs of dawn enveloped the country park, I set off on a lap of the lake. Things were a little different to my previous five years on the lake, in that the use of boats was temporarily banned, as was fishing from the two island swims. I had hoped to capitalise on this as it meant that a large section of water between the two islands had been free of lines for the opening three weeks.
I sat and watched the water, and as it got lighter, I began to make out the dark silhouettes of carp sliding out of the water between the islands. Not long afterwards, as they often do, they put on their morning show.
The prime area
It didn’t take me long to get set up in the prime area, giving me access to the long range zone in between the islands. The fish had been showing that morning at around 150-200 yards range so I set about finding some presentable areas out there among the weed.
After a few hours I had the rods spread across the area between the islands at 150 yards, along with a generous helping of Complex-T and Krill Particles. A combination which had worked well for me over the last few years.
The lake had initially fished well after opening, but after my first two days, it was clear that they were now on edge as a result of the angling pressure. They were still out there showing long, but seemed reluctant to move onto my spots.
Change in conditions
All too soon my final night was upon me, but thankfully there was a big change for the better in the weather conditions. As the air pressure plummeted and the rain clouds arrived, the fish responded, finally having the confidence to drift further away from their extreme range sanctuary. Knowing I was finally being presented with a good opportunity, I made every effort to get everything absolutely spot on for my final night.
After the first two nights angling, I felt like I was getting back into my groove and things went really well that evening. Fishing effectively at that range tends to take some serious effort and I soon found myself fast asleep as a result!
The next thing I knew, I was being dragged from my bed, dazed, and urgently needing to tend to the sound of a screaming buzzer! It was still dark as I made first contact and it became apparent that the fish had found sanctuary in the weed at the back of the spot, having stripped around 20 yards of line on the take.
For a few moments I had that horrible squeaking sound emanating back through the braid as it chaffed through the strands of weed. The fish inched back towards the spot from which it was hooked and as soon as it reached the clearer area I managed to gain a more direct contact, and so began the long arduous task of regaining 150 yards off line with steady pressure applied throughout.
It seemed to take an age, but eventually, the fish neared the bank and breached around 20 yards out. It was difficult to make out in the early Morning light, but the boils on the surface were big, and now on a shorter line, it was beginning to feel like a good fish as it plunged deep into a weed bed.
The lake’s big characters
The next few moments were a blur of adrenaline and concentration as I did my utmost to keep the fish from tangling up with the other line and get the net in place, and ready. It wasn’t until the fish hit the surface, subdued and ready for netting, that I realised the sheer size of what I was attached to. It went into the net and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as the adrenaline seemed to reach new levels!
I’ve often wondered if I would be fortunate enough to meet one of the lakes amazing long and characterful Zip Linears on my limited time. I wondered whether such a feat was even achievable. But there, now in front of me, and enclosed in my landing net, was the number one target, The Saddleback!
No words of mine could ever do such a fish the justice it deserves. Extremely long in frame, in absolutely mint condition and brimming with class, this fish was truly in a league of its own.
I’ve caught some superb fish from Black Swan during my time, but this capture of such an enigmatic, 46lbs 12oz leviathan really took my breath away. The 1000’s of miles travelled, the highs, the lows, the journey and the climax, this was a capture and a campaign that will live with me for the rest of my days, a true ‘Dinton Dream’.