The Veteran

It is December and the weather conditions are still fairly mild. Today I fish on a recreational lake in Amsterdam where I spent a lot of hours in my teens. Here I learned the intricacies of carp fishing and caught my first Thirties! The water consists of two parts and in addition there are several bowls and ditches to be found. When I decided to focus my attention entirely on another water, I lost sight of the recreational lake.

However, I returned there for a joint session with fishing buddy Casper. The stock of this water has never been very large, but the fish I caught at the time were of unprecedented beauty. Old scaly carps shared the water with beautiful Valkenswaards mirrors. With these fish and the many memories in mind, the rods are quite quickly on edge. While enjoying a cup of tea, it’s time to relax.

The brightly coloured leaves are blown out of the trees by the strong winds and settle down around us. For a moment I close my eyes, take a deep breath and taste the fresh autumn scents of mother nature. Shortly afterwards we are welcomed by the purest sounds of a kingfisher, this is enjoyment!

It’s been quiet about the rods for a while, I’ve put a bonus rod against a tuft of reeds, under the top, on knee-deep water. “Go crazy” I thought.

My rig choice today is: a withy pool rig with a white garlic pop-up with a bunch of maggots on it as bait. For a carp not to be despised! To force a quick bite, I don’t want to saturate the fish too much and that’s why I only feed half a scoop of hemp with smoked-fish boiliecrum.

When shooting some fall pictures, all of a sudden there’s a total chaos coming out of my receiver. Dressed as a seasoned robber, I run towards a family that had settled in the sand on my path, grabbing their child as if it were going to be stolen on order. Sorry, man on a mission!

Quickly I run into the water, top down and block! The gods are in my favour and after a nice fight I can land the fish safely. Through the meshes of the net I see a mirror in the shape of a banana. “This is an old one with history” I joke. He managed to catch him earlier this year, but after seeing his photos he did not look familiar with the old file. Still, I feel like I’m having some kind of “déjà vu” moment.

I know that it’s possible to get to another large water through a lock system, but because a number of parts of this system have been closed, it’s not an easy route to get to this part of the water.

In the evening I notice that my thoughts linger with the fish and that I can’t let this go. Armed with a cup of coffee, I decide to grab my photo books. The least I can do now is to thoroughly examine every fish, hopefully this will give me a little more rest in my head and it will be a bit easier for me to let go. Meanwhile browsing through a photo album of an adjacent water I come across a fish from the end of 2011.

Apart from that thick stripe, the shape of the fish almost matches, surely this will not be true?! Soon the identical scales confirm my hunch, this is him, one of my childhood heroes!

I remember it well, there was an autumn storm with wind force 6. I had a few hours. Minimally packed, I went to the water and looked for the way the waves were pounding. It blew so hard that I decided to throw my rigs straight as far as possible and where the feeding had no chance of success.

After half an hour my right rod walked off, it was a slow bite but when I struck I soon noticed that there was no brake on this. The fish used all the space and depths to try to escape. A few moments later I managed to get the fish up the embankment little by little. Once on the side I saw what I could settle for and caught a glimpse of a mirror with a massive back! He made the decision to go back to the depths in order to continue cheerfully. A few minutes later I was allowed to welcome the fish in the net. I could feel the tension slipping off my shoulders.

Now that I see the picture like this, I feel something of pity, you lost so much weight! What have you been through in the last few years? I felt like I had a completely different fish in my hands. “We’ve grown old.”

Have you consciously made this complicated journey to spend your last time in peace and tranquility? Or is it just a coincidence that I’m meeting you here? I’m glad to see you’re alive!

Veteran, I hope you can enjoy yourself here for a long time and like the first meeting, this one remains one of my most beautiful memories!


Tight lines!

Tom Schruijer

Instagram: Dutchcarpcouple


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