Come to think of it I’ve lost a good eel as well.

At the time I was only 16 years old, and the big eel madness had just begun. After two years of fishing well known and too heavily fished lakes with my pb at around 1lb – eels are taken for eating most of the time in Belgium, as most will know by now – I got word of a very small pond not too far away from my home, that was supposed to hold a good eel or two. Now a good eel around here is anything 2lb+ but I was happy to finally get a decent chance of a ‘monster’.

The first time me and my dad went there, was on a hot summer’s day. We only fished day sessions at the time, but most waters were quite murky here back then, so we stood a chance of catching something. Halfway through the day and not having had a bite yet, suddenly the wind started picking up, and within ten minutes a heavy thunder storm had us clinging onto our tiny umbrella. We weren’t exactly equipped like we are these days you know. But, by the time the storm had passed, the first piece of Styrofoam (that we put on the line by the rod tip as an indicator) was away. That run stopped after only a few yards, but the next one didn’t. This fish upped my pb by 2lb. It was caught on a heavy beach rod and Daiwa reel which, thinking about it now, had too thin (30/00) a nylon line on it. It hadn’t been able to take any line, and we got it into the net quite easily I remember.

All went quiet for an hour or two, and then it happened. The same rod was away again, and this fish swam off with my live bait like a bat out of hell. Back then I waited for the second run before striking, and when I finally did, it started taking line off the drag like I had a steamboat on! Being so young and inexperienced I somewhat panicked, and honestly my dad just stood there in awe as well. So I did what I had to do, and simply gave the drag a turn or two. Half a second later the main line was cut through. When I reeled in it was heavily frayed. This site was an old dumping ground I later found out. To say I was absolutely gutted is an understatement. I have no idea how big this fish was, and have never had another eel take line like this since. There were no other predatory fish in this pond. Unfortunately fishing there was to be forbidden one year later. During the next twelve months my parents dropped me off a couple of dozen times, still only day sessions as I wasn’t allowed to fish nights, and I did manage to catch a couple of 2lb’ers more, but nothing like I had hooked on that very first session.

I still drive by it sometimes, just having a look at the now very much overgrown patch of water, which seems to have shrunk over the years. A tiny bit of water, but with such a big impact…

F.P.