It was only six months or so ago that Mark Bryant was in a coma following a near fatal car crash, but thankfully he has been making a miraculous recovery.
The Baitworks boss has just managed to get out for his first overnight session since the accident and it resulted in this stunning 37lb 4oz common.
Considering that Mark shattered his pelvis and fractured his spine, as well as severing a femoral artery which in itself would have been enough to kill him had it not been for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance crew giving him three blood transfusions on the way to the hospital, not to mention spending seven days in an induced coma, it is something of a miracle that he is back out on the bank so soon!
It wasn’t his first session since the accident, as he’d managed to get out for a day at Churn Pool Fishery, in the Cotswold Water Park, with a couple of friends back in November, despite not being able to walk unaided or bend down, and that resulted in him catching a stunning 30lb 12oz mirror.
Mark revealed: “The last time I fished was when two friends, Giles and Greg, booked Churn Pool for a day session for me back in November. At the time I’d just taken my first steps since the crash and was shuffling around the house on crutches thankful to be out of the wheelchair!
“There was no way I could have fished on my own that day as simply bending down to turn my bite alarms on was a task in itself, let alone lifting the 30lb fish that blew me away that day!
“Since then I’ve been working behind the scenes at Baitworks bringing together the new website and this has been occupying all my spare time, but thankfully that is finally launched and my mind wandered back to fishing.
“It had been at the forefront of my mind since being able to walk unaided, and after countless physiotherapy sessions I now felt strong enough to fish and more importantly handle any fish safely that I may be fortunate enough to catch.
“I had the opportunity to fish over at Little Farriers during a two week window, and had been keeping an eye on a couple of the residents over the last few years. There was a lovely mirror around 30lb that had a tiny tail and fins that looked stunning, and the main target was a common that was steadily increasing in weight every season and had last been caught last year at 36lb.
“This is a deep-bodied but well-proportioned chestnut coloured common that looked really impressive, and the flame was ignited and I was soon re-spooling my reels with 15lb Touchdown and tying new rigs in readiness for my first night.
“Pulling up in the car park in the dark had me questioning my sanity as the lure of a warm bed was on my mind, but I quickly snapped out of it and struggled to push the barrow to the gate and was a bit apprehensive of the thought of fishing on my own for the first time.
“My back and pelvis are still very weak and tight, especially in the cold weather, and it makes everything a slow process, and little did I know that come 11pm it would drop down to minus 2 and I had to refill my hot water bottle three times just to get to sleep each time!
“By the time the morning came I was still in the land of nod due to the lack of sleep and that was interrupted by a one toner, and after a long tussle a 24lb common rolled into the net and the trusty size 4 Kurv Shank had held firm. “I managed a couple more overnight sessions over that two week period and caught a further five fish, and had them on a mixture of Shelf life Monster Red and Royal Marine boilies to a silty trough at short range. Hookbaits were a mixture of our bright fluoros with the soon-to-be-released liquid pastes. “On the last trip a very large fish rolled around 60 yards out to my left and I quickly wound in a rod, re-applied some more liquid paste, and cast my rig out to that area, feeling the lead land with a satisfying thump indicating that it was firmer amongst the weedbeds. “Just five minutes later the rod hooped round and this had me scrambling to apply some side strain to avoid the near margin snags, and it instantly felt heavier than the previous fish I’d had. “I had an inkling that it could be the big common, and after a very slow and ponderous fight I was starting to win the battle and caught a glimpse of a chestnut flank and was in no doubt as to what I was attached to. “My legs started to shake and I prayed for a solid hook hold, and could see that the Heli-Safe had dropped the lead and the common surfaced just yards from my net, and after a few more lunges it was beaten and in the net. “Elliott Gray was due down in the next few minutes so I waited for him to help weigh it and knew he’d take some great shots. It was venting large amounts of Monster Red all over the mat so this fish had been getting away with it on the main baited patch. “I was floating on a cloud, and from lying in a hospital bed for ten weeks I found that all that was truly important was family, friends, and fishing!”