This week has been one of major significance to the lakes at Wetlands, in terms of fish stock management. On Tuesday, the match lake was netted and on Thursday an electro-fishing exercise took place on the specimen lake.
This facilitated the transfer of various types and sizes of fish between the lakes, together with a reduction in the numbers of certain nuisance species and should bring about all-round benefits; but more of that later.
Back to my session on Monday, which saw me ensconced in the Supercast Peg. On this occasion, the choice of peg had absolutely nothing to do with watercraft, and everything to do with convenience (a sure-fire recipe for failure!).
It was just that I would be strategically placed to do fish weighing/counting/recording duties on the following day, when match lake netting was planned. Conditions were far from ideal, with high pressure, hot sunshine and a flat calm water surface in front of me.
It all looked pretty lifeless, with no obvious signs of carp to raise a glimmer of expectancy.
I went through the motions of putting my 3 rods in the usual spots, namely; one in the little bay opposite and one either side, the RHS one being a little further out into the larger bay beyond. Unsurprisingly, my bobbins remained motionless throughout the day, with hardly a single bleep to break the monotonous silence.
Nevertheless, by mid morning, my attention had become focused on a group of three carp chilling out beneath dense overhanging trees to my right.
Much to my fascination, they eventually became willing to set aside their slumbers, when tempted by a 10 mm pop-up flicked gently between the canopy of branches.
More often than not, the larger of the three would rise purposefully to the surface and suck down the offering with complete confidence.
After emptying half a tub of pop-ups, I wised-up to my financial folly and tried a small handful of mixed pellets instead. Without hesitation all three tails were hoisted high and the dinner bell was well and truly ringing.
The action was eagerly repeated with each additional offering. However, there was no chance of presenting a baited hook anywhere near this impenetrable fortress. All I could do, was cease feeding pellets into their lair and transfer my generosity to the RH margin, some 15 feet away, in the hope that greed would bring them out into open water. Amazingly, the cunning plan actually started to work. Every so often, the water beneath the branches would rock slightly and a brown silhouette would briefly venture out for a few mouthfuls before returning to the security of the thicket. Next, I waited for my opportunity and placed a baited rig 3 feet from the bank in 18 inches of water. I sat low with my hand hovering over the rod handle. Several times a handful of pellets was sprinkled over the trap, but to my immense frustration, I received numerous bleeps, but no definite take. I was getting done, good and proper! This called for a more intelligent approach. The 15 mm hook-bait was duly whittled down to a shape resembling an apple core, topped by half a 10 mm pop-up and the process was repeated. When the take eventually came (at 5.20 pm), its ferocity outstripped my coiled-spring expectation by a mile and my adversary was under the trees in a flash. There was no point in pulling at it, so I donned my chest-waders in record time and followed the line under the peripheral branches, until I finally encountered my target, freed it from all encumbrances and hand lined it out into open water, from whence I could play it normally. Imagine my sense of achievement, when 11 lbs of orange Mirror carp was scooped triumphantly into the waiting folds of my landing net. Yes, I was soaked to the skin, but it was worth it!
After all the excitement of my close encounter of the piscatorial kind, the lack of action in the open water continued for another 2 hours until I received two takes at once. The LHS bay produced a lively run, from what was obviously a small carp, and was at the point of being nicely under control, when the RHS rod signaled a rapid and powerful take, that had line peeling unexpectedly from my virtually, locked-up rod. Accordingly, the LHS rod was placed back in the rod rests and I hastily took hold of the RHS rod, in an attempt to avert disaster. Unfortunately, although my quarry didn't make it round the corner tree into the snag ridden zone, I felt a judder as it found some under water object and the hook pulled. Dismayed, I returned my attentions to the LHS rod, only to have the hook fall out as soon as I tightened into it. No doubt the hook-hold had loosened whilst the line was relatively slack. Nearly two more hours passed by before open-water opportunities arose once more. In fact five carp graced my unhooking mat between 8.20 pm and 5.20 am the following morning. The biggest of these was a 12 lb 10 oz Mirror. The catch log reads thus:
5.20 pm - 11 lb 0 oz Orange Mirror (RHS margin).
[7.20 pm - Lost 2 carp (LHS bay & RHS bay)].
8.20 pm - 7 lb 0 oz FS Mirror (RHS Bay 40 yds).
10.00 pm - 12 lb 10 oz Mirror (LHS bay 20 yds).
4.00 am - 8 lb 0 oz Mirror (LHS bay 20 yds).
4.35 am - 7 lb 12 oz Mirror (RHS bay 40 yds).
5.20 am - 11 lb 10 oz Mirror (RHS bay 40 yds).
Its worth pointing out that no carp were caught from the bay directly opposite. This differs markedly from the situation 8 days before, when a high profile angler absolutely bagged-up from the middle bay, with most of his 34 takes coming from that very spot and only a couple or so carp coming from the bays either side. Presumably, the carp have learned from their bad experience and are now rather wary of feeding there.
Finally, a word about the stock management activities mentioned in my opening paragraph. I don't have the actual figures to hand (they are recorded though), but I recall that a dozen or so larger carp (i.e. doubles up to approx 16.5 lbs) were transferred from the match lake into the specimen lake on Tuesday. On Thursday, around 30 single figure carp were transferred from the specimen lake into the match lake, together with a few bream and roach. Additionally, a number of Zander and Pike were removed from both lakes. Interestingly, the netting exercise demonstrated that at least 500 carp are resident in the match lake, but nothing above 17 lbs was identified. Electro-fishing is considerably less efficient than netting, so it is not possible to draw any definitive conclusions regarding the carp stocking density within the specimen lake. Most 'seek and find' attention was paid to carp in the 5 lb to 15 lb range, to facilitate subsequent segregation. Nevertheless, a number of 20 lb plus carp were spotted during the operation, but were not captured for verification. Although no 'whackers' were highlighted by the technique, its inherent fallibility means that their presence cannot be ruled out altogether. Hopefully, my landing net will provide evidence of their existence in due course!