Well this week is a tale of two hard fighting branches and an almost instantaneous cut-off. That 's not to say that I blanked; in fact one rather nice result lifted the session into a memorable and treasured occasion, as will become apparent later.
The predicted conditions were absolutely abysmal and for once the weather forecasters got it spot-on, namely continuous rain for virtually the whole 24 hours, driven by a cold northerly wind. I have experienced many a blank in such circumstances, and on Monday morning the dismal prospect of a tough session dampened my spirits and just about everything else in sight. Hence, I chose the bird hut peg, in the vain hope that colder temperatures might drive the carp into deeper water in front of the peg, and also to seek some protection from the wind and rain in the hut itself. I did see the odd carp leap out in front of the adjacent sand bank peg, so the first thing I did was to dispatch a long range pop-up to that location. More out of habit than conviction, I followed that with a bottom bait to around 40 yards, in front of the RHS end tree, beside the last channel. The third rod went 20 yards or so, out towards peg 2, again with a bottom bait and a spread of boilies. My intention was to swap one of the rods over to a LHS margin position later, after feeding the spot during the day. Also, having lost a big carp from there previously, I had it in mind to clear away some sunken branches from the channel at the rear of peg 2. Accordingly, I donned my chest waders and scoured the area for sunken debris. After making good initial progress and removing a mountain of offending material, I started to experience that most uncomfortable of sensations, that starts with a slight suspicion that there might be a leak in the left leg of one's waders, quickly followed by a definite realization that all is not as watertight as it might be, concluded by the inevitable end result of freezing cold water sloshing backwards and forwards in the left boot. On a damp miserable day, few scenarios (short of actually falling in) are less welcome - the determination to carry on, in spite of extreme discomfort, only adds to the misery of it all. Fortunately, once the clearance task was completed, I managed to find an enormous pair of spare, bright red, thermal socks. These, once stuffed into the confines of my Ron Thompson boots restored some sense of normality and well being.
By mid afternoon, nothing had occurred to coax any sound from my bite alarms, so a change of tactics was needed. The long range rod was withdrawn and replaced with a LHS margin rod, (that subsequently remained unproductive for the duration of the session). The other RHS rod was retrieved and a plan hatched to target the opposite channel. In order to get a bait well down towards the end of the tree-line channel, my bait boat was deployed. I loaded it with a hand full of hemp seed, various sizes of 'hearing aid brown' pellets and a few 10 mm Skrettings. The hook-bait consisted of a 12 mm beige, dumbell pop-up, mounted on a short choddy, tied to 2 inches of braid and an in-line flat pear. At 4.30 pm it was this rod that finally signaled a slight drop-back and short run. I was on it in seconds, only to discover that the offender had sought refuge under a submerged branch and was locked solid. Plainly, the carp was still attached and a cautious tug of war proceeded. I was convinced that this would end in tears, but much to my amazement the branch eventually broke away and the fish, plus attached branch gradually gave in to sustained pressure and inched it's way back to my waiting net. Fortunately, the five foot long branch was attached to the line some 3 feet above the hook, so the carp went into the net without hindrance. What a relief! When I came to lift it onto the mat I realised that this was no small carp. The glorious chunky Mirror in winter orange turned the scales to a most welcome 19 lb 8 oz and thoroughly made my day. With darkness soon approaching the successful rod was not returned to its original spot but put out to 40 yards on the RHS for the night. It wasn't until almost 12 hours later that any further action interrupted the silence of the damp night. This time I awoke at 4.25 am needing to answer the call of nature and noticed that the bobbin on the LHS 20 yard rod had dropped to the deck, apparently without making a single bleep. When I gave the rod an exploratory lift, it was obvious that the end tackle was no longer in its original position. It seems that the culprit had kited to the right and was now firmly ensconced in a jungle of trees and islands at the back of the swim. Once again a tug of war commenced and finally another branch became detached from its anchor point and began the laborious journey to my landing net in the company of a 10 lb 12 oz Mirror. This time, all that remained of the branch was a 2 ft length of wood, wrapped in a massive bundle of line, and the whole lot went into the net without drama. AS soon as I had dealt with the fish and associated 'birds nest' of line, plus recast the refurbished rod, the RHS 40 yards rod also signaled a take. However, upon lifting into it, I suffered an immediate hook-link breakage, presumably due to the sharp edge of a ridge or razor shell. No further action marked the session.
My final tally was two caught and one lost. A decidedly damp and dismal session that will nevertheless, be remembered as a great one. Even the fact that Richard forgot to bring me the expected and eagerly anticipated egg sandwich the following morning didn't wipe the smile off my face. Isn't it great when a good plan comes to fruition?