What a transformation walking 20 yards from one lake to an adjacent one can make to one's catch potential. In fact, it can make the difference between blanking and bagging up! All will become clear, as you read on.
I started off my session at Wetlands on the Pipe Peg, early on Monday morning. The choice was dictated by several considerations, but mainly the fact that it was on the back of an expected cold wind from the East. Also, Dean had managed to winkle one out from the peg a couple of weeks earlier, whereas most other pegs had remained unproductive for a good while. Fish sightings have been significantly less frequent of late, but I was encouraged by the sight a carp head and shouldering in the margins of the opposite Sandbank Peg upon arrival. Naturally, I wasted no time in putting a long range chod rig, (equipped with a highly flavoured butterfly pop-up), right on the money. Fortunately, I had my Century FMA 12ft rod with me, armed with a 3 oz lead, which covered the distance with minimal effort. Next I put a PVA bag of 2 mm and 4 mm Skretting pellets in front of the margin trees to the left. In this case the hook bait (on a 3 inch braid hooklink) was a small KSC 'dumbell' wafter held upright by the addition of a 10 mm white pop-up. The latter produced three bream bites within the space of an hour or so. Not wishing to be plagued with "snotties" for the rest of the session, I swapped the dumbell for a larger Cell 16mm one, held upright by the addition of a 10 mm white pop-up and increased the hook size. This effectively put an end to the bream captures. If nothing else, it convinced me that the bait presentation must have been unhindered by weed problems, so hopefully if any carp were around and in a mood for a bit of grub, the rig should do its job. The third rod was used to place a Hybrid 15mm wafter on a 2 ft mono hooklink behind the snags to the right, amidst a spread of similar free offerings. A golf- ball sized PVA bag of Skretting pellets soaked in matching dip was attached to the hook before casting, to provide concentrated attraction around the bait. In spite of being reasonably confident of a bite, by 4.00 pm my buzzers had remained silent all day apart from the odd single bleep. Reluctantly I admitted defeat and opted for plan B. Kindly, Richard had granted me permission to fish the match lake overnight, so once the last of the incumbent anglers had departed I began the task of transferring my gear the short distance across the cut-through to peg 31.
Never having fished the lake before, a last minute discussion with a match angler had given me some valuable information to devise a strategy. It seems that the winning weight was probably less than 50 lbs and that most of the carp had come from the cafe end. Sadly, only one carp had been banked from the 3 adjacent pegs. Peg 31 was one of the few that could just about accommodate a bivvy, albeit it on a bit of a muddy slope, with overhanging trees and very few places to drive bank sticks. It was nevertheless, as near as I could get to the productive end of the lake. Given that match anglers continuously feed pellets to encourage bites, I figured that the best approach was to continue using PVA bags of pellets, placed at roach pole distance in front of fishing platforms. This was the duly achieved in respect of pegs 30 and 31. However, being mindful of the cafe end productivity, I deployed my Century 12 footer to put a choddy at over 100yds into the target zone. Much to my amazement, within minutes of setting the bobbin, it was the long range rod that signalled a jittery take and a 7 lb 8 oz Mirror opened my account. Only 10 minutes later the Skretting pellets started doing the business, although the first take resulted in a hook pull. After this, a succession of regular takes kept me busy tying up one PVA bag after another. By 00.25 am 8 carp had been banked and 5 had been lost. Having had limited sleep the previous night I took my rods in at this point and hit the sack for some much needed sleep. At 4.30 am I was awakened by a full bladder and put two rods back out on the pellets and dumbell combination. At 5.15 am another Mirror greeted my landing net followed by two more hook pulls. The captures log reads thus:
5.30 pm - 7 lb 8 oz Mirror (long range chod).
[5.40 pm - Lost heavier carp to hook pull].
6.30 pm - 7 lb 12 oz Common (pellets/dumbell).
7.20 pm - 7 lb 0 oz Mirror (ditto).
8.00 pm - 11 lb 12 oz Mirror (ditto).
[8.10 pm - Lost carp to hook pull].
[9.15 pm - Lost carp to hook pull]
9.35 pm - 12 lb 6 oz Mirror (pellets/dumbell).
10.20 pm - 7 lb 0 oz Common (ditto).
11.00 pm - 10 lb 14 oz Common (ditto).
[11.30 pm - Abortive run (hook upside down)].
12.00 pm - 8 lb 10 oz Mirror (pellets/dumbell).
[12.25 pm - Lost carp to hook pull].
5.15 am - 8 lb 14 oz Mirror (pellets/dumbell).
[07.15 - Lost carp to hook pull].
[08.30 am - Lost carp at net on chod rig].
So that's it then, 9 carp caught within the range 7 lb 0 oz to 12 lb 6 oz and 7 losses. I must say that I really enjoyed getting a few bends in the rod at Wetlands, after an extended lean period and I'm most grateful to Richard for allowing me the privilege of sampling the match lake. Hopefully, as the weed dies off in the specimen lake, the fishing will return to its former glory and I'll be nicely positioned to benefit from the recovery.