At long last, persistent sub-zero temperatures had finally yielded to a slight pre-spring warming and as I turned up on Monday morning, all traces of ice had disappeared from both the specimen lake and match lake. Excellent! That meant that I could spend the daylight hours on the specimen lake and dependant upon results make the decision whether or not to move onto the match lake for the night. Having fished virtually every peg on the specimen lake this winter and seemingly not got among fish, I was at a bit of a loss as to where to start. In the end, I settled in Peg 6, with the option to stray into Peg 7 if it remained unoccupied. And so, one rod loaded with a fruity pop-up, was launched towards the deep water in front of Peg 4. A second rod dispatched a coconut cream snowman combination about 20 yards out, (in front of the margin trees to the left). A third rod was used to put a spicy snowman right towards the back of the water in front of Peg 7. My initial burst of confidence slowly dissipated throughout the day until 4.00 pm when the match anglers began packing up. Apparently, a couple of carp had been caught along with bream and other species. Both had been caught from the east bank, so the decision to move to the match lake for the night seemed like a 'no brainer' and by 5.00 pm I was firmly ensconced in Peg 31 of the match lake. Tactics were similar to those already employed during the morning. A fresh, fruity snowman made up of a 16 mm Essential IB and 10 mm Winter Wonder was put out towards the middle of the lake. A 16 mm Coconut Cream and 10 mm Malty Milk snowman was placed in the island margin (cafe side). Finally a spicy snowman comprised of a 15 mm Techni Spice and 10 mm Secret Agent was under-armed about 10 yards out from the fishing platform. In each case a small PVA mesh bag of 4 mm Skretting pellets provide ballast and additional attraction. Naturally, I was interested to see if fruity, creamy or spicy produced the most bites. First away at 6.30 pm was the fruity combo, resulting in a 10 lb 0 oz Mirror. Next away at 7.30 pm was the spicy duo, but unfortunately, a hook pull robbed me of the proceeds. At 10.05 pm the spicy snowman produced a 10 lb 2 oz Mirror, shortly followed at 10.25 pm by a 9 lb 12 oz Common to the fruity team. The creamy representative finally got a look in at 11.50 pm with a hard fighting 12 lb 10 oz Mirror. After that the action slowed a bit until at 02.30 am, when an 8 lb 4 oz scaly Mirror fell to the spicy combination, followed at 03.50 am by a chunky 13 lb 2 oz Mirror, courtesy of the creamy contingent. When I surveyed the lake at first light I realised that thin ice had now formed over most of the North end, but fortunately not so thick that it posed a problem in retrieving my lines. Oddly enough, at 8.25 am, as I began to wind in the fruity loaded rod, I felt a kick on the end and realised that a carp had been sat on the end without giving the slightest bit of indication. I made the mistake of leading it away from the other rods, in an attempt to net it at the next platform, but in the process the hook pulled before I could do so. The final score was 6 caught and 2 lost. Interestingly, the fish were equally distributed amongst the three bait flavours. Having said that though, the two largest carp were claimed by the creamy offering. Also, if you include the lost carp then spicy and fruity would claim an extra 1 each. In other words there was no significant difference between the flavours, but I derived a lot of pleasure from the experiment.
Finally, I couldn't end this blog without mentioning the two magnificent additions to the specimen lake that were made last Thursday. The dynamic duo comprised an awesome 31 lb 8 oz Mirror together with an equally impressive 29 lb 0 oz Mirror. Hopefully both will settle nicely into their new home an pack on weight at an incredible rate. Certainly, their presence will add a whole new dimension to carp fishing at Wetlands!