Whilst the two latest additions to the specimen lake (magnificent Mirrors of 31 lb 8 oz and 29 lb 0 oz, respectively) were settling, undisturbed into their new surroundings, it seemed like a good idea to do a night session on the match lake. Historically, February has been the most frugal month of the year in terms of catch rate, so I was hopeful that a last ditch visit might enable me to assemble a respectable tally of winter captures and buck the normal trend. And so, I made sure that I arrived at Wetlands at around 3.00 pm, in time to witness the last hour of the match. Unlike the previous week, the west bank seemed to be producing a few carp, with peg 5 providing a winning weight in excess of 50 lb (including 7 carp). The victorious angler had apparently fished over a bed of Skretting pellets at around 20 yards, so it's no surprise that I opted to set up in the same peg and put my first rod out to the identical hot spot, as soon as the match was finished. The rod in question was attached to a spicy snowman hook-bait (Nash Tandoori Spice 15 mm / Hutchinson Secret Agent 10 mm) and PVA mesh bag of 4 mm pellets, with two large pouches of mixed Skretting pellets catapulted on top. Rod number two, equipped with a creamy snowman combination (Dynamite Coconut Cream 16 mm / DNA Malty Milk 10 mm) was bait-boated out to the island margin and deposited along with three handfuls of mixed pellets. The third rod sporting a Banoffee snowman (Mainline Banoffee 16 mm / Mainline Milky Toffee 12 mm) was cast directly out towards the centre of the lake, with the customary PVA mesh bag of 4 mm pellets as ballast and extra attraction. There was a bitterly cold chill to the breeze and a mostly clear blue sky, but thankfully, frost was not forecast. To my surprise, it was the island margin rod that first burst into life at 6.25 pm, resulting in an 11 lb 2 oz scaly Mirror. In view of the ultra-dark conditions (Wetlands receives hardly any light pollution) it was easier to put the rod back out to a new spot, namely 30 yards to the right of the existing, centre of lake rod. However, in this case I used the bait boat to send it to its destination, so that a half hopper of Skretting pellets could accompany it. It seems that the carp were up for a bit of free feed, as this rod was next to produce a Mirror of 6 lb 6 oz at 8.05 pm. It wasn't until 10.00 pm that the 25 yard spot kicked into life with the biggest carp of the night, in the shape of a Mirror of 11 lb 4 oz. From that point on I received virtually alternate takes from the creamy and spicy contenders, with nothing falling to the banoffee snowman until 11.50 pm (a 10 lb Common). Accordingly, I re-baited it with a nutty duo (Dynamite Monster Tiger 15 mm / Mainline Cell 12 mm) and under-armed it out 25 yards, slightly to the right of the Spicy hook-bait. Eventually, at 02.30 am this rod produced a Mirror, but not before the creamy-baited rod had served up an 8 lb 4 oz Common at 01.30 am. Also, a carp attracted by the spicy duo had fallen off at the net, around 00.25 am. By 02.30 am all of my rods had been brought in, to facilitate sleep. Additionally, a change in the weather brought some highly uncomfortable sleety rain, that stung the face and dribbled icy droplets down ones cheeks - an altogether unpleasant scenario, as unwelcome as haemorrhoid pain in the night, but that's another story that's best not told. The following morning I awoke just before 7 and put all three rods back out whilst I commenced packing down. Once again, the creamy contingent, near the lake centre, did the business with a 9 lb 14 oz Common the welcome prize.
I suppose a session at Wetlands wouldn't be normal without some kind of mishap or malfunction to add a touch of interest to the proceedings and this visit was no exception. In this case, my ageing and much loved Aerolight Bivvy was the recipient of ill fortune, or more accurately my own clumsiness. As I stepped forward to lift the pram hood top into an upright position, my size 12 Skeetex boots overstepped the mark and landed heavily upon the aluminium frame. Unfortunately, aluminium becomes brittle at low temperatures and so there was a loud crack as one of the poles broke in two. If you've ever tried to erect a domed bivvy with a broken pole, you will know that that it seriously affects its stability, shape and height. In fact , it adopted a similar pose to one of the roosting vultures that is caged on the Wetlands site. What's more the size of the entrance opening was reduced to such an extent that my speed of entry and egress was seriously affected. Nevertheless, the situation wasn't a total show stopper and I was determined to make do, even if the bivvy was subsequently retired to the bivvy home in the sky.
The catch log read thus:
6.25 pm - 11 lb 2 oz Mirror (island margin); Creamy
8.05 pm - 6 lb 6 oz Mirror (lake centre); Creamy
10.00 pm - 11 lb 4 oz Mirror (25 yds ahead) Spicy
10.20 pm - 8 lb 4 oz Common (lake centre) Creamy
10.45 pm - 8 lb 10 oz Mirror (25 yds ahead) Spicy
11.00 pm - 6 lb 4 oz Common (lake centre) Creamy
11.40 pm - 9 lb 2 oz Common (25 yds ahead) Spicy
11.50 pm - 10 lb 0 oz Common (lake centre) Banoffee
[00.25 am - Lost carp at net (25 yds ahead) Spicy]
01.30 am - 8 lb 4 oz Common (lake centre) Creamy
02.30 am - 6 lb 0 oz Mirror (25 yds ahead) Nutty
08.10 am - 9 lb 14 oz Common (lake centre) Creamy
In summary then, I caught 11 and lost 1. Of these, 6 takes were to Creamy, 4 were to Spicy and 1 each to Banoffee and Nutty. Whether the flavour differences affected the results, rather than bait placement, or other factors is a matter of conjecture, but it was an interesting experiment all the same. Next month I aim to concentrate more on the specimen lake, as the approaching spring ought to encourage a bit of carpy action, plus there is the added attraction of netting a monster or two. Dream on Mr A.