Pinpointing their winter quarters is obviously of critical importance in catching cold-water carp. But what if said location is an impenetrable sanctuary deep within a convoluted cluster of interlocking islands that cannot be safely accessed from existing pegs? Well it seems to me that, other than changing the physical structure of the lake, or using a boat (which isn't allowed), then logically, the best option is to devise some means of enticing the protected cyprinid species into open water, where they are more catchable.
Such was the thought process occupying my mind as I drove onto Wetlands at 7.45 on Monday morning. Apparently, every peg had been occupied over the weekend, with only two or three fish being caught overall. Dave and Andy were the only anglers remaining on the lake and they were set up in peg 5. Given that I had managed to winkle one out from peg 1, the previous week, I decided to target a similar area, but this time from the neighbouring peg 7. Initially, I put one rod out to the rear of the main bay in front of so-called 'mushroom' island. It was a coconut cream/malty milk snowman over a bed of Skretting pellets. At that point I continued my thoughts about how to draw out sheltering carp from a safe haven and concluded that some sort of baiting campaign might be the only realistic way forward. Now, it so happens that visitors to the animal park traverse a raised walkway that borders peg 7. Many come armed with bread and are keen to feed the ducks and geese that gather expectantly below. Hence there is a regular supply of food delivered into that corner of the specimen lake. Bingo! A ready-made baiting campaign, that's both regular and reliable. Without further ado, a matching coconut cream/malty milk snowman was delivered to the zone. The easiest way to top it with a scattering of Skretting pellets was simply to throw a few handfuls off the walkway, laced with a few white 16 mm boilies to emulate bread. There is of course one obvious drawback to this otherwise cunning plan, in the shape of our winged fowl friends who perceive the free offerings as fair game. Not surprisingly, I was continually plagued by their thieving attentions, almost to the point of utter despair. However, at this point Richard arrived on the scene and offered a completely new perspective on the carp sanctuary conundrum. As it happens, there is an old fishing platform on the end of a peninsula, a few yards to the right of peg 7. It turns out that this platform gives a unique view across to a narrow, hidden channel of water that is believed to hold winter carp. At Richard's suggestion I wound in my two rods and moved onto the disused peg. I then deployed the bait boat to put a creamy snowman hook bait out to the mouth of the narrow channel. The other was re-positioned in the duck-feeding corner. Now, although the plan seemed like a good one, success depended up the propensity of carp to feed during daylight hours, as there was no way on earth that a bivvy could be set up on the narrow peninsula to do the night. Also, there was a biting cold wind blowing into the target area that threatened to diminish any feeding inclination.
Anyway, I gave it until 5.00 pm and in the absence of a bite, returned to peg 7 for the night. Just before dark, rods one and two were re-baited and returned to their original locations, over a fresh bed of pellets. A third rod (bearing a fruity snowman rig) was fished 10 yards out in front of the margin, to a position where a lone carp had been spotted earlier in the day. The night slowly slipped away, until at 00.25 am the rod fished to 'duck-feeding corner' emitted a few jittery bleeps. As I hovered over it, a few more broke the silence and I struck into a solid resistance. Thence began a tug of war, as the culprit did its utmost to dive under the overhanging branches in the corner. Burying the rod tip under the water did nothing to counteract a stalemate position. But then disaster struck as the hook pulled and I was left to ponder what might have been. On a brighter note, the episode did at least add credence to my theories about drawing carp out from their winter sanctuary. Furthermore, Richard is in the process of hatching a plot to extend peg 7 sideways, so that it includes the aforementioned peninsula platform. This should provide safe-fishing access to a winter carp hideaway and who knows what exciting opportunities might emerge?