In 2014, winter seemed to drag on forever and the carp took ages to wake up from their slumbers. In fact it wasn't until well into April that any big hits occurred at Wetlands. Hence, as I made my way onto Wetlands for my first Spring session of 2015, my mind was occupied with thoughts of whether or not the carp would be more obliging than in previous weeks, when relatively few captures had been reported. According to Clive, winning weights on the match lake had crept up to the seventy pound bracket, so there was at least some reason for optimism. The weather was predicted to include sunny intervals giving way to the odd spot of rain later in the day. However, a hard frost covered the ground at this point and there was a distinct chill to the slight breeze that funnelled into the north eastern corner of the session lake.
My initial plan was to set up in peg 7, in the hope that the warmth of the sun might encourage some carpy activity in and around the corner canopy of trees, but a couple of anglers were already present, having arrived the day before. It turned out that they had caught 3 and lost 1, so the signs were promising. Peg 1 has similar shallow water, overhanging trees and islands aplenty, so it made a reasonable second choice.
This time, mindful of the fact that Wetland's roaming Peacocks are inclined to get a little frisky and territorial at this time of year, I made sure to cover the carp-mobile with a massive plastic sheet to discourage them from head butting their own reflection in the shiny black paintwork. I could then relax and take my time to set up, whilst watching the water avidly for signs of movement. The Capybara (resembling an enormous brown guinea pig), in an enclosure behind me, subsequently emerged from his hut and made his way carefully around the perimeter fence to the opposite corner, where he sat in eager anticipation of the warming sun. It seemed at that moment, that we both shared a sense of optimistic expectancy. To some degree, that took the edge off the fact that in every silent moment, I still grieve for Chloe, our black Labrador who died a week ago. Being at one with nature, somehow exerts a soothing and healing effect. Anyway, before long the smaller of two resident orange ghostie carp made an appearance, swimming nonchalantly backwards and forwards in the narrow channel to the right of the peg. Naturally, I waited until it was out of sight and attempted to deposit a white creamy coconut hook-bait centrally in its path. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I launched it too high, such that it lodged firmly in an overhanging branch. My second attempt, using a spare made-up rod, landed successfully on the spot and after only a short interval was inspected by my adversary. The said fish is no mug and after a couple of investigative passes, it drifted away again having not succumbed.
The middle rod was eventually baited with a couple of tiger nuts and sent to its destination via bait boat, together with half a dozen freebies and a couple of handfuls of mixed Skretting pellets. Its destination was the margin of three clustered islands at the back and slight right hand side of the peg. With nothing else to go on, the third rod was similarly baited and committed to the left hand margin towards the boat house opening. At 10.00 am, the middle rod signalled a drop-back and subsequently produced a 6 lb 0oz Common without drama. Oddly, the fish had a well-healed patch of missing scales, the size of a credit card, on its left flank. The middle rod did the business once more at 3.35 pm, producing a 7 lb 14oz Common. This time, the fish managed to pick up a stray branch from off the bottom, so there was a tense moment as I struggled to free the branch and net the fish. It was still light at 6.15 pm, when the same rod produced yet another fish, this time in the shape of a fine 14 lb 10oz Linear, Mirror carp. Richard was on hand to do the honours with the landing net.
Given the snaggy nature of peg 1, I opted to fish all three rods in safer spots, much closer in for the night. This simply required an underarm cast, in each case.
Unlike last week, when a small, snotty bream had me scurrying from my bivvy at midnight, no further action interrupted the night. No doubt, if I'd continued to fish the daytime hot spot, further action might have ensued, but fish welfare is always of paramount importance, and it is simply would have been too risky to even contemplate it.
So the session produced a final tally of three carp, the largest being a fine 14 lb 10oz Linear. Certainly, the specimen lake is waking up a little now and once the temperature lifts above the magic 20 degrees Centigrade who knows what treasures it might give up?