Don't get me wrong, this weeks session was absolutely brilliant in so many ways, but at the end of it I ended up pondering what might have been - simultaneously gutted and fired up, aching for the next opportunity to even the score. More later.
It all began in customary style with me entering the heavy gates at Wetlands around 7.15 am. With a day of sunshine and warmth forecast I was undecided as to whether to head for peg 7 or have a go at peg 2, which apparently had produced seven carp on a recent session. It soon became clear that the specimen lake was unusually busy, with three anglers occupying peg 4, another two in peg 3, a lone angler in peg 1, plus a car parked in peg 5. With limited options available, I legged it round to peg 7 and mercifully found it to be free. What's more, adjacent peg 6 was also free, thus providing a nice sheltered and isolated corner area away from the main angling pressure. The joys of spring were manifest in terms of a fresh green leaf covering upon every branch and twig. The downside was a preponderance of hyperactive bird life that would present it's associated challenges.
The only viable way forward, to avoid the unwanted attentions of wildfowl seemed to be a combination of extreme stealth, hard baits, unattractive spicy odours, limited free baiting (except deliberate diversion tactics), and favouring deeper water. And so a double tiger nut attached to a small PVA mesh bag of pellets soon found it's way to the RH corner spot, courtesy of the bait boat, accompanied by half a dozen loose nuts. Similar tactics were deployed to put a matching bait combination to the back of the main bay. As usual, I waited a while before placing a third rod. I had it in mind to experiment a bit with rock salt on this occasion, and upon arrival had launched a handful of Nash salt 'Soluballs' into the narrow channel opposite, using a throwing stick. Eventually, the investigating wildfowl wrote it off as non-nutritious and vacated the channel, allowing me to slip a crafty bait in there (a chunk of salami and small bag of Skretting pellets).
Shortly after 10.00 am Dave joined me on the bank, proudly bearing a bag of Wet Bait Liver and Garlic 16 mm boilies for me to try out. Apparently, he obtains top quality ingredients, meticulously blended by a commercial source and his wife rolls them, (nothing beats a good dose of female pheromones to get the carp going). I duly promised to give them a thorough trial after dark (to avoid being cleared out by wildfowl), in addition to a brief whirl on the match lake in the evening. As we discussed things bait-wise, the rod cast to the opposite channel tightened and gave a flurry of bleeps. I was on it in an instant and after a few hairy moments gained control, enabling Dave to net a magnificent 15 lb 4 oz Mirror. It's photo will be appearing on the catch gallery in due course.
The morning drifted by without further action. In fact it wasn't until 2.30 pm that the same rod produced a 9 lb 8 oz Mirror. And then at 3.40 pm a further take from the equivalent spot ended in tears as the line got caught behind a margin stump. By the time I had wound in the other rods, placed the rod in the rests and rushed round to get the boat all was lost. I was left with an empty hook embedded in the offending stump.
This week the match lake was devoid of anglers by 6.30 pm, so I decided to spend a couple of hours on there, to try out Wet Bait boilies alongside my own pellet-based ones from last week, with Mainline Active 8 as a control. Three rods were subsequently splayed out - Active 8 16 mm to the centre of the lake over a spread of the same, Liver and Garlic 16 mm to the corner of the island (a known hot-spot) over a handful of catapulted freebies, and pellet based dumbells over a matching patch of freebies underhanded out 20 yards from the platform. In each case a small bag of Skretting pellets was attached to the hook to avoid tangles. By 9.00 pm it was time to transfer back to the specimen lake having netted five carp and lost a couple at the net. The Active 8 produced an 8 lb 14 oz Mirror; the Liver and Garlic accounted for a 6 lb 8 oz Mirror and a 5 lb 10 oz Common; the pellet-based dumbells yielded a 12 lb 10 oz Common and a 7 lb 0 oz Mirror. So they all did the business, then.
By now it was very dark on the specimen lake with no moonlight to aid bait placement, so I was glad to make use of the LED torch clamped to the front of my bait boat. This time I dispensed with the tiger nuts and opted for pellet-based dumbells in the RH corner spot, Liver and Garlic 16 mm boilies to the back of the main bay and Active 8 16 mm boilies into the mouth of the opposite narrow channel. In each spot, a bed of mixed Skretting pellets provided an attractive backdrop.
At 11.15 pm the Active 8 loaded rod delivered a 9 lb 12 oz Linear Mirror. However, rather than return the rod to the same spot I replaced the missing boilies with an inch of salami and simply under-armed it into the LH island gap in the hope that a roving carp might pick it up. At 01.25 am the rod fished to the back of the main bay presented me with a fine 17 lb 4 oz Mirror, followed at 06.00 am by a 10 lb 0oz Mirror.
At 8.00 am I began packing up, thinking that nothing more would be added to a most productive and enjoyable session. 10 carp had been banked in total; 5 from the match lake (largest 12 lb 10 oz) and 5 from the specimen lake (largest 17 lb 4 oz). And then out of the blue it happened! The rod that had been cast nonchalantly into the LH island gap suddenly burst into life. A hail of frantic bleeps was emitted briefly from the anchored/locked up rod and a huge bow wave erupted between the islands, as all fell silent and I was left in a state of shocked wonder. Upon examination, it was apparent that the hook-link (Kryston Supa Nova) had parted just below the lead clip. Undoubtedly, those few seconds of mayhem will be burned into my brain for evermore and cause an adrenalin rush at every subsequent flashback. Ah Well! Perhaps next time I will nail the culprit. Anyway, that's all part of the thrills and spills of carp fishing and Dave's boilies came out of it rather well too!