This week, the words of Freddie Mercury from a classic Queen song were ringing in my ears, namely; "The Show Must Go On." And certainly, after last week's incredible session (when I caught the second largest carp in Wetlands specimen lake, smashing my long held PB in the process), a slight hint of anticlimax descended as I drove onto Wetlands and prepared myself to follow on from my previous success. Nevertheless, there was still unfinished business to be done, in the shape of 'Big S', a large Mirror carp in excess of 31 lbs, plus the lure of a potential previously uncaught monster that had beaten me on more than one occasion. So it was back to business, with all the stops pulled out and maximum effort applied to the task in hand.
Apparently, not much had been caught over the previous week, due in part to very changeable weather conditions,but a few fish had come out the night before, so I was hopeful that things might pick up in the session. As it turned out, the scratching times continued, but that didn't prevent me from having an intriguing and exciting time, in which my wits were pitted against a wily old carp, that proved itself to be expert in the art of clearing out bait whilst carefully avoiding a baited hook.
Virtually all the pegs had been occupied over the weekend, but with most anglers due to pack up before midday, I chose to fish peg 4, simply because it was already free and the lake's two 'biggies' had both been caught from the area in recent weeks. Naturally the deep hole in front of the corner bush would receive the attentions of my left hand rod, and the area 40 yards in front of central platform would be host to my middle rod. As for the third rod, that would have to wait until sightings or instinct guided my choice. For the left hand rod, I went for a minimalistic approach - just a short length of salami sausage attached to a PVA bag of Skretting mixed pellets on a 7 inch combi-rig. The middle rod received a more generous approach consisting of double Liver and Garlic boilies (courtesy of Wet Baits), over a good bed of spod mix. The latter included around 1 Kilogram of Skretting 2 mm and 4 mm pellets, plus a tin each of hemp and sweetcorn.
Whilst chatting to Dave in the morning, a lone carp churned up the bottom only a metre out from the margin, beneath an overhanging bush. Unfortunately our presence disturbed it and it promptly disappeared from sight. Nevertheless, it was enough to fire my imagination and set me one of those challenges that I absolutely love in carp fishing. In my mind, I uttered the words; "Right mate, I'm having you!" and I set about putting a third rod into place. Accordingly, a small Monster Squid dumb bell, topped with a 10 mm fluorescent yellow KSC pop-up was carefully placed in the margin spot and couple of handfuls of pellets deposited on top, plus some broken Liver and Garlic broken boilie bits.
As the morning slowly ebbed away, the sun came out and a few carp drifted into the right hand corner bay. Two were small singles, but the third looked like the low double Mirror that had previously visited the margin. Every now and then, I fed a few more pellets onto the margin spot, in an attempt to arouse feeding interest. Eventually, by early afternoon they were visiting the spot for an occasional feed. As the afternoon wore on, the visits became ever more frequent. By 2.00 pm all three tails were hoisted aloft and I sat tensely on the edge of my chair expecting the rod to burst into life at any second, but astonishingly the bite didn't come. Eventually, the trio drifted off and I peered gingerly over the edge. To my horror, only the hook bait remained - stark and alone. I had been well and truly done!
This clearly called for drastic action. The three carp who had cleared me out with such nonchalant ease were obviously highly skilled in the art of filter feeding, readily ejecting anything that felt at all suspicious. Also, fluorescent pop-ups were an obvious give-away. It seemed to me that a more subtle bait was required, in combination with a rig that is difficult to eject. Hence, I made up a short stiff fluorocarbon rig and baited it with a single Nash Key 15 mm pop-up with a small lead shot buried in it's lower half, so that it behaved like a 'wafter'. This time I chose a slightly different line angle and presented the lead-core leader as inconspicuously as possible. Again, I fed the spot with pellets and broken boilie at frequent intervals until three tails were once more flapping about avidly over the spot. At last at 6.30 pm, a tidal wave erupted from the margin, as the rod burst into life with an absolute one toner. The culprit fought every inch of the way and went ballistic in the margin before it made a final reluctant trip into my waiting net.
The resulting feisty Mirror of 10 lb 14 oz, although not huge, truly made my day. If there's one thing that really gets the adrenalin flowing for me, it's outwitting a cautious margin feeding carp and watching it power off from close quarters. And this one certainly ticked all the boxes.
The remainder of the session passed without incident, affording me a good nights sleep and ensuring that I remained tucked up warm in my sleeping bag, rather than braving the elements outside. Thankfully, the overnight heavy rain had subsided by the morning and it felt a bit warmer. Needless to say, I returned home with a satisfied smile on my face. My photo session with 'Big S' hadn't materialised on this occasion, but one day......