My blog this week ends with the tale of a spectacular fish loss, that left me scratching my head in utter disbelief. Firstly though, I begin with a bit of a puzzle. Have you ever noticed how a method that works like a charm one week, suddenly loses it's efficacy only a couple of weeks later? Well that certainly seemed to be the case, when I re-visited peg 4, after catching well from the shallow, silk-weed filled, RHS bay only a couple of weeks beforehand. On that occasion, warm sunshine attracted a few carp into the area and after a short period of basking, they seemed all too willing to dip down into the weed to sample my neutral density snowman baits (on long braided rigs and light 1 oz leads) resting on top of the weed. Understandably, with more sunshine forecast, I hot-footed it to the same peg this week and deployed the same tactics, expecting to bag up with relative ease. But this time, something had changed and in spite of the sporadic presence of a few carp, drifting regularly in and out of the bay, I received not a sniff of interest from them. In fact the only enquiry I did receive, was from the usual hoards of wildfowl, who plagued me with irritating persistence. At one point, much to my disgust, a tufted duck had to be unceremoniously hauled to the bank to have a hook withdrawn from it's beak. Naturally, I gave it a sound telling off, before returning it to the lake.
So what had changed in the intervening two weeks, that rendered the technique non-effective? Was it due to the difference between pre- and post-spawning feeding voracity, or simply a matter that the carp occupying the bay this week were the same ones that I caught previously and they were not falling for the same approach, twice? Or maybe, the increasing cloud cover hid the sun more frequently. Hence, my bewilderment! Anyway, I'm always banging on about how circumstances change from one week to the next and the importance of adapting to conditions as we find them on the day. Fortunately, I heeded my own advice and kept my options open, which paid off in the end.
My first plan of attack, from 7.00 am when I arrived, had been to devote two rods to the RHS bay area. The first (bearing a small dumb bell Krill wafter on a short coated braided and in-line flat-pear lead) had been lowered carefully in the margin atop a bed of Skretting mixed pellets. The second, equipped with a snowman duo (Skretting pellet-based 15 mm dumb bell, plus 10 mm Krill pop-up) on the aforementioned long braided rig, was bait-boated out into the bay, so that it rested gently above the weed, together with a couple of handfuls of matching pellets. The third rod was used to underarm a double Wet Baits Liver and Garlic 15 mm boilie tandem on an 8 inch combi-rig, no more than 10 yards out from the bank. As things turned out, it was the under-armed combi-rig that did the business, with four daytime takes coming at 10.15 am, 1.30 pm, 3.40 pm and 8.00 pm. These resulted in four hard-fighting carp of 14 lb 8 oz (Common), 13 lb 2 oz (Mirror), 13 lb 14 oz (Mirror) and 10 lb 0 oz (Common), respectively.
Richard joined me on the bank for a relaxing, idyllic evening, as we relived his travelling adventures and put the world to rights. He departed, as the sun receded behind the trees and the temperature plummeted drastically. A few minutes later, the silence was suddenly interrupted by frantic bleeping. Unfortunately, the disturbance was not of a piscatorial origin. A floating mink trap had shed it's moorings and nudged by a gentle breeze, drifted across the lake like the "Mary Celeste" (an American merchant brigantine that was discovered on December 4, 1872, off the Azores Islands, sailing with no one on board and with her lifeboat missing) straight into my lines. Ten minutes of heaving and straining ensued, as I wrestled the unwelcome visitor up the bank, placed it out of harms way and re-set the indicators.
As darkness approached, it became obvious that I needed to re-position the unproductive rods fishing the RHS bay. Accordingly, one was dispatched to a known hot-spot, 40 yards out front of the peg, amidst a light scattering of L & G boilies. In this case the end tackle was swapped to a double L & G boilie on a combi-rig, attached to a PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets. Given that I'd brought a bag of old C.C Moore Odyssey XXX 14 mm boilies, that needed using up, I filled the bait boat hopper to full capacity with them, balanced a combi-rig bearing two of the same on top (plus the usual mesh bag of pellets and delivered the lot to the LHS of the triple snags, a couple of yards out from a margin bush. I also scattered a few boilies around the general area using a throwing stick. Strangely enough, it was this rod that took over as main producer overnight, with takes coming at 10.20 pm, 00.45 am and 05.40 am, in the shape of three Mirrors weighing 13 lb 12 oz, 9 lb 0 oz and lastly, 14 10 oz.
Richard is planning to tag all carp above 15 lb in future (to combat fish theft), so the last Mirror was carefully retained, to enable a photo of the tagging process to be taken, to be put on Facebook to raise awareness.
At 6.00 am, just as I'd re-cast the LHS rod and climbed back into the sleeping bag, a confusing cacophony of squealing buzzers burst out and I leapt to my feet. The right hand rod fished 10 yards out from the bank was signalling a take, so I lifted it but felt only momentary pressure before the line fell slack. At this point, with a one-note squeal still ringing in my ears, I noticed that the indicator on the middle rod was held aloft against the bite alarm, as line peeled off at a high rate of knots to the left. I dropped the RHS rod and lifted LHS one in an attempt to bring the culprit under control. A huge bow wave billowed up a couple of rod lengths out, as an angry carp kited left in a massive panic. Clearly, some sort of underwater snag is still present in the vicinity (in spite of recent efforts to find and remove it) and my quarry obviously new exactly where to head. Consequently, within seconds, the line was cut through like butter and pinged back leaving me gutted and forlorn. I wound in the slack line and placed the rod against my bivvy. To my astonishment, I lifted the RHS rod to find that it was also devoid of end tackle. Both lines had been severed at the leader knot.
Now, for the life of me, I can't work out what had happened in those few frantic moments. Had a carp, snared by the middle rod come hurtling back towards the bank and ripped through my RHS line, before cutting me off on an old sunken fence post to my left. Or, had I actually had two takes at once, both of which ended in disaster? I really don't know, but I am convinced that at least one rather large and powerful carp was implicated somewhere in the equation. After a five minute period of quiet reflection, to calm my shattered nerves, I set about the task of re-doing the disrupted rods. As I took up position to recast the middle rod, a large tail fin broke the surface 40 yards in front and waved a two fingered salute in nonchalant defiance.
Ah well! You win some and you lose some! Nevertheless seven carp in a 24 hour session, is certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick and I returned home a very happy man indeed. What's more, I'll be back next week keener than ever to turn the tables on my line smashing elusive adversary.