The only way that I can legitimately start this week's blog is by expressing a resounding "Well Done!" to all the ladies who took part in the Ladies British Carp Cup Competition held at Wetlands last weekend. It was indeed a fantastic event run by the B.C.C for their first ever televised Ladies Carp Cup. A very tense competition with fish caught and lost around the lake but the eventual winner was Elaine Taylor with a winning weight of 77 lb 10 oz for 6 fish followed closely by Emily Blake in 2nd and Amanda Curtis in 3rd. Congratulations Elaine, Emily and Amanda from me and all at Wetlands Carp Fishing.
Strangely enough, in the final few hours of the match, the carp decided to switch wholeheartedly into spawning mode. Accordingly, the specimen lake was closed until the following Thursday, so I was unable to fish my usual 24 hour session from Monday morning. After gaining permission from my wife, I re-arranged my weekly schedule and arrived at 7.00 am on Thursday instead. Much to my surprise, I was first through the gates and able to have pick of the pegs. Given that peg 1 had not been included in the match, I felt rather inclined to give it a go, in the hope that the lack of match pressure might work in my favour. I was torn between that and peg 4 and in the end I opted for the latter, simply because the one and only capture of 'Big S' had been from there and a post-spawning feeding frenzy might help matters. Also, the forecast was for sunny spells and a small, shallow bay to the right of peg 4 (a.k.a Miranda's bay) is apt to host a few sunbathing carp under such conditions.
Having caught a few in the margin on my last excursion to the peg, I was keen to maximize my chances of doing the same, by depositing a good few handfuls of Skretting pellets in my favourite margin spot upon arrival, followed swiftly by a baited rig. Of course, this was equivalent to ringing the dinner bell for every form of wildfowl within 10 miles and the only way I could protect my investment, was to place my carp chair only 2 metres from the margin and lift my landing net with a menacing motion, the moment any feathered fiend made an approach. The unintended consequence of such protective behaviour, apart from frayed nerves, was that the carp also kept their distance and eventually I caved in, reluctantly letting the uninvited guests get on with their feast.
By this time Dean made an appearance and together we watched as several carp drifted into Miranda's bay. Dean suggested that I move my gear to the edge of the bay and fish three rods at close quarters, but my preference was to fish it from the adjacent platform, to lessen disturbance. One thing that did worry me though, was the dense silk weed that now blanketed the majority of the bay, meaning that it would be difficult to present a bait effectively, without it being engulfed in a mass of green filaments. The approach I eventually adopted, was to deliver (via bait boat) a critically balanced snowman rig, on a long braided hook link, clipped to a light 1 oz lead, along with two handfuls of 2 mm and 4 mm pellets. The snowman comprised a 15 mm, Skretting pellet based boilie, topped with a 12 mm Krill pop-up. Both baits were deliberately of a similar light brown colour to the pellets, as the carp seem to be avoiding fluorescent baits of late. The margin rod was baited with a small krill dumb bell wafter on a 5 inch coated braid hook link, attached to a 2.5 oz pear lead.
For the third rod, I pursued the original, big fish plan of heavily baiting the back of a bar (in front of the opposite corner bush) with a spod mix made up of 2 Kg Skretting pellets, plus 1 can each of sweetcorn and hemp seed. The bait was a length of salami sausage on a combi-rig, secured by a fake corn boilie stop.
Carp continued to drift around aimlessly in the RHS bay, but action was frustratingly slow to develop, and so the morning passed by without event. However, around mid afternoon a feeding spell suddenly kicked in and at 2.55 pm Miranda's bay produced it's first prize in the shape of a sprightly 13 lb 6 oz Mirror. The fight turned out to be very far from easy, given that at least 15 yards of main line were festooned with lumps of silk weed. As soon as these met the tip ring, they clustered together in a dense ball and jammed solid. The only way round it was to drop the rod to the ground and patiently hand line the remaining line to the bank, being very careful not to apply too much pressure and at the same time to avoid 'rope burn'. Fortunately, having spent many hours pier fishing as a child, I am well practised in the art of playing a fish by hand and the netting operation was executed with relative ease. The down side was that it took me the best part of 30 minutes to clear the line of debris thereafter, before replacing the rod on it's previous spot. Worse still, the bait boat impellers became totally blocked with silk weed, necessitating a rescue operation, namely casting a spare rod across it's bows to retrieve it. Naturally the next hour was spent stripping down both impellers to free the blockages.
Miraculously, in spite of the turmoil and unavoidable disturbance, I had another take at 3.50 pm and after a similar hand-lining exercise netted an absolutely pristine Common of 17 lb 4 oz. After photographing the fine specimen, I cleared the line of silk weed once more, but this time did a carefully aimed banana cast beyond the intended spot and drew it back across the surface, so that the hook dropped gently down onto the target. Hopefully, the attached PVA bag of pellets would prevent it from sinking too deeply into the weed and protected the hook point. Apparently, the technique worked as planned, because at 4.25 pm I added a 9 lb 6 oz Mirror to the tally. Then, at 6.50 pm the margin spot erupted dramatically, as a 15 lb 6 oz Mirror realised it's mistake and created a huge bow as it powered off into the bay. This time my adversary avoided the blanket weed, enabling me to play it normally, without resorting to a hand-lining alternative. Then at 7.45 pm the RHS bay produced the last of it's jewels for the day as another fine 17 lb 4 oz Common greeted the landing net. Aquatic weed is known to produces oxygen during the day (photosynthesis) and carbon dioxide at night, so for the hours of darkness I transferred the bay rod to a new position only 10 yards out from the bank, amidst a few loose-fed boilies, which proved to be a wise move as the rod produced a 14 lb 2 oz Common at 2.45 am.
Not long after the early morning Common, I was fooled into thinking that, at last the big fish spot had come up trumps. Unfortunately, as the quarry neared the bank, the only 'Big S' that greeted me was that made by the violent contortions of a massive eel. A full 1 metre in length and as thick as a man's arm, it proved a most unwelcome visitor to the bank. Eventually, I managed to unhook the writhing monster and return it to the lake, only to discover that my end tackle was hopelessly tangled and coated in horrible slimy 'gunge'. Needless to say, I just cut it all off and re-tied a rig from scratch! The session ended with yet another strange occurrence. Having stripped everything down and with the last rod lying on the bank, suddenly line started peeling off at a tremendous rate, sending the rod tip juddering across the ground. As I lifted into it, I felt a firm resistance that lasted a couple of seconds before everything went slack and I retrieved an empty hook.
Certainly, the session had it's share of drama and frustration, but what a great time I'd had in all. Six carp banked, including two Commons of 17 lb 4 oz and a Mirror of 15 lb 6 oz, making a total weight of 87 lb in 24 hours fishing. Happiness indeed!