Inevitably, some sessions turn out to be tougher than others and of course, it all adds to the interest and mystery of carp fishing. It would cease to be the fascinating and rewarding sport that it is, if we could guarantee to bag-up every time we ventured out upon the banks. Instead, it would just be going through the motions without having to put any real effort or thought into the process. For me, it remains a wonderful contest, in which I attempt to outwit whatever nature throws at me, in terms of seasonal changes, weather conditions, the fickle feeding habits of our quarry, competition from other species (notably our feathered friends) plus increasing angling pressure. My session this week brought with it various challenges in one form or another. For a start, after a period of hot sunny days, when spawning had come and gone (including the post-spawning feed-up), the temperature suddenly plummeted and a cold biting wind heralded the onset of heavy rain and forecast gales. Simon in peg 5 told me he had only caught one 14 lb carp in a three day period. Frustratingly, he had spotted 15 or so carp in the margins, but they appeared to be motionless and disinterested, presumably exhausted after the rigours of spawning. What's more, the wildfowl have increased significantly in numbers and voracity this year - their ability to track down and devour anglers bait seems to have reached an all time high. Also, with the water level being rather low at present, they are able to dive to the bottom at lot easier.
Given that a cold wind was blowing directly into peg 4, it seemed sensible to fish on the back of it. Normally, shelter would be found in pegs 1 and 7. However, peg 1 was already occupied, so I placed a bucket in 7 and took a short walk round the lake, but saw nothing to make me change my choice. Now, although there are several known 'hot spots' in the peg, their fruitfulness seems to change from one week to the next, so a roving approach, fuelled by careful observation tends to work best. Generally, the narrow channel directly opposite the bank can be relied upon to produce a carp or two, so the first task was to deliver a short length of 'Pepperami' on an 8 inch combi-rig, as far down the channel as I could safely manage. The customary PVA bag of Skretting pellets provided extra attraction and tangle resistance. The shallow bay to the RHS is also potentially productive during the day, particularly in response to sunshine and at this stage the sky was still clear enough to allow intermittent rays, even though dark clouds were on the horizon. By now, Dave had paid me a visit and kindly provided me with a fresh stock of Wet Baits boilies to test. Accordingly, for the RHS corner hot spot, I opted for a mixed double - namely a Liver & Garlic 15 mm teamed with a Monster Crab & Caviar 15 mm on a 9 inch braided rig, plus a PVA bag of pellets and a bait boat hopper of mixed 2mm and 4mm pellets. The third rod was to serve as a rover, in the form of a double 15 mm Liver & Garlic on an 8 inch combi-rig over a bed of Skretting pellets. Numerous spots were tried throughout the day, starting with the tip of the RHS peninsular, then working round in an anti-clockwise direction to the tiny island tree, RHS bowl area and finally (prior to nightfall) the margin of 'mushroom island in the main bay.
Even though the occasional carp visited my water during the day, nothing positive occurred until early evening, when the RHS corner rod pulled up tight. The fight was frantic from the moment I lifted the rod. As soon as I coaxed the carp away from the corner tree cover, it kited rapidly left, in an attempt to make it round the edge of the far channel. Once I had brought it beyond the corner point, it kited rapidly right towards the nearside overhanging trees. Finally, as I wrestled it into clear water and I thought it was beaten, the hook pulled, leaving me to wind in the weed strewn end tackle. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that the hook point had turned over, meaning that it hadn't penetrated properly in the first place. Still, at least I knew that I was in with a further chance, even though the sky had darkened and the forecast showers had now begun, accompanied by an ever increasing wind. An hour or so later my hopes were realised as the same corner rod produced a 14 lb 6 oz Mirror. I was relieved that the battle was relatively short lived and without incident, as conditions outside the bivvy had by now become extremely unpleasant.
Throughout the night, a howling gale mercilessly buffeted my bivvy and heavy rain hammered down relentlessly on the canvas, such that sleep was sporadic and shallow until around 1.00 am when things calmed down a bit, but not before a small oak tree had surrendered to the wind and come to rest across the roof of my car. Fortunately no damage was done. At the same time I received another take on the corner rod, but the ensuing short tussle ended when the line parted, leaving me shaking my head in disbelief. One hour later the rod fished to the margin of mushroom island signalled a jittery take. Thankfully, the fight was without drama and a 12 lb 8 oz Mirror in pristine condition, soon made it to the weigh sling.
At 4.30 am I awoke to a cacophony of unwelcome honks, squeals and bleeps, as the wild fowl gathered en masse in my swim and in no time at all, wiped me out of any remaining bait. Strangely enough though, only ten minutes later, after replacing the RHS corner rig, it signalled a take, producing another energetic battle. Unfortunately, as the culprit got to within a rod length of the bank, I suffered yet another hook pull. This time, the hook link had become tangled, with the hook suspended upside down, such that it readily pulled out under direct pressure. Not the best way to end the session, but at least I had put a couple of decent carp on the bank, albeit under difficult conditions and engineered another three chances, even though they didn't come to fruition.
Finally, I recently came across some interesting information regarding 15th century fishing, in an article by Tony Smeets. Apparently, the main line of choice in those early days was woven horsehair tied to an early form of hook called an angle - hence the development of the term angling. No doubt, hook pulls and line breakage were even more of an issue in those days! Anyway, I'll be back again in a week's time, eagerly anticipating whatever piscatorial delights await me, as I seize the opportunity to pit my wits against nature and beast.