Patience is a virtue, or so they say (whoever they are!). And this highlights a subject that has exercised my thoughts of late. To put it in simple terms, when faced with mind numbingly slow carpy action, should you sit on your hands and stick it out to the bitter end, confident that your carefully chosen spots will deliver eventually? Alternatively, should you go into frantic hyperactivity, the moment a long fruitless wait seems inevitable, in the hope of winkling one out from somewhere on the lake? Certainly, there are high profile anglers who believe that, at any given time, a percentage (albeit small) of the carp population will be up for a feed and are potentially catchable - it's just a matter of locating them and presenting a suitable bait on a productive spot. It sounds easy, and if your name happens to be Dave Lane, it probably is, but to the rest of us mere mortals, it can appear daunting. Rob Hughes is known to advocate frequent casting in winter, to increase the chances of a pick-up and it seems to work well enough for him, but no doubt, it is also possible to ruin one's chances by throwing stealth to the wind and spooking every carp in sight.
I arrived at Wetlands on Monday at 7.00 am to find the lake unusually busy. Pegs 4, 6 and 7 were taken and I didn't fancy peg 5, as it's a bit restricted when the neighbouring pegs are occupied. That left me 1, 2 or 3, and with cooler, cloudy weather forecast, it seemed wiser to opt for the deeper water of peg 3. A look round confirmed my initial instincts, as there appeared to be a few carp present therein. There are plenty of options in the peg, but like most of the regulars, I have my favourite hot spots that have produced more frequently than others.
And so, without further ado, three rods were committed to the spots, namely: left hand rod to the margin spot beneath a low hanging leafy canopy; middle rod to the mouth of the opposite cut-through; right hand rod 40 yards diagonally out towards the corner tree (opposite the big willow). For simplicity, all were equipped with a double 15 mm boilie on an 8 inch combi-rig, attached to a golf ball sized PVA mesh bag of Skretting 2 mm and 4 mm pellets. Each was fished over a few handfuls of matching pellets, administered by hand or bait boat.
Now, this is where the aforementioned conundrum comes in. By mid afternoon, apart from the odd single bleep, no action had occurred and my landing net and weigh sling lay dry and forlorn on the ground. At this point, something clicked in my brain and frantic hyperactivity commenced. I left the margin rod undisturbed, but the middle and right hand rods were moved round at 30 minute intervals to every conceivable, hopeful spot, spurred on by the occasional head and shoulder sighting. I ended up exploring the boundary of peg 2, all of the opposite channels, various 10 yard and 20 yard locations, plus crocodile island (recently removed) - all to no avail. At 8.00 pm, the intensive panic fishing subsequently ground to a halt and I retreated to the bird hut for a much needed rest. After, a bit of a re-grouping / brain check, I settled on the best spots for the rods overnight and began the process of re-doing them for the night. And, you've guessed it, I ended up putting all three rods virtually where I'd started earlier that day. The only slight difference, was that I moved the middle rod a few yards to the right into open water, at a safe distance from the mini islands.
Nevertheless, it was a long wait before action finally did kick in at 03.05 am. An absolute flyer of a one toner had me stumbling out of the bivvy in haste, to tame the LHS margin rod. A tense two minute tussle had the culprit out of the back channel and into open water, but then it took an age to bring it to the surface for netting. It went round and round in circles, determined not to give in. When it did eventually come to the net, I was utterly amazed to see it's diminutive size. I have never known a 10 lb 2 oz Mirror fight like that one did - it certainly gave a very notable account of itself. An hour later the same rod was away again, with another screaming take and this time an 11 lb 2 oz Mirror gave me an easier time before greeting the spreader block. At 05.15 am the RHS rod signalled a slow steady take that produced the largest and prettiest carp of the session, a near Linear Mirror of 13 lb 14 oz. One more take came at 06.30 am to the middle rod, but unfortunately the hook pulled a couple of rod lengths out (most likely due to a known snag that is proving difficult to locate and remove).
So there you have it, four takes within a brief early morning window of three and a half hours, resulting in three carp on the bank, preceded by 8 fruitless hours. To be honest I still don't know whether my spell of afternoon, panic angling did any good (other than keeping me busy), or whether it actually made things worse. At the end of the day, carp can be fickle creatures and when they are not in the mood for feeding they most definitely have the upper hand. Of course, that is what makes carp angling the fascinating and exhilarating art that it is!