Decisions, decisions, it's all decisions! Well, sometimes it does seem that the success, or dare I say failure (if such a thing is legitimate in the eyes of an optimist) of a fishing trip is dependant upon the quality of each successive decision, made throughout the session. To some it might seem relatively simple - find the fish; locate the feeding spots; choose a viable baiting strategy; tackle up for the job; and catch them! If only it were that simple! Seriously though, would any two competent anglers make roughly the same decisions in the course of a given outing and would their catch results be more or less equal on the same day? Does angling style really make that much difference?
I was fascinated recently by an article written by Ian Chillcott, regarding his shared sessions with Adam Penning. Both are highly regarded, successful anglers, but their styles are poles apart. Adam is a great proponent of doing things very differently from everyone else, in order to find a chink in the carp's armour and out-fish the crowd. Conversely, Chilly confesses to being rather fixed in his ways. He has found a formula that works for him and he applies it rigidly, reaping the rewards of consistency and discipline.
And where does that leave me? I think, if I'm honest, I have to confess to being rather lax at making the initial effort to find the fish. Nine times out of ten I have a preconceived plan and slot into a peg without giving it too much consideration. Secondly, although (like most carp anglers) I watch the water in front of me like a hawk, bait placement is all too often a matter of slavishly targeting the known hot spots, rather than spending time studying the topography of the lake bed to choose optimum locations to set a trap. Of course, I might occasionally respond to a fish making it's presence obvious, by putting a bait on it, but usually it's without having a clue as to what I'm actually fishing over. Sometimes, I think it's a miracle that I actually catch anything at all!
As things turned out, when I arrived at Wetlands on Monday at 7.00 am, the decision regarding which peg to fish was virtually made for me. Richard had an ambitious project in mind that involved borrowing a massive 28 ton excavator for the day. His intention was to extend peg 6 sideways (in the direction of peg 7) to make it into a double peg. Also, he planned to deepen the water in front of pegs 5 and 7 at the same time. Given that peg 1 is currently too shallow to land fish safely and peg 3 was already occupied, I was left with only two options, namely pegs 2 and 4. With a warm breeze blowing directly into 4 and nothing much visible in 2, I chose the former, having spotted a couple of carp drifting around in the corner bay.
I wish now that I'd put a little more effort into my fishing this week. I suppose I was lulled into a sense of fatalism by the prospect of loud clatter and widely transmitted vibrations - certainly I wasn't expecting the earth to move for me, as far as piscatorial gratification is concerned. Oddly enough though, I read an article yesterday, that reported carp being turned into a feeding frenzy by excavation work. How strange! Anyway, I went for the usual bait placement possibilities in peg 4 and probably paid the price for it. My first attempt at putting a balanced wafter, on a long braided hook-link and 1 oz lead went horribly awry. A rather over-energetic, sideways banana cast landed back on the bank, a few yards further down to the right. The intervening line was hopelessly wrapped around branches, so the only course of action was to untie the end tackle, draw the main line back through the vegetation and start again. Next time, I used my bait boat to deliver the baited hook to the middle of the bay, along with a handful or two of Skretting pellets. Unfortunately, by the time the task was completed the resident carp had done the off and the trap remained in place until a large group of Canada geese floated into the bay. Inevitably, one got caught up in my line and dragged it unceremoniously off into the bushes. Needless to say, I didn't bother to replace it in the bay, but used an underarm cast to position it about 10 yards out from the margin, where it remained, untouched for the duration of the session.
My left hand rod, bearing double 18 mm Wet Baits Crab-berry boilies, attached to the usual PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets (soaked in soluble bait dip) was cast towards the opposite corner bush, with a dozen or so widely scattered freebies. In similar fashion, my middle rod, bearing double 18 mm Wet Baits LG1 boilies, was cast into a mid-channel position, behind the snag bushes.
Nothing of note occurred during daylight hours, other than one lost carp to the middle rod. Unfortunately, the culprit managed to kite left and get into the inlet of a cut-through, resulting in a cut-off. Additionally, the odd bream took it's chance to make a slimy mark on my landing net. How on earth a bream can be taken by a double 18 mm hook-bait defies logic, but somehow it happens. Somewhat despondently, I eventually retired to bed, fearing a blank.
I needn't have worried. Much to my delight, it literally turned out 'all right on the night'. At 11.15 pm an absolute screamer of a take had me scrambling out of the bivvy to deal with an angry 10 lb 6 oz Mirror, that tore yards of line off the left hand rod (dropping the lead and back lead as it did so) before I finally gained control. Then at 2.15 am the middle rod produced a 12 lb 4 oz Common that circled close in for some time before eventually yielding to the waiting net. I can't help thinking that my two captures were somewhat undeserved. I hadn't fished with the commitment or effort that the occasion merited. Next time, I promise myself, I will not merely go through the standard motions, but instead invest time and effort into making it happen, even if that means going against the grain and finding new productive spots and approaches.