Last week, my cast iron resolve not to commence fishing, until I had found carp and thoroughly familiarised myself with the lake bed, seemed to pay off. Curbing my initial eagerness to put the rods out, coupled with a strict abandonment of any pre-conceived peg choice, may have contributed to a busy session, but would a repeat performance be on the cards for this week? What a difference a mere seven days can make in angling terms, as I was about to find out.
The first challenge I faced this week was extensive road works and associated closure of the main road through Sutton Cum Lound, such that access to Wetlands was blocked from the south side of the village. Add to that a confusing diversion (plus, I'd not brought a postcode for my SatNav) and a significant problem emerged. After turning back several times, it finally dawned on me that the route should still be passable before 7.30 am (according to the message accompanying the 'Road Closed' signs). Fortunately, this proved to be the case, and I managed to make it down the high street, seconds before tarmac laying equipment barred the way.
When I arrived (much later than intended), I found Dave fishing in peg 6. Apparently he'd caught two or three good doubles during the night. Over the weekend he'd noticed that most of the carp were resident in pegs 5, 6 and 7. Undeterred by a frustrating delay, I made sure to do a thorough lap of the specimen lake before choosing a peg. In the words of my very first primary school reading book; "I walked and walked, and what did I see?" Well, on this occasion all I saw were; "Bream, and more bream!" There were loads of them; on the surface, at the end of peg 3, mid-distance in 5 and in the bowl area of 7. But as for the carp, they were noticeable by their apparent absence. Not a single dark shadow or surface cruiser interrupted my gaze. Mmm! So what should I do now?
One thing I'm not too sure about, is whether the presence of bream indicates the potential presence of carp too. Do they share water space naturally, or do they prefer separate territories, only coming together when competing for food? No doubt some anglers have studied that question in depth. Anyway, with no firm sightings to go on, the best I could do was to follow Dave's weekend observations and fish 5 or 7. In the end, peg 7 earned my attentions, because it has close access to the match lake (I had some bait testing in mind for later) and Richard's new inlet was flowing nicely, potentially drawing carp into the area. Dave had kindly furnished me with a fresh supply of Wet Baits boilies to test, including a new Caviar flavoured variety, together with the standard Liver and Garlic, plus Crab Berry types.
I'm fairly familiar with the lake topography in peg 7, so finding spots didn't require the use of a marker rod. Double 18 mm boilies on a 9 inch braided hook-link, attached to a PVA mesh bag of Skretting 2 mm and 4 mm course pellets (pre-soaked in matching soluble bait dip) were cast to my two favourite locations - one being right into the corner of the right hand bay, and the other being in front of mushroom island, at the back of the main bay. The third rod was cast to a new spot, to the LHS of the flowing inlet.
As the day slowly passed by, the odd carp drifted momentarily into the right hand bay area, but my short stay visitors seemed to be just passing through, with no definite feeding intentions. And so, by 5.00 pm, with only motionless bobbins to show for my efforts, it was time to indulge in a couple of hours of bait testing on the match lake. I had two goals in mind - firstly to prove the new Caviar boilies and secondly to compare some dumb-bells I'd made up in two sizes (15 mm and 10 mm) from Skretting products. I used just two margin rods, fished only 1 metre apart, directly off the end of the platform in peg 30. What happened next was utterly ridiculous! From 5.30 pm until 8.00 pm I had 9 successive bites and landed 8 of them. I started off fishing a 15 mm dumb-bell on the left and a halved Caviar boilie on the right. The third bite came to the latter, so that was one goal achieved (the Caviar works nicely!). Thereafter I concentrated on comparing my Skretting based dumbells; 15 mm to the left and 10 mm to the right. The catch log read thus:
5.30 pm - 8 lb 0 oz Mirror/LHS 15 mm dumb-bell
5.55 pm - 9 lb 4 oz Mirror/LHS 15 mm dumb-bell
6.15 pm - 9 lb 12 oz Common/RHS Caviar 18 mm boilie
[6.30 pm - Lost carp to hook-pull/LHS 15 mm dumb-bell]
6.45 pm - 9 lb 4 oz Scaly Mirror/RHS 10 mm dumb-bell
7.10 pm - 11 lb 2 oz Mirror/RHS 10 mm dumb-bell
7.25 pm - 7 lb 12 oz Common/RHS 10 mm dumb-bell
7.45 - 14 lb 4 oz Mirror/LHS 15 mm dumb-bell
8.00 - 10 lb 12 oz Common/RHS 10 mm dumb-bell
The dumb-bells were designed specifically for use on the match lake, which regularly has copious quantities of Skretting pellets put into it by match anglers. As it turned out, 4 bites came from the 15 mm size and 4 from 10 mm size, so there doesn't seem to be much difference in their appeal. The recipe I used to make the baits was as follows:
7 oz Ground Skretting Course Pellets
1 oz Casilan 90 Protein Nutrition
1 oz Skretting Wheat Gluten
1 oz Brewers Yeast
10 ml Skretting Salmon Oil
15 ml Skretting Soluble Bait Dip
4 tsp Egg Albumen (Bait Hardener)
I returned to the specimen lake with a 70 lb 2 oz catch weight under my belt and a renewed spring in my step. I fished one rod to the RH bay, one to the central bay and one in the left hand margin. Baits were double 15 mm Crab-berry; LG1/Caviar tandem; and halved 18 mm LG1, respectively. All were attached to the customary PVA bag of pellets, amidst a light scattering of Caviar boilies (the latter are black and less obvious to bird life). I didn't have to wait long before the middle rod let out a couple of bleeps - the bobbin climbed to the top and stayed there, so I lifted the rod and was greeted by firm resistance. I had to walk backwards a few steps to prevent the culprit from getting round the mini island to the right and after a spirited, close-in scrap netted a 13 lb 10 oz Mirror. Then at 04.30 am an almost identical procedure produced a 13 lb 8 oz Mirror.
The session certainly demonstrated a stark contrast between pitting ones wits against wily, non cooperative carp in a specimen lake versus hauling big time in a hungry well stocked match lake. Both have their place, but at the end of the day, I'd probably rather sit it out for hours on end, if the ultimate prize comes in the shape of a 30 lb plus carp known as Big S.