No doubt we all experience the odd set-back in our carp fishing. Occasionally, one mishap is quickly followed by others and before we know it, the situation has descended into what we all too readily label as a disaster. Not being in the slightest bit superstitious, I'm not one to talk about a run of bad luck. For me there's always a logical explanation for our calamities and most times they are of our own making. Sometimes, we panic or overcompensate and end up making the situation far worse than it might otherwise have been, had we maintained a steady nerve. What's more, no scenario is truly catastrophic. There are always positive lessons to be learned from even the most dire foul-ups, and fresh opportunities are always there to be grasped.
Anyway, you'll gather from that philosophical outburst, that my session this week didn't go entirely to plan. Granted, there were no unexpected road works to delay my arrival at Wetlands; in fact I even arrived before Clive opened the gates at 6.50 am. I parked up in 6, intending to fish that peg, if I failed to spot carp elsewhere. What I should have done, is place a bucket (or better still, my bivvy holdall) on the bank to reserve the spot, just in case my reconnoitre proved fruitless. Simon, resident in 7 reported a quiet night, so I concluded that the bulk of carp might be holed up somewhere else. At this stage the sky was clear and the heat of the sun was already making it's presence felt. A peacock was eyeing up it's reflection in the recently polished paintwork of my car, no doubt as a precursor to head butting antics, so I took the precaution of draping a cover over it (the car that is - not the peacock), before setting off on my circular walk. As it happens, there were plenty of carp to be seen, particularly on the surface of pegs 1 and 2. However, the downside, is that those pegs are snag ridden, so fishing them is far from easy. Both pegs demand a locked-up fishing style with maximum, unbroken concentration. Hence, I was a bit reticent to commit to that level of intensity and after weighing it up, was a little more inclined towards taking a chance in peg 6, with the option of an evening excursion onto the match lake for a spot of bait testing.
To my surprise, when I returned to peg 6, I found it occupied. Two young anglers and their girl friends now graced the bank along with all their gear. Even their white Astra van had been squeezed into the gap between my car and the lakeside path. To be fair, they probably thought my Passat belonged to Simon in the next peg and had concluded that 6 was free. I was so flabbergasted, that I accepted it meekly and, unwilling to plead my cause, resigned myself to fishing peg 2.
When I last fished peg 2, I took the trouble to investigate it thoroughly with a marker rod and caught well thereafter, so I had a pretty good idea which spots to fish. The left hand rod was cast into the opening of the main channel, the middle rod into the smaller channel to the right of it, and the third rod covered the small bay area to the far right. Each comprised a double 18 mm boilie on a 9 inch braided hook-link, attached to a golf ball sized, PVA bag of Skretting pellets (pre-soaked in matching soluble bait dip). The boilies, courtesy of Wet Baits were, from left to right: LG1, Caviar and Crab Berry respectively. And so the waiting commenced. Shortly before midday, a small Mirror came waddling nonchalantly into the narrow strip of water behind the peg, her bulging eyes rotating in their sockets just below the surface and her pectoral fins hoisted aloft. Her mottled form was shrouded in a wonderful blue iridescence that is characteristic of carp when viewed from above. It was truly an enchanting moment. Out of curiosity, I tossed a corner off my cheese sandwich onto the water and watched with fascination, as she slowly drifted to within 4 inches of it before examining it with great care. A mere 30 seconds later she drifted away again, no doubt sensing danger. Now given that floater fishing is not allowed at Wetlands (due to the risk to wild fowl) I'm amazed that she viewed the potential meal with such suspicion, unless of course she turned her nose up at my wife's home made chutney.
At 12.15 pm the middle rod suddenly pulled up tight, as a carp roared off in anger. In spite of the fact that I was on it in a flash, the carp got the better of me and just made it round the back of an island, before the line parted, leaving me defeated and forlorn. Hurriedly, I replaced all the end tackle and put it back on the spot (albeit a couple of feet nearer to the bank this time). At 4.15 pm, the same rod signalled a frantic take and once again battle commenced. This time I managed to keep the culprit in check and slowly began to gain line, when unfortunately the hook pulled and I was left gutted once more. I was hopeful that late evening might bring a pronounced feeding spell, but darkness eventually came, without it materialising. Before retiring to bed, I wound in the middle rod and put it instead, on the opposite margin of the back channel, in the hope that the aforementioned small Mirror might make a nocturnal visit. At 10.35 I finally opened my account with an absolutely gorgeous scaly Mirror of 10 lb 10 oz - perfect apple slice scales adorned it's smooth grey flanks, like silvery moons in a sky. Not the largest carp in the pond, but a worthy individual, all the same. At 12.30 am the left hand rod burst into life and I gained control of my adversary fairly swiftly. Just when I thought the battle was finally won, it made a frantic dive for some mysterious underwater object and to my immense frustration, the hook pulled. To cap it all, at around 2.30 am the right hand rod screamed off, but when I lifted it, there was nothing there.
So there you have it, one beautiful, small Mirror caught and four carp lost; one feeling like a good'un. But,"Hey Ho!" that's carp fishing. If it were all plain sailing, the attraction would soon wear off. At least, the session was action-filled and eventful. Hopefully, I will have learned from any mistakes and honed my skills, ready for that elusive monster carp when she next sucks in my bait.