The session this week was always going to be a major departure from the norm, for one principle reason; namely, that I was accompanied for the full 24 hours by my 14 year old nephew Ross. Hitherto, Ross had only experienced half a dozen or so carp fishing expeditions, the first being a day trip (also in my company) to Earlswood Lakes in the East Midlands near his Shirley home. On that occasion we managed to bank around fifteen carp up to 14 lbs 8 oz. His subsequent solo endeavours had unfortunately resulted in a series of blanks, that had dampened his initial enthusiasm and convinced him that he was incapable of catching carp by himself. Hence, I was really hopeful that a successful mission was in store, so that his damaged confidence might be repaired. As is often the case, things didn't quite turn out as expected, but I'm glad to say that his passion does seem to have been re-kindled once more.
The choice of peg was virtually made for us this time round, based entirely on the need to be close enough to the match lake to have a couple of hours on there in the evening, should the daytime prove uneventful. Meanwhile, there was such a mountain of essential gear to fit into my estate car, that varies bits of highly useful kit had to be left behind, including my marker rod, bait boat and brew kit. Normally, my Trakker Aerolite bivvy and JRC bed chair don't take up much room, but double it up, with a Trakker Tempest bivvy and Nash Wide Boy bed chair (humongous proportions), plus an extra sleeping bag and you're taking up some serious cargo space. It was my intention to donate the old Aerolite and JRC to Ross, to enable him to go night fishing in future, so at least Dean (who popped round later to deliver some leads) is extremely happy that I've finally parted with my old, much-loved gear that has certainly seen better days.
According to Dean, nothing had been caught from the specimen lake on Sunday.
What's more, the weather forecast was for continuing hot humid conditions, which is far from ideal in the carp catching stakes, not improved by the fact that the lake looked still and lifeless, apart from the odd bream showing on the surface. And so, we opted to fish two rods each. From left to right these comprised; one down the LHS tree line; one on the peninsular that juts out between pegs 5 & 6; one in front of the snag bushes and one behind the snag bushes. Ross was responsible for the two left hand rods, which were baited with Sticky Krill 15 mm boilies, each topped with a 10 mm pop-up (snowman-style). My two right hand rods were baited with double Wet Baits LG1 18 mm boilies. A PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets was attached to each hook bait for stability and added attraction. A scattering of matching boilies was administered to each target zone.
As the day slowly passed by, tiredness got the better of young Ross (he's not used to getting up at 5.00 am) and he collapsed into such a deep sleep, that he was completely oblivious to the sudden heavy downpour that came upon us in the early afternoon. It was like a thunderstorm, without the thunder, such was the intensity of it. He eventually emerged from his bivvy, rubbed his eyes, and noticing that his canvas chair was full of water, remarked; "Has it been raining?" Anyway, by 5.00 pm our bite alarms had remained silent, so it was time to leg it over to the match lake, for a bit of action. Accordingly, I set him up with his two rods fishing to the ends of the platform on peg 29, one one each corner. A cell dumb bell (very similar in size shape and colour to a Skretting 10 mm course pellet) was fished on a 5 inch coated braid hook link, attached to a size 8 curved shank hook and flat pear 2 oz lead, in each case. Two good handfuls of Skretting pellets was lowered accurately over the top. Once, the rods were primed and in position he innocently asked the question; "How long do you think we will have to wait for a bite?" The words had hardly fallen from his mouth before his left hand rod was nearly torn out of his hand and the hook pulled. He was noticeably gutted by the loss, but hopeful that this wasn't a one-off take. And indeed it wasn't, because at 6.00 pm he received another energetic bite on his left hand rod, that resulted in a magnificent Common of 13 lb 4 oz. Interestingly, this coincided with a bite on my right hand rod, but in my case a 7 lb 8 oz Mirror was the perpetrator. My rods were set up in similar style on the platform of peg 30. The only difference was that I was using double 10 mm dumb bells made from ground up Skretting pellets and matching ingredients.
We continued to catch at regular intervals until 8.30 pm when we finally wound in to transfer back to the specimen lake for the night. The ice-cold cans of Coke (courtesy of Richard) certainly went down a treat in the humid heat of late evening.
The match lake catch log read thus:
6.00 pm - 13 lb 4 oz Common/Peg 29.
6.00 pm - 7 lb 8 oz Mirror/Peg 30.
6.30 pm - 9 lb 0 oz Mirror/Peg 30.
6.45 pm - 12 lb 0 oz Linear Mirror/Peg 30.
6.50 pm - 8 lb 0 oz Common/Peg 29.
7.30 pm - 7 lb 12 oz Common/Peg 30.
7.55 pm - 8 lb 2 oz Common/Peg 29.
8.30 pm - 7 lb 8 oz Common/Peg 30.
By 9.00 pm we had all four rods back in place on the specimen lake. The only difference was that the rod previously cast to a spot in front of the snag bushes, was now deployed only a few yards from the bank, in front of the cut-through from peg 7. At 7.00 am I was awakened by the heat of the sun, streaming into the front of my bivvy. Apart from the odd single bleep, nothing had stirred throughout the night and the lake surface was absolutely flat calm, like that of a mirror. It soon became apparent that teenagers really do need more sleep than the rest of us - Ross didn't stir until around 8.30 am, by which time I'd packed away my bivvy and most of my other equipment, leaving the rods in place. When I did eventually wind in, I found to my dismay that the rod fished to the snags was hopelessly tangled. The hook was completely upside down with the point buried in the upper boilie. However, my other rod really had me shaking my head in disbelief. Firmly clamped onto the hook itself was a huge Zebra mussel, whose shell measured at least 4 inches across. So, neither of my rods were fishing effectively for what may well have been the duration of the night. Ross's rods were still effective, but seemingly undisturbed by piscatorial attentions.
Ross surprised me on our journey home by saying that even though he had immensely enjoyed bagging up on the match lake, what had really re-awakened his thirst for carp fishing was the fact I had blanked on the specimen lake. He concluded that if an experienced carp angler can blank, then his fruitless sessions were not so bad after all. Blanking is obviously part of the whole picture and in future he would use them as a positive learning experience instead.