Occasionally, carp anglers are treated to a session that is utterly magical. The experience evokes memories of being a wide-eyed child meandering through a glittering fairy grotto on the way to an eagerly awaited encounter with Santa Claus. My session this week was exactly that. A change in the weather, from sweltering hot days, with unbroken sunshine to sporadic heavy showers, cooler temperatures and lower air pressure heralded an autumnal feel, and with it the chance of a bite or two. Hence, on entering Wetland gates at 7.00 am, I made my way straight round to peg 4, which has deeper water in front of it and a shallow bay to the right. It also provides an excellent viewpoint for the majority of the specimen lake.
As I neared the designated parking compound, I snatched a view of the lake through the trees and immediately saw precisely what I had hoped for. A carp launched itself vertically out of the water, right in front of peg 4, returning with a loud splash, that sent a gently expanding circle of waves across the still surface, eventually lapping the shores of the entire lake margin. I hurriedly parked up and crept cautiously onto the vacant banks, aware of every snap of twig and crunch of gravel. As I crouched low and gazed across the scene in front of me, one thing became eminently clear - the whole area was alive with fish! Much to my delight, the tail of a carp was hoisted aloft only 2 metres out from the margin, flapping rhythmically, as it's bearer gorged enthusiastically upon naturals amongst the marginal weed. I could hardly contain myself, as panther-like, I unloaded essential kit and began the task of putting a baited hook into the margin.
Knowing how cagey the specimen lake fish have become in recent months, I was aware that ultimate levels of covert presentation and line concealment were required, to avoid spooking carp out of the area. After considering a few options, I finally decided that small dumb-bell hook baits amongst a scattering of 10 mm Skretting course pellets might be less inclined to generate suspicion than blatant boilies, so I surreptitiously flicked a few pellets onto the feeding zone from the cover of a bank side bush and waited for a few moments. Once I was convinced that the action hadn't disturbed the feeding residents, I swung the baited rig gently out from the bank, almost skimming the water surface, as it went. At the precise moment it reached the end of it's arc, I lowered the rod tip as deftly as possible, so that the lead slipped through the surface and down onto the lake bed with hardly a plop. Next, I allowed the line to settle properly and pinned it down with a marginal back lead. Naturally, the rod was placed on rod rests, well back from the waters edge, with the tip barely protruding. All I could do then, was to retire to a safe distance and get on with the business of installing my bivvy and associated paraphernalia. At this stage I didn't want to spoil things by casting out additional rods, so I stuck with one for the time being.
It took longer than expected, but eventually the approach paid off. At 8.35 am the single rod burst into life and a huge bow wave erupted as an angry carp powered off from the margin. The culprit turned out to be an 11 lb 8 oz orange Mirror that certainly gave a good account of itself before kissing the spreader block. Inevitably, the disturbance cleared the immediate area of carp but (hopeful that they might return), I returned the rod to it's original location, topped up the spot with more pellets and dumb-bells and put out my other two rods, to increase the chances of another bite. The middle rod, bearing double Wet Baits LG1 18 mm boilies and a PVA mesh bag of 3 mm pellets was launched to a known gravely spot 40 yards out. The left hand rod, similarly baited, was used as a rover, occupying several positions throughout the day, but ending up (for the night) around 20 yards out from the bank, in a deeper gully.
It was the middle (40 yards) rod that signalled the next take at 10.00 am. The fish felt a bit weightier than the first and plodded around for a while before finally giving in to pressure. Fortunately, Richard was on hand to help with netting, weighing and photographing the resulting 16 lb 4 oz Mirror. Twenty five minutes later, the marginal rod was away again, this time producing an 11 lb 6 oz Mirror. Yet again, at 2.45 pm the margin rod came up trumps in the shape of a wonderful old warrior of a Mirror. It was almost black on top, with a distended creamy coloured belly and tough wrinkly skin. What an incredible creature! At this point there was a distinct change in the weather. Dark grey clouds moved across the sky bringing very heavy rainfall that peppered the lake surface like machine gun fire. To be honest, I was somewhat relieved that I wasn't summoned from the cover of my bivvy during the persistent downpour. However, an influx of cold water into the lake seemed to have an adverse affect on feeding and the remainder of the afternoon and early evening passed by without further action. In fact, it wasn't until 9.25 pm that the left hand (20 yards) rod took it's turn in the carp stakes, namely in the form of a spirited 11 lb 8 oz Mirror. The rest of the night was uneventful, so at least I got a good sleep, that is until Dean summoned my attention at 6.50 am. I awoke to a clear blue sky, a rising barometer and a gentle, but cool breeze. Shortly afterwards, Pat and his mate joined the party, for a brief interlude before scurrying off to peg 3 for a day session.
So, all in all, the session was one of the best ever, beginning with a heightened sense of expectancy that delivered the goods with aplomb! Five carp to 16 lb 4 oz in truly exhilarating style. Perhaps one thing that I ought to mention though, is that day 1 of the session coincided with our wedding anniversary. Naturally, I must pay tribute to my ever loving wife Frances, who continues to display unsurpassed levels of tolerance an understanding. Clearly, she has grasped the essential truth that the way to a man's heart is through his fishing!