It's odd isn't it, that after an absolutely cracking session, when carp seem to practically throw themselves into your landing net, the very next occasion is often an absolute grind and we come back to earth with a huge bump. All too often, the experience quickly sets us off on an inappropriate course of questioning everything about our approach all over again - location, bait and rigs, and so on. For me the most difficult sessions are not necessarily those where I struggle to locate fish (I can accept that as part of the overall deal), but rather those when I know full well that I am on fish, but for some mysterious reason the anticipated pick-up doesn't come and my hook baits are ignored for hours on end. It's the latter scenario that really gets under my skin and if I'm not careful, I end up thrashing the water to a foam, as I cast and re-cast at ever decreasing intervals, in the vain hope of finding the perfect spot, where a bite is guaranteed. As ever, it underlines the fact that most times the carp hold the upper hand and patient confidence in our original tactics pays off in the end.
Anyway, this week was somewhat unusual, in that I chose to fish a Wednesday (rather than a Bank Holiday Monday). Apparently, the extended weekend had been busy with some good catches being reported. Weather-wise, sunny intervals were forecast, with heavy rain scheduled for late afternoon. Given the apparent meteorological similarities to the previous week (when I bagged up during daylight hours), peg 4 seemed like a good repeat option and I was immediately encouraged by the sight of numerous carp in the swim. Certainly, several were cruising around on the surface in front of the peg and a couple were resident in the shallow bay to the right. Naturally, I deployed the same stealth-based approach as I did last time, creeping around quietly and delicately lowering rigs into the usual margin spots. Small "Source" dumb-bell hook baits over a scattering of Skretting 10 mm and 3 mm pellets were order of the day, one placed in the bay area and one out front. The third rod, bearing double Wet Baits LG1 18 mm boilies attached to a PVA mesh bag of 2 mm and 4 mm Skretting pellets was given an underarm cast out towards peg 3, to a spot where a carp had shown itself. But somehow the magical atmosphere wasn't there this week.
Unlike last week, when the first bite came within half an hour, it was never going to happen in the same way this week. By midday, no piscatorial action had transpired and my impatience finally got the better of me (spurred on by the unwanted attentions of a particularly persistent pair of ducks). Shamefully, I slipped irrevocably into panic mode. Within the next four hour period, prior to a torrential downpour at 4.00 pm, my hook baits had occupied: three different areas in the right hand bay; three different margin spots; and three separate locations out towards peg 3, including right under the big willow tree (courtesy of my bait boat). The only tangible reward for this insane hyperactivity was that I had ruled out many of the common hot spots and concluded that the carp were just not sufficiently hungry to make a mistake.
Eventually, the heavy rain subsided and the evening beckoned. Two day anglers in peg 6 waited until the very last minute before calling it a day, after drawing a blank (apart from the obligatory Bream). Around 7.00 pm, as I sat gazing across the lake I noticed an orange/brown Mirror circling my RHS margin spot. It seemed to be mildly interested in having a feed, but reluctant to actually get it's head down for a munch. Twice it fled the vicinity, returning a few minutes later for another investigation. Finally, it threw caution to the wind and dipped down. Moments later at 7.30 pm a large bow wave erupted above the spot and the culprit powered off, with my bite alarm screaming out it's glorious shrill warning. The ensuing fight was certainly energetic, subsequently resulting in a 13 lb 2 oz Mirror on the bank. The fish was one that I recognised as being caught several times before, but it was nonetheless a very welcome blank busting capture.
Earlier in the day Dave had paid me a visit. He was excited about losing a very large fish from the match lake over the weekend. It had led him on a merry dance around the lake before breaking a 20 lb hook-link. Clearly, he was fired up by the occurrence and keen to have his revenge. Before leaving Dave kindly replenished my stocks of LG1 boilies, so I was now in a position re-bait each rod properly for the night. As darkness began to descend, I replaced my rods in the three standard positions, namely; one in the RHS margin, one 20 yards out front and one behind the snags. I retired to my bed chair feeling slightly more confident of overnight action. At 2.15 am a one-note, bite alarm, outburst (from the 20 yard positioned rod), had me stumbling awkwardly out of bed. My legs got hopelessly entwined in the end of my sleeping bag, thus delaying my egress by several valuable seconds, such that the offender had kited much further to the left than I would have liked. Burying the rod tip below the water made no impression on my adversary and I was unable to prevent it from getting under my left hand rod and into the spot where a troublesome snag had once resided. To my dismay I felt it bury itself into the stony depression, before the hook pulled and it was free. Aghhh! Not the kind of wake-up call I was wanting! Fortunately, at 05.25 am, I was afforded another opportunity. This time I managed to escape from the confines of my bivvy without incident and found myself in battle with what felt like a solid resistance. Several times I coaxed it into the margin, only for it to power off again on a determined steady run. After two or three more escape bids, it eventually succumbed to steady pressure and was engulfed in the waiting landing net. As I lifted the net out of the water, it felt somewhat heavier than the first capture and I was hopeful of an upper double. As I placed it gently on the cradle the light from my head torch illuminated the welcome frame of a pristine, rarely caught Mirror. The scales recorded a weight of 19 lb on the nose and I was thrilled to bits.
So, I ended the session with a tally of two caught and one lost. Certainly, the 19 lb 0 oz Mirror provided a magnificent finale to what had undoubtedly been a bit of a struggle. Once again, I would probably have faired just as well, if not better, had I resolutely held my nerve and stuck with the original game plan. In the words of a certain Mr William Shakespeare; "All's well that ends well!"