This week my session got off to a flyer, in spite of some initial doubts on my part, but more of that later. Firstly though, there is a persistent thought buzzing round inside my head that I need to explore. I have long believed that to be a good angler, it is useful to gain a basic understanding of statistics. Now I'm not saying that we all need to have a degree in statistical analysis to catch carp. Far from it! But it does help to have an analytical mind and take steps to push the chances of catching in our favour, especially if we have a particular carp in our sights. Terry Hearn is well known to advocate the stacking up of small measures to nudge the odds in our favour. He talks about it in terms of accumulative percentages. For example washing ones hands in lake water before handling bait (so that any human taint is removed) may only make a small difference of a few percent, but when you add that to other factors, like using well designed sharp hooks, inconspicuous line, reliable rigs, a good quality food bait, optimum bait placement and so on, then all of these things add up to a significant advantage. As ever, attention to detail is of paramount importance. In Terry's case he coupled it with an intensive study of each target fish, so that he understood it's behaviour, habits and preferences in minute detail and responded accordingly. Of course if you get one of the major aspects wholly wrong (fish location in particular) then it can overrule all the other positive actions and scupper your chances on a given day.
With such thoughts in mind, I made sure to do a thorough recce of the session lake this week in the hope of pinpointing a few carp, before settling into a swim. Apparently, large numbers of fish were visible in pegs 5 & 6 towards the end of last week and a similar situation existed in peg 3 over the weekend. The water level has continued to drop over the last few months and is currently rather more than 12 inches below maximum. Interestingly, the behaviour of the carp seems to have been affected as a result. I guess that many of the more protected hiding places (in and around the central islands) have now become too shallow to harbour carp, such that they have been pushed into open water. Oddly enough this seems to have encouraged them to shoal up in one area at a time, but to regularly move to a new location whenever angling pressure disturbs them. It has also been noticeable that having plenty of carp in front of you does not guarantee that they are catchable. Their caginess has definitely increased exponentially in the last 12 months.
My lap of the lake convinced me that carp were no longer present in large numbers in pegs 1 to 4 and I saw nothing of note in peg 7. The odd sign of carp movement in pegs 5 and 6 narrowed things down to two, and in the end I opted for 5, simply because I've ignored the peg for a good while and I fancied having a crack at it once again.
At this point, I need to interrupt the proceedings, to report some intensely sad news. In between starting this blog and getting thus far into it,our 15 year old fox red Labrador, Stanley took a turn for the worst and it was very obvious that today the time had come for him to be put to sleep. He has been incontinent and very arthritic for some time, but was alert and still enjoyed his food and a short aided walk, sniffing round in the park. Recently, he had become sore from urine burn and repeated bathing and last night he became very distressed and lost his appetite. Clearly, he had tired of old age and needed to be released. Hence, my wife Frances and I took him to the vet today and I buried him in the back garden next to Chloe (our black Labrador who died in March), thus ending a major chapter in our life. In the afternoon we made a trip to B & Q and purchased a red Fuschia shrub to decorate his grave, alongside Chloe's pink Hydrangea.
And so, with a heavy heart I return to the fishing tale. This week the weather has been dominated by high pressure, with cold nights, misty mornings and warm sunny days. Once the mist lifted enough to see the lake clearly, I put out my right hand rod, bearing a chunk of Pepperami (dunked in Skretting concentrated bait dip), to a point 10 yards in front of the peninsula that juts out from the right hand margin. My middle rod, baited with a Wet Baits 18 mm M3C boilie (attached to the usual PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets, was launched 40 yards to the right of the central snags. My left hand rod, equipped with dual Wet Baits LG0 dumb bells and a PVA bag of pellets was sent 40 yards out, in the direction of the big Willow tree.
At 9.55 am the indicator on my RH rod climbed slowly to the top of the rod and held there, without emitting any bleeps. Somewhat puzzled by the phenomenon, I pulled off some line from the reel to give it some slack. Once again the indicator started a slow upward ascent, so I immediately lifted the rod and felt the kick of a carp. Unfortunately, the culprit had disappeared behind the peninsular and was immoveable. Whilst Dave, armed with a landing net went round the other side of peninsular to frighten it back round, I kept up a steady pressure and to my immense relief felt it come free. After an unusually long tussle at close quarters an immaculate yellow tinged Mirror of 13 lbs 8 oz was netted and duly photographed by Dave. Then at 11.00 am the middle rod signalled a take. This time the fight was uneventful and soon a 16 lb 10 oz red-tinged Common joined me on the bank. Naturally, I thought that I was in for an action filled session, but it was not to be and apart from a bream at 03.30 hrs the remainder of the session drifted by without incident.
In spite of a lack of further action, I was well pleased with two decent doubles and returned home more than satisfied. Naturally, the subsequent loss of Stanley has since cast a shadow of grief over the family, reminding me that angling must always be held in it's proper perspective, as a relatively small but valuable part of a balanced life, in which relationships take precedence.