Strangely enough, our fishing is often significantly affected by seemingly unrelated circumstances and events. I'm not particularly referring to mental attitude in this instance, although it's undoubtedly true that emotional stress and trauma can sap our energy and erode a positive mind set. In my case, the recent loss of Stanley, our 15 year old Labrador is a case in point, but I prefer to use such experiences as an encouragement rather than a damper, to drive me on to renewed goals with increased determination and vigour. What I actually have in mind in my opening statement has more to do with simple practicalities, or specifically, in this case, a dental appointment, early on Tuesday morning in Sheffield. My regular fishing sessions at Wetlands run from 7.00 am on most Monday mornings, through until mid morning the next day. A slow and relaxed pack-up operation is a standard part of the procedure, with no pressure to leap out of bed and no dead-lines to meet. However, this week I needed to be completely packed away and loaded up by 8.00 am on Tuesday, to enable me to negotiate the rush hour traffic (M1 included) and arrive home in time for hurried ablutions and a change out of potentially smelly clothing before greeting the NHS.
The implications of said appointment were far out of proportion to their status. To be packed up in 1 hour maximum meant that equipment would have to stripped down the absolute bare minimum. It took me back to my old 'quick over night session' days, when I needed to be at work by 7 the next morning. The list of items that would have to be left behind in the garage seemed daunting. There could be no extra rods, chair, brew kit, or bait boat and bait itself would need to be severely limited. What's more, it made sense to fish a peg that gave full vehicular access, so that I could literally reverse the carp-mobile right up to peg boundary. Unfortunately, that reduced my choice of peg to three, namely pegs 5, 6 and 7 (at a push). Anyway, when I arrived, I found Simon and Dave set up in 4 and 5 respectively, so that narrowed it down even further and I subsequently opted for 6, based on some immediate fish sightings.
High barometric pressure had been order of the day since the previous Friday and according to Dave, conditions had been very tough, with only a handful of carp being banked over the last few days. Not unusually,, most fish had been spotted in peg 3 (under the Willow), but they showed no inclination to feed. My first move then, was to put a bait out to a previously lucrative spot on the end of the peninsular to the left. With no bait boat on hand, to facilitate accurate and gentle placement, I had to rely on casting ability alone and swap the usual in-line lead/short hook link with a longer hook link on a lead clip arrangement, so that the bait didn't sink out of sight in silt. The hook bait consisted of a duo of Wet Baits LG0 dumb-bells (sideways hooked) and a sprout-sized PVA mesh bag of Skretting 3 mm course pellets (soaked in matching bait dip). A PVA stringer of dumb bells was also attached to the hook, to emulate the minimal, tightly spaced baiting afforded by a bait boat. Amazingly enough, my first cast hit the intended spot perfectly, which was a major bonus. The last thing I wanted to be doing was repeated PVA loaded casts, as it soon consumes copious quantities of PVA and the task is somewhat fiddly.
My middle rod was used to cover the area in front of the snag bushes. The 'snow-man' style bait comprised a Wet Baits 18 mm M3C boilie and 10 mm Milky Malt pop-up, attached to the usual PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets. A dozen widespread boilies completed the baiting pattern. My right hand rod covered the area behind the snags, with an identical baiting strategy to the middle rod. To my surprise, after a few minutes the latter emitted a few bleeps before the bobbin shot to the top of the rod rest and held it's position. However, upon lifting the rod, a very strange sensation was transmitted back down the line in the form of a jittery tension. As I wound in, the reason eventually became clear. On the hook was a small bream, clamped between the jaws of a jack pike. As the duo neared the bank, the pike let go, leaving me to release it's parallel scarred victim. How bizarre is that!
By 5.00 pm no further incidents had punctuated the day, so in the hope of offsetting a blank session, a brief spell on the adjoining match lake was merited. Given that it is now almost dark by 6.30 pm, time was of the essence. I had less than an hour in which to hopefully put a carp on the bank. A handful of Skretting course pellets was duly dropped at each outward corner of platform 29, to hopefully draw carp into the zone. I had a rod on each spot by 5.30 pm. On the left was a trio of 10 mm M3C boilies, on a 4 inch braided hook link and in-line lead. On the right was a single LG0 dumb-bell. Both baits had been pre-dipped in Skretting concentrated bait dip to increase attraction. Fifteen minutes later, on the surface of the brown coloured water, I noticed the tell-tale vortices of feeding fish, right in front of me. However, the lack of vertically hoisted tail fins suggested that they might be bream rather than carp. Frequent sporadic bleeps, rather than definite runs, confirmed the theory and I sat on the edge of the bank willing my piscatorial friends to join the party. Thankfully, at 6.10 pm they did just that and a blistering run on the left hander, evidenced the fact. From the tenacity and strength of the battle you would have thought a generous double figure carp was responsible, but a diminutive 6lb 8oz Common greeted me as lifted the net onto the cradle. Ah well! It wasn't huge, but it was a blank saving capture, all the same! A large bream to the right hander, completed the tally and I hurried back to the specimen lake at 6.30 pm. All the rods were back in position, less than 30 minutes later.
As anticipated the night was eerily quiet, with hardly a breath of wind to ruffle the glass smooth surface of the lake and certainly no carp action to disturb my sleep. The unwelcome alarm tone from my mobile phone prompted a groan from inside the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag and kicked me into frantic de-camp mode. It seems that the relevant, highly-honed skills from the past had not been forgotten and by 8.00 am I was driving out of the gates, on my way to a gum injection and filling replacement. Not a happy prospect, but at least I had the consolation of having winkled one out, under difficult conditions and who knows what delights my next session might hold?