What value can one put on the capture of a carp? No doubt, there are as many answers to that question as there are carp anglers. Whilst some are perfectly happy to spend their days catching 'single figure' and 'low double' carp, at the other end of the scale, there are those with much more demanding requirements. To the specimen hunter, a worthy capture might be defined as a true British carp, from a historic water, weighing in excess of 50 lbs, preferably a scaly Mirror of outstanding natural beauty. And then, there are those who enjoy at least one annual pilgrimage to France, or further afield, in the hope of filling their album with photos of monstrous carp from abroad. Are such piscatorial giants of equal or greater value than their English counterparts? I suppose the old adage; "Beauty is in the mind of the beholder" is relevant here. Also, I suppose the pleasure received is proportional to the amount of effort put into the venture in the first place. Just recently, my interest in such matters has been rekindled by a couple of things. In the first place, the transition towards winter fishing is a timely reminder that captures tend to be much harder to come by as natures goes into a general slow down. Summer fishing regularly puts a few carp on the bank, a fact that we are apt to take for granted. But, the reality is that blank sessions are to be expected in winter fishing (at least they are in mine!). Hopefully, that means that when we do have success in winter, it is valued all the more. The other matter that has aroused this chain of thought concerns Richard's intention to introduce some new carp into Wetlands before the end of November. As I understand it, he has his sights set on a couple of large Commons (mid 20's) and two large Mirrors, similar to the ones he added back in February 2015. Naturally, such desirable carp do not come cheap, and their acquisition will cost several thousand pounds. As you can imagine, much thought has gone into whether or not they represent value for money.
Anyway, back to this week's session which bore all the hallmarks of being a very difficult one. "Oh, what a grey day!" sums it up rather aptly. My journey from Sheffield commenced in misty conditions, but the nearer I got to Wetlands (near Retford in Nottinghamshire) the foggier it became. Once through the gates, I parked up in peg 5, knowing that my customary lap of the lake would be little more than a token gesture, given that visibility was severely restricted. I couldn't even make out the islands in the middle of the specimen lake. Furthermore, there was not a breath of breeze and everywhere I looked appeared lifeless and still. Just before I arrived at peg 1, I heard what I thought was a carp crash out, but to be honest it could just as easily have been a duck or coot. Peg 3 was already occupied by a day angler, who thought he might have seen some evidence of carp movement therein, but he was by no means sure. The remainder of my circuit produced nothing of note, so clutching at straws, I dropped into peg 1. After an hour or so, I did see one carp cruise across the surface around 20 yards out, but that was all.
With nothing definite to go on, I reverted to the spots that had produced for me in the past. The left hand rod delivered a Wet Baits 18 mm M3C boilie, attached to a PVA mesh bag of Skretting course pellets to the margin of the left hand island. A similar payload was dispatched by my middle rod to the so called 'Andy's spot', which is a small opening between islands at the back of the main bay. My third rod, this time equipped with a couple of Wet Baits LG0 dumbells, plus the usual bag of pellets, was flicked out to a point just in front of the right hand snag branches (the spot where I caught Timmy's fish from earlier in the year). There is something about a dank grey day that challenges the soul to the core, enhanced by a constant drip, drip of condensation from the large tree that overhangs the peg. Nevertheless, I kept my spirits up by drinking frequent mugs of Aldi's best latte coffee and amused myself by observing the Capybara, whose living quarters are immediately behind the peg. He is a magnificent creature, resembling a giant, 3 feet high, hairy brown guinea. I was delighted when he accepted the core and peel from my lunch time apple, and chomped it slowly with obvious enjoyment. Precious little action occurred to interrupt the day, other than the incessant attentions of coots and ducks, that necessitated the re-doing of my rods several times over. The day angler in peg 3 left without catching. Before I knew it darkness had descended and I retired to the warmth of my sleeping bag to seek solace from the day. At least I gained a good night's sleep and awoke around 7.00 am to a slightly clearer day. Resigned to an autumn blank session, I began the task of slowly packing up. Suddenly, at 7.30 am the bobbin on my right hand rod twitched momentarily and then remained still. As I hovered over the rod, thoughts of a bream playing about with the bait came to mind. And then, the bobbin twitched again and began slowly creeping up wards. That was all the prompting I needed to pick up the rod and raise the tip. Joy of joys! The movement was met with solid resistance and a tussle commenced. The ensuing fight was far from easy, bearing in mind that the water is currently very shallow close in. Thankfully I eventually managed to coax said quarry through a deeper gulley and into the waiting net. Once on the bank, it became clear that this was not the prettiest Mirror in the world. It was short and very fat, with a crooked tail section. The top half of it's tail fin was missing, presumably due to a previous encounter with some sort of predator. Nevertheless, that carp meant more to me than I can possibly say. The fact that it weighed 12 lbs on the nose was immaterial. Against all the odds I had banked a carp and I could return home triumphantly with a smile on my face.
Even the fact that the railway crossing held me up for a record time of 15 minutes, whilst no less than 5 trains passed through, did not diminish the thrill of my achievement. And guess what? I'll be back for more next week.