I have often pondered the question, as to whether I am an optimist or pessimist, when it comes to angling. Certainly, I am not some kind of detached fatalist, who takes life as it comes, without any kind of aspiration. What's more, I always attempt to influence the course of events in my favour, even if the odds are stacked heavily against me. But having said that, I am not entirely sure whether I can be readily classified as one thing or another. My wife considers me to be ever optimistic, to the point of being in denial. Oddly enough, I don't agree with her analysis. In fact, I see myself more as a hardened realist, tempered with a modicum of optimism or pessimism, dependant upon prevailing conditions. Now I know we're all supposed to maintain a positive outlook in our fishing, but to be quite honest, that's humanly difficult to achieve and it smacks ever so slightly of business hype. At least, if our expectations are pessimistic, we may end up being pleasantly surprised. Conversely, if our expectations are optimistic, we may experience regular disappointment.
And what has all that got to do with this week's fishing session, you may ask? Well, quite a lot actually, because I found myself flitting between hope and despair at regular interval during my 24 hours on the bank. All will become clear in due course. I arrived on Monday morning in the knowledge that a fresh south westerly wind was forecast, with accompanying low pressure and expected warm night time temperatures. Naturally, Dean (who joined me later in the day) and I rubbed our hands together with glee, at the prospect of a significant carp feeding spell and the potential for a prolific session.
Upon my arrival, it was apparent that the predicted wind was already pushing strongly into the corner of the specimen lake, between pegs 5 and 4 and my hopes were raised accordingly. Hence, it seemed like a no-brainer to slot into peg 5 and quickly cast two rods across into the corner bay, around 30 yards apart. Each was equipped with a Wet Baits M3C 18 mm boilie, topped (snowman style), with a 10mm Malty Milk pop-up. As ever, a PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets (coated in soluble bait soak), was attached to each hook, to provide added attraction and tangle resistance. A scattering of a dozen, or so M3C boilies was delivered to each spot via a throwing stick. My third rod was cast to a known hot spot, in line with the peninsular to the right. This time the hook-bait consisted of a pair of LG0 dumb-bells, amidst a scattering of identical freebies. Dean arrived mid morning and after a good look around settled onto the end of peg 3, in response to the sight of a few head and shouldering carp.
Incidentally, I can't use the term "head and shouldering", without being reminded of a recent conundrum, that had an adverse, but unintended effect upon my angling comfort. My wife loves a bargain, to the point of OCD. She recently spied some dandruff shampoo in a bargain shop, that looked almost identical to the "Head and Shoulders" original (same colour and style of labeling), but at a fraction of the cost. Said item was slipped surreptitiously into the bathroom cabinet, without me being any the wiser. Anyway, the unfortunate outcome was an horrendously itchy scalp, that had me scratching my head constantly throughout the session, and hallucinating with a desire to reduce my discomfort by washing my hair in the genuine product.
Back to the plot. Since the increase in angling pressure, Wetlands has tended to fish better at night and at first light. However, the early morning bite time passed by without incident, so I pinned my hopes on a fruitful night session. Richard visited me briefly during the morning and imparted a couple of bits of information. Firstly, a 20lb 7oz Common had been caught from peg 4 over the weekend, which added fuel to the fire of expectation. The second bit of news was that the Capybara had sadly died during the previous week, so my favourite Wetlands animal had departed. Richard assured me that his death was nothing to do with the apple core and peel I fed him last week, which provided me with some relief, but I would certainly miss him.
At 1.00 pm, my left hand rod emitted a series of bleeps and then fell silent, with the bobbin held motionless at the top of the rod. Nevertheless, I lifted the rod in the hope that whatever had caused the disturbance might still be attached. At first, it felt as though the culprit had got away with it and I continued to reel in. At this point I realised that the angle of line was vastly different from it's original trajectory; clearly the perpetrator had kited very far to the right. As I continued to wind in, albeit it more rapidly than before, I suddenly made contact with a heavy weight, that proceeded to beat me up mercilessly. Several times I got it to within 20 yards of the bank, whereupon it powered off, taking out my other lines in the process. Finally, after a protracted battle, I subdued it sufficiently to gather my quarry into the waiting net. A fine chunky Mirror of 16lb 14oz greeted me on the unhooking mat. Naturally, I was delighted with an early, unexpected capture and hopeful that it was the first of more to come.
As it turned out, the remainder of the day was quiet and eventually darkness fell, bringing with it added anticipation. Disappointingly, the predicted night time feeding spell didn't materialise. In fact, only two occurrences disturbed my night's sleep (excluding the obligatory coffee-fuelled visits to the bushes), namely a snotty bream at midnight and an inquisitive rodent an hour or two later. The latter rustled around inside my bait bag until I evicted him. I awoke to a magnificent sunrise - the sky resembled a vast expanse of vivid blue, laced with streaky clouds. Just above the horizon the sun burst through the gaps, back-lighting the distant trees in breathtaking profile.
So there you have it. A session that had my mood swinging backwards and forwards between optimism and pessimism like a pendulum. Nevertheless, it produced an immaculate and much appreciated Mirror and if there's one thing I do like to do, it's to be thankful for such gems and count my blessings with heartfelt sincerity.