I wonder what impact technological developments will have on our carp fishing 20 years into the future. That's assuming, of course, that the next generation of anglers will actually tread the banks of a carp water, rather than engage in some kind of virtual game, using whatever stage of development the computer has reached by then. Interestingly, Wetlands specimen lake has already been on the receiving end of the odd, modest technological advance. Firstly, some rather stunning aerial photography was undertaken earlier this year, using a remote controlled helicopter. The technique is now well established and readily available to the amateur enthusiast. Certainly, the methodology could be easily engaged to take fish spotting to new levels. Secondly, Dave who runs the Tackle Tin, has been experimenting with a commercially available camera, which can be programmed to record underwater photography that can subsequently be viewed on a computer screen. Given that the Korda underwater DVD's have been around for several years, maybe that's not so revolutionary, but I suspect that it will be as common as bait boats in a few years time. In fact, Richard (Wetlands owner) is already toying with the idea of installing an underwater camera in one of the pegs, hard-wired to a fixed screen. This would provide real time viewing, and the ability to observe the presence of carp, especially their reaction to bait and lines etcetera. In my own musings on the subject, I have imagined tagging all of the resident carp with some kind of transmitter, whose signal can be monitored by a (satellite navigation enabled) aerial detector, such as a tethered scientific balloon. The read-out would be a map of the lake, on which the movements of carp are plotted as a series of coloured lines. I suppose it would resemble an open shutter night photograph of a city, where the car headlights and tail light show up as a series of red and white lines. The busiest routes and main stopping places would stand out as the most densely coloured areas. Similarly, a carp trace would hopefully reveal patrol routes and feeding spots. If individual carp were identifiable, then specimen hunting could take on a whole new meaning.
Anyway, that's enough of, so called 'blue sky thinking' for now and back to reality with a bit of a bump. When I first began night fishing at Wetlands specimen lake, 33 bites in a night was not exceptional, but now a couple of years down the line, angling pressure has removed any residual trace of naivety from the increasingly wary inhabitants. Multiple catches are now a much rarer commodity, even more so as winter approaches. All the same, with low pressure forecast and a blustery wind present on the lake, I was hopeful of a bit of carp-centred action, as I drove through the gates on Monday morning at 7.00 am. The wind, although vaguely of a southerly origin, had a noticeable chill to it, so I took a gamble on the notion that the carp would be on the back of it, in deeper water. Hence, I chose to settle in peg 6, with the option of spending a couple of hours on the match lake if the action proved slow in coming. I have to confess that my fishing lacked conviction this week. Given that I was operating on a hunch, rather than definite sightings of carp, two of the rods were dispatched to standard spots (one on the end of the peninsula to the left, and the second to the area behind the snag bushes to the right). The third rod, as some kind of half hearted insurance policy, was launched to the back of the main bay in adjacent and unoccupied peg 7. Bait choice was identical in each case, namely a Wet Baits M3C 18 mm boilie topped with a Malty Milk pop-up (snowman style), attached to the customary PVA mesh bag of Skretting, mixed size course pellets, dunked in matching, soluble bait soak.
As usual, the Bream were far more active than any carp, which isn't surprising, bearing in mind that Bream are a true native species, better adapted to cold water functionality than cyprinid imports. I think I only saw two genuine signs of carp throughout the daylight hours, and even then, I couldn't be absolutely certain. The day slowly drifted on, eased by a couple of bank side chats with Richard, in which we generally put the world to rights and debated all kinds of issues, including the existence of life outside earth. Simon arrived at the lake around 3.00 pm and began setting up opposite me in peg 4. With darkness descending ever earlier at this time of year, he was clearly in a hurry to get everything arranged quickly. I derived great pleasure from watching his highly animated set up procedure, which resembled a clip from an old Benny Hill sketch.
Time was called on the match lake at 4.15 pm and the participants had all departed 30 minutes later, whereupon I wound in and hot-footed it across to the match lake for a short interlude on peg 30. Even though the stamp of carp is relatively small in there (mostly near doubles) I always enjoy doing a bit of experimenting, to pit one methodology or bait against another. This time round, I was keen to find out if feeding habits had changed with the drop in water temperature. Accordingly, one rod was fished close-in, under the rod tip, another was under-armed out to about 10 yards and the third was launched to the centre of the lake. The close-in rod supported an LG0 dumb-bell, amidst a scattering of Skretting pellets; the short range rod was fished method-style using a similar dumb-bell, pressed into scalded, Skretting, pellet paste; the long range rod sported an M3C snowman attached to a PVA bag of pellets. The first bite came at 5.15 pm, in the form of a 9lb 12oz Linear, which succumbed to the method. The second bite followed quickly at 5.50 pm, in the shape of a 5lb 8oz Mirror, this time to the long range rod. Thereafter, the method dominated, with carp of 10lb 0oz (Mirror) and 6lb 14oz (Common) at 7.20 pm and 7.50 pm, respectively. Clearly, the carp were no longer margin feeding, having moved into deeper water and the method reigned supreme.
I moved back onto the specimen lake at 8.00 pm and set about putting 3 rods out in the darkness. This time though, the rod that had previously encroached into peg 7, was now under-armed out from the margin method-style, as per the successful match lake approach. Overnight, the wind dropped, the atmospheric pressure rose, the temperature dropped and the sky cleared. Sadly, I had an uninterrupted night's sleep and woke to a fresh dawn, with a distinct nip in the air. Nevertheless, I had particularly enjoyed my stint on the match lake, having notched-up over 32 lbs of carp in two and a half hours. The winning weight for the 6 hour match that day, had been around 39 pounds, so I was suitably pleased with my efforts. However, I need to put more effort into my specimen lake fishing next time. Now that the water has become gin-clear, I need to work harder at locating carp and disguising end tackle. Fluorocarbon main lines may well be the way forward.