I seem to have done quite a bit of waiting, one way or another in the last few days, which is rather apt, bearing in mind that we have just entered the period of Advent. According to Wikipedia, Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. Now, whilst I concur wholeheartedly with that sentiment, I have to say that the waiting I am referring to, was rather less monumental. In the first instance, a recent train journey from Coventry to Sheffield caused more than a sweaty brow, when the first train was delayed by sufficient minutes to severely jeopardise the chances of making a late night connection at Birmingham New Street. Thankfully, after a short interlude of tense clock watching and a frantic cross-platforms dash, I made it with seconds to spare. Secondly, I recently purchased on ebay, a rather splendid pair of floor toms (for my drum kit). Allegedly, they originally belonged to high profile drummer Alan White, of "Yes" fame. Collection of said items involved a Sunday afternoon drive down the A1 to Peterborough. The drive looked relatively straight forward, but in reality was a two hour grind, that seemed to take forever and had me inwardly groaning with pent up anticipation as the journey wore on. Once again, the outcome was glorious and made all the more satisfying by the struggle that led to it.
As you might expect, that brings me rather neatly to this week's session at Wetlands and the expected delay that precedes any carp capture during the colder months. At 7.00 am, as I ventured through the gates, it was still very dark and I made the decision to drop onto peg 4 to watch the dawn break. More than 50% of the specimen lake is visible from this vantage point, including most of the deeper areas. Even so, nothing stirred on the flat surface of the water as the scene gradually unfolded before me. It became apparent that Dave had spent the night on peg 3 and within a short while he joined me on the bank, bearing some Wet Baits M3C dumb-bells, plus some new Banana & Maple ones for me to try out. Over the weekend a strong, warm south westerly wind had been ripping across the site, stimulating the resident carp into a feeding spree. Dave had caught three in one night and several others had been banked, predominantly from the north east side of the lake, on the end of the wind. Interestingly, a couple of lads on peg 4 had landed a couple of good doubles on a bed of maggots, which is rather surprising considering the number of Bream that are present. Most fish had been showing between pegs 3 and 2, but the activity had subsided once the wind dropped, such that Sunday night had been fishless. It seemed that I might have missed out on the active spell, but my hopes were raised a little when a fresh wind began to push gently into the bay area to my right.
I decided to stick with the method feeder based approach that I had deployed the previous week, on the grounds that the three recently introduced residents (Mirrors of around 23 lbs, 24 lbs and 28 lbs, respectively), would be used to eating pellets. A method mix, composed of scalded Skretting course pellets, was molded around each feeder. In each case, the hook bait consisted of a Wet Baits dumb-bell on a 5 inch braided hook link, with a 10 mm pop-up to lift it off the deck. The left hand and right hand rods were simply underarm cast out from the bank at 45 degree angles. The middle rod was given a different treatment. A 9 inch braided hook link bearing an M3C 18 mm boilie and a 12 mm Citruz pop-up (snowman style) on a 2.5oz lead clip was cast out 40 yards, straight ahead to an old established hot spot. As usual, a small PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets was hooked on, to prevent tangles and boost attraction.
Sporadic, drizzly rainfall punctuated the morning, and eventually gave way to clearing skies and the odd ray of sunshine. Every hour or so, I filled and re-cast both method feeders to their original spots, to keep bait going in. By night fall, the sky was ablaze with a dense canopy of stars, signaling the unwelcome onset of high atmospheric pressure, thus diminishing my hopes of a take during the night. At one point, I could see the navigation lights of every aircraft for miles around and even work out the main flight paths, relative to a given direction of travel. But then, as midnight approached, conditions changed once again - the sky clouded over and rainfall resumed, thus pushing the odds slightly in my favour. I figured that a bite might now be on the cards, and sure enough at 02.05 am the right hand rod gave a couple of bleeps, before melting off at ever increasing momentum. I lifted into it and gradually slowed the culprit's progress, until eventually it turned and started to come towards me. As the spirited carp approached the bank, it shot to the right in an attempt to get behind the neighbouring banking. The shallow water seemed to increase it's determination and it gained a new lease of acceleration that nearly pulled the rod out of my hands. Eventually, my adversary tired and reluctantly was engulfed in the waiting landing net at the second, nerve jangling attempt.
My prize was a pristine dark Common, that glowed with a lovely brown hue in the light of my head torch. On the scales it weighed 14 lbs 2oz. Not the biggest Common in the lake, but it was indeed a most welcome capture, well worth the effort and the extended wait. I remember when credit cards first became available (a good few years ago), one of the suppliers advertised their product in terms of: "It takes the waiting out of wanting!" Maybe, I'm old fashioned, but I can't see the point of instantaneous gratification, where everything is handed to the desiring individual on a plate, without any kind of personal effort. No, in my book, true worth is determined by the depth of self sacrifice and striving that underpins it. It certainly drives my passion for carp fishing and is undoubtedly is the main reason why I value Christmas.