Since the demise of our two, much loved Labradors, Mrs. A seems to have gone berserk on the holiday booking front. Granted we'd not been able to leave the dogs in the care of anyone else for a couple of years, on account of their elderly, incontinent condition, but we'd hardly got our feet back on British soil (after a trip to China) before a Caribbean cruise beckoned. This allowed me just one more session at Wetlands before being whisked away on family duties once again. Clearly it wasn't going to be an easy session either, given that gale force winds were forecast, peaking at around 5.00 pm on Monday afternoon.
Normally, with South Westerly winds expected, I'd head straight for peg 4 and fish directly into the teeth of it. However, on this occasion an estimated maximum wind speed of 90 mph was somewhat daunting and I bottled out. In fact, common sense dictated that I set up in a more protected part of the specimen lake, to hopefully avoid airborne bivvy syndrome. This meant that my options were rather limited, bearing in mind that pegs 2, 3 and 5 would also receive the brunt of so-called "Storm Henry". Conversely pegs 1 and 7 would be on the back of the wind. However, these pegs have shallower depths and tend to fish better in the warmer months of the year. This left only peg 6, which is reasonably sheltered and has some deeper water in front of it. Another advantage is that it has close proximity to the match lake. If the action is a bit slow on the main lake, an hour or two on there is usually sufficient to put a curve in the rod.
Having run out of Wet Bait boilies on my previous session, I was rather relieved to see Dave heading in my direction, bearing fresh stocks of LG0, M3C, plus a new boilie containing crab, krill and various other winterised additives. Eventually, after a long chat, I re-did the rods, committing each one to a different boilie type, accompanied by the customary PVA mesh bag of Skretting course pellets (to enhance attraction around the hook bait and avoid tangles). Rod 1 was cast down the left hand margin; rod 2 was placed in line with the peninsula that juts out from the same bank; and rod 3 was cast into the channel behind the main snag bushes to the right.
It's worth mentioning that I spent quite some time making my bivvy as stable as possible. It was placed right in front of the bank side hut, so that the latter acted as a solid wind break. Also, it was carefully aligned, with the opening directly away from the wind direction. Furthermore, I double pegged it's rear section with 12 inch spikes. Even so, the stronger, blustery blasts had it dancing from side to side, with a severely compressed profile, making me glad that I hadn't risked peg 4.
By 4.30 pm, no carp had been spotted and no action had occurred, so I wound in and took a couple of rods across to the match lake, together with a tub of pre-prepared PVA pellet bags, plus a few handfuls of Dave's latest boilies. Both rods were cast towards the middle of the lake, followed by 9 freebies, delivered via a throwing stick. It never ceases to amaze me how different a heavily stocked 'hungry water' is from a more sparsely stocked one. Within 45 minutes I'd caught 3 carp, weighing in at 5lb 8oz (Mirror), 5 lb 12oz (Mirror), 6lb 14oz (Common). Two takes came at precisely the same moment, so I quickly dealt with one and then played the second without any mishaps. Thirty minutes later, I lost a carp due to a blunt, turned-over hook point. Thereafter, I wound in the remaining rod, only to find a 5lb 0z Common languishing on the end, which hadn't registered a bite.
By 7.30 pm all my rods were back in their original positions on the specimen lake and (with the wind still battering my bivvy) I buttoned down the hatches and retired to the welcome warmth of my sleeping bag. In spite of the howling wind, sleep eventually overtook me and I woke at 8.00 am, having not been disturbed by so much as a single bleep from my bite alarms. Richard (lake owner) soon appeared, having kindly bagged up some wood for my newly installed wood burning stove at home. So, it was a case of hurriedly packing away and loading the carp mobile right up to roof with logs and fishing gear for the homeward journey.
And so, it's off to the Caribbean for me now, meaning that I will forego yet more fishing time. Oh well, by the time I return, I will be absolutely aching to wet a line once again, buoyed by the knowledge that the spring season of enhanced fish activity is just around the corner.