Having re-read last week's blog, it struck me that I might have given the misguided impression that my recent holiday in the Caribbean was a period of enforced 'Cold Turkey' from angling opportunities. However, fishing is most definitely a major component of Caribbean DNA. The island of Saint Vincent is home to a thriving fish market where locals barter energetically for a diverse range of odd looking fish, to be eagerly consumed (heads and all) at the dinner table. In fact the Caribbean hosts some of the best fishing grounds in the world. Frequently caught species include: Blue Marlin, White Marlin and Sailfish, Yellow Fin/ Black Fin Tuna, Dorado, Barracuda, King Mackerel/ Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo, Rainbow Runners, Horse Eye Jacks, and Yellow Tail Snapper, to name but a few. I was particularly impressed by the luxury fishing boats moored up in the marina at Bridgetown. Every cruiser had a beautifully designed fishing chair bolted firmly to the rear deck. Each chair was an amazing combination of art and sturdy functionality that evoked the same kind of deep respect exuded from something similar at the end of Death Row in an American penitentiary. Granted, I wouldn't have had sufficient time to shoe-horn a deep sea fishing expedition into the cruise schedule, but it seems that I missed a trick. Some fellow passengers had the foresight to pack a telescopic fishing rod and reel into their suitcases along with the necessary extras for a bit of float fishing from the dock side. A few prawns, salvaged from the meal the night before, proved to be a more than adequate bait, that fuelled a couple of hours of fun, during which 27 colourful and varied fish were caught. Of course, Pelicans are a common sight on the Caribbean waterfront. Every so often they glide gracefully above the clear turquoise water, before diving like an Exocet missile into the depths below, to engulf their latest prey in their huge beaks.
Anyway, so much for my musings on the world wide angling scene and back to the plot at Wetlands. This week the weather forecast was particularly grim and I fully expected a tough session. The overnight sharp frost would see temperatures rise to an optimistic 6 degrees Celsius during the day, with rain forecast later and an increasing cold northerly wind. That being the case, I was surprised to see a couple of anglers already bivvied up in peg 5. It's amazing how weather conditions can change within the space of 24 hours. Apparently, on the previous day, the pair had been warm in T shirts and the fish had been exceptionally active, head and shouldering in front of them. What's more one carp had been caught around midday and another lost in the early hours of the morning. Regrettably, this morning the temperature had plummeted and all visible fish activity appeared to have ceased.
The obvious choice seemed once again, to be peg 4 with it's unrestricted view of 75% of the specimen lake. My tactics were virtually a carbon copy of the previous week with the exception of my middle rod which (in response to observations made last week) was simply underarm cast into the nearside margin area. My bait boat behaved itself impeccably this week, enabling me to put a hook-bait directly under the overhanging branches of the left hand Willow tree. The third rod was cast 40 yards directly out front into the deeper water bordering peg 5. In each case the braided 9 inch hook-link bore a 16mm boilie duo (Wet Baits KCG + LG0 combination) attached to a PVA mesh bag of Skretting mixed course pellets. The pre-made up PVA bags had been well soaked in matching soluble bait dip. This increases attraction, discourages tangles and improves casting weight. A dozen or so free baits were catapulted to my three spots, plus a pouch or two of Skretting pellets.
The day turned out to be exactly as predicted weather-wise and I was appreciative of the extra protection afforded by thermal suit, gloves, scarf and the wooden bank side hut. Nothing stirred on the lake surface apart from bickering birds, in the early stages of their mating rituals. Seagulls stalked individual Tufted Ducks, marking them with the tenacity of a premier league footballer, in the hope of stealing the odd morsel of food from out of their beaks. Fortunately for me, the ducks seemed to be preoccupied with raiding the baited patches belonging to my neighbouring anglers, rather than my own. During the afternoon I nodded off for a couple of hours and by the time I had regained consciousness, it was time to re-do the rods for the night ahead. Unusually the baits were still intact, albeit with the odd beak mark.
At 5.45pm I was suddenly startled by a couple of bleeps on my right hand rod. A few seconds later the bobbin juddered once again, so lifted the rod sharply in the hope of connecting with a carp. No resistance was felt, so I cursed myself for striking prematurely and put the rod back on the rests, whilst I contemplated my options. To my amazement the bobbin twitched once more, so I quickly reeled backwards and found myself connected to a solid weight. A healthy fight ensued that eventually saw my quarry guided into the waiting landing net. On the bank a magnificent Linear Mirror graced my unhooking cradle and registered 14lb 6oz on the scales.
As darkness fell, plenty of bream activity decorated the lake surface and I hoped for more action overnight. Instead the only sounds that punctuated the night were cackling geese and the forecast heavy rain, (with the exception of the obligatory bream at 1.00am). I awoke to a bleak, damp scene. It was one of those days when the cold rain and wind seems to chill one to the very bone. Packing up in such conditions is never pleasant, but the operation was soon completed and after a brief chat with my fellow anglers I returned home with a spring in my step. I was heartily pleased to have put a stunning carp on the bank and looking forward as ever to the next outing.