I begin with some thoughts about a remark Richard made last week. He had noted with curiosity that anglers visiting the specimen lake for the first time, often catch a few carp, but there after consistent success is hard to come by. Naturally, he came up with a few ideas as to why this might be. Favourite amongst them was the notion that first time carpers, being unaware of known 'hot spots', would rely entirely upon their own watercraft skills to guide placement of the three permitted rods. Most often as not, this would include plenty of work with a marker rod or bare lead, combined with constant and careful observation of carp location and movement. Any tell-tale signs of carp presence or activity would generally evoke an immediate and considered response, in terms of putting a bait accurately on the spot. Unsurprisingly, the game plan is likely to change, once a bit of experience has been gained. One-off productive spots may soon be etched so firmly in the memory of the angler concerned, that they form a blue print for all future endeavours, dictating a fixed approach, which is adhered to with unswerving, OCD tenacity, thereafter. Obviously the major learning point from this, is to treat every session as if it is one's first on the lake, where uninterrupted observation and watercraft inform rod placement throughout. Granted, there may be a degree of repetition (after all carp are creatures of habit) and it may be possible to get a spot going by a bit of a baiting campaign, but at the end of the day, you can't catch what ain't there!
It's worth bearing in mind though, that other factors may come into the equation, including the possibility that carp can get wised up to various aspects of our methodology. The usual candidates are bait type and presentation, plus rig design, not forgetting the fact that hot spots have a tendency to 'blow' in time. At this point, things start getting a bit complicated (perhaps overly so?) and my mind goes into meltdown, with thoughts about whether carp are able to detect the taint of an individual carper via the chemical substances emitted from his or her bait handling fingers. Enough of that!
Anyway, back to the plot. The last couple of weeks have been tough weather-wise, but this week bore the hallmarks of a rock hard session from the word "go". Dawn broke to a hard frost and clear blue skies, with hardly a breath of wind to ruffle the surface of the specimen lake, whose waters (unexpectedly not frozen) now had a clarity hitherto unseen in the earlier part of the winter. Any carp related head and shouldering activity (apparently rife on peg 5, the day before) had long since subsided and nothing stirred beneath the surface apart from the occasional bream circle.
As usual, I set up on peg 5, on account of it's uninterrupted views of most of the lake. I was determined to fish in a reactive way, rather than apply the same old formulated approach, but to be honest, there wasn't a lot to go on. I hurled a couple of handfuls of Wet Baits boilies under the Willow tree and left it undisturbed to see if any evidence of feeding emerged. Given that all of my recent captures had been from a spot around 40 yards directly in front of the bank, I decided to put two rods on the area, with minimal bait and use the third rod as a rover, moving it at roughly hourly intervals, to explore as many options as possible and react to any visible signs of carp. This time though, I placed two bank sticks on the ground, 12 feet apart and counted out just over 8 wraps to my clipped up reels. This made the spot exactly 99 feet (33 yards), a bit under the initial estimate of 40 yards. In each case the hook bait was a double 16mm boilie (Wet Baits LG0 + KCG) linked to a 6 bait stringer. No other bait was added.
My roving rod took the form of a 16mm bright yellow fruity pop-up on a hinged stiff rig, which started off the day in front of the island to the right and then moved around to half a dozen other likely looking locations throughout the day. Just before nightfall, I re-did the two static rods and swapped the rover for a similarly baited rod under the Willow tree.
Alas! The only sound emitted from the rods was the odd single bleep. Presumably this was from an occasional inquisitive bream, nudging the bait, rather than taking it fully into it's mouth. As they say, "You can't win them all" and just being present in a glorious Wetlands country scene, soaking in nature is therapeutic in itself.
Of course it would have been nice to catch, but there's always next week, and the week after that.....