"There's no doubt about it, high pressure is very much in charge over the next few days." Those sobering words, from the BBC weather man, were blurted out of the car radio, as I made my way through Maltby, on route to Wetlands. The time was 6.40 am on a dry, but very cold Monday morning and with that unwelcome statement, I had to concede that for a third consecutive week, conditions were very far from ideal in the carp catching stakes. Upon arrival, I had to wait for Clive to open the front gates, unlike last week, when I found the gates open and every peg taken, bar one. Thankfully, things were very different on this visit. Only one peg was occupied, namely peg 4 and the angler concerned was none other than Dave, who was about to vacate the peg in order to open his onsite shop, dubbed the 'Tackle Tin'.
Apparently, a handful of carp had been caught over the last few days, including a 17 pounder to Dave himself on Sunday morning. In this case, a hurried 'pub chuck' of a cast on Saturday evening had done the business over a bed of mixed particles and loose KCG boilies. This time round, I was determined to avoid falling into the trap of deploying my standard approach, preferring to try some new spots and presentations. Consequently, I refrained from putting out any rods for at least an hour. Instead, I watched the water like a hawk and eventually opted for three new locations, based on what were probably signs of bream activity. Nonetheless, I figured that if bream were happy to feed in those areas, in the course of time, carp might follow suit. Given that peg 5 was unoccupied, I was able to cast my right hand rod right over into it's deep margin area. A single Wet Baits 16 mm LG0 boilie attached to a small PVA mesh bag of Skretting mixed course pellets was the sole bait, with no free offerings. My similarly baited middle rod was cast around 40 yards out, in line with an old fishing platform adjacent to peg 4. Finally, my left hand rod, baited with a double tiger nut, was bait-boated across to the rear slope of the bar that runs between the bank and the centre island. The hopper was loaded with a couple of generous handfuls of Skretting pellets. Then the waiting commenced.
It's a strange thing, but these days there seems to be some sort of recognition that waiting is rendered less frustrating, if the participants are kept regularly informed of the estimated holdup duration. This is particularly so, with unplanned delays in train and flight schedules, but restaurants seem to deploy similar tactics, when busy periods mean that the meal will not be served for 20 minutes or more. Of course, carp fishing is far removed from this sort of predictability. Although, we might gain insight into regular feeding patterns, via recognisable and oft repeated bite times, seasonal changes and continuously variable conditions, mean that nothing is guaranteed. The fascinating reality is that provided we have an appropriately baited rod in the water, at any moment, a bite might lead to the capture of our valued quarry, albeit the smallest or biggest carp in the lake. Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing and if we knew in advance that a particular session was destined to be fishless, I wonder how many of us would still go through with it, just for the experience of being there and doing it?
Anyway, musings aside, I must mention a particularly interesting development regarding bird scaring tactics at Wetlands. Having been on the receiving end of relentless bait thieving attacks by tufted ducks, coots, mallards, geese, swans and seagulls (to name but a few) I was somewhat intrigued this week, to be given opportunity to try out a new piece of anti-bird kit, namely a starting pistol. The latter, when discharged gives off a loud crack, sufficient to unnerve even the most persistent of wildfowl, providing a brief period of relief, until the offender drifts back into the target zone. Clearly, it affords some benefit to the poor angler wishing to preserve his precious baited patch for more than a few minutes. For my part, the outcome was that I didn't need to re-do the rods during my session and I only needed fire a total of five shots, for which I earned the nick name "John Wayne" or something similar.
By 7.00 pm my bite indicators had remained stationary all day, so a short excursion to the match lake was in order, in an attempt to at least put a bend in the rod. My goal was to determine how long it would take to put a carp on the bank, before hot footing it back to the specimen lake to continue the vigil. So I wound in, and with minimal kit, I legged it round to peg 29 and cast out just two rods towards the centre of the lake. Each was baited with a highly flavoured snowman combination, sprayed with the unbelievably potent Hutchinson 'Secret Agent' , with a PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets attached. The latter had been soaked in matching soluble bait dip for boosted attraction. Testament to just how difficult conditions currently were, it took a full 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete the task. A diminutive, but handsomely scaled Mirror of 5lb 2oz ticked the relevant box. Job done, I returned to peg 4 in the hope of an overnight capture. Sadly, it was not to be and I completed the customary slow pack up, before returning home to a warm bath, a hot roast pork sandwich and a relaxing evening in front of a wood burning stove.
Perhaps next week, my run of blanks will end in an historic and magnificent capture?