At last! After what seemed like an interminable delay, the carp in Wetlands specimen lake seem to be stirring from their winter slumbers. Even though a low water temperature persists (it still feels decidedly cold to the touch), once the extended hours of daylight and the odd spell or two of sunshine make their presence known, the situation promises to be totally transformed. Before long, the lake surface should be dissected by the furrows of cruising carp, purposefully going about their piscatorial business, in the lead up to this year's breeding activities. Hopefully, a good proportion of their number, including the larger ones amongst them, will slip up and grace the landing nets of the angling fraternity (especially mine). You will gather from my opening statement that this week's session provided a welcome antidote to four consecutive weeks of blanks. All will become clear.
Monday morning didn't get off to the intended 4.45 am start. Annoyingly, I had failed to set my alarm clock properly, and was awakened instead at 5.30 am, by my wife saying; "Shouldn't you be up by now?" Thirty seconds later, the reality of the situation had filtered into my numbed brain, initiating a state of lumbering panic, in which I lurched wildly from bedroom to bathroom, to kitchen to garage, and finally to carp mobile. Miraculously, I still managed to arrive at Wetlands by 7.15 am, albeit in a state of uncertainty as to whether I was properly dressed, fed, equipped and toileted, for the occasion. Given that the first (hurried) port of call was to the site toilet block, clearly at least one of those criteria were below par.
Peg choice this week had absolutely nothing to do with watercraft, and everything to do with the fact that peg 5 was home to a stockpile of logs. Richard had kindly provided the latter, ready for me to cut up and transport home for our wood burning stove. Hence, the passenger foot well contained a chain saw, can of two-stroke fuel, bottle of chain oil, safety helmet and padded gloves. Unfortunately, I had omitted to include a circular file to sharpen the chain saw's blunt blade, so the task was doomed to difficulties from the beginning. Nevertheless, I was determined to give it a go. So peg 5 it was.
No doubt, the unbroken sequence of blank sessions had taken it's toll on me, in terms of an eroded positive attitude, to the point where I was questioning my ability to catch carp at all. I have to confess that my confidence had dropped to an all time low. Nevertheless it didn't stop me from watching the water like a hawk and responding to any indication of carp presence. Within half an hour, another angler had settled in the adjacent peg 4, thus prompting me to concentrate my efforts on the right hand side of the swim. As it turned out, this probably worked in my favour. My left hand rod launched a Wet Baits LG0 16mm boilie duo, plus PVA mesh bag of Skretting mixed course pellets 40 yards out towards the central snags. The middle rod, similarly baited, covered a spot 10 yards beyond the peninsular to the right. The right hand rod, bearing a Cell dumb bell/10 mm pop-up combination (dipped in Skretting soluble bait soak), and customary PVA bag was simply under-armed into the bay area to the right, roughly 6 yards out from the margin.
If you've ever tried cutting logs with a blunt chain saw, you will know that it is a slow, frustrating and muscular operation. Nevertheless, it provided ample distraction from motionless bite indicators throughout much of the day. Not surprisingly, by 5.00 pm, I decided to have a brief session on the match lake to at least be in with a good chance of putting a carp on the bank. But more than that, I was highly interested to know whether the carp in the match lake were feeding evenly across the lake. The grand plan was to fish one rod in the margin, one in mid range and one in the lake centre, to see which produced most bites. By 6.00 pm I was fully set up on peg 29, with 3 rods covering their allotted spots. The margin rod was baited with the soaked Cell dumb bell arrangement, over a few handfuls of Skretting pellets. The mid range rod bore a method feeder loaded with scalded Skretting pellet paste and a Cell dumb bell. The long range rod was equipped with a Milky Toffee 15mm pop-up, amongst half a dozen bottom bait freebies. Amazingly, within the next one and a half hours I lost one carp and banked 5 others. They included: a 12lb 0oz Mirror, 6lb 6oz Common, 11lb 10oz Common, 9lb 2oz Mirror; and 8lb 2oz Mirror. Interestingly, two carp came from the margin, two from the lake centre and one from mid-range spot, thus proving that they are feeding in all parts of the lake.
With renewed confidence, I returned to the specimen lake before dark. I re-did all three rods in their previous spots and retired for an early night. At 4.30 am I was awakened by that most glorious of sounds, namely the magnificent tone of a bite alarm in meltdown. The left hand rod (towards the snags) had burst into life. After a spirited fight in which the culprit circled close in, hugging the bottom for several minutes, I eventually netted a lovely dark Mirror with a flaming orange belly. The scales settled on 13lb 14oz and I returned jubilantly to my sleeping bag with a satisfied smile on my face. Somehow, I managed to dose off again, until I was once more awakened by the sound of a slow, steady take on the margin rod. The fish felt relatively heavy, but just plodded about for a while before being towed in like a sack of spuds. As I lifted the landing net a solid thick set Common came onto view, with it's scales glistening in the morning light. I was overjoyed to record a weight of 18lb 6oz and delighted to have the angler from peg 5 on hand to take a couple of photos to mark the occasion. It was indeed, a most magical and memorable moment, and such a relief to put that uncomfortable blank period behind me. And who knows what further euphoric episodes await? I can't wait for next week to come round.