The weather forecast for this week's session was far from ideal; in fact it bordered on horrendous. The previous week of warm spring sunshine had come to an untimely end, and was due to be replaced with a bitterly cold arctic wind, bringing with it the promise of sporadic sleety rain. Upon my 7.00 am arrival at Wetlands, I found Dave squeezed into peg 7b, at the end of a 4 day session. He'd caught 4 low doubles during his stay, but (to my dismay), reckoned that the recent arrival of a cold northerly wind had in his words; "killed it". Not what I wanted to hear!
That aside, his most daunting piece of news, was that Richard (owner of Wetlands), had experienced an accident on his newly acquired off-road motor bike, which involved him being catapulted over the handle bars at 50 mph, resulting in several fractured ribs and a damaged vertebrae. Consequently, he'd spent a week in hospital, on high doses of pain controlling drugs and was hoping to be released later that day. Not surprisingly, in comparison to such a trauma, any thoughts of carp angling faded into insignificance. Thankfully, others had rallied round in fine style, enabling business to continue as usual. If nothing else, the episode had afforded Richard an unheard of, but much needed rest from his usual relentless schedule of frenzied work.
Given that Dave had already wound-in his rods and would shortly be packing away, I dropped onto peg 7a. Although the water at this corner of the lake is by no means 'on the back of' any northerly wind, it is at least protected to some degree by the tree covered islands and margins that surround it. Furthermore, it has many sheltered channels, plus a few shallow bays that warm up quickly, should intermittent sunshine break out. However, one of the conundrums that faces anglers on peg 7, is that it contains so many hitherto productive spots, that one is over-faced with choice. The problem is that the going spots are fickle in the extreme - one day they kick off big time and the next they become stone dead. What's more, in the absence of fish sightings, it's very difficult to predict their potential for success. There are at least half a dozen such spots on 7, all of which have produced big hits on their day.
After half an hour of careful observation, which yielded no firm clues, I finally opted for three spring time favourite spots. From left to right, these included the small channel opposite, the rear of the main bay (towards mushroom island) and the corner of the right hand bay area. By way of a change, the channel rod was graced with a chunk of Peperami, soaked in Skretting soluble bait soak, attached to a PVA parcel of matching course pellets. A duo of Wet Baits LG0 16mm boilies (also soaked in Skretting soluble bait dip) served as hook bait on the middle rod, but this time a stringer of identical boilies provided ballast. The right hand rod bore a Cell dumb-bell and Krill 10mm pop-up, to lift it up off the bottom (also dunked in the same bait dip).
Rarely, have I endured such a chilling wind in April. The match anglers sat in front of the café, on the end of the freezing wind, braced themselves inside their thermals, whereas those on the protected west bank, basked in intermittent morning sunshine, stripping down to shirtsleeves. As predicted, this was followed, in the afternoon, by uncomfortable sleety rain. I certainly regretted the fact that I had inadvertently left my water container at home, meaning that a nice hot cup of coffee was off the menu. I was hoping that a few surface cruising carp might make an appearance in front of me at some time during the day, but alas, my optimism proved unfounded and only the obligatory bream put in an appearance.
By 5.00 pm the match anglers had departed the scene, so a short foray onto the match lake was hurriedly scrambled. A couple of rods and minimal equipment was all that was required to resource a brief distraction from the lack of carp action on the specimen lake. I couldn't believe how different it felt on peg 29. With a high bank behind me and pleasant evening sunshine facing me, things soon warmed up nicely - the gloves, scarf and padded jacket were soon discarded and life felt pleasant once again. My left hander was fished in the margin, right on the corner of the fishing platform. The dumb-bell arrangement (dipped in Skretting bait soak) was used to mimic the matching course pellets I trickled around it. My right hand rod, bearing a Wet baits LG0 16mm boilie (also dunked in the bait soak) was cast to lake centre.
Less than 10 minutes had passed before the margin rod absolutely screamed off. A small 4lb 0oz Common gave a formidable account of itself, that belied it's diminutive proportions. At 6.30 pm a rapid take on the same rod resulted in a lost carp, when the culprit shot right under the fishing platform below me and inevitably the hook pulled. Less than five minutes later the same rod tore off again, this time producing a 7lb 6oz Common. At 7.05 pm, it was the turn of the right hand rod to join the party, as a 9lb 12oz dark Mirror contested every inch of it's journey towards my waiting net. Less than 15 minutes later, a fine 10lb 6oz Mirror rattled away on the same rod, before I'd even finished baiting up (12 freebies) with the throwing stick. And then, just as I was thinking, that a return to the specimen lake was in order, the margin rod melted off once again, this time with 10lb 0oz Mirror doing the rounds. Six bites in a couple of hours was a much needed antidote and I returned to peg 7 with a skip in my step.
I managed to get all three rods back on their original spots with minimal fuss, before Richard joined me on the bank, having been discharged from hospital. I was amazed to see him out and about after such an ordeal, and no doubt Dean (set up in peg 5.) was equally amazed. What's more he provided immense amusement by relating how morphine can unwittingly rob one of one's compos mentis with disastrous and embarrassing consequences. Apparently, whilst under said influence, he visited the hospital shop, completely oblivious to the fact that the gown he was wearing (the sort that ties up at the back) afforded an uninterrupted view of his rear quarters, via a vertical slit. The matter was brought starkly to his attention by an elderly lady, who poked a walking stick between his buttocks, announcing excitedly to all around, that he was devoid of underpants! Poor Richard! This must surely have been a classic "hole to swallow me up in" moment for him. Humour aside, we all wish him a speedy and complete recovery.
At 12.50 am I was immensely surprised to be summoned from my bed chair by a screaming take on my channel-fished rod. Thankfully, I was on it like a shot and managed to tease the offender backwards and out of the channel towards me without any drama. Once, near the bank, it woke up and went berserk, taking out my middle rod in the process. Nevertheless, I eventually succeeded in taming it's determined runs and netted a stunning fully scaled Mirror of 11lb 10oz. What a lovely way to close my account for this session. Certainly, it was a most welcome prize, made all the more satisfying by the somewhat less than ideal conditions that accompanied it's capture.