Normally, I avoid Bank holiday angling trips like the plague. Thoughts of crowded banks, maximised angling pressure and potentially noisy socialisation are totally alien to my concept of carp fishing. To me it's all about serene escapism from a frenzied, stress ridden world and more importantly, having the freedom to choose a peg based, at least to some degree, on applied watercraft. However, on this occasion, an immensely busy week's schedule dictated otherwise. It would have to be May Bank Holiday Monday this week, or not at all, as my wife had tactfully pointed out to me only days before.
However, I have noticed that a few of the larger fish have been caught at weekends, or at times when the lake is relatively busy. In fact it has often puzzled me as to why this might be. Is it just a statistical phenomenon, to do with the fact that more lines in the water means a greater chance that one of those lines is strategically placed for a major prize? Or, could it be that the increased disturbance gets the carp moving about more, and therefore needing to replace spent energy? Another factor might simply be that more bait goes in at weekends, such that a feed up is more regularly available at such times. Who knows? I certainly, don't have a definite answer.
Anyway, at 7.00 am, as I waited for the front gates of Wetlands to be opened up, I wondered what scene would greet me, when I eventually surveyed it's banks. Unfortunately, when reality dawned, the truth of the situation matched my worst fears. At least 10 anglers were already spread across it's 7 main pegs. Oddly enough, peg 5 was free, as was a single small segment on the bird hut end of peg 3 (Peg 3 is technically subdivided into 3 sections). Given that peg 5 is rather hemmed in, and somewhat limited in scope, when the bordering plots are occupied, I hurried round to the bird hut, before anyone else could snaffle it. As I resignedly deposited my gear on it's recently bark chipped banks, a light breeze traversed the associated waters from left to right, ruffling the surface, with the exception of the narrow channels at it's rear, which remained calm and still. Before committing any rods to the water, I walked round to peg 4 to catch up with recent events. It turned out that a couple of days earlier Dave had managed to bag one of the two new Commons (the long lean one with a downward bent nose, like Concorde) at 24 lbs. Well done Dave! He'd followed the capture with a 13lb Mirror on Sunday night. Top angling mate! Other than that, a couple of carp had been caught from peg 3, including one from the back channel (bait boat used) and another from mid water. With the exception of those fish, everyone else had struggled.
Rod placement was heavily constrained by the proximity of two other anglers on peg 3. I decided that one rod would be permanently devoted to the left hand margin and another to the channel opposite. The remaining rod would be fished in roving style, beginning on so-called "crocodile island" and moving later to the opening of the "Motorway" cut-through, or any other area that grabbed my attention. The margin rod sported an 'Active 8' dumbbell, soaked in Skretting bait soluble dip, amidst a regular hand fed scattering of matching course pellets and crushed Wet Baits KGC boilies. The channel rod was similarly primed, but delivered by bait boat. The roving rod initially sported a Wet Baits pink pop-up dipped in soluble bait soak. It was intended to serve as a high-attract single hook bait, but I made the fatal mistake of underestimating it's inherent buoyancy. When I eventually did test one in the margin, I was absolutely astounded by it's flotation powers. A single BB shot is usually sufficient to balance a 15 mm pop-up, but in the case of Dave's Wet Baits pop-ups, this is utterly inadequate. I tried an AB, followed by an AAA and still failed to sink the blighter. Maybe he should market them as buoyancy aids, instead! Eventually, I cut one in half, before I managed to confine it to the depths with anything less than a ball and chain. Some professionals reckon that single hook bait fishing is only effective during daylight hours. I'm not totally convinced that that is the case, but I decided to stick with the newly balanced version until sunset and then replace it with an LG0 bottom bait attached to a PVA bag of Skretting course pellets.
The weather forecast was for temperatures in the low teens, sporadic glimpses of sunshine and an early afternoon period of heavy rainfall. By 10 am the initial light breeze had turned into a stronger wind that had the silver birch trees bending in it's path. Then, true to expectation, the heavy rain arrived in the afternoon followed by a change in wind direction to something more northerly, with an unpleasant chill factor. Later the skies cleared for the expected evening drop in temperature and accompanying increase in barometric pressure. Around 7.00 pm a small carp launched itself, like a torpedo, out of the water near crocodile island, so I wasted no time in swapping my roving rod over to bottom bait mode and putting it on the spot amidst a wide scattering of LG0 free baits, delivered via throwing stick. The move proved to be a wise one, as at 7.50 pm it rattled off towards the sanctuary of the middle islands. I was on it in a flash, but not quick enough to prevent it from kiting right and just getting around the back of the end island. Sustained pressure eventually succeeded in teasing it out from it's hiding place, and slowly it made a reluctant journey to my waiting net, contesting every inch of the way. Once again a sense of amazement filled my mind, as I viewed it's diminutive proportions. The scales settled on a surprisingly low reading of 9lb 8oz, that belied the monstrous fighting ability of such a miniature warrior.
Near freezing overnight temperatures, seemed to kill any prospect of further nocturnal action, even though I moved the channel rod to a new spot, in line with the willow tree to the right, where I saw a large carp do a dolphin style, surface glide moments later. Nonetheless, I returned home with the satisfaction of having taken on a bank holiday challenge and avoided a blank.