It's never ceases to amaze me, what a difference a week of sustained high temperatures can make to Spring carp fishing, especially after a somewhat sluggish post winter re-awakening. Wetlands seemed like an entirely different place altogether, as I stepped onto it's vibrant, leafy banks this week. It was as if an unseen hand had pressed an energizing button that stimulated a universal explosion of life. To my delight, carp were in clear evidence, across it's entire expanse. Numerous pairs were busy carving twin furrows across it's relatively calm surface, like the jet stream of a high flying plane. Many more betrayed their presence by creating swirls and expanding circles. Not surprisingly, a sense of excited anticipation crept across me, and I couldn't wait to get fishing. Better still, the lake was devoid of other anglers, apart from Dave in peg 7.
With more sunshine forecast, peg 4 seemed like a good starting point (the shallow bay to the right usually attracts piscatorial sunbathers), so I hurriedly reserved it with the customary bait bucket and went for an obligatory walk round. To be honest there wasn't much to distinguish one area of the lake from another, in terms of fish presence. Nevertheless, I was somewhat surprised to discover that Dave had experienced a blank night. Consequently, my initial enthusiasm was ever so slightly diminished by the odd trace of doubt. Nevertheless, I tossed any negativity to the back of my mind and headed purposefully back to peg 4 to get started.
This week I had it in mind to give maggots a decent airing. The reason for this, was that on the previous week I had witnessed a seemingly large carp do a classic dolphin-like dive over a known bloodworm bed, towards the willow tree end of peg 3. Knowing that "Big S" had only been caught once since it's introduction, I wondered if it was actually focusing on naturals and had muscled in on said bloodworm area, to the exclusion of other carp. If peg 3 is unoccupied, the area can be readily reached from 4, so my left hand rod was duly primed with a Methuselah style maggot rig, which was bait boated to the spot, in the company of a hopper load of writhing freebies. Given that, sunny weather usually attracts carp into the right hand bay, my second rod was used, to explore different spots (roving-style) within it's confines. This time a tiger nut duo (attached to a PVA mesh bag of Skretting course pellets) plus an half a dozen freebies served as bait. My middle rod, equipped with double Wet Baits LG0 16mm boilies and a stringer of similar offerings went out to the usual 40 yard hot-spot.
At 9.30 am, I was suitably heartened when the left hand maggot rod gave a few bleeps and then erupted into a slow steady take. As I lifted into the fish it didn't feel huge, but what it lacked in size it more than made up for in stubbornness. It seemed hell bent on kiting to the left, in an attempt to reach the snag trees behind the overhanging willow. After a few tense moments, in which it very nearly succeeded in it's quest, sustained pressure finally won the day and I netted my prize in the shape of a fine orange-hued Mirror of 12lb 2oz. The rod was duly returned to the spot, after gluing fresh maggots onto the Methuselah mop-head (the previous ones had all been decimated by silver fish).
After that, things slowed down somewhat, such that I dozed off for an hour or so around midday and woke up in a ringing wet, sweaty condition due to the sweltering heat generated by sun on the bivvy. An exploratory walk over to the right hand bay got my heart racing with the discovery that 5 carp were relaxing around it's perimeter. Clearly, it was time to reel in and indulge myself in the thrill of some impromptu stalking. In my sights were a couple of carp tucked just under an overhanging tree to the right of the last peg. I already had a float rod made up, so it was just a matter of baiting it with 9 maggots and as stealthily as possible dropping the maggots on the nose of the nearest contender, such that they sank enticingly before it. At first there was no response, but eventually after several attempts (during which time the carp circled the bay a few times and returned to the spot), the ruse worked. At 2.30 pm an 11lb 10oz Mirror succumbed to temptation and sucked in the booby trapped offering. One thing that I love about stalking is that when the quarry realizes it's made a mistake, absolute hell breaks out in the margin, initiating a full-on, close quarters scrap. In this respect, the ensuing tussle did not disappoint. At 3.10 pm, a 12lb 12oz Mirror, slipped up in exactly the same way, leading to another intense battle. This time though, the other residents were clearly spooked by the commotion and retreated to the rear of the bay where they flared their fins in an edgy, irritated manner. Eventually, a larger Common was brave enough to waddle over to the dangling maggoty morsel, and suck it in, but unfortunately I was too hasty with the strike and I succeeded only in pulling it violently from it's mouth, whereupon it rushed off creating a large bow wave. Not surprisingly, it wasn't long after that episode, that any remaining carp melted away, and the bay returned to it's former, lifeless state.
For the evening ahead, I re-did the 40 yard rod and swapped the bay rod over to a similar LG0 boilie-based approach, but just as an underarm 10 yard cast to the right. However, I had alternative plans for the left hander. An evening of margin based float fishing was definitely on the menu. And so, a spot only 4ft from the bank was treated to a good helping of Skretting mixed course pellets and a regular stream of maggots. The float was lowered accurately onto the spot and supported in place via strategically placed rod rests. Then all had to do was to sit well back with my right arm hovering over the cork handle, ready to leap into action, should the float dip. As you might expect, a couple of large roach and a slimy skimmer joined the party, but as dusk approached an awesome sight had me tense with anticipation. Several smallish carp circled the spot and inspected the potential meal, before drifting off and returning several times. Disappointingly, they failed to commit themselves to a bite. Shortly after 8.00 pm I nearly fell off my chair, as I spied an enormous Common approaching from the right. As the long beast glided slowly beneath my feet, hugging the nearside bank, I could see that it was also very deep, with huge scales on it's expanded belly. At that moment I hoped beyond hope that it would stop in it's tracks and sample my tasty maggots, but alas it continued on it's original trajectory and disappeared from sight. At 8.25pm I thought my luck was in, as the float dipped gracefully and my strike was met with solid resistance. My quarry, immediately went berserk, stripping line from the reel at an incredible rate of knots. It took a further 5 minutes or so, to tame it's frenzied runs and guide it kicking and screaming into the folds of my waiting net. Imagine my stunned surprise when I discovered that it was a Mirror weighing only 9lb 12oz. Oh well, at least it gave a good account of itself.
As darkness finally closed in another dip of the float gave rise to an unwelcome tussle with a large, slimy eel that seemed to have swallowed the bait down to it's tail end. Long-nosed pliers eventually facilitated removal of the hook and signaled time to swap over to ledgering tactics. Accordingly, the Methuselah rig was dropped on the spot and topped up with maggots before I retired to the bivvy. At 02.25 am the same rod went into melt down as a large framed, Mirror of Italian appearance made off with the maggots. Once again, I was amazed when the offender weighed only 13lb 8oz. Later at 05.50 am the 10 yard rod also tore off, producing a 13lb 14oz Mirror. Thus, I ended up with a total of 6 carp, in what was undoubtedly an absolutely magical session that had me on the edge of my seat more than a few times. Anything that the session lacked in the size stakes, it more than made up for in excitement value. I can't wait for more of the same.