It's odd isn't it, that on a specific occasion, a particular carp fishing technique can work like a dream, but only days later, under seemingly identical conditions, can fail dismally? Such was the case this week, as I attempted to reproduce, and possibly eclipse the bag-up session I enjoyed last week on maggots. For reasons that mystify me, fishing the same peg under similar weather conditions (intermittent sunshine), using the same technique, just didn't deliver the expected results and another salutary lesson was learned. Incidentally, this week I had some ebay items to post off on Monday, so fishing was delayed until Tuesday. What's more, a couple of niggling challenges entered the frame, that added a modicum of discomfort to the proceedings. For the second time in the space of a few weeks, my alarm clock remained silent, at 5.00 am, rather than emitting it's grating call. When I eventually woke up at 6.15 am and leapt out of bed in a blind panic, I was suddenly startled by a searing pain in my right foot. It seems that during the night, the main joint below my big toe had developed an acute sensitivity to pressure from below. Now, anyone who knows me, will be aware that I am not easily distracted by life's occasional health issues, preferring to soldier on regardless. And so my blind panic continued, but at a pace limited to an uncomfortable hobbling speed, at best. Consequently, I did well to arrive at Wetlands by 7.30 am.
To my immense relief, the place was deserted, apart from two anglers occupying pegs 6 and 7, so without hesitation I parked up in peg 4 and proceeded to limp backwards and forwards with my gear. I grimaced continually, each time I covered the 20, or so paces from the car to the bankside hut and let out an occasional groan, each time my right foot came down on a stray fragment of broken concrete (car park end) rather than on the more even surface below. Eventually, the process was completed and I set about the task of getting the rods out. Given that last week I had received an early take from an area just beyond the big Willow, the left hand rod, sporting an Adam Penning style maggot rig was bait-boated out to the target area, accompanied by a hopper load of free maggots. The middle rod bearing a Wet Baits duo of 16mm LG0 boilies and PVA bag of Skretting course pellets was cast out to the usual 40 yard spot. Finally, the right hand rod, baited in similar fashion to the middle rod was bait-boated to a spot in the right hand bay, in the hope that it my be ready and waiting for any sun-seeking carp that subsequently drifted into the bay area.
By midday, no action had transpired, other than 3 bream from the left hand rod, so I hobbled over to the edge of the right hand bay area, to see if any carp had arrived. The light level was not as intense as in the previous week, so spotting carp was less easy. Nevertheless, my eyes subsequently picked out three residents, sat motionless in the margin. Hurriedly, I wound in and limped back with a float rod, primed with a free-lined bunch of maggots. This time though the carp showed no interest in feeding, whatsoever. Not even a slow sinking mop of maggots, drifting tantalisingly past their nose would cause them to suck in the deadly offering. In fact, the only response it induced was alarm, such that they waddled off, circling the bay for 10 minutes or so, before tentatively returning. After an hour of determined, but unrewarded effort, I eventually came to the belief that they just weren't interested and to continue further would be a complete waste of effort. Perhaps the three fish present in the bay had all been caught the previous week on my maggot attack, such that they were all far too cautious, to be fooled again. Alternatively, maybe they were just not hungry this week. Whatever, the explanation, I was left in no doubt that pursuing the matter was a definite lost cause.
Reluctantly, I returned to my original approach, but with one notable modification. The middle rod was replaced with a float rod (maggots again) fished right in the margin, only 4 feet from the bank. Now, I've always been aware that the specimen lake contains a few bream, but until this week I hadn't appreciated just how many. Over the remaining afternoon and evening I proceeded to catch bream at an average rate of one every twenty minutes, or so, with the odd large roach and plump tench included. I kept telling myself that sooner or later a carp would join the party, but by 10.00 pm, when I finally called a halt to the carnage, I had amassed a total of around 30 of the blighters and no carp, not even an inquisitive, inspection. Resignedly, I substituted the float rod with a margin-fished, ledger-based version and retired to my sleeping bag. Twice, during the night I was beckoned by a stuttering bite alarm to unhook more margin-hooked bream, before awakening to an otherwise unproductive and rain soaked dawn. Worse still, my right foot had by now swollen up like a balloon. Upon my return home, a warm bath followed by leg elevation and the strategic placement of an ice pack did nothing to reduce the swelling and pain. A begrudging telephone call to the doctor precipitated an impromptu visit to his surgery at 4.30 pm, followed by a complete evening spent at the Northern General Hospital, for a blood test, X-ray and examination. I was eventually discharged at 10.15 pm, plied with pain killers. Apparently, in the opinion of the medical experts, a foot infection had been ruled out, leaving the unwelcome conclusion that, for the first time in my life, I had experienced a rather potent episode of gout. Given that I neither drink nor smoke, and my intake of red meat could not be regarded as excessive, the diagnosis is rather puzzling to say the least.
Returning to the angling related plot, as I intimated in my opening statement, the apparent fickleness of carp fishing is frequently beyond our limited human comprehension, at least it is for me. But at the end of the day, that's one of it's most endearing characteristics, that draws us back time after time for more of the same. Naturally, I can't wait for next week's dose of piscatorial pleasure, come what may.