For some reason, during this week's pilgrimage to Wetlands, I found myself reflecting upon the significant changes that have occurred in the behaviour of it's resident carp, over the last couple of years. Without doubt, the changes can be largely attributed to an exponential increase in angling pressure, that has seen the venue progress from a little known backwater, frequented by the occasional day angler, to an immensely popular fishery, with a full quota of carpers, most weekends. Many factors have contributed to the increase in interest, not least of which are the introduction of some rather special specimen carp and the far reaching impact of the internet and social media. Of course, Wetlands also has the privilege of hosting the Ladies World Carp Cup, which has inevitably added to it's status as an accredited venue. When Wetlands first opened it's doors to night fishing, I was one of the fortunate few to be there at the beginning of the adventure. I remember my very first night on peg 5. As evening approached, the atmosphere was absolutely electric, as I anticipated what wonders might await. That night I had 33 bites, no sleep and a most thrilling experience. Inevitably, as the weeks passed by, the immense catches reduced down more sensible single figures, as the carp wised up and smaller fish were transferred to the match lake. At same time the whole lake was transformed by the development of high quality pegs, each with a protective wooden hut in a unique and fascinating landscape.
And so, that brings me to peg 7, where I had deposited my gear for this week's session. Knowing that sporadic sunshine had been forecast for the day, I was hoping that this relatively shallow area of the lake might attract a few carp, to browse under the marginal trees. The peg also contains a cut-through to peg 3, known affectionately as the M25. In times past this highway would have been alive with patrolling carp, but these days they are far less inclined to display their presence by roving ceaselessly about. This week I had it in mind to put a large bed of Skretting pellets out into the main bay (in front of 'mushroom' island) and leave it without any lines in the water until the evening, so as to build up confidence in the area. During the day I planned to fish the M25 channel using my bait boat, plus a couple of rods in the right hand bay. The M25 rod was baited with a Wet Baits MC3 15mm dumbbell (glugged in Tiger Nut juice) over a hopper-full of Skretting course pellets. The right hand bay rods were each primed with a 'Medusa' maggot rig, above a bed of maggots and Skretting pellets. Interestingly, the 3 pints of maggots in my bait bucket had sweated excessively (I'd omitted to introduce enough maize or leave the lid loose) so by adding a few handfuls of pellets I succeeded in drying them out nicely and in so doing created a highly attractive feed.
Apart from the very occasional cruiser, I didn't see much evidence of carp in the bay, during the morning, and I couldn't see any taking sanctuary under the marginal trees. Furthermore, the cut-through channel remained lifeless, other than a couple of unwelcome tufted ducks. By 2.30 pm, just as I was beginning to think that I'd made the wrong choice of peg, the rod fished into the corner gave a couple of bleeps and the hanger dropped back three inches before creeping up slowly. As I lifted into it, I felt a reassuring kick and battle commenced. Other than a tense, moment when my quarry nearly made it down the boat-house channel, the fight went reasonably well, resulting in a 12lb 10oz Mirror. The rod was duly returned to the spot and I relaxed in the afternoon sunshine, with the pressure to catch now off. At 5.35 pm the same rod gave an initial chirp before a full drop-back hit the deck. My quarry emerged from the corner like a bat out of hell and made a determined effort to get down the back channel. It put on an immense amount of pressure, as I held on for dear life. Miraculously, the hook held firmly and after a few seconds of sustained stalemate, it eventually yielded and slowly eased back towards me. After another couple of bouts of acceleration, (one directed towards the marginal trees), I finally gained control and triumphantly netted my prize. I lifted a long chunky Common onto the cradle, unhooked it and was just putting the landing net down when a disaster happed. The Common flipped it's tail end round into a vertical position and then with one further flip of it's head end it somersaulted out of the cradle, down the bank and back into the water. I could only look on in dazed disbelief, as the mighty Common returned to it's watery home without being weighed. I would estimate the offender to have been around the 19lb mark but, unfortunately I will never know the truth. Unbelievable!
Richard joined me later in the evening and was clearly amused and mystified by my tale of the lost Common. As we sat debating the scenario, the corner rod gave a few tentative bleeps, before another short drop back occurred. As I looked out towards the bay, I could see a 'V' shape heading out from the corner, so I lifted the rod and made contact with the perpetrator. The ensuing fight went without drama and I subsequently netted a gorgeous Linear Mirror of 15lb 4oz. Richard did the honours with the camera, producing some fine shots of the Mirror with it's back glinting in the evening light. As Richard departed, I wasted no time in getting the rod back in position and much to my delight, it had hardly been back on it's spot for 10 minutes, when it was away again, this time producing a fine 13lb 6oz Mirror.
After that, it went quiet and as nightfall loomed, I moved my gear back from peg 7a to 7 and re-positioned my rods for the night. By now I had run out of maggots, so my middle rod bearing a duo of LG0 was launched to the pre-baited area in the main bay. My left hander baited with MC3 was underarm cast into the left hand channel area amidst a good scattering of course pellets and some hemp. The right hander, also baited with MC3 was returned to the right hand corner amidst a scattering of matching freebies. At 4.30 am I awakened by a few bleeps on the middle rod. Upon examination I found it to be under tension and responded accordingly, walking backwards to bring whatever was on the end of it, to the nearside of the boathouse inlet. Just as I thought I had it under control, the hook pulled. When I reeled in, it was apparent that the hook had become tangled upside down, such that the hook hold was insecure.
No further action transpired after that, but I returned home more than pleased with a most eventful session in which I had successfully banked four magnificent carp, one of them a veritable unknown monster. Oh well, that's carp fishing!