Decisions, decisions and yet more decisions! Perhaps, in hindsight, I should have braved Bank Holiday Monday madness this week, instead of opting for a somewhat quieter Tuesday session, which regrettably, coincided with a significant deterioration in weather conditions. Certainly, the recent run of sunny skies and associated high temperatures had come to a grinding halt, and been replaced by a cold northerly wind, grey skies and sporadic showers. What's more, having failed to study the weather forecast properly, I had stocked up with maggots, in the vain hope, that sun seeking carp might drift lazily into the shallower bays, from whence they might be tempted to snaffle a float fished mop of wriggling naturals. Plainly, my aspirations were totally unfounded and an alternative approach would need to be adopted. For some reason that eludes me, I still stuck rigidly to my initial scheme and dropped into peg 7, with it's shallow bays, albeit on the end of an ever increasing northerly breeze, that soon had me shivering on the bank and reaching for the thermals. Clearly, I should have chosen peg 5 or 4, both of which afforded sheltered conditions and a flat, unruffled water surface.
No doubt the previous week's successful session in peg 7 had given me a false sense of optimism and flawed judgment. The current game plan was simple enough - a Medusa maggot rig in the right hand corner atop a bed of maggots and Skretting course pellets; my middle rod primed with a Wet Baits MC3 15mm dumbbell over a wide spread of Skretting pellets and freebies in the main bay; my left hand rod sporting a Wet Baits LG0 15mm boilie duo deep into the opposite channel, with just a PVA mesh bag of Skretting pellets as extra feed. By mid afternoon (around the time that Pat joined me on the bank), it had become obvious that I had made the wrong decision. Hardly any evidence of carp presence had materialised in my area, whereas, peg 5 was host to regular displays. This was one of those instances, where effort equals reward. I should have recognised the signs, and made a move while the peg was still free. To my shame I didn't bother and the consequences were inevitable. Naturally, Pat had spotted the signs and quickly reserved the peg for a 48 hour session. His foresight was duly rewarded when his left-hander, fished towards peg 4 produced a take, within minutes of being cast out. The culprit was a decent sized carp, but unfortunately, he lost it at the net.
With no action occurring at my end of the lake, I had it in mind to spend a couple of hours on the match lake. Accordingly, I wound in the rods at 5.00 pm and gathered my bits and pieces together in expectation. Frustratingly, the move proved to be premature. It seems that the eight anglers present were not fishing a rigidly timed match at all. In fact, it was more of a friendly knock up, with no defined end point. By 6.00 pm, a solitary angler remained and, in a rather half hearted fashion, I put my rods back onto their previous spots in the specimen lake, as I awaited his departure. Finally, at 7.00 pm he began packing away. At last, 15 minutes later, I occupied peg 29 with two rods in play. One rod was fished directly off the end of the platform (a Cell dumb-bell over a handful of Skretting pellets) and the other (bearing double LG0 15mm boilies, plus a PVA bag of pellets) was cast to the island margin, amidst a light scattering of freebies. Within 5 minutes the island rod gave a few intermittent bleeps and subsequently produced a 5lb 12oz Mirror. At 8.00 pm, the same rod produced a 7 lb 8oz Common. At 8.25 pm it was the turn of the margin rod to join the action, this time with a hard fighting 10lb 6oz Common. At one point the culprit shot right underneath the fishing platform I was standing on, but by burying the rod tip, I eventually teased it back out again. Whilst the Common was in the weigh sling, the island rod melted off in a frantic 'one-toner'. Fortunately, I managed to complete the weighing quickly and return the fish, in time to lift into the stunning 6lb 0oz Linear that was responsible. With four carp banked in just over an hour, I was well pleased with the results of my brief sortie and hurriedly returned to the specimen lake in an attempt to get the rods sorted before dark.
Having returned the right hand corner rod to it's spot (complete with freshly tied Medusa rig) and replaced the middle rod in the main bay, I was in the process of sending my bait boat out to the opposite channel, when at 9.25 pm the corner rod signaled a hesitant drop-back bite. Although I wasn't entirely sure whether it was caused by bream antics or a proper take, I lifted into it and was met with firm resistance and a determined battle. After the usual tussle, to steer my quarry away from the margin bushes, I eventually netted a dark orange-brown Mirror of 12lb 8oz. By the time the weighing and return procedure had been completed, it was nearly dark, so I hastily got on with re-doing the two unplaced rods. More haste, less speed certainly proved to be the case, as a series of mishaps delayed the process. Firstly, my bait boat's trap door failed to open, necessitating a full emptying of the cargo and a cleaning out of the release mechanism. Worse still, the hook link became terribly tangled whilst removing it from the from hold, thus delaying me even further. Hence the job of returning the Medusa rig to the corner spot (in what by now was total darkness), took two casts, the first of which strayed too far into the bushes, got caught up on a branch and then twanged violently backwards, as I attempted to free it. Sadly, the resulting disturbance put paid to any further action from the corner spot.
I awoke to a dull, rainy and cold morning. Packing up under such conditions, is not my favourite occupation, but I was glad of the protection afforded by the bank side wooden hut and completed the operation in double quick time. As I drove homeward, I looked forward to a nice hot bath and felt highly satisfied that, in spite of making some wrong decisions, I had still managed to put a few carp on the bank, including one hard-won result from Wetlands specimen lake.