No doubt, to the non carp anglers of this world, our sport must seem rather puzzling. Aside from the customary inability of the uninitiated to understand why we catch for pleasure (rather than the table), it must seem strange that we can sit, seemingly motionless, for hours on end, often with little to show for our efforts. Of course, if such a skeptical spectator were to enter into to the carp anglers mind, they would find themselves immediately immersed in a whirlpool of frenzied mental activity. For a start, there is the ceaseless scanning of the water, as we monitor every inch of the visible lake surface for the minutest indication of carp presence, be it coloured water, a patch of bubbles, a flat spot, a protruding fin, a vortex, expanding rings or a "V" shaped trail. Then, there is the constant inner debate, as to where the fish might be, and whether, or not we have presented the ultimate bait, in the best position, on the optimum rig. And that's not the end of it, for beneath that calm exterior, is a veritable coiled spring, energized and ready to leap into action at the slightest indication of a take. Such is the intensity of our adrenalin fuelled, pent up state, that we remain 'on the edge' for long periods of time, well after the session has ended. Presumably, it's because we know that, at any second, our bite alarms might be transformed from the silence of inaction to the earth shattering shrill of a screaming take, when battle commences and the (never fully predictable) outcome is known. Such is carp angling.
For some reason, whenever I've had a relatively productive session, I inevitably fall into the trap of trying to replicate it the very next week. This is particularly the case, when I feel that my results could be improved upon with just a few tweaks and adjustments. The problem is, that this usually leads to a situation where fish location goes out of the window and I end up fishing to a pre-formed plan, rather than to the prevailing conditions of the day. Such was the case at Wetlands this week, as I slavishly followed a whim. And so, even though I had an empty lake at my disposal, I headed straight into peg 2 and placed all three rods on the productive spots identified the previous week. However, I found myself unable to fish over large beds of Skretting pellets, as intended, because the release mechanism on the hopper of my bait boat was inoperative and I hadn't brought a spod rod. What's more, I'd run out of Wet Bait boilies and Dave wasn't on hand to replenish my stocks. "Improvisation is the key to success", or so they say. Hence, I had to make do with Nash Key 15mm boilies and PVA bags of Skretting pellets, fired out by catapult and attached to the hook, for extra attraction. And so, the left hand rod targeted the entrance to the central channel, the middle rod covered the right hand bay area, and the right hand rod placed a bait in the margin of the right hand island.
Unlike last week, when blue skies and hot sunshine were order of the day, grey skies, and significantly cooler temperatures were present. Heavy showers were forecast for later. Although I did see one carp 'head and shoulder' in the central channel, it soon became clear that carp activity was considerably reduced, relative to last week. Nevertheless, at 12.30 pm, the left hand rod suddenly tightened up and I was on it in a flash. I was determined not to allow the culprit to get round the gateway islands, and walked carefully backwards to steer it away from trouble. The fish was surprisingly co-operative and when it entered the landing net at first time of asking, the reason was clear. It was a diminutive Mirror of 7lb 4oz. All the same, it was a blank saving capture and I was relieved to get off the mark.
Shortly afterwards, the forecast cold rain arrived and with it came a lull in carp activity. It was as if the 'snow queen' had cast a spell of lifelessness over the lake, bringing everything to a dormant standstill. Needless to say, no further action occurred throughout the day and the night was interrupted only by torrential rain. The next morning, a brief pause in the rain at 7.00 am had me scurrying out of the bivvy in an attempt to get packed up before it returned. I almost succeeded in getting the gear ready for loading into the car by the time the fine drizzle had morphed into more persistent rain. I would probably have managed to complete the whole operation in a relatively dry state, were it not for the fact that, as I reeled in my last rod, the hook caught hold of a trailing line and stuck fast. Unfortunately, there was no alternative other than to get the boat out and free the offending appendage. By the time I had removed around 30 yards of trailing line and the bunch of twigs it was fastened to, I was soaked through to the skin. Naturally, I was glad to transfer my soggy self and associated gear into my VW and head for home with the prospect of a nice warming bath looming large. Oh well, at least I hadn't blanked and I'll be back next week with renewed enthusiasm.