Some sessions are more memorable than others, for all sorts of reasons, whether it be on account of a catastrophic loss of a monster carp, a frenetic 'bag-up' event, or even better, the rare capture of a much wanted target fish. Happily, it was the latter that came to be etched into my memory, as a truly momentous occasion and a source of immense personal satisfaction. Given that only six days ago, Dean had entered the Wetland history books by being the first to capture one of the second batch of stocked Mirrors (introduced November 2015), the last thing I expected to be doing was proudly holding that same carp (subsequently named "Quasi"), aloft for a photo. And yet, unbelievably, that's exactly what happened. Maybe, Quasi is set to follow in the footsteps of Timmy's fish which has now been on the bank at least eight times since it was introduced into the specimen lake back in February 2015, earning itself a reputation as a bit of a 'mug fish'. Certainly, it's a greedy beast, that is not readily deterred by the prospect of being caught.
Anyway, back to the beginning. You may recall that Pat followed me into peg 7 last week and had an absolute whirlwind of a session, landing 18 carp out of something approaching 30 takes. As you can imagine, I had it in mind to have another crack at the same peg this week, in the vain hope that I might emulate some of Pat's success. Inevitably, that was never going to happen in the same way, owing to the fact that each week has it's own unique blend of conditions, that rarely come together in exactly the same way two weeks apart. Nevertheless, I was determined to try a radically different approach, in an attempt to lull those wily carp into a false sense of security. The plan was to deploy single hook baits with no extra feed, other than the customary PVA bag of Skretting mixed course pellets, attached to the hook, to provide tangle resistance and extra attraction. The hook bait consisted, in each case, of a single Wet Baits Plum & Scopex 15mm Dumb-bell, held upright by the addition of a 10mm white pop-up. My intended strategy, was to fish two rods towards the right hand bay (one in the corner and the other just off the left hand peninsula) and use the remaining rod as a 'rover' casting to any sightings of bubbles, or other evidence of carp presence.
I spent around 25 minutes getting the RHS bay rods placed precisely, before turning my attention to the itinerant rod. As it happened, my eyes had already been drawn towards some small patches of bubbles that sporadically frothed up around 20 feet in front of 'mushroom island'. Without hesitation, I cast slightly beyond the area and drew the end tackle smartly backwards, allowing it to settle gently onto the target zone. Well satisfied with its stance, I placed the rod in rests and primed the bite alarm, before retreating to get on with sorting out the gear. Barely five minutes had passed before the same rod let out a couple of bleeps. Ten seconds later, it let out a couple more bleeps before the line lifted from the water and the rod took on a healthy curvature. Naturally, I was on it in a flash and soon found myself in combat with a hugely powerful carp, intent upon getting around boathouse corner. By walking slowly backwards I steadily won ground, eventually steering my adversary away from the dotted island to the right and bringing it into safer, open water. Gradually, it inched towards me and then ploughed angrily backwards and forwards in the margin for a couple of minutes before reluctantly entering the folds of a poised landing net.
I could see from the dark, humped shoulders protruding from the water that the carp was a bit of a lump, a fact that was soon confirmed as I attempted to lift its enormous frame out of the water. It then dawned on me, that I was in the awkward position of having no-one immediately on hand to help with photographs. Hence, I needed to come up with a suitable strategy. With the carp still in the water, I fired off two quick text messages to Richard and Dave, hoping that one or other of them might be on site and could respond straight away. I then did a rapid initial weighing and returned her without delay to the submerged net. My text messages had not been answered, so I moved the net round to the deepest margin, anchored it firmly, covered the top with another net, wound in the other rods and ran round to the nearby work site. Fortunately, Richard was there (clad in full welding gear), so after a hurried explanation, we hot-footed it back to the peg, to do the honours. Quasi, who had hitherto lain quietly in the net, suddenly came to life as I hoisted her up for a photo. She was certainly a lively soul in the cradle. Pictures done, we confirmed her weight at 22lb 4oz before returning my prize to her watery home. A flick of the tail later, she swam off strongly and disappeared from view into the murky depths, from whence she came.
In keeping with my minimal baiting approach, I scattered a couple of pouches of tiger nuts into the right hand corner bay and replaced both rods. Not surprisingly the successful left hand rod was returned to the main bay area. Before long, Dave arrived to congratulate me and replenish my stocks of LG0 boilies. Pat also appeared around midday, after working a night shift. We discussed the tactics he had used for his previous week's big hit of fish. He then made his way over to peg 1 for a 48 hour session. All thoughts of engineering a big haul of carp melted away, as I slipped into chill-out mode and remained in a dream like state for the rest of the session. The commotion from my capture of an 'A Team' fish seemed to have driven any resident carp out of the area, so it wasn't until 1.00 pm that the right hand corner rod signaled a take. A 4lb 0oz Common was duly transferred to the match lake. Then at 3.00 pm the right hand, open bay rod registered a powerful take and I found myself locked in battle with a brute of a Mirror. The culprit displayed strength way beyond that of any normal 16lb 6oz Mirror and led me a right 'song and a dance' before finally being netted. In the commotion, both my other rods were taken out of action, and in one case the line was severed, as the crazy, red and orange striped bullet ploughed through it. At 8.20 pm the rod in the main bay produced a 12lb 2oz Mirror, this time without too much drama. Last but not least, on the stroke of midnight, the corner rod burst into life. After another spirited fight, an 11lb 4oz Common eventually hit the spreader block.
When I compared notes with Pat the next morning, it turned out that he had hooked 6 carp. and landed 4. However, he was completely gutted that on the previous evening, just before dark, he had lost an absolute monster of a carp that had straightened out a size 6 hook. Maybe Pat's session will come to a triumphant conclusion. Whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure. We will both remember this week's piscatorial episode for a long time to come.