After suffering a humiliating blank last week, in red hot weather conditions, I badly needed a decent result this week to reverse what might have been viewed as a bit of a hiatus. Thankfully, the session delivered the goods in fine style. However, the glorious outcome didn't come without it's share of drama.
I arrived at the Wetlands front gates before 7.00 am and was immediately gratified to find them already open. What's more Clive was on hand to do the honours with the heavy duty, wheeled, compound gate, allowing me to pass unhindered onto the site, hopefully for a quick reconnoitre around the specimen lake before any other anglers arrived. Cloudy with sunny spells was the forecast for the day, so I instinctively drove round to peg 7 to see if it looked prime for a big hit. Disappointingly, it looked as dead as a graveyard, with not the slightest indication of carp presence. Nevertheless, I stuck a bait bucket on it and went for a walk round the lake. Pegs 1 and 2 were similarly lifeless and peg 3 wasn't much better. Dave had spent a few days in peg 4 and was eager to tell me all about a brace of 20lb carp he'd caught from it's banks on Friday. Amazingly, both takes had come within minutes of each other, such that he had two fish on at once. Fortunately, he managed to steer one into the landing net and then continue playing the other into the same net. Richard arrived in the meantime and was suitably gob-smacked by the scenario. What's more both carp were originals rather than stocked carp, so the achievement was a unique record for Dave. Well done that man!
It seems that pegs 4 and 5 had been host to the majority of carp activity over the last few days, so (after replenishing my stocks of Wet Baits MC3 and Plum-Ex dumb-bells/boilies) I headed straight back to the car and drove round to peg 5. I gazed across it's surface for a while, determined to identify the most promising spots before committing any rods to the water. Clearly, there were a few fish milling around the shallow bay to the left, and a few more on the end the peninsula to the right. It seemed that the ones to the left mostly comprised of pairs, perhaps in the early stages of courtship behaviour. Occasionally a few bubbles rose to the surface from a point 20 yards out from the bank, so I underarm cast a 15mm MC3 dumb-bell to the spot, and followed it with a couple of catapult pouches of Skretting mixed course pellets. Dave had also supplied me with a bag of air-dried (non-boiled) M3C gunned paste, broken into approximate 1 inch lengths. I threw a few handfuls of them onto a spot beneath an overhanging bush down the right hand margin and followed it with a similar amount of Skretting course pellets plus an M3C baited hook. My middle rod eventually found a role covering a spot on the end of the right hand peninsula. I used my bait boat (miraculously working correctly this week) to place it accurately on target, right where I'd seen some carp movements earlier on. The hopper on this occasion was half filled with a mixture of the crumbed, dried paste, along with maggots and course pellets.
During the morning, the left hand margin spot produced several large bream, and by mid afternoon my freshly washed khaki walking trousers had taken on a uniform snot grey colouration. Yuk! The other thing to mention at this juncture, is that a sore throat had descended upon me on Sunday morning. By Monday afternoon it had developed into a full blown ("I need a Lemsip") grade of 'man-flu'. My head pounded, my eyes watered, my limbs ached and my nose dripped like a tap. Once my stock of kitchen roll had been squandered on nasal duties, there was nothing left for it other than to commandeer the old tea towel I normally use for hand wiping. Oh well, it was already partially covered in bream snot, so a little more nasal mucous was hardly out of place!
At last, at 4.20 pm, just as I was beginning to think that another blank was on the horizon, my middle rod blurted out a couple of bleeps before melting off on a tight clutch. Fearing that the culprit might dive round the back of the peninsula, I pounced on it in an instant and took up the strain. Whatever was on the other end was in no mood for submission and piled on the pressure still more until the inevitable happened - there was a loud crack as the 15 lb Synergy line parted and the rod tip shot backwards at high speed, leaving me to verbally bemoan my loss. Still, if nothing else, if one carp was in a mood for food, then another chance might just come my way. The hook bait was duly placed back on the spot with pin point accuracy, together with the same trimmings. This time though, a group of nearby Mallards had watched the manoeuvre with interest and as soon as the bait boat departed, they were on the baited patch with a vengeance. The top of the bar is so shallow here, that they were able to access the carefully prepared banquet simply by up-ending. Several abortive bleeps later, I was debating with myself how to scare them away, when I noticed that they had suddenly squawked off, but the bleeping continued. I lifted the rod to find considerable resistance at the other end, as a carp tore off in an arc to the left. Fortunately it ended up coming back towards me away from the potentially hazardous peninsula. Very slowly, I was able to coax it in my direction, allowing the last begrudging stages of the fight to be played out around 2 rod lengths out from the margin. In the midst of the struggle Richard and Jo appeared on the bank to offer me encouragement (at least, that's what they called it). Every now and again, a massive tail would flick out of the water, confirming our suspicions that this might be a bit of a lump. The first attempt at netting my quarry was thwarted when the carp powered off again, but finally it tired sufficiently to be steered inside. With a great sigh of relief and an equally strenuous grunt of strain, I lifted it's long muscular frame onto the cradle. Richard recognised it's blunt head and long lean body as that of the 'Long Common'. The scales registered a smidgen under 23lbs, so I settled on 22lbs 14oz as the recorded weight. Naturally, I was thrilled to bits to have caught my third A - Team carp, alongside "Quasimodo" and "Timmy's Fish".
At 6.30pm I lost yet another carp, in almost identical fashion to the one earlier, although it was possibly more attributable to a 'cut-off' on a sharp edge than to line breakage. After that I felt inclined to re-arrange the rods for the night ahead; clearly the margin rod wasn't delivering the goods, and the peninsula spot is more suited to daytime fishing. Accordingly, I transferred the left hand rod to a spot 40 yards out towards peg 4 and the middle rod to a spot 40 yards out towards the central islands. Each hook bait was accompanied by a PVA mesh bag of Skretting course pellets and a wide scatterings of freebies, delivered by throwing stick. To my delight, each of the replaced rods produced a carp around 7.15 pm; the first a 17lb 10oz Common and the second, a 14lb 8oz Common. Given that the fight was in open water, each carp was landed without any tense moments. For some reason, everything went quiet after that, with the night only punctuated by my 'man-flu' related groans and unsuccessful attempts to clear my nose and throat. I found that the least uncomfortable position was with my head hanging downwards over the side of the bed chair to aid nasal efficiency. Not the most comfortable night I have spent on the bank and one in which sleep eluded me for a high proportion of it's duration. having said that though, I wouldn't have wanted to spend it anywhere else and I was certainly glad to have made the effort.
Regarding Wetland's stocked big carp; two Mirrors (31lb 8oz & 29lb 0oz) were introduced in February 2015; three Mirrors (28lb 0oz, 23lb 9oz & 23lb 6oz) in November 2015 and two Commons (25lb 8oz & 23lb 8oz) in April 2016. So far I've managed to bank three out of the seven, so I've still got another four to go. Roll on next week.