You're only as good as your last gig! At least, that's what's musicians often tell you. Whether the same principle applies to carp fishing, or not, is a matter of conjecture. Certainly, we can look back at our record of past captures and highlight the successes, in an attempt to maximize our achievements. Mind you, the less positive amongst us might be more inclined to focus on the perceived failures, leading to an ever increasing pressure to improve our performance. This is especially so, when we compare ourselves with the seemingly unassailable feats of certain fellow anglers, who seem to catch with relative ease and unwavering consistency, mentioning no names (e.g. Pat at Wetlands). Those of us who declare that we are just happy to catch a few carp, regardless of size or numbers are unavoidably affected, to some degree, by the blank sessions that inevitably come our way, even if we convert them into valuable learning exercises. What's sparked off this particular train of thought you may ask? Well, over the last few sessions I seem to have been on a bit of a roller coaster, with enough emotional dips and rises to fuel a day at the Olympics. Euphoric "A - Team" captures seem to have been interspersed with some particularly frustrating blank sessions. Having caught the "Long Common" a couple of weeks ago, I was feeling immensely buoyed up, falsely believing that more of the same would automatically follow. But, "pride comes before a fall" and surprise, surprise, I returned to earth with a sobering thud, only to endure a particularly uneventful blank session that was notable only for it's wholly mundane nature.
And so to this week. I arrived at Wetlands with dented pride, wondering whether I might be able to raise my game. Although peg 7 beckoned with an almost irresistible allure (especially given that the incumbent angler was about to vacate the peg, having had a couple of overnight carp), I resisted the temptation and forced myself to have a walk around the specimen lake before making my choice. A stiff breeze was blowing towards peg 4 and sure enough, there was plenty of bream activity on the end of it, if not carp. Elsewhere looked a bit dead, particularly at the sheltered end of the lake, where its lifeless, unruffled surface sported a thicker than usual covering of scum. Without further hesitation, I drove round to peg 4 and attempted to stealthily put out a couple of close in rods, in the hope of stealing a quick bite. By 9.30 am, it was obvious that the ploy was not going to work, so I finished unloading my gear and erected the bivvy before deciding upon some more permanent spots for the rods. I had it in mind to bait a bit more heavily than usual, using a mixture of 10mm halibut boilies and Skretting 4mm course pellets, with Wet Baits M3C 16mm black dumb-bells over the top. For my left rod I created a baited area towards the central islands, over the back of a bar (the spot from which "Big - S" was last caught). My middle rod was dedicated to an area 40 yards out, this time amongst a wide scattering of (throwing stick fed) free bait. Lastly, my right hand rod was underarm cast to a point only 10 yards out and the spot was regularly primed (catapult) with the same pellets and mini boilies.
By early afternoon, with no action occurring, I noticed a few small carp drift into the right hand bay. They seemed content to remain stationary in the margin of a mini island. Not being one to miss such an opportunity, I wound in my left hand rod, replaced the bait with a couple of tiger nuts and bait-boated the latter (together with half a dozen freebies) to the spot concerned. As expected, the arrival of the bait boat spooked the residents, but I was hopeful that they might return later. In fact, even though they returned fairly soon afterwards, it wasn't until 4.20 pm that one of them slipped up and sprung the trap. The culprit made a desperate effort to reach the sanctuary of the overhanging trees at the back of the bay, but sustained pressure eventually persuaded it otherwise. At 9lb 10oz, it wasn't the biggest Common in the lake, but it was a very welcome blank busting capture, all the same. I feared that the commotion might have put paid to any chance of further action from the small bay, but given the lack of action from my other rods, I opted to replace it anyway. Much to my surprise, the ruse paid off, when at 6.25 pm an even smaller Common of 7lb 10oz followed suit, in an almost identical scenario.
Significant weed growth, and associated oxygen generation (via the process of photosynthesis), means that the right hand bay is often host to a few basking carp during warm sunny days, but carp usually vacate the area at night, when the weed gives off carbon dioxide, instead. Hence, at sunset I chose to switch the bay rod back to the pre-baited patch near the central islands. However, much like the previous week, sporadic cold rainfall punctuated the night, apparently putting a dampener on any nocturnal feeding activity. Consequently, I had an uninterrupted night's sleep, that came to a sudden end at 6.00 am when ducks feasted on my near-margin baited area and one got firmly hooked in the side of the beak. After the ensuing untidy wind-in and wrestled unhooking operation I gave the offender a severe scolding and returned it to the lake warning it against the consequences of a repeat offence.
In conclusion, two single figure carp is considerably better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick and a lot more satisfying than a blank. For next week, I'm hatching a plan to make up some ground bait from white bread crumb, krill meal, and the latest batch of low temperature fishmeal to arrive from the kind people at Skretting. Maybe next time, I'll get amongst some of the larger residents once again?