This week's session will be remembered as one which started with much promise and went on to deliver some spectacular results. Unfortunately, the results were not mine. They were for the ever consistent Pat, who gave me a sound thrashing in an eye watering period of quick hit carping.
It all began, in customary fashion, as I drove through the gates of Wetlands, just before 7.00 am on Monday morning. The specimen lake appeared devoid of anglers, other than a solitary chap in peg 5, who had bagged a nice 17 pounder the previous evening and professed to be simply biding his time whilst he awaited the arrival of a mate. Not a bad outcome, I thought, for someone who wasn't fishing seriously! I parked up in peg 7 and placed a bucket on it before commencing an intended lap of the lake. However, as I began the anti-clockwise circuit, it became clear that the associated right hand bay contained a few carp. From the walkway that separates the bay from the ornamental pond I immediately witnessed one carp circling the boat house end like a happy go lucky child, head and shouldering with gay abandon as it displayed a 'good to be alive' sentiment. More importantly, a group of around six carp were suspended mid-water, in Red Arrow format, just off the branches of the overhanging trees, apparently absorbing the early morning sunshine. Naturally, I stopped dead in my tracks and abandoned the planned walk around, in my rush to get back into peg 7 and 'on the case'.
Stealth would be the key requirement, as I set about setting some traps. Firstly, my bait boat loaded with a couple of handfuls of Skretting 4mm course pellets, a dozen crumbed Wet Baits M3C 16mm boilies and a butterfly style, matching hook bait (cut in half and reverse mounted) was delivered slowly to the edge of the overhanging trees and brought to a complete stand still before releasing its cargo. The operation was then repeated for nearby spot, namely the end of the peninsular on the opposite side. Finally, the third rod was used to underarm cast a similar bait out to the back of the hump where an island used to reside (before it was dragged out using a land rover winch and chain). This time a liberal helping of Skretting pellets and M3C boilies was catapulted around the area. Regrettably, my hopes that the incumbent carp might remain undisturbed in the baiting up process proved unfounded. It seems that the gentle throb of the bait boat's motors was sufficient to scatter them abroad and by midday it was apparent that they hadn't returned. Nevertheless, I decided to stick to the original game plan for the remainder of my session. Besides, my carp house had by this time been fully erected (being careful to work the tent pegs in by hand, rather than resorting to the rubber mallet). I figured that the odd carp might drift surreptitiously back into the area to enjoy the sunshine, or seek refuge under the canopy of trees.
During the day a few carp waddled through my swim and even dipped down for the odd feed, sending a momentary cloud of bubbles to the surface. Frustratingly, none slipped up within a baited patch and another ultra warm day drifted by. Usually, if the carp are up for an evening feed, 4 o'clock in the afternoon signals the start of such activities. Hence, I was greatly encouraged at 3.50 pm, when the right hand corner rod burst into life. I was on it in a flash, expecting the culprit to bury itself under the overhanging trees. However, steady side strain persuaded it otherwise and it subsequently reverted to kiting wildly to the left, in an attempt to get behind the peninsula island. Fortunately, I just managed to ease it out beyond the point, and the rest of the dogged fight was carried out in open water. Eventually, a bright orange coloured Mirror greeted the spreader block and joined me on the bank. At 13lb 4oz, she was a welcome blank busting capture and I replaced the rod, hopeful of more to come.
Around 7pm Pat appeared, straight off a night shift. After the usual chat about his ongoing run of great success, with tales of huge monsters that avoided capture, he departed towards peg 2 and was eventually set up by 8.30ish. In spite of a late start, he then embarked upon his customary demolition job, commencing with the loss of two carp, the first being an absolute beast that straightened out a hook. Overnight he had four more takes, including a couple of decent 15 pounders. He wound in around 9.00 am and came round to my peg to compare notes. Sadly, I'd had absolutely no more action, so I'd been well and truly beaten into submission by a comprehensive demonstration of carp catching ability. Well done Pat!
As I packed away (rather more rapidly than usual, as my wife needed the car for a trip to Bolsover Castle with the grandchildren), I couldn't help thinking that something is currently amiss with my approach. I have absolute confidence in my bait and know that most of the time I'm "on fish", but I have a sneaking suspicion that my short hook links are not suited to the increased levels of bottom silt. Maybe lighter leads teamed with longer hook links is the way forward. Also, Skretting have just released a new product called Protec 4.5mm pellets, which is described as a revolutionary new angling bait which not only works in synergy with the fish's defensive system, but helps to improve catch rate through the addition of extra flavourings, vitamins and minerals. As soon as a trial batch arrives on my doorstep, I'll be itching to give it a go. Who knows, with a change of tactics and a special new bait up my sleeve my catch rate might receive a welcome boost. As usual, next week's session can't come soon enough!