Thankfully, every once in a while, we experience an unexpectedly productive session that exceeds our expectations. This is particularly gratifying in less prolific times of the year, when low water temperatures have a tendency to significantly reduce catch rates. I've experienced some rather challenging sessions of late, having struggled to get on fish, or worse still, when carp were clearly present, failed to induce a bite. Inevitably, when a run of poor results comes my way, I enter panic mode and start to question every aspect of my fishing. Fish location, baiting strategy, presentation and rig design all come under the spotlight, sometimes unnecessarily so, such that I am tempted to change a successful formula for one that is less effective. I have to admit that I've been guilty on all counts, instead of sticking with the tried and tested methods that have served me well for the last few years. Of course that doesn't mean that we shouldn't adapt to changing conditions, by modifying our methods as carp get wised up to well used techniques, but it does mean that we should evaluate things properly to avoid throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. On this week's session I simply went back to basics - I found them, I fed them (without over-baiting) and applied standard, no frills rigs that have worked reliably year after year. Fortunately, it paid off.
Upon entering Wetland's front gates, I headed straight for peg 6, for no other reason than to be best placed for a quick evening spell on the match lake, should my specimen lake endeavours prove fruitless during the day. By the time I had parked up and completed a lap of the lake, another angler had dropped straight into peg 5, thus preventing me from taking what seemed at the time like the most promising peg. Naturally, I scolded myself for not dropping a bucket on it at the first opportunity and sat in peg 6 to survey the scene in front of me as daylight dawned. To my delight, a loud splash down the left hand margin drew my attention to a decent carp that simultaneously launched itself skyward, just off the branches of an overhanging tree. Then, a few minutes later a carp's head rose quietly out the water 20 yards, or so directly in front of me. Moments later, a telltale circular ring appeared to my right, only 10 yards out from the bank, above a patch of brown coloured water. Oddly enough, a déjà vu carp display scenario had unfolded last week, but my initial boost of confidence had subsequently proved unfounded. Would this week be any different? Clearly, carp were present in front of me, but were they catchable?
With my three fishing spots now designated, I set about putting a baited rig on each one. For the left hand margin, I used my bait boat to deliver a payload of 20 crushed Wet Baits LG1 boilies. The hook bait comprised two 16mm matching boilies attached to a PVA bag of Skretting 4.5mm Protec pellets soaked in liver liquid. The 20 yard spot was treated to a similar hook bait arrangement (underarm cast), amongst a spread of whole boilies delivered via catapult. The right hand margin location was administered in identical fashion. So that was it, all three location promptly prepared without any doubts, and the waiting game began. A long chat with Richard helped the morning to pass seamlessly by, and this was followed by an early lunch of cheese rolls and a chocolate chip muffin washed down with several cups of Latte coffee. By early afternoon my 5.00am early rise was beginning to take it's toll, so a much needed two hour nap was called for. I awoke to see my companion in peg 5 reassembling his landing net, so presumably he'd caught one. By 4.15pm, when the "time" shout went up from the match lake, my bite indicators had remained motionless, so I began gathering together minimal equipment for a match lake sortie. Nevertheless, I was determined to leave my rods in place until the very last moment and I'm rather glad that I did, because at 5.10pm, just as I was about to make a move, the right hand rod signaled a slow continuous take. As soon as I lifted into it, it was apparent that a decent carp was responsible. It proceeded to go on a series of long unstoppable runs, taking my middle rod out, in the process. Eventually though I managed to steer it into the deepest part of the margin and into the waiting arms of my landing net. As I heaved it onto my unhooking cradle, the sight of a, pristine Common glinting in the evening light greeted me. Marvelous! On the scales it went 18lb 2oz, thus making me a very happy man indeed.
Of course, this welcome capture cancelled the need for a match lake foray, so I gladly replaced the successful rod and reorganized my gear for the night ahead. At 3.05am a rapid take on the same rod had me hurrying out of the bivvy for an early morning battle. The culprit, an energetic Mirror seemed to favour torpedo-like, darting movements in the shallowest water it could find, thus prolonging the somewhat hair raising battle, but it finally succumbed to sustained pressure and was bundled unceremoniously into the net. The Mirror concerned sported a curious, a slightly downward bent tail, but was in glorious winter colours and weighed 12lb 8oz. It provided a prolonged but welcome intrusion into night time slumbers.
As you can imagine, I returned home, much relieved to have put a couple of carp on the banks of the specimen lake, after something of a lean period.
Let's hope it continues.