24Hr Session, Peg 4 - Monday 06/02 to 07/02.
Maggots (often referred to as "the goots" amongst carp anglers), definitely fit into the 'Marmite' category. You either love 'em or hate 'em. As for me, I've had some great catches on the wriggling wonders in the past, particularly when float fishing a mop-like bunch of them in the margin, including some of the rarely caught upper twenties from various lakes. However, as most anglers will know, maggots should come with a hazard warning. Certainly I've had more than my share of mishaps with the little blighters, particularly of the domestic kind. They may look entirely innocent in the confines of a dry, tightly sealed bucket, but problems occur the moment they start to sweat. Believe me a damp maggot can traverse any surface, vertical or otherwise, and their powers of flexibility and elongation give them an astounding ability to locate and squeeze through the tiniest gap or hole. Multiply that ability many times over (there are an awful lot of maggots in even a pint of the critters) and you end up with a large surface area covered by a pulsating mass, in next to no time at all. Naturally, I've found out the hard way and had to face the wrath of my wife, when her entire pantry floor, or worse still the internal surface of our fridge became decorated in this way. The inside of a car is another disaster area once maggots have escaped, because they remain hidden in unreachable crevices, producing swarms of huge 'blow flies' for weeks on end. These days I place my bucket of maggots in an out of the way place in a cool garage, with the lid off, and with a regular supply of maize flour to keep them dry. Nevertheless, accidents still inevitably happen, from time to time and this weeks session was a case in point.
Having bagged one of the A-team last week, in the shape of Quasi at 22lb 4oz, I unhesitatingly parked up in peg 4, hoping that I had somehow stumbled upon a winter hot spot that might produce more of the same. However, the recent mild spell had come to an abrupt and unwelcome end in the form of a harsh frost that had me struggling to clear the windscreen when I set off at 6.00 am from Sheffield. Early sunshine followed by heavy rain and increasing SSW winds were forecast for the day, so there was a slight chance that things might warm up enough for some carpy action later. You will have gathered that I decided to include maggots in my approach on this session, or at least in one concentrated area. And so, with the recent demise of my bait boat, I had to resort to the customary spod rod and "spomb" combination. Now I'm the first to admit that my spodding skills are somewhat lacking, particularly in the accuracy department, so what was intended to be a tightly defined table-top area of maggots ended up being more akin to a living room, with a bit of hemp and Scopex flavoured sweetcorn thrown in for good measure. The plan was to fish two rods over the top of my bed of bait and top it up at hourly intervals with a single spod of maggots. It was whilst doing one of my top up activities that my maggot mishap occurred.
Firstly though, I should explain that the bed of spodded bait was 45 yards from the bank, in line with the right hand side of peg 6. One rod was primed with a Methuselah style maggot rig and the other bore a snowman combination of 15mm bottom bait, 10mm white pop-up and PVA bag of Skretting course pellets. Before long bream attention had me regretting the use of maggots as a hook bait, so I replaced it with a snowman rig using the Wet Baits 15mm M3C chocolate boilies that Dave had delivered to my peg mid morning. My left hand rod, similarly baited was used to cover a spot 10 yards out from the bank, where bream activity had been evident upon my arrival. Around midday, I spotted a carp splosh out several yards to the right of my baited patch, so I wasted no time in transferring the M3C chocolate baited rod over to the spot.
At this juncture, it was time to deliver another payload of 'goots' to the baited zone, but just as I lowered the rod tip behind me for the cast, the tip of the spomb struck the apex of my bivvy triggering the release mechanism of the spomb. The opening action combined with the sudden forward motion of the spod rod had the unintended consequence of initiating an explosion of maggots. As you might expect, the majority of the creatures were showered neatly through the bivvy door achieving a direct hit in the centre of my bed chair. As you can imagine, it took me simply ages to track down and remove every last maggot from my sleeping bag and even then I wasn't entirely confident that I would be sleeping alone.
At 4.00 pm I re-did the 45 yard rods to make sure that everything was spot on for the night ahead. Unfortunately, the resident pair of swans caught sight of my efforts and made a bee line for the location, clearing me out in a matter of minutes. Hence, I was unable to get the rods re-done once again until after dark. I then spent the first couple of hours of darkness sat on the edge of the bank, looking and listening intently for any signs of carp activity. None materialised and then the forecast heavy rainfall arrived. I therefore re-located to the bank side hut until tiredness overtook me and my maggot infested bed beckoned. At 11.30 pm a twitchy take on the right hand rod had me braving the elements to investigate the commotion. Sure enough a carp, not a bream was responsible and the culprit seemed determined to reach the sanctuary of the main snag bushes. Thankfully the tackle stood up to the strain without a hook pull and before long a decent, nicely scaled Mirror lay beaten in the bottom of my landing net. On the scales she registered a smidgen under 16lbs and this time the battery in my Nikon did the honours of a photo on the unhooking mat.
I was hopeful that a dawn feeding spell might add to my tally, but it wasn't to be. Nevertheless, I was mightily glad to have avoided a blank session and put a February carp on my account. Lets hope that the modest run of winter captures continues and increases as spring approaches.