Last week, having been on something of a roll, I ended my blog by expressing the hope that my run of recent successes would continue unabated. Well, it seems that making such statements is a sure fire way to bring the 'kiss of death' to ones angling prowess. Add an element of 'new equipment jinx' into the mix and you end up with a recipe for disappointment. The latest carp gear that I'm referring to is a lovely Shimano Tribal XS1 2.75 TC rod that caught my eye in Angling Direct. Most interesting of all was the fact that it was reduced by a hundred quid. Naturally, I couldn't miss such an amazing bargain and I managed to justify it by convincing my 3 daughters that it would make an ideal, early Father's Day present. Now, I know I should have kept said item in it's cloth bag until June 18th, but of course, I couldn't resist the urge to give it a whirl. As you might guess, that particular rod sat looking mightily pretty on the bank, but didn't produce so much as a single bleep for the duration of my session. What's more, this week I found myself in the esteemed company of more than the usual number of fellow carpers (4 to be precise) including stalwarts Dean and Pat. To make matters worse everyone else enjoyed regular action, but I struggled, and suffered the humiliation of being totally out-fished.
It all began, at 7.00am, when I beat Derek through the front gates of Wetlands by a matter of seconds. I parked up in peg 4, as pegs 3 and 2 were already occupied by Pat and Serg, respectively. Both had fished overnight and caught one carp each. Derek dropped into peg 5 and not long after that Dean arrived and headed for peg 6. My usual walk around the lake didn't provide any clues as to the whereabouts of any carp. Even after returning to peg 4 and watching the water for half an hour, or so, nothing stirred. Inevitably, I resorted to habitual practice and put three rods out to former hot spots. Hence, my middle rod launched a bait directly out to 40 yards. My right hander was used to flick a bait only a short distance out from the bank. My left hander was used as a rover and covered several spots during the day, but eventually targeted the area under the Willow tree to the left.
The humiliation kicked off around mid morning when Derek had a screaming run and successfully landed the culprit. Not long after that Pat connected with a beast that eventually succumbed to pressure and tipped the scales at over 18lbs. Then it was Dean's turn, when a bait placed in the margin of a mini island to his right ripped off, culminating in a decent double being steered successfully into his landing net. To make matters worse, As the afternoon wore on, several surface cruising carp drifted into the water in front of me, but showed absolutely no inclination to feed on my baits. One even came into the near, right hand margin right above my baited spot, but refrained from diving down to have a nibble. I consoled myself with the thought that maybe sunset would be the trigger that opened my account, but my indicators still remained motionless long after darkness had arrived.
Eventually I gave in to tiredness and retired to the comfort of my wide boy bed chair. No doubt I would have slept soundly all night had it not been for bickering birds. At this time of year Wetland's wildfowl compete continuously, aggressively and noisily for nesting sites. Hence their honks, squeals and mad fluttering about, had me wrapped tightly inside my sleeping bag, trying to cushion my ears from the raucous cacophony. When I did drift into sleep, it was soon disturbed by the next cackling crescendo. And so, it continued throughout the hours of darkness, until at 6.00am, I could stand it no longer and got up for a welcome coffee. Clearly, the prospect of a daybreak bite had come and gone without any such joy and I resigned myself to a blank final outcome. After my early rise, and much needed caffeine infusion, I started the customary slow pack down.
Subsequently, I got the point where my bivvy and most of my other gear was safely stowed in the carp mobile leaving only my rods, unhooking cradle and landing net on the bank. I'd even written "BLANK" in the diary I use as a carp log, having completely given up hope of saving the day. And then, just as I was about to wind in the first of my rods, namely the left hander (under the Willow), the bobbin shot to the top and stuck there, remaining under tension. On lifting the rod, it became clear that a carp was definitely responsible and that it was kiting rapidly round to the right, away from the tree, without taking any more line. As soon as I connected with it, it went absolutely mental, literally tail walking across the surface and writhing wildly like a demented eel. Dean shouted "Gently, gently!" from the other side of the lake, but bullying it in was the last thing I had in mind. It's antics, made it particularly difficult to cushion the lunges whilst at the same time keeping it under steady pressure. Somehow, I succeeded in netting it at the first attempt and was amazed to see its diminutive frame. On the scales it weighed 11lb 4oz; not huge, but it certainly fought well above its weight.
All that remained was to cross out the word BLANK, write in the details of my last ditch capture and pack away the remaining gear. I stopped off at Dean and Derek's pegs on my way out, just to see how they had fared through the night. Derek had landed one and lost two carp. Dean had caught one in the early hours and was aware that Pat had experienced a quiet night (apart from the geese that is). As I was about to bid him farewell, his right hand rod signalled another take resulting in a brief but intensive battle that put a chunky Common carp of 17.7lbs on the bank. Naturally, I lingered long enough to do the honours with the landing net and take a photo or two. Well done Dean.
My analysis of the session left me thinking that perhaps it is time to move away from the minimalistic baiting approach that has served me so well throughout the winter months and adopt a more generous baiting regime for the spring season. Only time will tell.