It's amazing what difference a mid-session change in barometric pressure can make to one's fishing, transforming a seemingly barren experience into something far more productive. Such was most definitely the case this week, where the first 14 hours were a bit of a head banging grind, transformed at the whim of the weather, when clear skies gave way to thick cloud and a few spots of rain. The decisive moment was indeed like the flick of a switch that signaled the onset of a good old carpy feeding spell. What puzzles me though is why, after years of experiencing the susceptibility of carp's feeding habits to changes in weather conditions, how easily confidence ebbs away, when the action slows down. It doesn't take long for silent bite alarms to trigger intense scrutiny of all aspects of our fishing. Have I chosen a productive peg and fished the best spots? Am I using a suitable baiting approach? Should I be using a different type of rig? And so it goes on, until we reach panic mode and start changing things unnecessarily. Worst of all is the temptation to thrash the water to a foam, as we explore every inch of the water in front of us, without leaving the bait in any one spot long enough to properly find out.
Anyway, this week I had the luxury of finding Wetlands completely devoid of other anglers upon my arrival at 7.00am, and was able to park up temporarily in peg 5 before ambling around the specimen lake for a good reconnaissance exercise. Nevertheless, my anti-clockwise circuit failed to identify anything to inspire me until I reached peg 3. As I strolled along the elevated roadway section, towards the peg 4 end of the banks, I disturbed a hefty carp that was hitherto stationary in the margin. As I passed it's resting place, it no doubt caught sight of my profile against the skyline, causing it to waddle out into deeper water before disappearing altogether. Knowing that there is a bowl-shaped dip in this area, possibly containing a bloodworm bed, which occasionally becomes very attractive to carp, I placed my water bottle in the peg to reserve it and went to bring the car round post haste. Having said that, I did at least have a cursory inspection of peg 4 on the way, but saw nothing of interest to change my mind.
As I unloaded my gear, I was aware of a definite nip in the air, which is hardly surprising, considering the "below 4 degrees C" warning had come up on the dashboard during my journey. The absence of cloud cover heralded a bright sunny day, when the thermals would be discarded in favour of T shirt and jeans. As you might expect, I wasted no time in getting a rod out to the area where I spotted the chunky beast. However, rather than fishing the near margin, I chose instead to use a short underarm cast to a point approximately 10 yards from the bank. The bait, as usual was a 15mm Wet Baits KCG Chocolate, topped with a 10mm Milky Toffee pop-up, snowman style, clipped onto a golf ball sized PVA mesh bag of 4.5mm Skretting Protec pellets. My middle rod, similarly baited, covered the entrance to the so-called 'M25 cut-through'. Finally, my left hand rod was used to fish the left hand margin, right under the overhanging bush.
Having had an ultra busy weekend, on guitar-playing duties at a Sheffield city-centre event, I found it pleasantly relaxing to bask in the warm sunshine and soak up nature around me - a superb antidote to the stress of organising several musicians and singers, plus their equipment. By the time mid-day had passed, I was feeling thoroughly chilled out and my thoughts turned to the business in hand, or rather the lack of it. Just to underline the point, a medium sized Mirror has appeared in the left hand margin, right above my baited spot, and proceeded to languish on the surface without showing the slightest bit of interest in having a munch. It remained there until 5.00 pm, or so, until it drifted off unscathed. With the advent of lighter nights, darkness didn't fall until around 7.30 pm, but the hoped for dusk feeding spell didn't materialise. Eventually, I resigned myself to a potential blank session and 'hit the sack' early, expecting a good night's sleep, if nothing else. As it happens, sound sleep was not on the menu.
I had barely drifted off into slumber when at 9.00 pm my middle rod tightened up, leaving the hanger hard at the top of it's travel. When a couple more bleeps were emitted I lifted the rod and found myself attached to an angry carp, hell bent on burying itself deep into the mini islands that occupy the central area. I gave it as much pressure as I dare and managed to ease it back into mid water where it circled endlessly, refusing to break the surface. At this point, I realised that I was desperate to have a "pee", such that the remainder of the battle was fought in a rather cross-legged fashion, with me shouting words of encouragement to my resilient quarry. Once it was safely inside the landing net, I left it in the margin to recuperate whilst I relieved the pressure on my bladder and made ready to unhook and weigh my prize. On the scales the Common recorded a weight of 13lb 4oz and expressed its disgust by sending a wave of water in my direction as I lowered it back into the lake. At 10.00 pm I had a similar take on the middle rod but unfortunately the hook pulled within seconds of making contact with my adversary.
Then at 11.40 pm my sleep was interrupted once again by more action from the middle rod. Fortunately, I managed to steer the culprit away from danger before it woke up and embarked upon some frighteningly powerful runs. After several determined bids for freedom it finally gave in and greeted the spreader block. It turned out to be a magnificent stocky Common with a long muscular body weighing 18lb 8oz. The night time action didn't end there either, for at 2.05 am, it was the turn of the right hand rod to join the fray, producing a glorious Linear Mirror of 16lb 2oz. Proceedings didn't finally come to a standstill until 5.35 am when the middle rod completed the tally with a 10lb 2oz Mirror. I hasten to add though that the intervening hours failed to supply any decent sleep due to interruptions from a large Tench and a snotty Bream.
So there you have it. What started off as a rather bleak early session ended up as a night time bonanza and seemingly all because a change in weather conditions flicked the switch. Without doubt it's the unpredictability of it all that makes our sport such a fascinating and enjoyable one.