"The best laid plans...." and all that! This week's session at Wetlands didn't go exactly to plan, but fortunately the end result was well worth the effort, in spite of a few unexpected challenges. Whenever possible, I try to avoid Bank Holiday Monday's, simply because the lake tends to get very crowded, with the most productive pegs being commandeered well in advance of my arrival. However, on this occasion my weekly schedule was so heavy that it had to be Monday through to Tuesday, or not at all. Secondly, to make matters worse, my wife had invited guests for lunch on Monday, which meant that I couldn't head for Wetlands until late afternoon. This of course, dictated that I would be fishing for a much reduced 12 hour overnight session, on a busy lake. Not a recipe for unbridled success. What's more, another 'fly in the ointment' was in store for me upon arrival. To my shame, I hadn't bothered to check the web site before setting off. Hence, I was blissfully unaware that the recent spell of hot weather had triggered an intense spawning episode. Imagine my disappointed surprise when I rolled up at the front gates, only to find a barely readable chalk board notice (washed out by a day of drizzly rain) declaring that the specimen lake was closed due to spawning.
Much to my relief, the change in weather had put paid to any piscatorial amorous activities, so Clive invited me to choose my peg and fish as usual. Naturally, I didn't hesitate to take up his offer and drove onto a gloriously empty lake, apart from a couple of day anglers on peg 3, who had presumably also turned up in ignorance and been allowed to fish. Given the drop in temperature, I opted immediately for peg 4 which contains a mixture of deep, plus shallow water. Also, there was a warm, gentle breeze blowing directly into its banks. I wasted no time in fanning my three rods out to 40 yards each; the left hander towards peg 3, middle rod towards the central snag bushes, and the right hander a few clockwise degrees further round. Frustratingly I'd run out of Wet Baits boilies, so I had to make do with a mixture of left over sundries from the bottom of the freezer. My baiting strategy, in each case, was to create a tight area of Skretting Protec 4.5mm pellets (2 good handfuls) and flaked boilies delivered by bait boat. This was surrounded by a wider spread of boilies delivered by throwing stick. All end baits comprised an 18mm bottom bait topped by a 12mm white pop-up, snowman style. These were deliberately cast to one side of the concentrated bait patch.
By the time I had satisfactorily got all three rods in place, it was turned 8.00 pm, so I hurriedly erected the bivvy and got everything else sorted before sunset approached. At 9.15 pm I was just sipping a welcome cup of coffee when the middle rod commenced some strange antics. The bobbin began lifting gently and dropping back again, hardly emitting more than the odd single bleep from the bite indicator. It looked suspiciously like nuisance bream activity, but just in case it was a wise old carp trying to blow out a hook without running off, I struck. As I lifted the rod, I felt a light resistance and began winding in what I thought was a bream. Once the offender got a bit closer, suddenly I felt a hard kick and what was obviously a carp went mental. In the close margin it ploughed wildly back and forth. Although I managed to keep it away from the other lines, the strain in relatively shallow water eventually took its toll and the hook pulled before I'd even got a sight of it. Gutted as usual, I could only bemoan my misfortune, replace the turned-over hook, and get the rod back out again before darkness descended. Still, at least there were carp in the vicinity, so I might be in with a chance of more action over night.
As it happened, I had to wait until 01.30 am before anything else transpired, but it was well worth the wait. This time, I was awakened by a proper 'one-toner' on my right hand rod, that had me rushing out of the bivvy with one leg dragging a tenacious sleeping bag behind me. This carp fought every inch of the way back to the bank and was considerably tamer by the time I lowered my landing net into position. Happily, it took a good heave to raise it onto the weighing cradle and my eyes settled on a long Common with an impressive fat belly. The scales recorded a respectable 20lbs 2oz and I was delighted. At this point I discovered the folly of swapping the wide angle lens on my camera for a fixed focus 50mm version. Even when standing on extreme tip toes, like an overweight ballerina, I could not get high enough above the carp cradle to frame it within the view finder. After several unsuccessful attempts, I gave up trying, and had to make do with shots of a headless, tailless body.
At 03.15 am the right hand rod again burst into life. This time, an uneventful fight was concluded with the netting of a 10lb 2oz Mirror that resembled a bloated football. No further action came after that and I tackled the morning pack up with a satisfied smile on my face. Sometimes short sessions can deliver great results.