"Pride cometh before a fall!", or so they say. A mid-session text to Pat (gloating over my two banked carp in comparison to his pair of losses) proved to be my downfall and heralded a turn of events in which the tables were emphatically turned. Next time I'll endeavour to keep my big mouth (or rather texting finger) firmly shut. Added into the aforementioned exchange of texts, was a discussion regarding hook links, or to be more precise, their culpability in Pat's fish losses. Pat was bemoaning the fact that a 10 inch, semi-stiff, coated braid hook link to size 4 ultra sharp hook had failed to land his two hooked carp. In response, I praised my 9 inch fluorocarbon / braid combi-links attached to the latest size 7 Fox ARMA wide gape beaked hooks. As I cheerfully pointed out, one problem with elongated, mega sharp, finely honed hook points is that they easily get turned, due no doubt, to the plethora of stones and other hard materials on the specimen lake bed at Wetlands. Hence, it's all too common (especially if the rig is pulled back into position), for a bent-over hook point to take an inadequate hold inside a carp's mouth, such that it is ejected before a strike can drive it home. Worst still, it may result in an untimely hook pull, that robs the poor angler of his joy, just as his prize approaches the landing net.
Anyway, I'd arrived at Wetlands around 7.00 am, to find the place completely devoid of other carpers, which isn't surprising, considering that the weather forecast was for atrocious conditions. For a start the temperature had plummeted by at least 10 degrees Centigrade in the last 24 hours. On top of that continuous rain was expected from late morning onwards, plus blustery winds. My usual circuit of the lake yielded no tangible clues as to the whereabouts of the carp, so I settled in peg 5, on the basis that they might favour the deeper water out front. I couldn't decide whether the wind that was blowing directly onto it's banks was warm or cold relative to the water temperature. Hence, I was uncomfortably aware that it could work against me, rather than in my favour. Later in the day when Pat arrived, he opted to fish on the back of it, so there was every chance that I'd made the wrong decision.
Bearing in mind that the previous couple of weeks had hosted some serious spawning activities, I had decided beforehand to come armed with a generous quantity of Skretting course pellets, in the hope that the carp might be desiring to replenish some of their spent energy by means of a good feed. The majority of it was waded out to the area approximately 10 yards in front of the left hand island and the hook bait (a snowman combination) placed to one side (slightly further down the slope). So that was the left hander taken care of. The middle rod covered a spot 40 yards directly out from the bank, towards the snag bushes. Again the hook bait was off the main baited patch, the latter (a hopper full of Skretting pellets) having been delivered by bait boat. The right hander was identical but 20 yards, or so further round to the right. Having run out of Wet Baits boilies, each spot received a wide scattering of sundry boilies, scavenged from the bottom of my freezer.
As anticipated, there was no carpy action during the main part of the day. I had to wait until early evening before anything transpired. And so, at 6.05 pm a jittery take on the middle rod produced a well controlled fight without drama. My quarry, which turned out to be a 13lb 8oz Common wallowed nicely in the deeper water in the central part of the margin, allowing me to net it at the first opportunity. Satisfyingly, I'd hardly put the rod back on its spot before it was away again at 6.20 pm with a one toner. Once again, it behaved impeccably resulting in a fine 14lb 12oz Mirror. Thereafter, the action slowed and darkness fell without prompting any further takes. It was during this slack period that Pat texted me to say that he'd lost two and that it had now gone quiet for him too. Naturally, I was only too pleased to let him know that I'd nailed my two chances and to sing the praises of my own rig choice relative to his apparently unreliable type. Clearly, my self confidence was ill founded, as at 10.55 pm I suffered the first of a series of disasters. The left hand rod, adjacent to the heavily baited patch signaled a rapid take. I had to apply a fair amount of side strain to prevent it from going round the island into the corner of peg 4. Slowly I managed to coax it into the shallow water on the left hand side of the banking. At this point it suddenly changed tack and shot under my other two rods. Alas, reverse side strain in shallow water put excessive pressure on the hold and inevitably the hook pulled with the carp only inches away from the waiting net. Aaaargh! not what I wanted.
Ruefully, I put the rod back out to its spot and went to bed. At 01.35 am, I was awakened by another screaming take on the same rod. This time, I attempted to bring it to the right hand side of the banking away from the other rods. Unfortunately, my adversary was having none of it. It hugged the margin with such tenacity that I ended up with the blighter picking up both other lines. I could see from its large silver flanks in the light of my head torch that this was a sizeable carp. My efforts to raise the other rods out of the way failed miserably and eventually the hook pulled once more, leaving me totally wrecked and despondent. To make matters worse, at 02.35 am and at 03.00 am I received two more rapid takes on the left hand rod that ultimately proved to be abortive, with me striking at nothing. Of course, when I checked the offending hook point properly in the sober light of day, I discovered that it was well and truly turned over, meaning that it had altogether failed to get a proper purchase inside the mouth of at least two carp. Naturally, Pat had overcome his initial problems and put two carp on the bank in the early hours.
And so, this week left me with a few issues to resolve (namely, how to safely bank carp in shallow margin water, in the proximity of other lines), plus a heightened resolve to check my hook points to the point of OCD. Still, at least I managed to bank a couple of double figure carp and to pack away without getting completely soaked through once again.