The season of summer holidays is upon us with schools breaking up in a few days time. For many carp anglers that equates to an annual opportunity to enjoy carping in France, some other European venue, or even a distant continent, on the other side of the globe. In most cases this greatly extends the size and weights of the carp available, plus the acreage of water to fish. And yet, strangely enough, the prospect of angling for huge monsters in a lake the size of an inland sea, doesn't particularly appeal to me. In fact, I am perfectly content to catch the usual stamp of carp in my native Britain. That is not to say that I wouldn't welcome the odd 30, 40, or even 50lb lump, but for me the challenge and thrill of catching carp is more, or less the same, irrespective of size. What's more, the associated disadvantage of being away from my family and friends for a week or more, would greatly diminish any enjoyment of fishing abroad. Perhaps I'm altogether too set in my ways?
Last week my usual weekly visit to Wetlands was suspended in favour of a drive to St Helens to collect a new bait boat, closely followed by a few days holiday in Whitby. The bait boat was an ebay purchase, prompted by the final demise of my trusty old Viper Mark 3 Icon that had delivered many years of faithful service. Initially, the hopper release became unreliable and then, after several re-wiring operations, the main controller gave up the ghost, as well. Hence it was time to invest in a used Angling Technics Micro-cat model at under half the current retail price. The model in question had been up rated with self-prime motors and a 2.5 GHz digital control system. If this boat gives me as many years service as the Viper, it will indeed be an admirable acquisition. There will, of course be a learning curve, as I get used to the hand set, which features an independent joy stick for each jet motor, rather than a single one for forward/backward motion, allied to another for left/right. Also, its twin longitudinal hoppers hold vastly more bait than the Icon, thus enabling me to explore heavy baiting options, where appropriate.
Anyway, upon my arrival at Wetlands, I found Dean and his mate ensconced in peg 3, for a Sunday through to Wednesday extended session. Having parked up in peg 5, it was immediately apparent that the area was alive with bream activity, in contrast to the rest of the specimen lake. As I gazed across the lake, a carp launched itself out on the opposite side of the right hand peninsula, in peg 6 water. Nevertheless, I decided to remain in 5, on the basis that bream activity probably also meant carp presence. What's more, a gentle, warm breeze ruffled the water surface across into the left hand bay area. Naturally, the first thing I did was to toss a single snowman hook bait (allied to a PVA mesh bag of Skretting Protec 4.5mm pellets) over to the opposite side of the peninsula, in the hope of gaining a quick bite. My other two rods took considerably longer to sort out. Firstly, I waded out to a spot 10yds in front of the mini islands to the left and deposited around 1Kg of Skretting T- Elite FR 80 pellets at the bottom of the marginal slope. Just beyond this I lowered the customary snowman hook bait amongst a scattering of boilie chops and retreated, keeping the fluorocarbon mono in a neat, straight line. The boilie chops were prepared from a bag of Wet Baits LG1 that I had delightfully found at the bottom of my freezer. The middle rod's end tackle was booked on the maiden voyage of my new bait boat, together with a generous measure of Protec 4.5mm pellets plus the remainder of the boilie chops. And so, after all the preparations were completed, the waiting commenced.
At regular intervals throughout the day, a carp launched itself skyward like an Exocet Missile, just out of reach in peg 6. Unfortunately, it reserved its energies for this gymnastic display rather than for sampling my hook bait that lay tantalizingly close. As the day wore on, I received various text messages from Dean. Apparently, his mate had engineered 5 takes since Sunday, resulting in 3 banked carp, the latest an absolute scrapper of a 16lb carp. Late in the afternoon, Dean also received a spirited take, but unfortunately lost it when it went under another of his lines. At this time of year it doesn't get fully dark until after 10.30pm, so I eventually gave in to tiredness and retired to my bivvy, resigning myself to a potential blank. Surprisingly, I was awakened at 25 minutes past midnight by a short burst of a run on the left-hander, that came to a grinding halt, leaving the bobbin at the top of its travel. I lifted the rod, expecting to find a bream attached, or maybe nothing at all. Happily, my action was greeted with firm pressure as a tough Mirror contested every inch of the journey towards me. With water levels being particularly low at present, I lowered myself onto the narrow strip of exposed sand in front of the banking and made sure to keep my quarry in the deeper water. After a long tussle, it finally gave in, allowing itself to be towed reluctantly into the waiting net. An extremely plump Mirror with a high ridged back (akin to the Italian strain of stockies) greeted me on the cradle and registered 13lb 4oz on the scales. A welcome blank-busting capture!
At 5.25am, a jittery bobbin movement on the middle rod had me hovering nervously above the rod. I waited until the indicator lifted once more, before striking. At first I thought the perpetrator had got away with it, but further back winding subsequently brought me into contact with a Common that went mental in the margins. Clearly, it wasn't massive, but it was certainly capable of some athletic burrowing and twisting. As before, there were many heart stopping moments before it finally succumbed to pressure from above. On the scales it recorded a weight of 13lb 8oz, thus completing my tally for the session. Interestingly, the Common was caught on a multi-rigged Nut Cracker pop-up. This was in response to an observation from Dean that light silk weed now covers much of the lake bottom. Accordingly, I tried fishing the bait off the bottom, in order to improve visibility. Maybe, I'll switch more of the rods over to Wet baits pop-ups on my next session. However, I can't help wondering if I would have caught more in peg 6 on this occasion.