On this occasion, a combined blog is in order. Last week, two solid days of intense maintenance work on a troublesome PA system (at church) robbed me of the opportunity to put my exploits in writing, so here goes with a double whammy. One feature that stands out regarding last week's session was that I inadvertently experimented with short hook links. The reason for this uncharacteristic departure from my normal nine inch versions was attributable to nothing more than a desire to use up an old Korda pre-tied hook link that had been gathering dust in my garage for several years. It consisted of a five inch length of 18lb Supernatural braid attached to a size 6 barbless wide gape and had remained unused for several reasons. Firstly, for anything other than margin or snag fishing, I prefer a size 7 micro-barbed wide gape hook, suspended on at least 9 inches of braid or fluorocarbon. This is because of the deep silt that covers a significant proportion of the bottom in Wetlands specimen lake. Hence, I habitually go to great pains to present a bait above the silt, rather than in it. However, from time to time, when the mood takes me, I have a strong urge to cast aside standard practice and fly in the face of accepted wisdom. My justification for a change of tack, was that I recall Frank Warwick recounting his experience at Cuttle Mill, where he deliberately used heavy leads and short rigs to fish right in the silt. As you might expect his ultra successful results endorsed the technique. Naturally, I hedged my bets a bit, by confining the shortened rig to the right hand rod, which was placed on what I expected to be the least productive spot. The spot concerned is in line with, and around 20 yards out from, the peninsula that borders with peg 5. This contrasted with my middle rod, which placed a bait much closer to the exposed peninsula tip, but in the same line. My left hander covered a spot near the left hand margin bush. All three positions were treated to a few bait boat hopper loads of Skretting T - Elite FR80 pellets and halved/crumbed 18mm boilies. In each case hook bait was a 20mm Nash Key 20mm cultured boilie.
Much to my amazement, it was the right hand rod with a 5 inch rig that did most of the business. Takes came at 9.45am, 1.45pm, and 5.55pm in the shape of a 10lb 14oz Mirror, a 13lb 10oz Mirror, and a 12lb 4oz Mirror. Finally, the margin spot burst into life at 6.15am the following morning, producing a hard fighting 15lb 6oz Linear Mirror. Understandably, this revolutionized my thinking regarding short hook links in silt. Maybe, one important consideration, is to make sure that the bait itself if so well glugged, that it cannot absorb any unpleasant odours from the surrounding silt.
This week, as you can imagine, I came armed with three rods all bearing 5 inch links, to test the approach further. My wife had booked the carp mobile in for MOT on Tuesday morning, so my angling activities were delayed until Wednesday. I was surprised to find several other anglers in situ, upon arrival. Pegs 1, 2 and 4 were all taken, by Pat, Serg and A.N. Other, respectively. According to Pat, peg 7 had contained a good few carp the previous day, so I took his advice and dropped in there after seeing some evidence of carp presence myself. Thankfully, water levels were much improved upon hitherto low levels, rendering the whole area readily fishable. My initial enthusiasm was dampened somewhat, by the fact that my bait boat ran aground and stuck fast, on it's first trip out to mushroom island. This unwelcome scenario necessitated a rescue mission using the rowing boat. Whilst the retrieval operation went relatively smoothly, a sudden downpour ensured that I returned to the banks in a wringing wet state. What's more I wasn't too happy at having disturbed any resident carp, causing them to melt away. Hopefully they would return later?
All the same, I was pleased that Dave appeared shortly afterwards with fresh stocks of Wet Baits KCG Plum 18mm boilies for me. Two rods went out to the area in front of mushroom island accompanied by a generous quantity of T - Elite FR80 pellets and the KCG Plum boilies. A third rod was cast out to the corner of the right hand bay and baited in a similar manner, using a carefully navigated bait boat. Given that I was using short links on all three rods, I stuck with Nash Citruz cultured baits as hook baits, given their longevity and assumed immunity from silt tainting.
At 1.30pm I was wondering if the previously displaced carp might return, when the left hand rod registered a slow but steady take. A few tense moments unfolded as I wrestled with the culprit to prevent it from getting round the boathouse corner. Eventually, by walking slowly backwards I overcame its initial surge of energy and brought into open water from whence it was coaxed into the net without further drama. At 11lb 10oz, it was far from being the largest Common in the lake, but the battle was exciting, none the less. Thereafter, I had to wait until 4.55pm before further action came my way. An almost identical bite produced a pretty 10lb 2oz Mirror. The real drama didn't arrive until close on darkness at 9.15pm. A slow ponderous take on the same left hand rod felt like a much heavier fish. With the rod flexed at full test curve a stalemate situation lasting several seconds had me hoping that the tackle would stand the immense strain without mishap. Fortunately, my adversary succumbed to the sustained pressure and eventually eased back into safer territory. However, the battle was far from done. Next it managed to pick up line from my middle rod before surging along the margin to seek sanctuary under the moored rowing boat. The sudden movement unsettled the boat, such that the carp shot back out from beneath it and straight under my landing net handle. By this time a tangle of lines spanned the net like a spiders web, making an eerie grating noise, thus jeopardizing the task of scooping up my quarry. Somehow I managed to ease it in and lift the net above its large frame. The only way I could remove the net from the water was by biting through the interwoven lines. I heaved it up onto the cradle and delightfully recorded a weight of 22lb 6oz of near Leather Mirror.
At first I wasn't sure which carp I had landed. Her weight was in the same ball park as that of "Quasi", but to my eyes she appeared more grey in colour and had less of a humped back. A couple of days later Dean seemingly solved the mystery by matching her scale pattern to that of "Loony" who was previously caught by Pat at a higher pre-spawning weight of 25lb 4oz. Hence, she is now down in weight, but who cares? Whilst it would have been nice to name a previously unknown fish, I'll happily settle for the capture of yet another A-Team carp to add to my portfolio.