Last week's session didn't merit a blog of its own, on account of the fact that much of it (or at least a good eight or nine hours of it) was spent cutting down shrubs and trees on the central island area of Wetland's specimen lake. This work was done to facilitate the construction of a central soil platform, sufficiently firm and level to support a large scale excavator and earth mover. Ultimately, heavy machinery of this caliber will be used to dig some deeper spots around the lake, so as to provide sanctuary for carp, during low water levels (in the event that climate change brings about more regular and more prolonged drought conditions). At the same time, a number of hazardous features (mini islands and culverts etcetera) where carp can potentially become lethally tethered, will be eradicated. It's a major task, of course, but the benefits will be huge.
The mistake I made last week, was to drop into peg 6, simply because it was close to where I was working and I assumed (incorrectly) that the earth moving disturbance would not adversely affect the fishing. Needless to say, I was completely wrong on that score and in consequence, suffered an embarrassing blank session. On the other hand, Pat fished at the furthest extreme from the excavation work and caught four carp up to 21lb in the space of 18 hours. Hence this week, I was determined to be more careful with my choice of peg. Having said that though, this Monday turned out to be a bank holiday and I was fearful that the place might be stacked out with anglers, considerably limiting my choice. Much to my amazement though, there was no queue at the gate, nor was there a bivvy city to greet me on the lake. Unbelievably, Dave and his mate on peg 3 were the only anglers present.
Given that the weather forecast was for a hot sunny day and that I soon spotted some fish movement in front of peg 4 (a peg on the opposite side of the lake from the current earth moving activities), I settled in there without hesitation. The last time I fished peg 4, most of my catch came from under the Willow tree to the left. Hence, I spent some time priming the spot with a generous helping of Skretting course pellets and several handfuls of boilie chops, before committing a rod to it. Thankfully, Dave had already plied me with 2 Kg of the latest Wet Baits Red Liver 16mm boilies, so I was well sorted with bait. As usual, I deployed my bait boat to place the hook bait well under the Willow. The middle rod covered the area behind the snag bushes. Hook bait consisted of a tandem of 16mm Red Liver boilies, plus a PVA bag of Skretting 4.5mm Protec pellets. I fed half a dozen free boilies into the target zone by throwing stick at hourly intervals throughout the day, on a "little and often" basis, in the hope of arousing piscatorial interest. The right hand rod was used as a rover, with just a single boilie and PVA bag of pellets as bait.
By mid afternoon a shoal of 10 or so carp had moved into the small right hand bay to bask in the sun. Accordingly, I reeled in the right hand rover and using as much stealth as I could muster, I managed to flick a hook bait right into their midst without spooking them. With heart racing and adrenalin pumping, I peered out from behind a marginal bush to watch for a response. Frustratingly, two hours later, even though several carp had dipped down in the vicinity of the end tackle, none of them had positively taken the bait. Eventually, they all drifted off, leaving me to scratch my head in disbelief. In fact it wasn't until 7.00pm that anything occurred to disturb the silence of my bite alarms. Action came in the form of a slow steady take on the middle rod. To my dismay, as I lifted into what was clearly a decent carp, I saw a flash of its large sandy coloured flank, as the hook link snapped effortlessly in two and the rod jolted backwards. Definitely not the outcome I was hoping for, and a situation that only added to a mounting sense of frustration. By the time darkness had fallen without any further takes, I was beginning to fear that another blank session was on the cards.
Happily, at 2.00am, I was summoned from my sleeping bag by another slow, steady take on the middle rod. After taking up the strain, there was a tense moment as the perpetrator did its best to disappear into the nearest snag bush. It very nearly succeeded too, as evidenced by a worrying grating sensation that lasted a few seconds. Much to my relief, I succeeded in easing it back in my direction, until it was in open mid water. From then onwards slow progress was made until it thrashed around in the shallow margin. At this stage I could see from its large frame that this was one of the lake's biggies. I messed up the first attempt to coax it into the landing net, such that it shot back out before I could lift the mesh around it. Thankfully, my second attempt was more successful and soon I found myself straining my muscles to heave it up onto the bank. Once safely on the weighing cradle, her identity was all too obvious. Yes, this was none other than "Timms" making this the third time I had caught her. Weighing her proved more difficult than expected. The only way I could achieve a steady reading was to slip a strong bank stick through the scales and support one end on a wooden stake. The first reading was 29lbs on the nose, but I remembered that my next door neighbour had recently borrowed my scales to weigh her travel luggage and zeroed them. Hence, I needed to deduct the weight of the sling which I measured at 1lb 6 oz. I therefore settled on a corrected weight of 27lb 10oz and after photographing her rapidly on the mat I returned her to the lake.
No further captures were made during the night but the middle rod did produce more than its fair share of multiple bleeps, which I put down to bream attentions. However, when I eventually wound in the rod in question, I found that the hook was firmly fixed in an upside down orientation, so it's highly likely that I had missed out on further takes due to poor presentation. Certainly, this session had been a highly memorable and successful one overall, but I can't help wondering what else might have graced my net had I fished at maximum efficiency throughout.