After catching "Timms" for the third time last Monday, I was fully expecting an anticlimax of some sort during this week's session, if previous form is anything to go by. Nevertheless, I was determined not to make the usual mistake of dropping straight into the same peg in the misguided hope of conjuring up a re-run of previous success. Hence, the obligatory lap of the lake was done with extra vigilance, to make absolutely sure that peg choice was done principally in response to fish sightings. As it turned out though, the only discernable signs of fish movement seemed to be in pegs 4 and 5. That said, most of the bubbling I saw, looked suspiciously like bream activity rather than carp presence. However, it was all I had to go on, so in the end I chose peg 5, preferring to avoid fishing peg 4 again.
An advantage of electing peg 5 was that it gave me a long awaited opportunity to fish a spot on the legitimate side of the right hand peninsula. It's a spot that I have often seen carp showing over, but somehow I've never got round to fishing it. Pat's recent haul from the very same location was all the encouragement I needed to give it a whirl, rather than fish just over the boundary into peg 6 territory, which is the more common option.
Just recently, I have been tinkering with shorter, braided hook link lengths (a direct copy of a Korda, 5 inch ready tied design, incorporating a short line aligner) and had a fair run of captures with them, even though it meant I was effectively fishing in the silt rather than above it. All the same, I couldn't help wondering if the short line aligner featured in the design was making a significant contribution to the hooking potential. But, before trying my more usual 9 inch braided hook link with the same 'kicker', I had another trick up my experimental sleeve. It occurred to me, that if I removed all of the coating from a coated-braid hook link, apart from the last 1 inch nearest the hook, this might give better tangle resistance than a pure braid, plus encourage the hook to penetrate more readily. What's more, any tendency for the hook to flip over prior to being blown out of a carps mouth (thus rendering the hook point ineffective) would be negated by the stiffness of the terminal section. Accordingly, I turned up with three of my rods equipped with 9 inch braided hook links incorporating the stiffened last inch.
Naturally, Pat's lucrative spot was host to the right hand rod. Bait consisted of double 16mm Wet Baits Red Liver boilies attached to a PVA mesh bag of Skretting 4.5mm Protec pellets soaked in a matching dip. A hand full of free baits was catapulted to the immediate area. My left hand rod, similarly primed and free-baited went out 40 yards towards peg 3. Normally, I would put a large bed of Skretting course pellets out in front of the left hand island, but I discovered to my annoyance that I had forgotten to pack my chest waders. Hence, my third rod covered a location a couple of rod lengths short of the main central snag bush, instead. And so, the waiting commenced. In the meantime both Dave and Richard appeared for a short chat, plus another angler settled into peg 6 for the day. The weather was more typical of April than September, bearing a mixture of showers (some heavy) and brief sunny interludes. My outer clothing rotated between waterproof jacket, woolly jumper and T shirt with monotonous regularity. By way of a change, I passed an hour or so, picking large juicy blackberries from the bushes immediately behind the peg. To my delight I managed to fill a large tupperware container with the beauties, thus staking a claim on a blackberry and apple sponge at some point in the future (wife willing).
Given that last week I had to wait until 7.00pm before anything occurred (in the form of a carp lost via a hook pull), it didn't surprise me that the action was decidedly slow, once again. Nevertheless, I wasn't expecting the short, but relatively busy period of opportunity that kicked off at 8.05pm, commencing with a slight drop-back on the middle rod, that twitched a few seconds later, prompting me to lift the rod tip in response. By this time, the perpetrator, an 11lb 12oz Mirror had kited well to the left and was in danger of making it past the left hand island. To my relief I managed to ease it back out of danger and the rest of the fight went smoothly. Thirty minutes later the same rod signaled another twitchy take but this time the culprit kited to the right and found an underwater object that induced an annoying hook pull. Then at 9.00pm, a blistering run on the left hand rod marked the start of a formidable scrap that far exceeded the normal capability of a 14lb 4oz carp. Once in the shallow margins, the Mirror in question engineered a succession of surprisingly powerful runs that effortlessly wiped out my middle rod and had me wondering how much longer it would last. The sight that ultimately greeted me on the unhooking cradle transformed the capture into something very special, indeed. Without doubt this is one of the best looking carp in the specimen lake with glorious apple-slice scales arrayed in a stunning pattern and a large red rudder of a tail fin. I learned later that Dean had also recently had the pleasure of holding the same beautiful creature.
At 10.00pm the middle rod once again called for my attention, this time producing a slow ponderous fight characteristic of a larger fish. Steady, uncomplicated progress was made until a decent lump of a carp appeared in the margin. From then on it went a bit mental, surging powerfully away every time I got it within a meter of the landing net. Thankfully, it eventually tired and I found myself grunting noisily as I hoisted the beast onto the cradle. A splendid sparsely scaled Mirror gleamed in the headlight, but one feature grabbed my attention immediately. It had a butterfly shaped cluster of large scales on the upper middle part of its flank, on both sides. So striking was the pattern that I photographed her on the mat and concluded that she should be called "Cluster" or "Butterfly", or better still, "Butterfly-Cluster" to give her a full doubled barreled name. On the scales she recorded the merest smidgen under 20lbs, so I settled on 19lb 14oz and retired to my sleeping bag with a contented smile on my face.
No further action interrupted the night and when I eventually reeled in the following morning, two out of three rods were devoid of bait. No doubt the bream had whittled the boilies down to nothing as usual. Any sense of frustration was immediately negated by the fact that I had enjoyed a most satisfying session with three caught and one lost, not forgetting that two of those banked were stunning looking carp of iconic appearance. Don't you just love this sport?