In many areas of life there is a gossamer thin line between what would be considered a monumental success and the diametric opposite, namely abject failure. Such is the nature of carp fishing. Thankfully this week's venture, just made it into the triumphant category, but could so easily have gone the other way. As ever, it's the uncertainty of our sport that makes it such a fascinating affair. The knowledge that, at any moment, a mundane session can be totally transformed into a glorious euphoric celebration, or a regrettable catastrophe.
Without exception, an adrenalin fueled, magical period begins the instant that a baited hook first catches inside the mouth of a large carp, progressing through the nerve wracking process of playing a quarry, until it is safely gathered up in the waiting mesh of an outstretched landing net, unless of course, some sort of unwelcome disaster strikes, robbing the angler of his or her anticipated prize. That intense interim period ought to be the provider of extreme pleasure, but strangely enough that is not always the case, especially if the hooked carp feels like a larger than average opponent. All kinds of scenarios and fears race through a carpers mind in those critical seconds, as wave after wave of bumps and vibrations is transmitted down the taut line and legs turn to jelly. Is the hook hold firm enough to prevent a hook pull under pressure? What if the carp finds sanctuary in a weed bed or snag? What if it gets tangled in the other lines? If it kites rapidly in one direction or another, can it be prevented from making an escape?
I must confess that discomfort, rather than the enjoyment of playing a fish is more commonly my experience during the fight. However, I am certain that when things go nicely to plan, the joy of seeing a humungous carp, glistening on the unhooking cradle is in no way diminished by what preceded it. Quite the reverse!
Anyway, back to the plot. This week the customary walk around the specimen lake at Wetlands yielded some unexpected results. Recently, most fish sighting had been concentrated around pegs 3, 4 and 5, but this time things looked markedly different. For starters, there was a noticeable dip in temperature, with a bit of a cold 'nip' in the air, especially on the end of the breeze blowing towards the northerly banks. In stark contrast, pegs 7 and 1, on the back of the breeze, felt much warmer. What's more, with frequent rainfall in the last few weeks, the water levels were significantly higher (enough to make those pegs more readily fishable). Although carp shows were somewhat rare, the obvious presence of bream gave me confidence that any carp would find this area of the lake more comfortable. And so, I settled in peg 7.
Given that heavy baiting seemed to work in my favour the week before, I decided to do more of the same. Accordingly, the area in front of mushroom island received a generous spread of Skretting course pellets, plus some ground bait containing a mixture of Skretting fishmeal and bread crumbs. Naturally, my middle rod, baited with a couple of Wet Baits 16mm Red Liver boilies, was promptly cast to the baited spot together with a spread of free baits. My right hand rod, similarly baited took charge of the right hand bay (in the corner). The left hander covered a variety of spots during the day, but ended up being propped up against the bivvy door to limit the number of lines in the water.
As is usually the case, the day passed without incident. In fact it wasn't until 4.15pm that the middle rod on the heavily baited patch burst into life, with a series of stuttery bleeps, rather than a full blooded run. Thinking that a nuisance bream might have been responsible, I cautiously lifted the rod tip, expecting to reel in a slimy marauder. My action was greeted with very firm resistance at the other end, followed by a spirited bid for freedom in the direction of the boat house channel. I held on for dear life, expecting the hook to pull at any moment. Thankfully, it held firm and I managed to ease the culprit slowly back into open water. Things calmed down a bit thereafter until I got the offender within a metre of the landing net. After a few more frantic shallow water runs it finally succumbed to pressure and was scooped into the landing net. When I attempted to lift my prize onto the unhooking cradle, the sheer effort required told me that this was a decent sized carp. As I peeled back the folds of the net the familiar frame of "Timms" greeted me. Unbelievably, this made it my fourth capture of the magnificent beast. Thankfully, an angler on peg 4 very kindly came over to help with the weighing and photos. Thanks mate! At 28lb 8oz she was at a good pre-winter weight and a veritable delight to the eyes.
For some reason, whenever I have caught 'Timms' before, I have rarely caught much else during the same session. Maybe she likes to hog the limelight? Having said that, I did hook two other carp around 10.00pm that evening, but I lost both of them. The first was from the right hand corner spot and the hook pulled within the opening stages of the fight. The second was on the middle rod. Unfortunately, the carp concerned set off at such a pace that it made it into the boat house channel before I could stop it in its tracks. Inevitably, the hook link parted seconds later. So the session ended with just one carp on the bank, the magnificent 'Timms'. The only question that regularly exercises my mind now is: "How come I have caught the second largest carp in the lake no less than four times, but the largest carp 'Big S' still eludes me? Oh well, perhaps next time?