Having experienced a disappointing session last week (when the only action I received was a 2.00 am bite that ended in a hook-pull at the net), I was hoping for a better outcome this week. However the news that very few fish had been banked in the last few days, did nothing to bolster my confidence, especially given the fact that temperatures had recently dropped like a stone. A slow walk around the specimen lake was slightly more encouraging. The flat calm conditions made it a little easier to spot fish activity, or rather an apparent lack of it in pegs 5, 6, 7, 1 and 2. In contrast, pegs 3 and 4 exhibited plenty of bream presence, with a plethora of expanding rings and the odd bit of bubbling. One curious sight was that of a medium sized eel, which torpedoed out of the water, and then did a series of figure of eight contortions before slapping back onto the surface. Presumably it was being chased by a determined jack pike. Not everyone one loathes catching eels then!
Anyway, peg 3 seemed like the most obvious choice, so the task of carrying my gear down the twisted wooden steps commenced. Interestingly, the banks of peg 3 had recently been split into three sections, marked by a couple of newly erected wooden dividers. Hence, I was immediately confronted with an altogether new kind of choice. Which of the three sections should host my bivvy? Should it be on the end adjacent to peg 2 (sometimes productive at night), or on the opposite end with access to the Willow tree (also, an occasional hot spot). In the finish, I couldn't decide, so I set up in the middle and hoped that no one else would turn up, enabling me to spread my rods out widely, plus make use of the wooden hut for coffee brewing and storage.
In the absence of definite carp shows, I opted to place the rods on three well known spots. And so, the left hander was deployed to the left of 'crocodile island' on the boundary with peg 2. A bait boat hopper filled with Skretting course pellets and boilie segments carried the double Wet Baits Red Liver 18 mm hook bait to the spot. The middle rod, similarly baited (also bearing a PVA mesh bag of Skretting 4.5 mm Protec pellets) was underarm cast out to around 10 yards from the bank. The right hand rod received similar treatment to the left hander, but was boated out to a small crater, just in front of the island corner. Once the rods were positioned, I set up my bivvy and enjoyed the first brew of the day.
Surprisingly, at 11.15 am, the left hand rod gave a couple of bleeps and the line tightened up, the bobbin remaining in an elevated position. Suspecting bream attention, I lifted the rod expecting to have to deal with a slime - covered marauder. It became immediately apparent that this was no bream, as the offender made a desperate and powerful run towards the mini islands that surround the main central island at that point. Thankfully, it turned away, but then kited off to the left, towards peg 2 water. Again, sustained pressure brought it away from immediate danger and into open water in front of the margin. From then onwards, it ploughed backwards and forwards along the margin taking out my other lines in the process. Once it neared the surface, I could see exactly which carp it was, namely the beautifully patterned (nearly fully scaled) specimen that both Dean and I have already caught in summer. I felt every vibration and kick as it flicked violently from side to side. Several times it came to within a few inches of my landing net, only to race off again with renewed vigour. Just when I thought it was at last beginning to tire, it dived down and ploughed along the bottom, whereupon the hook pulled. Understandingly, I was devastated by the loss. I couldn't believe that I had steered it successfully through the majority of a heavily contested fight, only for the hook to pull in the final stages. Oh well, that's carp fishing!
Following that short burst of activity, all became quiet for the remainder of daylight hours. I 'hit the sack' at around 10.00 pm, but lay awake, ruefully going over the details of the unfortunate lost carp episode. Eventually, I must have drifted off to sleep and was awakened by an explosion of bleeps from the middle rod. Once again, the line remained under tension, so I lifted it, but this time it felt more like a bream, until the offender entered the beam from my head torch. From that moment onwards it went absolutely mental, surging backwards and forwards, in the margin below. The consequences of drinking so many cups of coffee during the day became all to apparent to me at this juncture. I most definitely needed to empty my bladder, with utmost urgency, but my adversary showed no sign of tiring. And so, the discomfort continued as the battle wore on. I hung on for what seemed like ages, with legs crossed and muscles clenched. Thankfully, the warrior of a Common finally gave in to persistent pressure and slipped over the net chord. What a relief! Having relieved myself, I was then able to appreciate the finer details of an epic battle and admire my prize, which turned out to be a long Common of 15lbs 4oz, equipped with a large paddle of a tail fin. As I hoisted the carp aloft on the scales, 12 chimes from a nearby village clock pin-pointed the capture to just before midnight.
The rest of the night passed without incident, leaving me to do the slow pack-up routine the following morning, satisfied that I had at least managed to put one decent carp on the bank (and oh so nearly two) under difficult autumn conditions.