The prospect of Hurricane Ophelia 2017 hitting the banks from 3.00 pm until 10.00 pm loomed large in my mind, as I considered my peg choices at the beginning of my session. Even though the carp in Wetlands specimen lake are frequently found on the end of a new wind (especially if it's of the south-westerly variety), I must confess that I bottled out completely and went with a safer option. I had no desire to see my bivvy wrenched from the ground and hurtled skywards, so that left only pegs 1 and 7 in the frame. Peg 1 seemed eerily calm and lifeless, but the moment I stepped onto peg 7, I spooked a marginal carp, so my mind was instantly made up. This would be my home for the next 24 hours. Five minutes later my car was parked up behind it and unloading commenced. Recent rainfall had raised the water level by a couple or more inches, such that the exposed hump in the right hand bay was now properly submerged, making fish playing a much easier task. Furthermore, my bait boat was far less likely to run aground on its journey out to mushroom island.
Naturally, the area in front of mushroom island would be on the receiving end of two of my rods, with the third rod ear marked for the corner of the right hand bay. The first task though was to make a couple of bait boat trips out to mushroom island with a twin hopper load of Skretting course pellets (mixed sizes). I deliberately released the hopper doors whilst the boat was still in motion, so as to spread the pellets out across a wide zone in front of the island. Thereafter, I sent the double Wet Baits 18mm Red Liver boilie hook baits out to the area together with around half a kilo of matching crumbed and flaked boilies. The right hand bay rod was commissioned in like manner, albeit with a much smaller quantity of pellets and loose feed.
Given the flat calm conditions present during the morning, it seemed hard to believe that a storm was on its way and I wondered if the weather forecasters had got it totally wrong. However, from around midday onwards, a slight breeze developed, which quickly increased to a blustery wind, and promptly morphed into a fierce and more constant gale. Even though I was on the sheltered side of the lake, the vigorous air movement was sufficient to cause my bite alarms to emit a cacophony of false bleeps, as the hangers danced about wildly. The only solution was to unclip the hangers from the line and hope that I didn't miss a drop-back bite. Even so, I still received sporadic false bleeps, every time a strong blast whipped the rod tips round in an arc, tensioning the line.
At 6.20 pm, in the last of moments of fading daylight, the left hand, mushroom island rod let out a couple of bleeps and the line tightened, remaining under tension. Knowing that a hooked carp in front of mushroom island is highly likely to make a dash for the boathouse inlet, I leapt upon the rod, lifted the tip smartly and began walking steadily backwards towards the rear of the peg. Thankfully, the lump on the end was slow in realising its predicament, before reacting explosively in the aforementioned manner. There followed a tense moment, the line at full stretch and my quarry giving it full power on the apex of the boathouse corner. A protracted stalemate situation ensued, until the pressure gradually eased, sufficient for me to edge forward, whilst winding line to maintain equilibrium. Once, I had moved forward onto the waters edge, I was then able to gain some line and bring my adversary into open water. There were a few hairy moments when it tried to get round the back of the right hand hump and some wild thrashing about in the near margin (the carp, not me), until eventually it slid over the net chord with a gasp.
As I unfolded the net on the unhooking cradle an interesting sight greeted me. A pristine, fat-bellied Mirror lay before me, absolutely covered in red slime from the Red Liver boilies, which it had been gorging itself upon and excreting profusely. On the scales it recorded a respectable 18lb 0oz and following a quick photo on the mat, was released to its watery home. After that, there was no further action, other than from the wind, which showed no sign of abating until the early hours of the morning. I subsequently awoke to a glorious and much calmer morning, with clear skies and the promise of a sunny autumnal day. Pat arrived as I was packing up and headed off to peg 1, to avoid the remaining breeze, which had a distinct chill to it. Apparently, he had caught 9 and lost 1 carp on his previous 72 hour session on peg 3, which he attributed to pink strawberry flavoured boilies. I suspect that good old-fashioned water craft, accurate hook bait placement and a sensible baiting strategy had at least as much influence upon his success as any choice of boilie flavour. Perhaps that's one to discuss in my next blog, together with some musings upon Dean's recent spate of hook-pulls, which he seemed to blame on the use of 'blow-back' rigs, if I have interpreted his comments correctly.
I departed Wetlands before 9.00 am, pleased with my 18 lb Mirror. Maybe the session wasn't as successful as it might have been had I braved it out on the end of Hurricane Ophelia, but I was nevertheless pleased with my efforts, engineered under rather taxing conditions.