It's that time of year now, when bite rates slow down significantly and for carp angling to be productive, dogged persistence and determination is required. The rewards are definitely there though, for those who are prepared to brave the elements and stick it out regardless. If nothing else, there is plenty of opportunity to grab some extra kip during the long dark nights, provided of course that one is kitted out with a decent 5 season sleeping bag and appropriate warm clothing.
I've merged two blogs into one, on this occasion. Last week's hard won capture was the sole bright spot in an otherwise uneventful setting and this week ended in a double disaster that had me dealing myself a good mental kicking. However, more of that later. As usual, I took the trouble of doing a thorough lap of the lake last week, that ultimately guided me towards my choice of what is now peg 5. Having started my circular walk in the car park (now peg 8), I saw very little evidence of carp on my anti-clockwise journey. True, something may have stirred at the rear of peg 1, but not so obvious as to cause me to drop in there without hesitation. As I neared the end of the Bird hut bank, I was suddenly startled to see the tail of a carp hoisted clean out of the water as its owner mopped up the remnants of an anglers bait. Naturally that was all the persuasion I needed and within 5 minutes I was parked up nearby and had unloaded sufficient gear to enable me to gently place a single Wet Baits Red Liver 18mm boilie hook bait (allied to a PVA mesh bag of Skretting Protec 4.5mm pellets) bang on its head.
Hopeful that I hadn't spooked the opportunist feeder into doing the off, I quietly unloaded the rest of my gear and set about erecting the bivvy. The pre-positioned rod became my middle rod, supplemented by a similarly baited rod, aimed just to the left of it, at about 15 yards range from the bank. My right hand rod was committed to a spot under the big Willow tree, courtesy of my bait boat, but in this case a hopper full of Skretting mixed size course pellets privided the free bait. Clearly, my initial strategy of targeting a feeding carp worked like a dream. At 9.05 am the middle rod rattled off with a steady take. The raging battle that ensued was of the longest tussles I have ever experienced. Thankfully, it was conducted wholly within the bounds of open water, but this was one warrior that wasn't about to give up easily. It ploughed up and down the margin, plus circled repeatedly near the bottom for at least five minutes, before I even got a sight of it. Eventually, it tired and reluctantly allowed me to ease it over the draw cord into the waiting landing net. A long muscular Common carp lay glistening on the unhooking mat and subsequently registered 15lb 14oz on the scales. In a sense, the weight was immaterial; what counted was the fact that it had given me the pleasure of an absolutely monumental fight. What's more, that epic battle marked the end of action for the session. Seemingly, it had been a lone carp and none of its mates were on hand to continue the saga.
For the remainder of the session, my mind, or rather my upper body was pre-occupied with one particular matter, namely that I had purchased a new winter weight, khaki shirt from an army and navy stores and it absolutely itched like hell. Those in the know, (of ex-army status like Dean and Dave), tell me that the old style shirts were infamous for being unbearably rough on the skin. Hence, it was common practice to surreptitiously conceal a thin, T - shirt (with the hem trimmed off) beneath the sackcloth-like garments. The practice carried the risk that a commanding officer would detect the additional clothing, reach inside the modified shirt and rip the offending item up and away in one violent and painful movement. Nevertheless, the level of discomfort afforded by those standard issue shirts was such that comfort enhancing measures were fully justified, whatever the risk. Not surprisingly, my decision to stick it out and act like a man, proved to be a costly one, in terms of the inevitable sleep deprivation.
This week (wearing a soft T-shirt beneath my khaki shirt) I parked up in the Supercast peg (now peg 10) and immediately saw a pronounced vortex, plus profuse bubbling in front of the additional platform to the right. Inspired by such a sight, I abandoned any plans to do a tour of the lake and set about putting a bait on it as quickly and stealthily as I could manage. Unfortunately though, what works one week isn't guaranteed to do so the next week, and this indeed proved to be the case. Two hours later the right hand bay was still and lifeless, its carp shaped occupants having done a runner. In the meantime, my other two rods were placed left and right in front of mushroom island, each baited with Wet Baits Red Liver 18mm boilies, amidst a scattering of Skretting mixed course pellets, delivered via bait boat. A dozen, or so free boilies were scattered across the area by throwing stick.
Occasional sunshine filtered through thin clouds throughout the day, but hardly anything stirred the flat calm surface of the lake, other than sporadic predator strikes and the odd swish of a bream. In fact, it wasn't until 5.50pm, as darkness descended, that anything interrupted the stillness of the scene. The left hand, island rod emitted a few stuttery bleeps and the line tightened. Upon lifting the rod, I was immediately greeted by the kick of an angry carp. Sadly, within the space of a few seconds, I felt it shake its head violently and the rod shot back towards me. It was gone! An examination of the line showed that the braided 12lb breaking strain hook link had parted just below the swivel. Within five minutes I had replaced the rod, this time with a coated braid hook link doing the honours.
At 8.20pm, it was the turn of the right hand, island rod to burst into life, in spectacular fashion. Suddenly, in a fraction of a second, around 10 yards of line was pulled violently from the reel, before silence returned. Lifting the rod was met with little or no resistance and upon reeling in, I noted that the 12lb braided hook link had parted in exactly the same position. The braid used on this occasion, on both rods, was some old, green, Super Nova that had lain in my tackle box for more than 10 years and for some reason, on a mere whim, I had decided to try it out on this session. The rest of the night proved uneventful and I returned home ruefully scalding myself for wasting two distinct opportunities. Needless to say, the ill fated braid has been removed from my tackle box along with any other hook link materials likely to have deteriorated with age. I continue to learn from my mistakes.