At last, after a real 'head banger' of a winter on the specimen lake, the uncharacteristically rock hard venue had begun to give up some of it’s hard earned prizes. It started with the odd carp being caught here and there during March, followed by Pat amassing an awesome haul of five carp from peg 10 over the weekend. Hence, I was pleased to find that peg 10 was available for my next session, planned for Monday. A common problem of course, is that a decent hit from any peg on Wetlands is usually followed by an unproductive period when the carp having being ‘hammered’ are extra wary. Nevertheless, I was hopeful that the tail end of Pat’s bonanza might provide me with at least something to show for my efforts. More importantly, peg 10 is well known to attract carp in the run-up to spawning, especially when the relatively shallow waters therein are warmed by spring sunshine.
Apparently, the majority of Pat’s carp had come from the small tree-lined bay to the right. The most lucrative spot had been right on the fringes of the overhanging branches. Interestingly, it had always been my own experience, that the tree-lined perimeter produced more carp than the open bay, although many other anglers favour an area just beyond the left hand peninsula, more towards the middle of the bay. As ever, I intended to deploy my bait boat to drop a baited hook link right below the overhanging branches. However, any plans to benefit from modern technology were immediately scuppered. To my horror, I discovered that the bait boat ON/OFF switch had accidentally been knocked into the ON position at some time during storage, such that the batteries were totally flattened. Oh well, there was nothing for it other than to revert to my modest casting skills, or rather lack of them. Consequently, there followed a period where I detached the hook link and cast a bare lead towards the edge of the overhanging foliage and then (after clipping up), gradually inched it forwards, until I had it as close as comfortably possible to the suspended canopy, without running the risk of losing the end tackle amongst the branches. Finally I attached the hook link, baited with dual tiger nuts and a PVA mesh bag of Skretting 4.5 mm Protec pellets. It was then a much easier task to cast my middle rod (baited with an 18mm Wet Baits Red Liver boilie, plus 10mm white topper and identical PVA bag of pellets) to a more central position within the right hand bay. Finally, my left hand rod, similarly baited was cast into the main bay in front and to the right of ‘mushroom island’. Regarding free baits, I resisted the urge to be generous, instead limiting myself to 6 Red Liver boilies scattered loosely around each hook bait.
Now, at this juncture, it is appropriate for me to provide some facts and figures regarding the excavation work carried out at Wetlands from 5 - 11 February? Digging out deeper areas within each peg, as well as significantly modifying the specimen lake perimeter near peg 8 and removing a number of dot islands has taken around 60 hours of rigorous work using a 48 ton Komatsu excavator equipped with an extra long (70 feet reach) arm. An estimated 5000 tons of surplus soil has been removed via a 25 ton Volvo mega -dumper, at a staggering rate of 30 to 40 loads per day. What’s more the work was carried out almost entirely by two very determined men. What an amazing feat! Well done, Richard and Simon!
Anyway, back to the plot. Although the day started off dry, cloudy and relatively warm, it wasn’t long before the temperature dropped and cold rain moved in on an easterly breeze. I wasn’t surprised that no action occurred during the day and given that the rain became heavier towards the evening I was beginning to expect a blank night. After the recently introduced British Summertime, darkness descended around 8.30pm and I was glad to seek the warmth of my sleeping bag, fully expecting an uninterrupted night.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised when at 10 minutes past midnight my middle rod started emitting sporadic bleeps. Suspecting that a bream had got itself hooked, I lifted the rod and began winding in. My action was met with very little resistance until the fish on the end neared the margin beneath my feet, when it woke up and went mental, careering energetically round in bottom hugging circles. By the time it had tired of this game, I was thoroughly drenched in the downpour and pleased to have the responsible carp on the mat at last. Oddly enough, the hook was lodged so far back in its mouth that forceps were needed to unhook it. More surprising still, was the fact that it weighed a mere 8 lbs. Oh well, at least it was a common carp and my winter of sequential blanks had been broken. To add to my delight, at 4.15 a.m. the rod in the main bay let out a torrent of bleeps. I was on it in seconds, but not quick enough to prevent the culprit from getting part way into the boat house channel. I did manage to ease it some of the way backwards, albeit to the accompaniment of some grating line but then everything went solid. Not wishing to get the boat out in dark and extremely wet conditions, there was no alternative other than to slacken off, place the rod in the rests and wait.
Thankfully, a few minutes later slow regular bleeps indicated some movement of the carp, so I lifted the rod once more, walked steadily backwards and to my immense relief managed to ease it back into open water. Nevertheless, the perpetrator was still not in a mood to give up easily and I received a further thorough soaking in heavy rain before I completed the weighing of a 13lb 8oz Linear Mirror, changed my outer clothing for the second time and retired to bed.
There were no further interruptions during the night, but to be honest, I was somewhat relieved not to have yet another soaking. Packing up in cold rainy conditions is never pleasant, but undeterred I was still able to return home with a smile on my lips and a spring in my step. May this be the start of even greater things to come.