A throw away comment from Richard (owner of Wetlands Lakes) has somehow lodged in my subconscious and proceeded to hijack my thinking on numerous occasions since. The remark was simply an observation that anglers new to Wetlands invariably do extraordinarily well on their first visit and it's not just a case of beginners luck. Oddly enough, the success has been particularly apparent, if those concerned ignored any advice offered by other anglers. On the face of it, this seems to fly in the face of established wisdom on the subject of: "How to tackle a new unknown venue." Ordinarily, success is dependant upon doing plenty of background research. However, it must be said that doing such groundwork, is rather more than just consulting the regulars. As ever, it is vitally important to 'fish on your own terms', rather than slavishly following the crowd, who habitually target the so called 'hot spots'. As Adam Penning frequently points out: "Fish like everyone else and your results will be the same as everyone else". In this respect, applying diligent watercraft on the day in question is of inestimable importance.
Without doubt, the practice of locating carp and fishing effectively to where they actually are at the time, frequently brings significant rewards.
A common problem, as Richard wisely stated, is that on follow-on visits, there is a very strong temptation to fish exactly the same spots that elicited results last time round, regardless of carp movements. The inevitable consequence is disappointment. Being a long term Labrador owner, I have often observed similar behaviour in my food obsessed dogs. If at some time, a particular park bench or bus stop has rewarded one of my hounds with a discarded tit bit, you can be absolutely sure that every subsequent visit will involve a very careful search of the vicinity, that rarely produces any tasty morsels. Nevertheless, the spot is indelibly etched on the dogs mind and will be investigated with undiminished enthusiasm thereafter, in spite of repetitive negative results. The same is commonly true of carp anglers, myself included, who religiously fish to once lucrative 'hot spots' long after they have irreversibly dried up.
Anyway, back to the plot. This week I had deliberately avoided pre-booking a peg, in the hope of finding fish and dropping into a strategic vacant peg. As it turned out, only pegs 1, 3 and 4 were taken, so I had plenty of options available. To my shame though, I didn't make the effort to do a circular tour of the lake, instead playing the dodgy game of predicting the imminent whereabouts of carp, based on a weather forecast of anticipated sunshine. Last time I did this, I settled into peg 9, only to see peg 10 host carp later in the morning. So this time, I set up in peg 10 and pinned my hopes on carp taking up residence under the tree lined margins during the morning. Not surprisingly, the inevitable happened - around mid morning the bay in front of peg 9 became peppered with basking carp, (under the margin tree canopy and also in open water), but peg 10 remained lifeless. Alas, by this time my bivvy was fully set up and I couldn't be bothered to make a move. Undoubtedly, my stubborn intransigence cost me fish and I ended up regretting my laziness.
I started off by putting two rods out to my favourite spots: rod 1 in the far corner of the right hand bay and rod 2 just off the boathouse entrance in the main bay. Both were baited with single Wet Baits 15mm Red Liver boilies and were delivered to their destination by bait boat. In each case, a couple of handfuls of Skretting Protec 4.5mm pellet, plus a few matching boilie chops were added to the hopper. The remaining rod was used for bream fishing (in line with Richard's current stock management policy). The chosen approach was to fish a small Krill 'wafter' pellet on a method feeder, loaded with scalded Protec pellet paste. The efficiency of the method improves dramatically if the method paste is renewed at frequent intervals, but it's hard work. The technique also seems to benefit from a roving approach, whereby several spots are fed with additional catapulted pellets and fished in rotation. By early evening I had used up my method paste, having caught 9 bream and lost 2 to hook pulls. Accordingly, I replaced the bream rod with one dedicated to more conventional carp fishing. It was baited and dispatched as per the other two carp rods and placed to one side of the RHS dot island.
Eventually, the sun set and darkness descended, with no carp having graced my landing net. Somewhat disheartened, I retired to bed, fearing that I had completely blown my chances of catching any carp, in consequence of my inaccurate carp location prediction. Thankfully, at 04.30am, my pessimism proved unfounded, when a jittery take on the dot island rod initiated some excitement. As expected the culprit attempted to go round the back of the dot island. Thankfully, my prompt application of pressure (plus the fact that a smooth stake has been driven into the lake bed adjacent to the island) enabled me to gain control and draw it out into open water. Thereafter, the protracted fight was played out in relative safety and without undue drama. Finally, a fine 15lb 12oz Mirror lay on my unhooking cradle and I breathed a sigh of relief. Sleep eluded me thereafter, such that at 06.30am, when the rod in the main bay burst into life, I was alert and ready to walk steadily backwards to prevent my quarry from entering the boathouse channel. The lively Common concerned weighed in at 10lb 6oz, having given a disproportionally good account of itself.
In the finish, I ended up with two carp then, but returned home feeling that I could have done better, had I made a more informed peg choice, rather than resorting to badly flawed 'crystal ball' tactics. Oh well, next time!