I begin with a conundrum that has exercised my mind quite a bit over the last couple of weeks. Having been deprived of angling whilst on holiday in Iceland, I got my fix of piscatorial pleasure courtesy of a pile of carp fishing magazines that were secreted within our already overloaded travel bag and avidly read at the slightest opportunity. Inevitably, some of the articles inspired me to re-examine some hitherto under-used tactics, such as mixed particle fishing. However, one particular comment jarred my nerves, simply because it conflicts with my sense of logic. The comment to which I refer, is the one appertaining to the use of heavy, semi-fixed leads and the oft quoted theory that carp are capable of using them to reject the hook.
Now, perhaps I am missing something here, but I just don't get it. An assumption appears to be made that a heavy lead, being shaken violently from side to side by an angry carp is more likely to tear the hook out of its mouth than a lighter lead would do. To my mind this doesn't make sense, bearing in mind that heavy leads are, in my assessment, more likely to pull the hook more firmly into the carp's flesh. I've pondered the matter many times over and the only plausible mechanism I can see for a carp to utilise extra lead weight to shed a hook, is by stopping dead in its tracks the moment it is pricked, then moving as close as possible to the lead, so that it can attempt to eject the hook by manipulative lip movements combined with delicate sucking and blowing actions. In this scenario, the only advantage of a heavy lead, is that it is more likely to be remain firmly in place, without transmitting any tell-tale line movement to the bite alarm. In conclusion, I have to confess that I remain skeptical regarding the perceived, established wisdom on this subject. In contrast, my experience is that heavy leads actually produce better hook holds than light leads. The only trade off here is that heavy leads, being bigger and more visible, might arouse more caution in a potentially feeding carp, but even this is open to debate. As for the use of running leads, as an antidote to hook shedding, I've never had much success with them. Give me a good "bolt rig" any day.
Anyway, so much for this week's philosophical question and back to the plot. Upon my usual Monday morning arrival at Wetlands Lakes, I stopped off for a brief chat with Dave before continuing my circuit of the specimen lake. Dave and his mate in peg 8 reported slow fishing, with only one carp each to show for an overnight stint. Nevertheless, Dave remarked that peg 1 had held a few carp over the weekend, even though the angler present therein had blanked. A clockwise walk around the lake failed to provide me with any clues as to carp presence. Another blistering hot, sunshine soaked day was forecast, but as yet nothing stirred on the surface. Eventually, I settled in peg 1 in response to Dave's intelligence report and gave Richard a quick call to stake my claim. Unlike on previous days when the surface had been flat calm, with a covering of dust, a gentle ripple was evident across peg 2, just stopping short of peg 1. I waited and watched for a while, but no signs of carp materialised.
Accordingly, I opted to place the rods in established hot spots. Hence, the left hand rod launched a bait to the rear of mushroom island, the middle rod sent a bait tight to the margin of the central island and the right hand rod (on bream redistribution duties) dealt with the small bay adjacent to the inlet channel from peg 2. The latter rod was therefore equipped with a method feeder, loaded with scalded Skretting Protec 4.5mm pellet paste and a miniature, light brown dumb bell hook bait. The other two rods were each baited with an 18mm Wet Baits KCG+ boilie, with a nicked-on PVA mesh bag of Skretting Protec pellets for additional attraction. A few handfuls of matching boilies were catapulted around each spot.
As is often the case, the morning proved unproductive. The first action came at 2.40pm, when the bream rod signaled a jittery take. Thinking that yet another (in a succession of) bream had slipped up, I lifted the rod tip and was pleasantly surprised to feel what was obviously an energetic carp attached. I hung on whilst it made a bolt for the snag ridden perimeter behind the bay and eventually tamed its frantic circling motion. A fine Mirror of 14lb 6oz, subsequently joined me on the bank. At 4.15pm the left hand rod went into meltdown, as a determined carp attempted to slip round the back of mushroom island. As I walked steadily backwards, a brief grating sensation gave way to free movement as my quarry was led out into open water. From there it, made a sudden dash to the right in a bid to get behind other islands. Fortunately, by moving as far as possible along the bank to the left and stretching out my rod, I managed to get a decent angle on it. Finally a chunky 17lb 4oz Common greeted the spreader block and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Thereafter, bream catching was twice interrupted at 6.00pm (13lb 6oz Common) and 7.50pm (13lb 14oz Linear Mirror) by the unexpected inclusion of carp on the method rod. Not long after that, at 8.15pm the middle rod burst into life. In déjà vu fashion, I prevented my adversary from getting round the corner of mushroom island by walking backwards and then headed it off from the islands to the right by pulling from extreme left. Sadly though, just as I thought the battle was won, the hook pulled in open water and I had to resign myself to losing what felt like a bigger carp. At 9.00pm, the middle rod (island margin) joined the party, with an uneventful battle that produced a 13lb 14oz Mirror. It was at that point that things started to go wrong in the fading light. I ended up going out in the rowing boat no less than three times in succession to retrieve rigs/lines from tree branches due to inaccurate or over zealous casting. Undoubtedly, the prolonged disturbance cleared my swim of any residual carp, such that I experienced a full nights sleep without interruption. Nevertheless, I went home fully satisfied with the fact that I'd managed to put 5 carp to 17lb 4oz on the bank, albeit with only 1 loss.