Baiting strategy, is always a frequently debated subject, especially in regard to the profound influence that the revolving seasons have upon it. Just recently though, I've found myself using a drastically modified approach to baiting, in consequence of my stock control activities on Wetlands ornamental pond. Spending the morning on the stock pond (removing 1lb plus carp and transferring them to the match lake) has prompted me to kick off the session by hurriedly claiming a peg on the main specimen lake, before baiting up selected areas with Skretting course pellets and Wet Baits boilies. I then leave it undisturbed for 4 or 5 hours, whilst I'm occupied elsewhere. The hope is, that upon my return to the specimen lake, carp have moved into my pre-baited areas, fed confidently and become more catchable later on. But has it worked? That's a key question and a difficult one to answer, given that there is nothing to compare my results with. What I can say though, is that over the last month, or so I have been privileged to have caught one of the larger orange Koi carp and a highly desirable member of the A - Team in the shape of Loony. But as to whether I would still have caught these fine specimens had I deployed my standard strategy, I really can't be sure. I mentioned in a previous blog that Pat, a prolific carp catcher at Wetlands likes to try a whole series of baits in turn, until he finds something that works on the day. Now, it may be of course, that the fish are responding not to the differences in bait, but more to his match style approach of building the swim, by baiting little and often, albeit with a diverse selection of baits. Even a meagre handful of around 20 boilies, added at 30 minute intervals, soon adds up to a kilo of bait, over the course of a day. Perhaps that is the real reason for his success? Added to the equation is his practice of exploring all parts of the swim and responding swiftly to any signs of carp presence by immediately putting a bait on the spot? Anyway, back to this week's session which began on peg 1 with the aforementioned pre-baiting exercise, followed by a morning on the stock pond. This time though, I was not alone. Ben a young lad (his Dad was competing on the match lake), had been supplied with a 4 metre whip and a stock of Skretting pellets. He joined me on the bank and proceeded to thrash me soundly in carp catching terms. Clearly my tactics, based on the use of a more traditional ledgering method, using a 10mm dumb bell as bait, were way below par and he proceeded to catch a carp per cast, whilst I laboured in vain with an all but silent bite alarm. Later on he moved position and hooked one of the larger mirrors (approx. 11lbs) into the bargain, thus destroying my excuse that I was targeting the bigger ones. After being thoroughly humiliated in this way for the duration of the morning I finally threw in the towel and made my way back to the specimen lake, hopeful of a change in fortune. My three chosen spots were precisely the same as those targeted in previous weeks, namely: on the right hand margin of mushroom island; a rod length out from the central island; and in the right hand channel that cuts through from peg 2. Each rod was baited with a Wet Baits 18 mm Tuna dumb bell and a PVA mesh bag of Skretting 4.5mm Protec pellets. Given that all three areas had already been plied with a mixture of 18mm matching boilies and several pouches of Skretting 10mm course pellets, I could see no reason to add any more bait. Thankfully, all 3 rods put a bait accurately on the intended spot at the first cast, thus minimising any disturbance. In fact, the only rod that subsequently needed re-doing was the one covering the right hand channel, in response to a rogue, early afternoon bream. To my delight, I only had to wait until 2.50pm before any action transpired, in the form of a very rapid take on the middle rod (fished to the central island). From the start, the perpetrator seemed hell bent on reaching the sanctuary of peg 2, by heading round the back of the smaller dotted islands, and it very nearly succeeded in so doing. The only preventative action I could take was to exit the peg via the rear gate and side-step left down the path towards the boat house, thus getting a straight pull on the fish. An intense tug of war ensued, which gradually eased my quarry out from behind the islands concerned. However, as soon as the powerful fish rounded the protruding corner, it set off on a high speed run to the left, in an attempt to funnel down the twin islands that link with peg 10. My response was to side-step rapidly to the right, to re-establish a direct pull on the fish, away from danger. After another intense battle, it finally came out into open water. Thereafter, it ploughed up and down in the shallow water beneath my feet for several minutes before reluctantly slipping into the eagerly awaiting net. When I lifted the beast onto the unhooking cradle, the source of it's astounding power became clear. The Mirror carp before me was the proud owner of huge orange tail fins and an unusually long, muscular body. On the scales it read 17lb 14oz, but to be honest it's weight was somewhat immaterial. Without doubt this wild warrior of a carp had just given me one of the most epic battles I have ever had the joy of experiencing, in many years of carp fishing. What an amazing creature! At 6.10pm the same middle rod produced another rapid take, but this time the fight felt much more sedate and controlled. In due course, a 13lb 0oz Common joined me on the bank, thus completing a tally of two carp during the session. For once, I managed an undisturbed night's sleep, free from the unwanted attentions of the dreaded mosquitoes, thanks to a raft of preventative measures. The latter included spray and roll-on repellents; head net, cotton gloves and mosquito repellent shirt; plus an insect repellent coil which smouldered away in my bivvy throughout the evening, generating clouds of pungent, perfumed smoke. No further carpy action occurred, not even at daybreak, but I returned home well satisfied with the proceedings. As autumn approaches I anticipate a reduced catch rate, but at the same time, the chance of catching a larger specimen or two increases weekly. Bring it on.