I gave up last week's fishing entitlement in order to participate in a netting exercise on the match lake instead. Hence, after a gap of four days I finally got to wet a line on the specimen lake on the following Monday. The subsequent session turned out to be one with a distinct sting in it's tail (literally), but more of that later. The netting job was undertaken by Richard and Simon, plus 8 or so willing volunteers and a two man team hired to do the business. As things turned out, although the netting itself went more or less to plan, the sheer mass of fish present in the lake (exacerbated by the presence of deep silt) proved rather too extreme for the nets to cope with and a significant proportion of fish (carp in particular) escaped underneath them. Nevertheless, on the plus side, a reasonable number of double figure carp were transferred into the specimen lake and several predator fish removed. My customary Monday morning 7.00am lap of the specimen lake revealed no obvious signs of piscatorial activity, other than the sighting of a single carp (estimated to be a low double) that poked its head out of the water near the right hand margin of peg 9. The spot was approximately half way along the causeway bank at around 6 feet out from the edge. Given that the carp transferred from the match lake were released into peg 9 water, I figured that this might be one of them, acting in a somewhat naïve fashion in its new environment. Anyway, with nothing else to go on, I settled into the peg and quietly unloaded my gear. Rather than run the risk of spooking any fish from the potential hot spot by casting directly on top of it, I chose to put out my left hand and middle rods first, whilst keeping an eye on the area to observe any developments. The left hander primed with a single Wet Baits KCG 18mm boilie and PVA mesh bag of Skretting 4.5mm Protec pellets was cast to the end of the marginal tree line and the middle rod (similarly baited) was used to underarm cast the bait out to a mid water spot at about 15yards. In each case a light scattering of matching free baits was catapulted to the zone. After an hour or so, no further evidence of carp had been manifested in the vicinity of the initial acrobatics. The location involved is normally one that I reserve for bream fishing, so I decided to proceed along those lines, using a tiny yellow pop-up, on a size 12 hook to 3 inch braided hook link, mounted on a method feeder. The feeder was loaded with scalded Protec pellet paste and cast at roughly 30 minute intervals to its target area. It wasn't long before the first bream succumbed and promptly joined its mates in the match lake. After that though, it went quiet and my bite alarms remained silent until 4.00pm when the bream rod signalled a rapid take. The culprit was clearly no bream as it kited wildly to the left and was under my other two rods in the blink of an eye, taking them both out in so doing. It continued to give a good account of itself in the margin, repeatedly making further determined runs around to the left. Eventually, it tired of the game and reluctantly allowed itself to be scooped into the net. On the scales it registered 13lb 4oz a respectable weight for what appeared to be an ex-match lake Common carp and a welcome, but unexpected result on the lightweight bream rod set-up. I was almost certain that this was the very fish that head and shouldered in the morning. Without doubt its body size and proportions seemed identical. No further action occurred during the remainder of the afternoon other than that of another and rather sinister kind altogether. During the day, I had several times noticed the presence of drowsy, stupefied wasps clinging to various objects as the colder temperatures took their toll. Shortly before dark, I strolled across the roadway behind the peg in an attempt to get a better phone signal. As I did so, a low buzzing sound seemed to keep pace with me. Curiously, the level of sound didn't diminish with further steps, leading me to the conclusion that something was either following me deliberately, or had become attached in some way. I then made what turned out to be a silly move. I raised the hood of my fleece jacket in a vain attempt to protect my head. As I did so, I succeeded in doing the exact opposite, by bringing the offending creature into close contact with my neck, whereupon a painful stinging sensation hit me like a lightening strike. Not surprisingly, I let out an involuntary yell and began dancing on the spot until I was convinced that the perpetrator had vacated my personal space. Fortunately no one else was present to observe my uncharacteristic (and no doubt, highly amusing) behaviour. Inevitably, I found it difficult to sleep with an acidic burning sensation torturing me for several hours into darkness. Thankfully, I eventually drifted off and all too soon, awoke to a 6.00am alarm, knowing that I would have to pack away in the dark. The cold nip in the morning air reminded me that winter campaign fishing is not for the faint hearted and that I must deepen my resolve to continue the quest undeterred. Oh well, he who dares wins!