A recent short mild spell filled me with a sense of positive anticipation as I arrived for my latest Monday session. According to Richard a few carp had been caught recently, including some during daylight hours. Surely, a decent catch was on the cards? Or at least, it was until I looked at the weather forecast. Unfortunately, the overnight temperature was predicted to plummet down to 1 or 2 degrees Celsius during Sunday night and remain in low single figures throughout Monday daytime. What's more a severe frost was expected on Tuesday morning. At that news, my countenance fell and I resigned myself to the prospect of a possible blank outcome.
Upon my arrival, I stopped off for a brief chat with Richard and Wayne, before settling straight into peg 3 without doing the usual lap of the lake. I was mildly surprised to find the specimen lake entirely ice free, even though the bottom end of the match lake was 90% frozen over. Still, at least I had managed to winkle a carp out in low temperatures from peg 3, a few weeks earlier, so I might still be in with a chance on this visit. These days, I prefer to watch the water for a while, especially at first light, before putting any rods out. Occasionally, the odd carp gives away it's presence, sufficient to highlight a potentially productive target zone for at least one of my rods. However, on this occasion no such clues were forthcoming, so I resorted to previous practice, namely target my favourite hot spots. Accordingly, the left hand rod went out to furthest dot island adjacent to peg 2. The middle rod launched a bait into the entrance to the old "motorway" cut through. Lastly, the right hand rod was simply given an underarm flick to place a bait just a few yards out from the bank. In each case, the bait consisted of a Hinders, re-issued, Richworth recipe, 15 mm, "Tutti Frutti" boilie. This was supplemented by a small PVA mesh bag of Skretting 4.5 mm Protec pellets. A handful of matching free baits were then catapulted fairly widely around each spot. By the time all three rods were positioned and my bivvy erected, it was past 9.00 am. Thereafter, I donned my Skeetex Essex boots, (to hopefully prevent my chilblains from flaring up) and sat down in the welcome sanctuary of the wooden hut. My attention was immediately caught by a pair of Robins hopping backwards and forwards beneath my feet in an attempt to provoke me into feeding them bread crumbs. Needless to say, I gave into their nagging and had to put up with reduced size, cheese rolls as a consequence. Inevitably my thoughts turned to the wonders of nature and a close encounter of a mammalian kind that had occurred a fortnight earlier on peg 8. On that occasion, as I sat still and quiet in the bank side hut, a fluffy fox (a Vixen, I believe) had sauntered round the side of the hut from behind and onto the peg without noticing me at all. Once she was directly in front of me and 5 yards or so away, with her back turned to me, I attracted her attention with a loud psssst! As I did so, she turned slowly round and looked me in the eyes. To my amazement, she then crept closer, to within 2 yards and cocked her head on one side as she weighed me up. Eventually, she seemed to decide that I was not going to offer her any food and continued nonchalantly on her way to the central island, presumably with sitting ducks in mind. What a bizarre and enchanting experience it was! At 9.40 am, I was startled by the alarm on my right hand rod which emitted a couple of bleeps. Then, the hanger shot to the top of its travel and the shriek of a full bodied "one-toner" filled the air. Given that winter bites are normally of a rather tentative nature, it caught me off guard, such that a few seconds were wasted as I stumbled off my perch and took hold of the rod. The latter promptly took on a characteristic battle curve, as an angry carp sought its freedom. After several spirited runs, it became apparent that the perpetrator, though energetic, was not massive. Presently it succumbed to pressure and entered the landing net at the first attempt. A fine Common subsequently registered 13lb 4oz on the scales and I could now relax in the knowledge that a blank had been avoided. To be honest, I didn't anticipate any further action even though daytime sunshine took the chill out of the air and almost brought a sense of spring to the proceedings. Hence, at 5.15 pm, when the same rod registered a twitchy bite, I was once again surprised by the scenario. As I lifted the rod, it was immediately met with stiff resistance indicative of a larger quarry, which duly burst into life and set off on a series of slow but powerful runs. Twice it tried to get under my other lines, but sustained pressure kept it from doing so. Naturally, I feared that the hook might pull under the immense strain, but thankfully it held firm and after a protracted battle a stocky Common went into the net. The sight of a pristine Common with red hued tail greeted my eyes as I heaved it out of the water. I estimated it to weigh at least 19lbs and was thrilled to see the scales come to rest at 20lb 6oz. Brilliant! After an uneventful night, I woke to a very harsh frost. My landing net was as stiff as a board and frozen to the ground, my rods were coated in white crystals of ice and I struggled for ages to separate my tent poles. Strangely, the water hadn't frozen. Understandably, I returned home immensely satisfied at having banked two carp in a tough winter session, one of them a coveted 20 pound specimen. Without doubt this had been a winter session to remember and treasure.
Best fishes, Kelvin