At last the carp at Wetlands lake seem to be waking up, showing themselves more frequently and most importantly, getting caught a little more often. Sometimes though, I question the value of pursuing a winter campaign, when the bites are few and far between. Overall, I haven't done too badly this time, having banked half a dozen or so decent double figure carp, with a low twenty amongst them.
Nevertheless, none of the so called "A-Team" were included in the winter haul and I have to admit that my confidence took a significant battering. The problem with maintaining high expectations in the colder months (commensurate with summer fishing results), is that the inevitable blank sessions start to take their toll upon ones mind.
Instead of continuing steadfastly with tried and tested winter tactics, there is a tendency to lapse into a state of panic, characterised by frantic experimentation, in a misguided attempt to trigger bites. Worst of all I end up re-casting every 5 minutes, changing rigs incessantly and generally over baiting. What's more, a frenzy of overblown activity is highly likely to continue into the first few weeks of spring, whilst the water is still cold. Thankfully though, this spring I made a determined effort to keep myself in check and modest rewards for my self control have been forthcoming, as will become clear.
And so, on Monday 25th March at 7.00 am I ventured onto peg 10, as most of the other pegs were already taken by day carp anglers. Wayne and his mate were set up in pegs 3 and 4 on the opposite side of the lake, with the central island in between us. My first impressions were that there were plenty of bream about, but nothing obvious in terms of carp. This continued to be the state of affairs throughout the morning. Although the sun periodically peered from behind grey clouds, bringing some much appreciated warmth to the proceedings, I was disappointed that no carp seemingly ventured into the area. This contrasted with a previous week when a trio of carp relaxed under branches in the right hand bay, occasionally circling the bay and close margin in front of me. I resisted the urge to fire out a generous quantity of bait (to try and pull carp into the area) and instead used my bait boat to put a single Nash 'The Key' 15 mm boilie on a spot to the left of mushroom island amidst a handful of matching boilie crumb. A similar approach was used for my other two elected spots (one off the boat house point and the other in the right hand bay), but using Tutti Frutti 15mm boilies and crumb instead. By the time darkness fell, no action had occurred and the air temperature plummeted, so I retired to my bed chair with low expectations for the night ahead. To my amazement, I was awakened at 05.05 am by an absolute screamer of a take from near mushroom island. Knowing that carp hooked in that area make a determined bid to find refuge around boat house point, I was on the rod very quickly and began walking slowly backwards. Much to my relief, the tactic worked like a charm and very quickly I was fighting an angry carp as it tore up and down the margin beneath my feet. This scenario continued unabated for several minutes before my adversary showed any signs of tiring. Eventually, it's energy level dropped a notch and I was able to guide it safely into the landing net. It wasn't until I attempted to lift the fish up out of the water that I realised it was no small contender. I heaved it triumphantly onto the unhooking cradle and was thrilled to see a large Mirror with a scale pattern reminiscent of a stocked "A-Team" carp. After weighing it at 22 lb 3 oz and taking a few photos on the cradle, I immersed the mighty carp in water, in the confines of my landing net, whilst I attempted to contact Wayne.
Unfortunately my mobile phone battery had gone flat and no amount of shouting across the lake succeeded in waking him from the land of nod. Hence, I had to make do with the cradle photos and set my prize free. Later, after returning home, I looked carefully through the Wetlands photo gallery. Recognition is often difficult with big Mirrors photographed on the mat in the dark. Try as I might, and in spite of a characteristic star-burst pattern of scales near its tail, plus a prominent single scale near its head, I was unable to make a positive identification. Dean is now on the case, so with any luck he might be able to pin it down.
Anyway, now onto my next session, which began on Monday 8th May at 7.00 am after returning from a week's holiday in West Somerset. Once again, the lake was busy, so peg choice was limited to 6, 7 or 8. Richard suggested peg 8, on the basis that a few carp had been caught from the boundary between the two pegs. Wayne reinforced the choice by saying that he'd been baiting a spot on the peg 7 / peg 8 intersection. As soon as I walked onto the banks I spotted bream activity above Wayne's baited spots, so that's where my first rod placed a 15 mm "The Key" boilie amidst a light scattering of freebies. The next rod, bearing a single Krill 15 mm pink pop-up, took charge of a spot two rod lengths off the right hand peninsula. In stark contrast, my left hand rod was given over to bream extraction duties down the left hand tree-lined margin. As usual bait was a 10 mm Krill dumb bell wafter on a method feeder loaded with scalded Skretting 4.5
mm Protec pellets. As expected, it was the bream rod that provided most action throughout the morning. Firstly a very large male bream succumbed to the bait followed by a hefty tench. After that two fish were lost to hook pulls, including one that found sanctuary in an underwater branch. I have my suspicions that the latter may have been a carp rather than a bream. My next cast down the tree-line resulted in a tangle with a branch. Unfortunately, that ended with the loss of my method feeder. Accordingly, I switched to solid PVA bags filled with scalded pellet. The same 10 mm dumb bell, on a size 10 barbless hook, attached to a 3 inch light braided hook link served as bait, but this time anchored by a 2.5 oz flat pear lead. Around mid afternoon, I saw a Mirror carp leap fully out of the water in the left hand corner bay. Without hesitation I made up another solid PVA bag on the bream rod and sent it out to the exact spot by bait boat. A couple of hours later, at 5.50 pm, the same rod melted off. A persistent battle ensued which concluded with the netting of what I recognised as the same carp that had leapt out of the water.
"Good opportunist angling", I thought to myself. Naturally, I returned the successful bream rod to the same spot in the corner bay for the night, this time supplementing the bait boat's payload with the leftover scalded pellets. Clearly, the approach was the correct one, given that at 05.40 am I was awakened by the sound of a screaming alarm, as the corner bay rod signalled a fast take. This carp felt stronger than the last one, such that I couldn't prevent it from getting under my other two lines. The usual cacophony of wailing alarms pierced the stillness of the morning, until the beast finally tired of its powerful lunges. I was much relieved to net it without the hook pulling. On the scales it recorded a weight of 18 lb 2 oz, somewhat lower than expected in view of the ferocity of its fighting prowess.
I packed away well satisfied with the results of my first two spring
sessions. To have banked a magnificent 22lb 3 oz Mirror, plus two double figure carp in successive outings was most pleasing. Hopefully, there is more joy to come as summer approaches.