24Hr Session, Peg 10 - Monday 08/07 to Tuesday 09/07
Every now and then I like to subject my carp fishing to a totally honest, extensive review, to determine whether or not I have made any plausible improvement, since the last time I put my performance under the microscope. In most cases the result is virtually the same, namely that the numbers and quality of carp that I am privileged to catch are disproportionately greater than my 'just deserts', based on the lingering weaknesses in my approach. I refer in particular to the fact that I am poor, to the point of being abysmal, in my exploration and knowledge of under-water topography. Maybe, it's because I spent years doing quick overnight sessions between workdays, that I am fanatical about stealth, and the need to avoid spooking carp from a chosen swim. Accordingly, the effort I put into feature finding is practically zero and I tend to rely totally on what I glean from aerial photos or from other anglers, such as Dean, (who is a veritable encyclopaedia of Wetlands sub-surface characteristics). These days I fish 24 hour sessions almost exclusively, so there is no reason for me not to deploy a feature-finding rod at least once in a while, particularly at the start of a session, to build up my knowledge of each peg's water and hopefully locate some all important active feeding spots. But no, for some inexplicable reason I continue to do things the way I have always done them, which is to scan the water continually for signs of carp activity and then put a bait on the spot if find anything promising. If that fails( usually it does), I revert to fishing the same old, long established hot spots that have produced carp in times past. As we all know, the trouble with fishing popular areas is that the carp become wary of them and catches decline. My lack of lake bottom knowledge also means that I regularly suffer the embarrassment of fishing in inappropriate places and being caught out. I have lost count of the number of times that I have fished a spot for several hours before discovering that the water is so shallow that ducks can wade easily across it, or simply dip their beaks 2 inches below the surface to steal my bait. Nevertheless, in spite of my woeful ignorance of lake topography, by some inexplicable miracle, I have continued to catch consistently from Wetlands. This weeks sessions, once again provided evidence to support this strange and mysterious phenomenon. Upon my arrival at 7.00 on Monday morning, Richard greeted me at the front gates with the news that fishing had been rather slow over the weekend, with only a couple of carp being caught. Furthermore all pegs were free apart from pegs 8 (occupied by Pat) and peg 1 (booked in advance). Weather-wise it was warm and still, with the possibility of light rain overnight. I dropped straight into peg 10 without even bothering to do a lap of the lake, for no other reason than the fact that I hadn't fished the peg for a few weeks and I fancied having a crack at it. Maybe, the fact that I had caught 'Big S' from there on my last visit to the peg had something to do with my unhesitating choice? Anyway, I slowly unloaded my gear whilst watching the water carefully. Nothing stirred, not even the ubiquitous bream and the water surface remained flat calm. Conscious that it's all too easy to resort the standard spots, I made a mental effort to try at least one new spot on which to concentrate my rods. In fact better than that, I would place one rod in front of mushroom island and the other two would be dictated by fish sightings alone. Given that 'Big S' had been caught from a point 1 rod length out from mushroom island, there is no way that I could be persuaded to ignore the location in the foreseeable future. The middle rod was duly placed on the spot, with the intention of keeping it there for the duration of the session. I opted to use the left hand rod to put a bait just to the rear of what Richard once dubbed 'Kelvin's hump'.The latter is a tiny high spot, that I once reduced in height (to no more than a sub-surface dome) during an organised work party - hence the name. Normally I would dedicate my right hand rod to the far corner of the right hand bay, but it's not produced a carp for me for ages, so instead I focused on a point slightly beyond the wooden periphery of peg 10(a). Bait wise, this week was a 'no brainer'. My dear wife had inadvertently taken an old, unopened, 1Kg bag of Mainline 18mm Active 8 boilies out of the chest freezer (whilst searching for a joint of gammon) and forgotten to return it, with the result I found it in a sorry state a couple of days later. Rather than waste it, I felt obliged to use it on this occasion. Hence each rod was baited with a double boilie presentation, plus a nicked on PVA mesh bag of 4.5 mm pellets. A dozen, or so free baits were catapulted widely around each area. The sun sporadically appeared from behind a predominantly cloudy sky, causing me to remove my hoodie briefly, only to put it back on again when the sun disappeared again. This scenario continued throughout the morning, with no sign of activity on the carp front. By mid afternoon I started to see small signs of movement. At one stage I peered through the branches behind the right hand bay and was delighted to see a carp with it's tail aloft merrily feeding in the far corner. I waited until it had vacated the area and then wasted no time in re-positing the right hand rod precisely on the clouded spot, in the hope that the carp would return later. Clearly, it was in no hurry to do so, as sunset arrived without piscatorial interruption. By this time, I was more or less resigned to a blank session and retired to bed, partially compensated by the prospect of an uninterrupted nights sleep. Thankfully, that was not to be. At 2.30 am the right hand rod emitted a few bleeps and then went quiet. Upon examination, it was apparent that the indicator was still at the top of its travel and under tension. Rather than strike immediately, I gave it some slack and watched it carefully. A few seconds later, it let out another few bleeps and the hanger rose slightly, once more. This time I lifted the rod time and connected with a carp that had obviously kited into the boat house channel. A major tussle ensued in shallow water, as I attempted to guide it back into open water. Much to my relief I succeeded in doing so, without shedding the hook. Subsequently, a blank saving, 14lb 2oz Mirror joined me on the bank and things were looking considerably better. Then at 5.05am the left hand rod, fished beyond Kelvin's hump, absolutely melted off with a persistent 'one-toner'. I stumbled clumsily out of bed, fearful that the perpetrator might have already found sanctuary in a protective snag. Surprisingly, it wasn't so far around the island point as to render it irretrievable. After a few heart stopping moments, I managed to ease round the protrusion and draw it into shallow marginal waters, where it went berserk, thrashing about like a demented soul. Eventually, it succumbed to the waiting net and I hauled a decent Mirror onto the unhooking cradle. On the scales it recorded 18lb 12oz and made me a very happy man, indeed. Certainly, I returned home well satisfied with my efforts, having bagged two decent carp under somewhat slow conditions. Interestingly the 14lb 2oz carp came from an old established hot spot (reiterated by observed feeding activity), but the 18lb 12oz Mirror came from an entirely new spot, that was brought to my attention as a possible patrol route hijacking point. It's so good when it all comes together against the odds!