24Hr Session, Peg 6 - 25/07 to 26/07
This week's session represented a major departure from the norm in more ways than one. For a start it commenced on a Thursday, which is just about unheard of in my scheme of things (some people say grand children are a blessing, but when they disrupt my fishing plans, I'm not so sure). Secondly, it coincided with a 'work party' day on the specimen lake, albeit it on one of the hottest days of the year so far. Consequently, I didn't actually start fishing until mid afternoon. I use the term "start fishing" in its loosest sense, meaning that the extreme heat, my dripping wet, sweaty state and my exhausted condition robbed me of energy to such an extent that it took me a couple of hours to get set up and finally cast out the rods. Peg choice was rather odd this time round, as it was based more on predicting the response of the carp to the work party induced disruption than to anything else. Some anglers believe that carp are quick to home in on any disturbance of the the lake bottom, in the hope of finding displaced, natural food items. Accordingly, a few hours of digging out a high spot in peg 1 might be expected to have evicted a few tasty amphibious creatures from their natural home. However, the substrate concerned appeared to be hard, crusty, compacted clay, filled with small, rounded stones and not a single blood worm or other member of the biotic community was identified at any stage in the proceedings. What's more, last time any major work was undertaken in the specimen lake, it didn't fish well for a period of several weeks. Late in the afternoon Richard and Simon had deployed the local farmer's excavator and Volvo mega dumper to re-landscape parts of peg 10, deepening some shallow areas and back filling others. Undoubtedly, the vibrations and degree of disruption around that end of the lake would have been substantial. Hence I opted to be as far away from it as possible, on peg 6. The moment I stepped onto its banks it was apparent that a significant proportion of the carp population were indeed lounging in the general area. Not surprisingly though they were all present just beneath the surface, cruising slowly around in the sun warmed waters. I have fished in similar conditions enough times in the past, to know that surface cruising carp are, in most cases, completely uninterested in feeding. Surface fishing is not allowed at Wetlands, due to a preponderance of bird life and zig fishing is notoriously unproductive in the shallow waters, so I knew from the start that the chances of catching would be slim indeed. Added to that blue skies and high barometric pressure are rarely a recipe for success. Nevertheless, I was determined to give it my best shot and that included a zig rig cast about 20 yards out from the bank into one of the most densely populated areas, carp wise. The bait was an ESP 'zig bug' dunked in Nash bug juice and fished approximately 6 inches below the surface, in around 3 feet of water. This would be my middle rod. The other two rods, bearing bottom baits were cast to old established hot spots. The left rod launched a bait to around 30 yards out towards the area behind the main snag bushes. Bait was a double 18 mm Nash Key boilie combination nicked into the usual PVA mesh bag of 4.5 mm pellets. The right hand rod, similarly baited was given a short underarm cast into the marginal water towards peg 7. In each case, a handful of Trigga 20 mm ready made boilies were catapulted around the target zone. As the afternoon wore slowly on my 1.5 litre bottle of diet coke gradually emptied and my sweat soaked clothing become slightly drier. All 3 rods remained steadfastly silent. Not even the ubiquitous bream made their presence felt. By 6.00 pm, it was clear that I wasn't going to nick a bite on the strategically placed zig rig and the surface activity steadily faded away. At that point I saw a carp silently lift its head surreptitiously out of the water and gently slide back under the surface. It was directly over an old hot spot, some 40 yards or so out, in the direction of peg 9. Without hesitation, I reeled in the nonproductive zig rod and put a bottom bait directly on the money instead, courtesy of my ready primed spare rod. At last, I thought, I might be in with a chance of a bite. In actual fact, the only bites that came my way were 3 of the bream variety, in quick succession, plus several ant bites (on my left leg) and numerous mosquito bites on my chest and head. By 10.00 pm, I had given up on the possibility of catching a carp and embarked upon a very poor night's sleep, lying directly on top of my uncovered bed chair. At some point in the night a heavy thundery downpour made me thankful that I had decided to put up my bivvy after all (solely as a half hearted precautionary measure). Also, around 2.30 am my right hand margin-placed rod emitted a few bleeps, but when I lifted the tip, a carp bow waved off in panic, without setting the hook. Subsequently, I woke at 6.00 am convinced that my one and only chance had long since gone. Before starting the pack down procedure, I took the precaution of recasting the margin rod to a spot out in front of peg 8, where I had noticed some bubbling. I often redo margin rods during pack down, as I figure that the bank side disturbance is likely to render such rods ineffective. Eventually, I reached the point where two out of three rods had been wound in and only one (the recently recast rod that was simply lying on the ground) remained in the water. Virtually all the other packing away was complete. However, as I lifted the rod tip to release the lead (the latter had become plugged into clay), I suddenly came into contact with what was clearly an angry carp, which woke up big style and charged off to the left. It seemed to be aiming for the large Willow tree to the left. Thankfully I managed to turn it before it reached the overhanging branches. With no other rods left in the water, the task of subduing my quarry was made much easier. All the same, the shallowness of the margins made netting my prize a lot more difficult. Eventually, I managed to scoop it into the folds and hoisted it up onto the cradle. A breathtaking apple scaled linear Mirror lay glistening before me, which I weighed in at 16lb 6oz. What a relief to have caught a stunning carp in the very last seconds of the session. It certainly made the preceding frustrations and discomforts fade away, transforming a near hopeless situation into a last ditch triumph.