It was now my turn to go missing from the regular outings, I think I was only away for a few days, but not quite back in time to join Gary on the bank.
Which was a shame as from an early morning phone call it seems he'd had a lump!
I did the honourable thing and popped down with the camera to take some photo's... and grab an early morning cuppa.
Gary had moved around the lake to almost the opposite bank from the week before, and was targeting the end of spit that runs up the middle of this water.
Still using pellet as his hook bait he'd had a good run in the early hours which then dived straight into a nearby weed bed, but keeping steady pressure on he'd gradually dragged the fish, and a shed load of weed, slowly into the waiting net.
By the time I arrive the nets getting pretty crowded as he's now had another one from the same spot, and lets on that there's still plenty of fish moving over his baited area.
This is good news for me as not having fished over the weekend I'll come down later and jump in the same swim and do the night, and take advantage of what is basically a pre-baited swim, something our club doesn't allow.
But back to why I'm here, and the mat is out, as are the scales, weigh sling, as I sort the camera. The smaller common is a mid double which we don't bother to weigh, just a quick snap for the records and back it goes.
Then we get the big girl out, another common, she's quickly into the sling and goes 24lb 11ozs. A lovely clean fish, with a big slate grey head and back, it's great to see her and I'm only too pleased to come over and take some photo's for a mate.
But that's the way we roll, we're always ready to help and encourage each other with our catching, ok that's not to say there's not loads of good hearted banter in between, but behind all that we chat through what we're after, the best place to catch it, and the best tactics to achieve our targets.
So to prove a point, as we enjoy a hot brew, Gary's soon telling me exactly where he's been dropping his baits so I can get right on the same hot spot!
To finish this part of the story, I turn up later that day, and see two or three fish boshing out over the spot as I set up.. it all looks good.
I top up the area with a bit more bait, get my rods clipped up on the distance, and finally get them out thinking I'm in for a busy night. But, as so often happens, I didn't get a touch!
The following week we were both out, and changed swims yet again, this time heading for the end of the spit itself. The swims are almost back to back, making them quite social, and you both have a good area of open water in front of you to target.
Gary was putting out a light spread of pellets with his 'pult and was going to fish both his rods to an area with a bit of depth to it, and my thoughts weren't that different.
After plumbing around in front of me I'd found a clear patch between the weed beds and started to fire out some pellet myself. As I'm doing this a fish crashes out to my right, and I have a look but carry on baiting up as before.
The rods are then clipped up to match the marker and it's now time to start getting the brolly/bed/gear sorted and tidied up. As I'm doing this another big splash comes from round the corner.
I think by the time I was ready to get that kettle going I'd had four fish jumping on that spot… I couldn't ignore them. A quick cast with the marker and I'd found another weed bed that was obviously holding the fish, so a change of plan now with one rod out in front and the other off to the right!
And it worked, as in the early hours I have a run from the right-hand rod which gets me a nice common in the 12-14lb bracket. Then I'm up again at 7am as the same rod screams away again and I battle a chunky 18lb 5oz common to the net. It's nice to get Gary taking some photo's for a change.
Well we've kept up this different swim idea not just to give us a change, but we do actually follow the wind, look for moving fish, and keep an ear open for what's been out recently (like a lot of us I suspect!), but this week it's led us back to a couple of swims we fished a month back.
Same tactics prevail as we both bait areas not far out but with reasonable depth and fairly close to weed beds as this has brought us fish regularly over the last few weeks.
Before actually casting out I join Gary and the kettle's soon put to good use. We're at the back end of October now and as we chat it becomes clear that this will be our last carp session for the year. With some cracking barbel being caught at the moment it seems it's time to switch to a bit of river fishing, and that's not forgetting some monster chub from our local section of the Lea that some of our fellow Osprey SG members have been having good success with.
So with thoughts of a different quarry running through my mind I return to my swim and cast out to my spots. The evenings are getting much cooler now even with the last rays of sun peeping out over the treetops as it slowly disappears below the horizon. Time to slip into the bag.
A distant alarm in the darkness, followed soon after with the flash of a head torch tells me Gary's seeing some action. After sorting my rods I join him and help wind in his other rod then man the net. The fish stays deep and it's not until it's right in front of us that we can finally see the golden flanks of a mirror break the surface.
I hold up the scales as Gary reads the numbers, another twenty, it goes 20lb 11ozs. After the photo's are done it's the obligatory cuppa before we get our head's down again. I've mixed emotions as I'm pleased Gary has caught on this last session, but I'm also frustrated as even though we've both been pulling out fish fairly regularly recently he's managed to winkle out the better sized fish most of the time, but that's what makes him a top angler I suppose!
He reminds me that 'that's fishing' and I give him a well done pat on the back as I return to my swim. I've not heard many fish move during the night, but the ones I have seem to be down along my bank tucked in the margins, so with a fairly precise pub chuck into the blackness, and a quick walk along the path I lob in a couple of handfuls of pellet around my hook bait. My trap is set for the morning.
6.30am and I'm greeted with a one-toner, and watch as my rod tip pulls right round!
I'm up and bare footed as I grab the rod and click off the baitrunner, slowly tightening up I can feel the fish lunge off on a run... but only seconds later comes that sickening feeling as the line goes limp.
Then the big decision... break the rod over my knee, or just chuck it in the water!
It puts the perfect finish to what, for me, has been a generally naff carp campaign this year. Even Gary had to admit that it wasn't the best for him, from starting on a new, tough water that wasn't helped by the never ending winter at the start of the year, to late spawning, then those few red-hot weeks, it seemed like the fish didn't quite settle down all year... excuses, excuses, yeah I know!
Hopefully getting on to some moving water will revive my enthusiasm and get me chomping at the bit to get out after those monsters... bring on the barbel and chub!