Well Gary and myself have been back on a favourite club lake for a bit of late season carp fishing.
This actually started as we found it increasingly hard to match our days off as holidays, work, and our kids, took one of us away from being out on the bank during the school holidays!
Gary was first to cry off, and so I decided to return to this water and give it a go, and we've ended up staying on it over the last few weeks.
But boy did I have a mad session on that first visit!
Arriving in the afternoon, I found the lake empty, and after loading the barrow, set off along the bank to a swim that faces a spit of land that runs almost to the middle of the lake.
The pods set up and the rods follow. I'm going to fish one bait into open water about 30yds out after finding a clear spot with the marker, while the others going to be dropped tight to some overhanging branches in the margins on the side of the spit.
With a few exploratory casts I have the distance to each mark sorted, the lines are clipped up and I lay the rods back in their rests.
I bring the marker rod in, and while it's still clipped up I take off the float and replace it with a Spomb. Out goes a bed of mixed sized pellets that should have the carp, bream, and even the cats sniffing around.
Next I'm off on a little stroll round the lake to the spit, and a swim that's quite near my overhanging branches. I can stand on the edge and lob in some boilies straight on top of my target area.
Right that's the two spots baited, so I let them settle down while I set up my home for the night. It doesn't take long and I'm soon threading my hook baits onto the hairs.
I'm using a 12mm Bait-Tech Halibut Marine pellet to fish over the bed of pellets, they have a great flavour and come pre-drilled so they're easy to mount on the hair. The one thing you have to watch out for is they can break down slowly over night, so Gary and myself have started wrapping them in Arma Mesh to keep them stable enough to stay on the hook till morning.
So it's cast out to the spot, back lead clipped on, tighten up, on with the bobbin and turn on the alarm. Sorted.
Same again for the other rod, but this time I'm using a Cell pop-up which goes on the hair. I've also stripped back an inch more coating on my hooklink just behind the hook, with a small lead shot placed at the bottom with a bit of putty moulded around it, there's plenty of flexibility for the pop-up to lift while the hooklink lies flat on the bottom, sort of hinge-rig style.
Then it's time for that most important bit of kit.. the kettle, to be fired up. A nice cuppa or two as I watch the water and catch up on a couple of chapters from the latest angling tome I'm reviewing.
After a reasonable Summer the nights are now drawing in pretty quick and I hit the sack around 9pm. It's not long before I'm out cold!
But only a couple of hours later and I'm diving out into the darkness as an alarm bursts into life. Switching both alarms off, as they're are all beeping away, I grab the rod and feel that heavy resistance as the fish moves steadily off down the lake.
This is great, but after it takes 20yds of line I'm starting to think I need to turn this fish before it hits my other line. So I put some more pressure on, and get an instant reaction, as whatever is on the other end just rips off and has me flat rodded and hanging on for dear life!
With the clutch clicking away I just hang on, until suddenly, it all goes limp.
Some serious Olde English words pass my lips, but all I can do is wind in. All of my end tackle is still connected, my hooks still nice and sharp, and the baits still on.
Like most of us when we lose a fish I run through all the possible scenarios, and my only thought is that I've hooked one of the venue's cats (that run up to 30lbs), and it's picked up my bait not knowing its hooked until I've tightened up, and then it's ripped off and shed the hook? We'll never know… and I suppose that's what makes us come back for more.
But my nightmare was only just beginning.
After rebaiting, I cast out to the same spot, hoping to get another chance, and as I wind down I notice a loop of line hanging off my reel, so I slacken off, and in seconds have a nice birds nest laying in my hand!
So sitting down next to my pod I lay the rod on the ground and start to unravel the mess, which is great fun, in the dark, and lit only by my head torch… and with the thought at the back of my mind that my bait is out there and on the end of the line I'm trying to untangle.
Then things really start to get crazy!
As I mentioned earlier, I'd turned off both my alarms when I'd had the initial run, and now almost unconsciously I hear a bait runner clicking away behind me… it's my other rod, and I've got another run!
I drop the mess of line in my hands and grab the other rod, I strike, and there's a thump, and then with an all to familiar feeling, the line goes limp.
In those few seconds the fish had found a snag under the branches and done me.
So from being there with two baits on good spots, I've now got one out but with a tangled line, and the other, in but with no end tackle… oh I do love fishing.
It's probably a good point here to say I always use fish safe rigs, and after this situation it proves why we should all do the same.
But the end result is that I had to cut my line and hand wind it in and spend the next half hour re-tackling up both rods before casting out yet again. And to really rub salt in the wound, I never had a touch for the rest of the session.
It's funny how all these things don't put you off, and the following two weeks I was back, and with Gary unable to make either, I chose the same area again but moved one swim along. It gave me access to the same spots, but from a slightly different angle.
This time the opposite margin rod came up trumps, twice.
In the early hours I had a mid-double mirror, and then another run brought me a low double common. Both small fish but it showed the tactics were working, and that's always a boost to the confidence after a bad session.
The next week was a tease with plenty of liners during the night, but it showed the fish were moving, and by the morning I had another good run which produced a nice clean common in the 13-15lb region.
With August slowly disappearing it did seem that the carp were starting to get on the feed, we just needed to keep going and hopefully get amongst the big girls... please!