The news of the other 'forty' coming out was a bit of a downer, but even if we were there, who says we'd have caught it anyway!
That meant both the big girls had made an appearance now in the last couple of weeks, and a good mid-thirty had also been banked, we were hoping that the fish were finally starting to get their heads down.
This week instead of trying out more new swims, we opted for dropping back into last weeks ones. Now knowing a few of the features in this area, we felt that if the fish were indeed feeding we could target these spots and get amongst them. That, and the wind blowing directly into this corner of the lake made it a simple choice!
So Gary sets up in the corner swim, with some inviting overhanging trees to one side, I'm sure one of his baits will end up under them somewhere. The other will probably go out to a gravel bar that runs parallel to our bank about twenty five yards out, in fact it runs across both our swims, so I'll be putting one of my baits on it as well.
My other bait will go into my nearside margin, as the lake has a very steep drop away, it goes to about 7 or 8ft deep within a foot or two of the bank, then gently slopes away to depths of 14ft or so in places.
So the brolly's are put up, pod's out, and rod's sorted. But before any bait goes out it's time for the most important bit of tackle to come out.. the kettle! I boil up some water and wander down to Gary's swim and fill up his mug, he's fiddling with a bait box to rest his bobbin on, as he's using a slack line to his margin bait.
'So where have you put it then?' Gary then hands me his polaroids and tells me to look almost straight down from the bank, off to one side of his swim. Down through the clear water I can see a small patch of lilys starting to sprout upward, and just beyond them an area of clear gravel. As I look more closely, there's his bait sitting on the bottom, with a few freebies scattered around nearby.
'You've got to be kidding, that's only a few feet from your platform!' I'm looking unconvinced, but Gary smiles, 'The depth is there, and they cruise around really close in the margins here'. Well, we all know carp love the margins, but lets wait and see, I'm still thinking about it as I stroll back to have my cuppa.
I finally find my own margin gravel patch, and literally drop my bait on it.. well if it's good enough for him..! My other bait doesn't actually end up on the bar, as I've found another gravel patch slightly nearer in, and when a passing bailif mentions it being a good spot as well, out goes my bait.
After more tea, we're getting into early evening and starting to relax, I think I had my nose in a paperback when a beep sounds, then another, before an alarm screams! It's not mine, and a quick look down the path sees Gary now playing a fish.
I quickly secure my rods, then make my way over, grabbing his net I lay it gently in the water and wait. I then realise the run came on Gary's margin rod, and the fish has shot off under the trees. But he keeps the pressure on, luckily there's hardly any snags in there, and slowly he makes line and finally steers it into the waiting net.
Usual performance ensues, scales, sling, camera.. then it's weighed, pictures taken, and returned as soon as possible to its watery home. It registers 23lb 5ozs, a lovely common, and our first 'twenty' from the water. (Well for this campaign anyway, as Gary had fished this water a few years back, and caught a fair number of the 20lb'ers that are now the resident 30's).
Two things happened next, Gary gets his bait back out on the same spot.. and I get the kettle fired up again!
It's getting dark now and time to grab some zzz's, the wind has dropped to the odd gust, but there's fish topping, and we've seen some fizzing up along the bar, it all feels pretty good, now where's my pillow..
Zipped up tight in my bag and out cold, there's a ringing sound disturbing the stillness, or is it more of a beeping..?
A beeping.. blimey, it's an alarm! I poke my head out of my brolly, damn, it's not one of mine.. but as I look along the bank, I see a shadowy figure moving about, I think Gary's in again!
Slipping on my shoes and headtorch, I turn up and offer my services as gillie, while Gary re-runs his earlier performance with fish number two. Again it's not long before I'm scooping up another good fish, and we then repeat the weigh, pic, and return ritual.
This time though, it's a mirror, hitting the scales at 21lb 10ozs. I've noticed it's come from the margin rod again, the carp must be queueing up under those trees!
We celebrate in our usual fashion, with a hot cuppa, before it's lights out once again. I believe my parting comment as I strolled away, was along the lines of 'And if you could leave one for me mate...'
It doesn't take long to doze off again, and not much disturbs us for the rest of the night. I did have a couple of beeps from one of the alarms, and look out to see one of my indicators has been blown off the line.. I must have adjusted that really well then! After getting up to help Gary earlier, I'm seriously tired and leave it, and am soon off counting sheep again.
The sun rises over the trees and around 6.30am I hear a beep, then another, but then it goes quiet. It's enough for me to poke my head out for a look, but nothings moving. Then as I stare out, my rod tip twitches.. or did it? Yes, it does it again, I'm sitting up now trying to find the zip as suddenly my alarm screams out a beautiful one-toner!
Out in seconds, I stand there in my socks (it's alright, I am wearing trousers and a sweatshirt too!) playing what seems to be a high powered 'torpedo', that's intent on reaching Gary's swim and beyond!
I'm thinking it didn't immediately know it was hooked, and without my indicator to register a drop-back, it had plodded about until it felt the lead, then.. whoosh!
I get it's head turned eventually, and enjoy the fight in the deep water in front of me, strangely enough there's no help from my wonderful fishing buddy.. must be getting as much beauty sleep as he can! But it's soon in the net, which I then secure to the bank with a bankstick, before marching along to wake up Rip Van Winkle!
So for the third time this outing, we're weighing another good fish, and it's another common, that just makes the 'twenty' at 20lb 3ozs.
Well tea is brewed, and we chat about what has been a cracking session.. and after half a dozen blanks.. it's about time!