With the weather a lot more changeable to when we were here the other week, we're back at Brooke Lake for the night.
My gillie, whoops, I mean Gary, has found the swim he wants by the time I arrive. It's not the obvious choice as the wind is blowing away from this side of the lake, but he's picked out areas within the swim he feels are worth targeting, and that's fine with me, as we now check out the other swims nearby to find me some likely spots to place a bait.
Just round the corner looks good, in fact I could fish ten rods to cover all the features in this swim.. but I'm not sure Mr Hammond would approve!
Off to my left are some overhanging trees and snags, with deep water below, then to my right there's big stretches of reed beds, while out in front I've got various clusters of pads, so plenty of choice.
The rod pod is set up, and the rods assembled, I'm going to put a bait near the reeds, two 8mm pop-ups mounted on a hair, with a shot squeezed onto my hooklink about a centimetre below the hook. I'm still trying the Berkley Gulp! Halibut and Crab boilies, fully glugged, and smelling good!
The other baits going in by the snags, and I'm going natural with this one... no, I don't mean I'm standing there in the all together with my tackle in my hand... don't even go there! I mean sweetcorn, and I put out a bed of the stuff, very near to the snags, then I hair rig a couple of grains of artificial corn above my hook, and fish it over the bed of naturals.
All sorted, and now the kettle goes on, and what would we do without mobile phones, 'Kettles boiled!' I text, and seconds later Gary's round with his cup. He's not cast in yet as there's a strict no leaving rods unattended rule on Brooke, which we all know is sensible for nearly all fishing situations, let alone carping.
With tea over, the baits are dropped in and our buzzers switched on. The afternoon slips away and evening arrives without a beep from any of our rods... but the paperbacks are read, and we chill out knowing night time could bring us some action.
Around 2am I hear a few beeps and stick my head out of the brolly to see a headtorch playing out across the water, looks like Gary must have hooked something!
So it's shoes on, camera out, and wind my rods in. When I arrive Gary's playing a good fish out in front of him, 'Where did you get the take?' I ask, 'I dropped one off the edge of those pads out in the middle' comes his reply, as the fish nears the net.
In it goes, and we can see it's a nice common. The net is secured, and then like a well drilled team, the unhooking mat is moved over, the scales turned on, the weigh sling is soaked, and camera got ready. Finally the fish is lifted onto the mat, unhooked, and the rod put out of the way. Being organised really helps, especially in the dark, its so easy to step on a rod tip, or kick some tackle into the water, if you don't sort out what you're doing before hand. It also helps get your catch back in the water with the minimum of stress.
In the weigh sling and it goes 20lb 10ozs, a mint condition common, and another '20' for Gary. We take some pics and the fish is returned quickly.
Tea is brewed, before we retire to our sleeping bags again. I hear some good fish topping during the early hours, but nothing disturbs my baits, and I drift off to sleep.
It's early morning now, and as a big splash erupts near to the reed line, right over where my bait is, my buzzer lets out a sharp series of beeps then stops, but it soon becomes apparent what's happening, the carp are starting to spawn.
Over the next few hours carp in two's and three's are crashing in, and amongst, the pads and reeds all around my swim. As Gary pulls in his rods and comes over, 'Any tea going?', I put the kettle on, and we sit and watch the antics of our scaled friends. We both agree this has put an end to our session, as the carp now have other things on their mind, so as its now mid-morning we decide to pack up and head home.
Ever hopeful, like a lot of you I'm sure, I always leave my rods as the last thing to put away, and it's amazing how many times I've had a run. So down comes the brolly, tea making stuff packed away, bait buckets loaded in the barrow, and then... beep, beep, beep...
The buzzer screams, my rod tip pulls round, and I'm in! I pick up the rod, click off the baitrunner and take up the strain. The fish is heading up a channel between the reeds, so I start to apply pressure to stop its run... that's when it all goes slack!
The fish has slipped the hook, and I'm left to wind in nothing. As Gary trundles round with his loaded barrow, he sees I'm not happy, 'What's the matter?'.. and I explain. He chuckles, 'That's fishing mate', I know, but....!
Our next visit is a complete washout... quite literally!
With the mid-week weather forecast initially predicting just the odd shower it looked like a good weekends fishing was on the cards, but how those forecasts can change. As I pull into the car park there's already spots of rain falling on my windscreen. So where are we going to fish?
On the opposite side of the lake to where you come in, Jerry has built a pontoon out into the middle of the water. At the end of this extend two platforms that give access to loads of features, and we'd earmarked them as somewhere to fish sometime, our one reservation being how to secure your brolly to a wooden floor? With stories of anglers armed with cordless screwdrivers and handfuls of screws, we thought we'd leave that swim for another day!
Gary (as always!) has beat me there, so I give him a call... 'So where are you?'
His reply has me slightly puzzled... 'I'm in one of the huts!'
'Huts?', but light was beginning to dawn, as we had heard whispers recently that Jerry was going to build more permanent shelters on the pontoon, 'So they're up then?', and yes they certainly were, and we were in them.
They're nice and sturdy, just over a bedchair in width, and almost the same in depth, offering great protection from the elements. The pontoon has handrails all along, and around most of the platforms, so there's less chance of a midnight dip.. even if you're a sleepwalker!
The swims themselves give access to a number of features, both near and far, with reed beds, lily pads, and snags all open to a bait.
Saying that, we tried them all, but beside the odd liner, nothing came out to play... except the rain, all afternoon, all evening, all night... and you guessed it, all bloomin' morning!
Did the rain drop the water temp significantly? Did that switch the fish off? Are we just looking for excuses??? What do you guys think?
Anyway, it proved a good test for the huts, and you have to say they were the business!
For more info on Carthagena Fishery click here for Jerry's website.