The close season is a nice time of year to enjoy some relaxed fishing, with many club venues closed and the weather still temperamental it gives you time to try a few day ticket waters and plan some more lengthy campaigns... chasing those monsters!
So this week Gary and myself headed off to a local carp lake that holds a good head of fish to upper twenties, with the majority being in the 6 - 10lb range. It should give us the chance to catch a few fish and try a few different methods.
With a couple of guys beating us to being the first arrivals, and pinching the nearest swims to the car park(!), we load the barrows and head off around the track to the far side of the lake. After stopping at what seems like reasonable spots, we study the water, but we don't settle, and it's not long before we continue further round and decide on two swims that look perfect, probably only a third of the way from the car park... it's just that we've walked two thirds of the way round the lake to get there!
So once we'd got our breath back it was out with rods. Gary wasted no time and started firing out 'pult' fulls of floaters, and it wasn't long before he got a responce, as two or three hungry mouths started slurping down the floaters. His floater set-up was out minutes later!
I watched on as I put out a standard ledger set-up, comprising a hair rigged 16mm halibut pellet with a small PVA bag of 4mm pellets attached to the hook.. Gary now had fish topping all around, but no bites.
We both started setting up float rigs to drop in the margins and as I threaded line along my rod, my buzzer screamed into life and I was soon playing a spirited fish to the net. It's a mirror of about 6-7lb, nice. It's re-bait, new bag, and back out.
Gary's finding the surface carp a little fickle, as they seem to be taking a few loose floaters then disappearing, but he keeps the floating pellets going out. Meanwhile he's sorted his float rod which is looking the business set off with his Hardy 'Conquest' centrepin.
There's another ripping take, and I'm in again, this time a lively common joins us on the bank, it's good clean fish and slightly larger.. 2 fish in 10 minutes, what a start. It's time for more tea!
Gary's thinking the floater approach could be a bit of a non-starter and not long after I see he's setting up his ledger, I wander over and as we chat Gary looks over my shoulder and notices his float has just lifted, and as we look it rises straight up. A quick strike and he's playing another fish, that's 3 in just over half an hour... this could get tiring!
Gary wants a nice photo with his 'Conquest' taking pride of place... well I think I got it all in.
After a spell of no action Gary's now fishing 2 ledger rods, and I keep mine going, with the float out as well, but I've now missed two very quick takes. Gary follows suit with the pellet and bag approach, but he's got some monster crab & mussel flavour hookbaits, and it soon becomes clear that the carp here just love them!
Over the next few hours he reels in carp after carp, I think it's seven or eight by mid afternoon, and I only manage one more, from what now seems like a dead swim... I knew I should never have let him choose the first swim!
As the evening approaches Gary pops out a few more floaters just to see if anythings moving on top, and interestingly a few fish take the odd bait. As I've had no action for a while I decide to change to a controller float (see my set-up in the rigs section) and try a bait up top, and with Gary's swim now going quiet he does the same.
There's now a few more fish in the area, sucking down floaters in front of us, and as Gary fires out the bait we both put our floats either side of the baited area. We have a couple of close calls with fish topping over our baits... it feels like we must get a run any minute. Slowly the breeze picks up, and it blows the floaters away from me and off to the left of Gary's swim... and with them the fish!
All I can do is try elsewhere, it's then that I notice off to my right in one corner of the lake that the odd carp keep swimming out on the surface. I can't go tight into the corner as there's an overhanging tree just down the bank from me, I cast as close to its branches as I can, my line brushes the leaves as it falls, lucky bugger... no, it's all skill!
I wait as the floater bobs on the rippling water, is that a shadow nearby? Yes, it's definitely a carp, and it heads out toward my bait. My grip tightens on the rod, but the shadowy shape moves past and around the floater, damn... but hang on, it turns, moving in a big arc, it's coming closer, yes here it is... a mouth opens on the surface... I can't see my bait, but my controller dips and I see my line pull tight... I lift, and whoosh... blimey, here we go!
I yell to Gary that I've got one, his reply is cuttingly accurate 'No, you've only hooked one, at the mo mate', very true, and as the fish kites hard to my right, where it seems lie many tree roots, he may be right. I let my 1lb 10oz TC through action rod bend alarmingly and try to bully out my quarry, it puts up a great fight and has me worried a few times, but it's in front now and then finally in the net... yes, and it's a better fish!
Still not huge, but a mint common at 13lb 5oz, our biggest fish of the day... love it! Our day out is coming to an end, and Gary has a few last near misses to frustrate him, but all in all it's been another great trip... where shall we go next week?!!