Well the weather has remained amazingly mild even into November and it's given Gary and myself the chance to keep on with the carp fishing.
Usually October has brought us the odd frost and it's then that both of us are putting away the carp gear and reaching for either the barbel/chub rods, or if it's turned particularly cold, the pike gear is made ready.
But this year it's been a long Summer and we've enjoyed being out as regularly as we can, saying that so have plenty of the other lads, and trying to get a swim that you want can be tough, especially if you're trying to get a couple that are near each other…. got to be within tea making distance!
So as this water isn't huge we've ended up moving around the lake to various swims and had to make the best of the situation as possible. Knowing the lake helps, so we've fished to the known features as well as trying to find some new ones.
Again there's been other commitments that contrive to keep me from the bankside like at the beginning of September, not that I can complain as I was out in the Azores reporting on the Big Game Fishing tournament, but at least it's giving Gary time to get back into the catching habit as I get a phone pic of him while I'm out there with a 22lb 15oz common taken by his good lady, who had timed a visit with their daughter to perfection.
It's funny really, how things can change round, if you've read my earlier ramblings on our carp sessions you'll see I've been lucky enough to catch fairly consistently throughout this Summer whereas Gary has had a few, but nothing like what I know he can catch… let alone what he expects from himself as a damn good carp angler? He seems to be getting back into them now though!
And to prove a point on our next visit he pulls in another 20lb+ common from a couple of swims just along from the lake's car park. Again it's been Hobson's choice as far as swims go as there seems to be a late surge of 'good weather' lads trying for a big finish to their Summer carp fishing.
The following week is much quieter and we head round to a side of the lake we've not given a lot of time too, mainly because it's a short bank and only has three swims with at least one usually being taken, making it a bit too cramped for us. This week though they're all clear and we dive in the first two.
Gary's in a corner swim which has the end of a bar out in front of him, he puts both his baits on it with a few freebies over the top, I'm in the next swim up and don't have an obvious feature to aim at even when I explore with the marker, but watching the water I notice some feeding bubbles out in front of me and not long after a fish jumps in the same area... there's my spot then.
As it happens we both end up with nothing, but I think we both felt that this area could hold some fish, and so Gary returns the following week, but on his own this time as I'm away again that weekend.
Deciding to try the swim I was in he looks further out from where I was fishing last week. This lake has a spit of land that runs out from one bank with a small island off the end of it as I've mentioned in previous write-ups, it runs adjacent to where we are and if you put in a hefty chuck you can get a bait just off the island.
What's also handy is being able to walk around the lake and down to the end of the spit, then with your catapult you can put out a nice area of freebies to fish over.
This all said, it was another blank for Gary, but in a catch up phone call he tells me that quite a few fish were topping during the night and that he had plenty of liners so feels we're in the right spot, and thinks we should continue to target this area which I'm more than happy to do.
We're now into the back end of October, the weather's still mild but the night's are quite cool, and of course it's getting dark earlier, so there's no time to waste when we arrive. Gary's putting a serious bend in his rods to get his baits back out to near the island, while I'm in his old swim in the corner.
Keeping with the particle approach that I've used all season I put out a few Spombs of hemp, maize, and crushed boilies to the end of the bar, I soon follow this with my hookbait. My other bait goes tight into the corner onto a gravel patch under some overhanging branches, which is an awkward cast but after a couple of goes it's where I want it.
Once the camps are up tea is brewed and we chat as darkness settles around us, and one of the obvious things we both notice is the lack of fish activity, there's been no signs whatsoever. The water's flat calm and to be honest we're wondering if the cooler temperatures of the last couple of weeks have slowed the inhabitants feeding. Not that that will change anything, we're here and we'll enjoy being out.
The kettle is put to use once more before we retire, it's only early evening but there's nothing better to do than get a few extra hours kip, and hope something wants to disturb our sleep.
In the early hours somewhere out in the blackness I hear a couple of beeps, then a scream as an alarm comes to life, it's not mine so I assume Gary's in! After hearing some movement from his direction I pop on my shoes and headtorch, then head down to see what's happening.
Sure enough as I arrive Gary's playing a fish out in the darkness. He asks for his headtorch, which I find and position on his head, and then I listen to his commentary as he remarks 'Can't do much with this one' and 'Feels quite heavy' that make me think he's got a reasonable fish on here.
Countering it's runs and lunges Gary gradually gets it in front of him, as it comes to the surface we see it's a mirror, a big mirror, I'm ready with the net but I'm not going to make a misplaced stab for this one.
As with most carp once they're in close there's always another run and this one dives straight down in front of the swim and as Gary's rod hoops over he then mutters 'Think it's found a snag?'.
The line has gone solid and with Gary trying different angles to put on pressure it won't release. He's cursing but knows the fish has done him and so the only thing to do is put the rod back in the rest and slacken right off.
After a few seconds the rod tip twitches then pulls down as the carp starts to take line again. Gary's straight on it and now keeps his line taught as he bullies the fish to the surface, and finally into the waiting net. As he secures his rod I take a quick look in the net, and now realise that this is a very big fish.
We pick a spot for the photo's, sort the cradle, camera, and scales, then Gary lifts the net out of the water and brings his catch over, I can see he's struggling, then once it's on the mat and with the net pulled away we can see this is a monster. The scales are zeroed and the sling opened as Gary slides in the carp, we take a handle each of the scales and lift, as the numbers rise past 30... 32... 34... 36, and finally settle at just over 37lb, on 37lb 2ozs!
As Gary cracks a smile that goes from ear to ear, I ready the camera and take some photo's of this magnificent fish. It's then returned quickly, and my mind is already thinking about the club's website, as I can't remember of any reported catches being as big as this, with 32's, 34's, and maybe a 35 on there?
I give Gary a congratulatory pat on the back and tell him that I think he's caught the lake record, which gets him beaming as he gets his rod back out on it's spot. A well earned cuppa is had and then it's back to our bags as we still have the rest of the night to possibly catch another?
We don't of course, but I'm sure we're not really worried, especially Gary! Once home I do check the website and I can't find anything posted that beats his catch so I'm pretty sure he's got the record.
We don't shout about the capture and now concentrate both our efforts on this area of the lake throughout November. The lake is deserted most weeks and as the weather finally starts to get colder and wetter, the bites become few and far between, but Gary continues his recent improved form landing a mid-double common one week, followed by a stunningly coloured Koi of 22lb 15ozs a couple of weeks later.
Me on the other hand, well I haven't seen any action for the past 7 or 8 visits, and as I mentioned earlier isn't it funny how your fortunes can change around?
The last week in November has us out on a dark, wet, afternoon and after a very cold fruitless night our resolve to return the following week is wavering. So by the time we're driving up the lane away from the water and see the heavy frost that's now coating the nearby fields I think both of us know it's the last time we'll be carping here this year.
As a postscript to this story I rang the head bailiff a week later to check on what had been the biggest fish caught on the lake. He's a very hands on guy who knows most of the lads and what's going on, so when he said the best he'd heard coming out this season, and previous ones, was a 36.10 it was the icing on the cake... Gary really had caught the lake record!