The weekends can’t come round quick enough these days. Why?
Well, since the clocks have gone back my angling has, through necessity, become more weekend focused than the standard turn up after dark and sling ’em out approach that had been planning on. All those good intentions about doing the work nights; setting up and packing up in the dark, soon evaporated (though I have done a few to be fair) so instead I have reverted to full on ‘weekend warrior’ angling…
After catching Little Big Head out the bay in September the fish have still been observed coming and going from that area, but on one night they’d turn up and on the next they didn’t – so I started to concentrate back out in the main lake in preparation for the fish settling down in the middle’ish areas, fishing long. The only problem being the unseasonably mild weather! The ridiculously warm autumn had ensured the carp stayed only loosely grouped up and ultra mobile. The lack of weed this year has meant that after the pressure through the summer and autumn they don’t like the leads being hammered into an area and soon melt away to a quieter part of the lake…
Well the upshot has been a good 6 or 7 weeks of head scratching and chasing them about!
Before you start shouting ‘noddy’ at your monitor lets get something straight, anglers that haven’t fished the park lake seem to be under the misapprehension it’s just a turn up and catch a chunk water; but the truth of the matter is that at 35 acres and between 120 and 150 carp the water can be tricky. It doesn’t take much to blank for a couple of months if you’re not 100% on the ball.. though I would admit I was getting irate with myself just lately… Good looking Pete and my mate Greg ‘Jabba Jabberson’ had had a couple each. I was just a step behind and needed to get my ‘harris’ in gear.
In the last few weeks the fish activity has slowed down a bit, and whilst the sightings of acrobatic carp have diminished the less mobile nature of the fish has possibly helped in terms of laying traps…
Well, I arrived at the fishery as early as I was allowed on Saturday morning (yet another Friday night of park lake induced insomnia due to the excitement levels before a session) and I was wandering round to ‘the pretty ones’ swim to drink his tea, eat yum-yums and talk nonsense; and it just so happened a couple of shows in the area meant I flicked out a couple of singles in the swim next door whilst I waited to ‘frog’
Having sat there since dawn the vast majority of activity we’d seen had been in or near his area so it was decision made really. My barrow was behind him anyway so it would be rude not to slip in behind him… By mid-day I was in the swim and had a quick lead about to check previously fished spots and try and find a new one based on the activity we had seen on one side of the swim. After several casts with a little Torpedo Distance lead I had clipped and wrapped up the ranges for all the rods and was ready to get some hook baits into the pond (I find that the shape makes less disturbance when leading). After that some blitzed/powdered Carp Company Nut Mix boilies, liquidised bread and a few grains of corn were fed over the areas – and that was it traps set.
The longest rod was (26 1/4 wraps) on the normal clone rig as its pretty tangle proof, but the shortest rod, fished to the left was changed to a simple braided rig tied with 20lb Trickster Heavy (silt) and a size 10 Continental Mugga. A little PVA bag hooked and wrapped to stop the hair wrapping was added to ensure it couldn’t tangle as I chucked it out towards a distant island at just under 80 yards.
Coleman out, kettle on, life was good….
Just recently almost all of the bites have been in the dead of night; between mid-night and 4AM (the latest) so when I awoke at 4:30 and looked at my phone my heart sank again. The wind had increased and was blowing the rain straight into the front of my brolly and though it was mild it was damp and pretty unpleasant. I pulled the enormous Bedchair Cover over my head and rolled over slightly miffed and quickly slipped into a deep sleep. The type you have when you think that your chance is over for the night….
Bleep bleep bleep – a short burst of bleeps from the sounder box roused me once more and I looked at the left hand rod as the line started ticking off the spool.
As I picked up the rod, tightening the clutch down a wee bit and struggled to get the chesties on an irresistible force took line freely as the rod bucked in my hands and line steadily got stripped off of the spool. That first run off a big fish often seems to last an eternity, but after about 50 yards the fish slowed and kited imperceptibly slowly on a wide arc from right to left. In fact I thought it had snagged at first, but it slowly kited across the other rods and then back again (picking up the middle rod line in the process)…
Every fish you hook is a real adrenalin rush, as the stock is so monumentally huge (in size that is not in numbers) and having come through a lean spell I was particularly anxious to land whatever was dragging me all over the swim. Slowly, and with great care I cajoled the fish closer and closer through the murky, windblown darkness (new moon +1 with wind and rain meant it was as dark as anything!). I sensed she was very near and my first attempt to net the fish simply ended with the fish touching the landing net arm and swimming off 15 yards.
Luckily my second attempt went better; with a ‘guess and lift’ in the darkness ending in a gert-fish being safely retained in the net. Phew!
I secured the net and rang StottGOD to come round and take some shots – running around getting the camera gear ready, retaining slings soaked and scales zeroed and the mats by the water (as fish must be put in the mat before getting them out the water) .
As Stotty got round everything was ready and waiting and I simply un-shipped the arms and lifted the fish onto the mat ready to be taken up the bank. As I lifted I was astonished by the weight. I’d only glimpsed the fish sat upright in the water – and whilst it looked big I didn’t realise how big at this stage. I was still thinking mid 40…
I passed the mat up to Ian (safer than struggling up a muddy slope holding it myself) and we carried her up to the grass. As I unveiled her I saw the depth and shape of the carp for the first time and was absolutely GOB-SMACKED!
‘Would you look at the size of that Stotty!’, I exclaimed (there may have been a few expletives too). The gravity of the capture was sinking in – this could be a new PB…
The little size 10 Conti Mugga hook was embedded safely on the bottom lip side of the scissors and wasn’t going to fall out in a month of Sundays, and I popped it out passing the rig to Ian who gave it more than a passing inspection (was that a tape measure you had out Stotty?).
The moment of truth arrived and I used a Power Lifter and Long Baiting Spoon Handle to offer a steady reading off the Reubens. The needle spun round past 50 and settled on 50.12. I got Stotty to check and he asked if they were zeroed (as the retention slings weigh 4 1/2lb when fully wet).
“Yep” I responded and that was the weight done.
What a beast! I absolutely love these fish! They remind me of the originals in the Herts Club Lake (which I adore!) but on a bigger scale.
Neither of us knew the fish (I have an excuse as it’s my first year) and it was subsequently identified by Pete as a fish called ‘Shoulders’ and possibly its first capture over the magical 50lb mark. She was easier to hold up for the pictures than I thought she would be (looks a bit top heavy), and by the time the night sky was brightening she had been photographed and released and I was sat in a daze on my chair, grinning from ear to ear, blown away by the sheer spectacle of the mornings events and most importantly the size and condition of the carp.
I love my carp fishing (always have, always will), but the angling on the park lake this year has propelled my enthusiasm up to levels I haven’t had for a few years now. I can’t sleep the night before a trip – or the first night of a session, simply because I am so bloomin’ excited. The venue is simply amazing/astonishing/unbelievable; all enhanced by the simple fact that the syndicate members have all supported one another and have been genuinely happy for each other captures. And the fish… what can I say – I just love chunky mirrors….
Life is good! And I can’t wait to visit the hallowed park lakes bank again, as soon as I’m allowed back on (Pete?).