It has been a little while since I have had the opportunity (or reason) to write for the website. Like many in the trade this is mainly because of the dual evils of the weather and show season that have inevitably impaired my time on the bank. But finally, after an extremely enjoyable trip to Poland last weekend I was going to get a couple of nights in good conditions, and I’ll be honest and say that I was ABSOLUTELY GAGGING to get out!

Habitual weather watching somehow becomes a way of life for us all year carpers, and this latest weather window couldn’t have come at a better time. Early/mid February always sees the longer daylight hours kicking in which has a dramatic affect on everything in and around the lakes we frequent. It’s my favourite time of the year, having been fortunate to land a few memorable carp in February over the years, and it is the tipping point when you finally feel like the spring could finally be ’just around the corner’.

The mild weather had been with us a few days before water temperatures started creeping up, so an overnight ‘quick work night’ trip was lined up with ‘she who must be obeyed’ and I got down the lake at about 7:30PM to find a carp had been caught by the wonderful Dr Dave (I’m glad he wasn’t my GP). As I stood congratulating him, a couple of fish sloshed out in the darkness over the other side of the bay in short succession!

Sweet ‘Jesus! One of them sounded substantial enough to cause a proper stir, and I quickly hugged the goodly Dr and ran back to the fisherman’s shed to get signed in and collect the carp care kit. I was bordering on hyperventilating I was so excited. I stomped round there in the dark, pushing the barrow as quickly as my chubby little legs would take me!

The fish had shown about 50 yards apart and not far off the far bank, so I dropped into a rarely fished little swim that would give me access to both areas and set the gear up behind the bushes, sheltering form the ‘lively’ breeze that was pumping across at me.

Each rod was simple to sort out, a Ronnie tied with the usual 25lb Ultra Skin and size 4 Cover Dark Mugga combination. Hook bait was a pink 12mm Carp Company Caviar and Cranberry pop up on fished on Covert lead clips coupled with 1 ½ ounce Bolt Bombs. Each rig was balanced to gently settle over and was primed with a two bait stringer in a way to protect the hook point of the rig should land on anything scruffy like old leaves (being on the end of the wind it is likely there would still be a few leaves about).

The Welly fish really hate leads going in, so I only wanted to do one cast per rod keeping it just stringers and hookbaits to avoid the noise of freebie boilies going in too. I was happy with the drops on the rods as I flicked them out and fanned widely across the front of the swim at about 25 yards range perpendicular to the bank.

The wind was getting up all evening, and as I lay under the stars being buffeted I was constantly getting single and double bleeps, some of which coincided with gusts and some that didn’t so I was sure there were fish in the area still. I drifted into a very strange semi-dream state whilst trying to get my head down.

At 2:30am the bleeps were punctuated by a toner on one rod and I jumped up and picked up the offending rod desperately trying to shake the shroud of sleep from my consciousness. As I did the usual silly stumbling ‘dance of the chest wader’ the fish plodded about in front occasionally taking line until I was out in the water with the net in position shaking like a leaf. These moments are deliriously exciting, and the calibre of fish that swim in the park is so immense that every bite has the potential of being the fish of a lifetime. It reminds me of the Car Park days…

I soon had the fish in close and duly netted it and pulled her back into shallower water and nipped up the bank to get my head torch. It was chunk and at first l thought it was a recapture of the Chinese Common. The Mugga was solidly implanted in her lip about an inch back and hadn’t moved a millimetre (like normal) and she was literally mint. Not a mark or blemish on her, which is always lovely to see.

Once I got my mate Disco Dave Gaskin (aka The Goose Point Impregnator) round to help, we identified her as the Long Ghostie. I think the bulked up shape confused us both for a little while as she looked far chunkier on the bank than normal; and when I hoisted her up on the scales to find the needle settle on 53lb I was left in a state of shock! Once again I rightfully got ribbed by Dave as I really should know this one as this was my third capture of the mega looking beast (the best Ghostie in the lake in my eyes).

With the photos done, and the hook mark treated with a quick squirt of Intensive Care, we released her just down the bank and watched in awe as she lazily trundled off glowing in the torch light.

With an early pack up to get in to the office it was a match sticks job the following day, and then it was back to the park for another work night in amazing conditions. This time, as I was setting off from home my phone went and it was Dave hysterically jabbering that I ‘HAD TO GET THERE’ as he had a monster in the net. I tell you what, he wasn’t kidding either but that’s his story to tell, suffice to say the photo’s had to be right or I would never have been forgiven.

The ‘stars had aligned’ and the fish had fed. God I love February…