This afternoon was to provide a, much needed, kick up the arse. Arriving, as I frequently do, to coincide with many of the pleasure anglers packing up, looking for feeding fish is a ritual that I perform before any kit is unloaded from the van. With a stiff breeze coming across the marsh from the north-west I would have normally gotten on the back of it, thus allowing it to take my freebies out into open water, way beyond catapult range. However, the anglers present had already got their gear in these swims and I was left with no option other than to fish a swim with the wind coming over my shoulder and pushing my baits into the adjacent margin to my left.
It didn't take long to get some indication of feeding carp, although the rippled surface made it difficult to see exactly what was occurring. I kept a regular trickle of "Happy Shopper" mixers going in. Cheap as chips - 1.5 kg/£2 and the carp were soon on the munch. The Dick Walker split cane Mk IV Avon was fitted with a Mitchell 300, 6 lbs b.s. Guru line, a Nash "Bolt Machine" and a size 6 Gardner barbless Talon-tip.
As the session got under way, the carp were all over me like a rash! I dropped the first two, both hook pulls, although I'm sure one was foul hooked? Two scamp commons and a nice scaly mirror fell to this simple presentation, yet I knew that the fish were having me over. I was getting mugged off with frustrating regularity. As the day drew to a close, the wind dropped away, thus allowing me to get a better view of what was happening. What the rippled surface had been preventing me from seeing was the reaction to my hook baits. Fish were sucking them in from a distance, to check for hooks/line, before actually deciding to take the offering. I'd been pulling the baits out of their reach before they'd even attempted to take them.
Still, my methods were working and I'd caught three - whoopee doo! Then I missed an absolute sitter and discovered that my hook link had managed to knot itself. Time for a change? What if I lengthened the hook link and reduced the hook and bait size? A barbless size 10 Gardner Talon-tip was attached to 24" of 6 lbs Guru line and baited with a much smaller cube of wholemeal. First cast and I'm in. A feisty little "ghostie" common to the net, get in! Three or four casts later and I'm in again; this time a fish of a very different stamp. The rod has a test curve of around 1 lb, coupled with 6 lbs b.s. line and a size 10 hook - not the kit for bullying a decent fish. I was forced to hang on and enjoy (endure) the ride. Twenty minutes passed and I'm shaking, the adrenaline had certainly kicked in, I'd still not seen the bloody thing. It was probably another five minutes before I was finally able to push the net under my prize, job's a good'un! Now I'm very sorry to disappoint, if you were expecting a tale of a monster, it didn't happen. The fish, a beautiful mirror, tipped the scales at 12 lbs 14 oz and made my session. It had been taken using a refined technique that I thought I'd already mastered. It's very easy to fall into a rut, just because things are going well, thus stop pushing the learning boundaries. Today was a very good wake up call. I got some photos then headed off home, happy that something positive had come from the session. Obviously, I'll need to pursue this further in order to draw any sensible conclusions, however I'm glad that I've been dragged from the comfort zone that I'd been so contented in, by a very ordinary carp, captured as a result of a knotted hook link.
|Double number five, from eighty-six fish landed.|
What a fantastic wake up call - just what I needed to get out of the rut and resume searching for alternative answers.