Saturday, 25 June 2011

Quest for a Mirror

The alarm sounded very unpleasant, 3:30am is no time to be getting up….but I was going fishing, round two at the legendary Waggoners Wells. Through weary eyes I managed to make a flask of coffee without spilling any or scalding myself so I knew, there and then, that I was in good form…..On the way the wiper blades reminded me that they needed replacing, a horrible sound almost like that of nails being scraped along a blackboard, but I had no choice, the rain was persistent, I needed to get to where I was going and there was no chance Halfords would be open at that hour. Any other day the dim light and wet conditions would have made for a very drab journey but spirits were high. I arrived at the car park at 4:45am. Although I had only the bare essentials and carefully thought out what to take my equipment was still fairly heavy and the ten minute walk to the pond was one of aching shoulders and tree roots trying their best to trip me up. At the pond I was delighted to find nobody there, I fancied the swim next to the pads due to its deep nature, first impressions were that there were no fish cruising around just yet so they were more than likely in the deeper spots enjoying breakfast. With a rod just off the pads and one near the overhang I sat back, poured from my flask and settled back against a tree stump to daydream of big, heavily scaled, old Carp.

I guess I must have started fishing somewhere around 5:30am, too early for dog walkers so it was a time to relax and enjoy my time alone with the pool, and although quite sinister rustlings in the bushes and the mist hanging among the treetops, it was nice to have the place to myself, undisturbed and quite happily listening to what must have been a thousands birds in song all at once.

Those first couple of hours before the first of the walkers appeared were lovely, if not a little quiet, the rods never moved and neither did any Carp, most strange. Soon after the first Jack Russell licking my ear I decided to wind in the rods and go for a wander, these Carp had to be somewhere. I walked around the end of the pool, the causeway area which is the deepest spot and past the shallow picket fence corner, still not seeing any fish. The margins along the near bank usually hold the odd fish but, again, all was still. It wasn’t until I ended up in the opposite corner to where I was fishing, the Shallows, when I saw them, there they were, all of them!!

I tiptoed out of the swim and walked at Olympic style pace back to collect my things. I dropped everything at the top of the swim behind the cover of some ferns and peered over to see if they were still there, it looked quiet for a few seconds and I felt my heart sink, but soon enough two big dark shapes glided through, the tricky bit would be to get a bait into position without spooking them to the other end again. This was to be the routine on this pool, whenever the fish get spooked, be it and angler causing disturbance, a dog walker throwing in a ball or stick, or even a Crow swooping close to the surface causing eruption, it always took the carp a good while to settle down and even look slightly interested again.

Whilst searching through my bag for the bag of drilled halibut pellets I stumbled across the packet of King Prawns I’d bought the day previous, “something different” I though and quickly broke one in half and hair rigged them. With the two rods baited (thinking back now I should have used only one!) I crept down the waters edge and waited for any fish in the area to either move off or have their backs to me and with a gentle flick I positioned the two baits, laid the rods on the floor, slackened off and retreated to my Ferns. I knelt down for what felt like an eternity, my feet had pins and needles and I knew that if I had to jump up I’d probably fall over! Whilst sitting more comfortably and trying to get some blood flow back into my feet I suddenly realised that the dark ghostly shapes that were happily gliding through had ceased. I smiled sarcastically, perfect, I find them at the opposite side to where I was fishing, as far away as they could probably get and with me now in position with almost the whole lakes population in front of me they go and do exactly what I expected them to do, they were more than likely sitting right on the spots I was fishing earlier mopping up the bait I put in.

I sat for a few minutes in disbelief, the mist light rain still fell and visibility wasn’t great, looking up you could just about make put the tree tops. Just then whilst gazing up into space I heard a familiar sound, I looked down and saw my right hand reel spool revolving at an incredibly fast pace. I scrambled to my feet, scaled the sloping bank and picked up the rod, fish on! It tore of towards the pads opposite left so I tightened down on the spool in an attempt to slow it down; but the fish was very strong and came within inches on the big green leaves before I managed to slow it down. Quite remarkably it then kited straight towards me, I had to wind quickly to keep up with it and as soon as it saw the net it was off again on another strong burst. Soon it was wallowing just a few yards from the net and took a big gulp as it felt its body against the mesh. I peered in and made out in the low light that I had achieved exactly what I’d set out to do, catch a Waggoners Mirror carp thus completing the set. It was a very handsome fish, classic characteristics complete with sloping head and a good size too.

Again, I didn’t do the grand old fish a disservice but putting a number on it, more than happy with what I’d caught I had done what I’d set out to do in the two day sessions. I did the best I could in the low light levels with a few self takes, the flash on lit up the fish and blacked out the background and with the flash off the shutter allowed too much light in, I played around a little, got a few reasonable shots and released the wonderful Carp back to its home.

It was obvious that the commotion from the fight would have spooked the fish to the other end where I was before so I gathered my things and leisurely, in two trips, carried my stuff to the other end. When I got there they were cruising around in groups of three and four as they do here so often looking extremely catchable. Once I was settled back into my original swim I repositioned the rods, this time baited with my new wonder bait, and laid them on the floor with the clutches set, then I fired out a few pieces of crust hoping the fish would be in the mood, but they weren’t. The ducks were though, a mother Mallard and three young adults and a weird looking Chinese cross with 6 very small but equally as annoying young. These ducks seem to tour the lake, round and round all day and my attempts to fill them up were in vain as they can feed all day and not appear to fill their little crops.

Afternoon came and so did glimpses of sunshine making the basing Carp even more visible and even more frustrating, but I found time during moments of this frustrations to smile with respect. I started to think of it as a game of chess, and with a veritable grand master as my opponent, always looking to trick your opponent into a false move, that move being me stepping on a twig and alerting the fish of my presence of the fish taking the bait. A hooked fish is only check, for it is when the Carp is safely in the folds of mesh that checkmate can be achieved.

During the afternoon I left my position under the trees near the pads and wandered with rod and net around the banks looking for an opportunity. That second opportunity did arise at around 8pm in the shape of two big mirrors taking a sudden interest in the bread I was flicking out. The key was to get in quick, snatch a bite and get out, dilly too long and the ducks would be round on their tour and it would be al over. I watched as two pieces of crust disappeared and crept round using bank side vegetations as cover. Out went my hookbait and up came the mirror, showing me a whole different side to their cunning ways, it was almost as if they will drop their guard and throw caution to the wind at some stage, you just have to persevere and be there when they do for these windows of opportunity will be few and far between. So, I watched on in the clear, sunlit water not two rod lengths from the bank as a twenty pound mirror looked at the bait, sucked it in completely and proceeded to turn away, I struck and the hook came flying out of the water and landed among the branches above my head, the fish didn’t even spook, just carried on chewing its meal and it slowly waddled of to join its friends.

At a little before ten I started to pack things away, the light was fading and it looked much the same as when I had arrived. The spooky walk back to the car was one of triumph, I felt, somehow, that I didn’t need to rush back and be frustrated again too soon, I’d done what I wanted to do, time to move on to the next history water on the list.

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