This week I said goodbye to carp fishing for 2013 and hello to preparations for hunting other species. The trip to Waggoners Wells was like any other, apart from the fact I had a float rod in tow with a view to targeting the other fish that live in those magical waters. The thinking behind this was that the carp were all so special, so maybe there were other equally special fish living with them.
I woke ten minutes before the 5:45 alarm, did my best to get dressed in the dark whilst avoiding waking the wife and baby, tiptoed downstairs to make a flask of coffee and left the house somewhere around 6. The roads were deserted, the car isn’t in the best of shape with soot exiting the tailpipe at random moments (a sure sign it is soon to be visiting the scrap yard in the sky), but it got me there in one piece just before 7.
Walking past the middle pond I spotted one or two carp. I put out some broken bread and sat against a tree stump watching whilst I enjoyed the first coffee of the day, treating myself to half a dozen Malted Milk’s as breakfast. A kingfisher whizzed past, he was up early. The carp went about their business and failed to bother my crusts, so on I trudged with the bottom pond with the thought of that first WW carp on cane wedged firmly in my mind.
The carp seemed to be mostly at the shallow end, which to my delight meant I could fish for them from the end of the fallen oak. This swim is wonderful, people don’t walk past asking questions, dogs don’t tackle its slippery branch in case of falling in, so I would say it’s the most peaceful swim on the pool. Having said that, getting on and off can be a bit precarious, especially after rain, and once there it isn’t easy to play and land fish, but it is more than achievable if you're careful, so that was my first port of call.
Three commons sat on the silt with water barely covering their backs, I could see them sifting for food so I squeezed a flake onto the shank, made a gentle cast past them and drew it back into position inch by inch. One of the commons moved closer to inspect it but there was such a mass of gudgeon fighting over it, the common decided not to pursue the meal and carried on sifting with his buddies.
I turned around to look back towards the first proper swim and almost fell from my precipice when I spotted Sally, the biggun, looking awesome on the morning light. She had another old fish with her, possibly Madonna (I don’t know where these names came from, but these few original fish are the stuff of dreams). I attached a crust and flicked it past the pair. At this point I was half expecting a small common to come from nowhere and ruin the whole thing, but it didn’t, instead Madonna ambled up to the bait, sucked it half into her mouth, paused a while and spat it out. I watched as the pair looked at each other, nodded and gently swam off, all I could feel was utmost respect.
I had one more chance from the tree but pretty much the same thing happened. Soon after the shallows were devoid, word was out I had to find a new spot to angle from. I might point out here that conditions were perfect, the carp were as cunning as usual, nothing changes there, but a wonderful day in September, at one of the most special places I know, containing some of the most sought after fish in the country, and I never saw another angler all day.
At various places around the pond, and on the middle too, I had at least half a dozen chances, all taking an interest in the bait, some sucking it in but me being too slow on the strike, others just mouthing it, but no fish visited the bank. Just after lunch I thought I had made my breakthrough, a mirror was hooked just to the left of the pads on the bottom pond; at last I had made contact. The fish charged towards the pads so I tried to stop the charge as best I could with the little Penn reel and Mark IV stopping the fish just shy of the pads. As it swung back towards me on an arc I felt a grating on the line, it was as though there was an unseen underwater obstacle and the line was wrapped around it. The inevitable happened and all that came back to me was the line with the last few feet frayed.
It was then I decided to stop tormenting myself, many others have told me that when those WW carp don’t want to be caught, they won’t, and I believe them wholeheartedly. I looked at my newly refurbished Avon Perfection rod on its first outing with me and moodled round to the dam to see if I could spend the rest of the afternoon watching a float in the deep margins. I set the rod up, coupled it with a small aerial reel and began float fishing with sweetcorn right under the rod tip; it was around 4 feet deep.
As I struck at the first bite (which came around 5 minutes after starting) the rod came alive, little kicks transmitted down the rod and into my hands, it was wonderful. A lively little roach of around 6oz was swung in, admired and released. This process repeated time after time and for the next half hour I caught at least a dozen fish ranging between 6 and 8oz. Then, upon striking, I had to give line for the first time. It was obviously a much better fish that was hooked, this way and that way all the time hoping it would stay on. Stay on it did and a superb fin perfect roach of 1lb 4oz was brought to shore, It was so beautiful, all thoughts of carp were so far away.
I fished on for another half hour in the hope of meeting another pounder, or possibly one even bigger. Maybe a crucian or one of the giant gudgeon I’ve been told about, but it was just roach as before, although I loved each and every one of them, I had rediscovered proper fishing. At 3pm I started to pack my things away, dinner was being cooked and some of the family were visiting, the least I could to was turn up not smelling of roach.
I really can’t wait for next week to come around. I have Friday afternoon earmarked for some gudgeon fishing on the local stream, should be fun.