The glorious 16th June, never meant a lot to me before, just another summer’s day. This year it should have meant so much more having removed myself from coarse angling for 12 weeks, but alas I failed shy of the mark with only 6 of those weeks accomplished. Still something that I’m proud of, as an angler who ‘needs’ to fish and with limited time these days I think I did well lasting that long.
I’d already booked the 16th off work for the occasion so relished the chance to spend a day at my favourite local pool during a quieter week day to see if I could stalk one or two of the lovely carp that reside there. The initial plan was to arrive dead early the hope that one might slip up due to not being fully awake.
I told the wife I was going to be up very early in the morning, to which she suggested I stay at my parents so I didn’t disturb her and Jessica, that worked perfectly for me, I did visit my parents, but grabbed a chunk of crusty bread, some tackle and headed for the pond. I arrived around 8pm in the hope of finding no other anglers, oh how wrong I was.
It was a gorgeous evening, the sun was still quite high and warm, swallows flitted between the barn and the hedges and a buzzard was being mobbed overhead by four squeaky jackdaws. The first pond was devoid of anglers as expected, I had a quick scan of the surface but nothing moved. The middle pond, my main target for the evening and next day, had two anglers fishing, bivvy anglers that were situated one near the pads and one at the back of the island. This was fine; it just meant that the area I had to stalk was drastically reduced. I was slightly disappointed that I never had the place to myself, but we are all paying members and all have the same rights to fish there.
I nipped up to the top pond and found to more bivvies at the top of the pool where the weed is heaviest and most of the carp sit, so this pretty much ruled out the top pond as a target for me. As it was approaching 8:30pm it was apparent also that these other anglers would be there all night and probably most of the next day. I did think of an alternative venue, but decided to work with what I had.
With my tackle set up (I used a glass Mark IV due to the underwater obstacles) I started to sit in various swims and enjoy the evening and my surroundings whilst watching the water for signs of fish. Here they can come up through the weed looking for titbits, cruise through channels in the weed and swim out from under the pads. Watching without casting can help you to work out any patterns; eventually you’ll learn exactly where to cast thus maximising your chances without casting until the time is right. I’ve learnt over the years that baiting with surface food doesn’t help too much, a little is ok, but too much will attract seagulls and ruin your chances.
Although fish moved, there was no pattern and the casts I did make were fruitless. At 9:40 pm I left the middle pond and said farewell to the angler near the pads. I stopped at the bottom pond for a quick look on the way back to the car, and I was glad I did for there was a carp, just a couple of rod lengths in front of me, nudging the surface weed. The rod was still set up and within seconds there was a crust swung just past the fish and gently drawn back level with its snout.
It must have smelt the bread immediately as the crust was scoffed pretty much as soon as it stopped moving. I waited until the line started to snake across the surface before I struck, and when I did a massive spray of water flew up from the spot and the fish bored deep into the weed. I could feel the line grating against the weed and I held on with as much pressure as I could so as not to let the fish bury too much, however deep it went I’d only have to work it back eventually.
When the fish stopped taking line I started to work it back, all the time trying my best to keep the fish moving, something you must do with weeded fish. Sometimes however, the fish will get stuck, and when this happens I find the best trick to get the fish moving again is to gently hand line. I’m not entirely sure of the exact mechanics behind it, but you tend to have a softer pull and more control when hand lining, and with a gentle but steady pull from various angles I managed to get the fish moving again in no time.
Back on the rod I played the fish into open water, avoided letting it get back amongst the weed and as it started taking gulps it slid calmly into the net. It was a familiar fish, a mirror of around 10lbs, maybe a little more, with a nice little patch of scales near its gill covers. It was very dusky now and I knew it wouldn’t be long until it was dark. It was past ten when I took a couple of snaps on the camera, slipped the fish back and headed home. I was looking forward to my full day there; I planned to arrive really early and would have to pick up Jessica from nursery at 4pm.
Monday June 16th
The day had come, and although it could have been so much more special (maybe I should have spent it fishing running water to get the most of it) I was still looking forward to the day ahead of me immensely. The evening previous I’d stayed up quite late to watch Argentina play Bosnia, and went to bed at half time which was somewhere around midnight.
The alarm woke me at 4am and after making three corned beef rolls and a bottle of lemon squash I left the house and headed for the pools. I got there just before 5 and with the gear still pretty much set up I was quickly stalking the bottom pool looking for breakfast munching carp.
It didn’t take long either, along the south bank I spotted a high back and pair of lips pushing up through the weed in an effort to reach something tasty, so I obliged by making that something tasty a nice chink of crust. The fish seemed to appreciate my efforts, until I struck of course.
Another thrashing carp ploughed its way through the weed although here the weed was a touch less dense making the fight less of a struggle. It still put up a great account of itself and was yet another familiar fish. It was a low double mirror carp with a wonderful scale pattern and pronounced shoulders. I was chuffed to bits, a superb fish to mark the 16th and it wasn’t even 5:30 yet!!
I sat there a while longer with a great view of the whole pool, but after half an hour of inactivity I moved on to the middle pool. The guy fishing near the pads was still there, but the chap behind the island wasn’t. I crept past the bivvy so not to wake its owner and watched the water all the way to the tyre swim. This swim is situated at the head of the pool and a large tractor tyre sunk into the ground marks the actual pitch. In front is the island, to the left are deep lily beds and all around are weed beds with numerous channels, an area the fish visit throughout the day and one of my favourite spots.
Along with the tyre swim, I fished the back of the island too and visited the top pond which was still occupied. Behind the island I could cast the 40 or so yards to the weed beds close to the island’s overhanging trees, a spot the carp love to patrol. Babybell wax moulded to the line aided casting and although lots of fish swirled and circled under my hook-bait, nothing took them. The set of pads to immediate right was visited throughout the day buy some monstrous mirror carp, one of which I recognised as the Broken Linear, the pool’s largest resident at over 28lbs, but the mixers I deposited amongst them were only pecked at by small rudd.
The tyre swim was the one that eventually threw up fish number two, much the same as one the bottom pond a fish started nosing through the weed 10 or so yards out, I presented it with a size four loaded with two soggy mixers and the temptation was just too much. Around 15 yards the fish tore off through the weed, it was hard work getting the fish back to open water with various angles and hand-lining needed but after an epic tussle a gorgeous long, lean common was netted, a veritable golden bullet. I could see straight away where it got its power and pace from.
As the afternoon wore on the day got cooler, the sun hid itself and so appeared clouds that were pushed along by the strengthening breeze. It greatly reduced visibility into the water and made sightings less frequent. I could have switched to fishing on the bottom with a float, there were enough patches of bubbles to chase, but I decided on sticking to my guns and kept watch for more surface opportunities. They did come, and a few good fish showed interest only to shy away at the vital moment, but one more fish was to come my way before my 3:30pm deadline.
The pads to the left of the tyre swim were rocking throughout the day. I tend to leave these pads alone as they are very dense cover quite an expanse of water and, quite frankly, the chances of landing a good fish from them would be nigh on impossible. However, I had sprinkled a few mixers near to them and noticed some mini carp starting to get brave picking off one or two of the free baits. I continued to loose feed the spot and once they had become confident I made my cast.
I guess it took about five minutes to get the take, and as I struck I held on refusing to let the fish get back amongst the pads. It worked too, although I did wince a bit before realising it was a glass rod I was using and thankfully not one of my beloved cane wands. In open water the fish found the weed beds briefly, but was soon within the mesh of the Walker style net. It was another common, and slightly bigger than I’d guessed when I saw them feeding, appearances in water can be deceiving.
Quite soon after releasing the final fish of the day I began to slowly pack down all the time scanning the surface in case one more opportunity showed itself. It didn’t, and at 3:45 I was exiting the gate and heading towards Jessica’s nursery, I couldn’t wait to tell her all about my day.