So after leaving the Kennet I headed to Romsey to meet up with Peter and Graeme who were already a day into their weekend at the FLE Top Lake. Martin was to meet us on Sunday morning. I met Graeme and made my way to the lake. I had a quick natter with Peter who was angling with his daughter, yet was mindful that time was getting on and I'd be losing light.
I found a pitch to set up camp for the night thanks to a tip off from Graeme and before I had a chance to pitch the tent Graeme called us together to commence the match. The idea was we'd fish in pairs, Graeme and I vs Peter and his daughter. The target was the small carp, last year's successful spawning, and the prize was to sit back while the losers tend to the barbeque.
It was 1 point for a mirror and 5 for a not to common common. We'd be fishing until we could no longer see our floats. The little hand sized carp loved maggots, and seemed to like me too. We won 19 - 2 , with me catching 12 of them and Graeme managing the only common. Whilst the others lit the barbeque I set about building my house. We sat by the campfire, eating burgers and hot dogs and chatted till late. I turned in , chilly and tired looking forward to a full day's stalking next day.
It was a cold night but I emerged from the canvas tent unscathed. Breakfast was washed down with a pot of tea and I was soon wandering the banks armed with Carpathia. Martin arrived early and after meeting and greeting he went off to set up a rod whilst the rest of us continued stalking. I tried worms cast at bubbles for most of the morning, but caught only small stock fish. Lunchtime came and tea and cake brought renewed enthusiasm.
Mid afternoon Graeme called me over to the aerator bay where a couple of carp were hiding under some thick reeds. I thanked him and set about trying to trick one. Incidentally it would have been my old pal Richard's birthday that day, and I really wanted to catch a goodun in his memory. The carp though had other ideas and ignored everything I tried.
With an hour left and only one hooked and lost fish to Martin I decided to pack away the tent and then fish the last half hour. It would give those cunning and disinterested carp a short breather too. With everything bagged up and ready to be loaded into the car I crept back into position. For ten minutes I saw nothing, then just a rod length out a mirror bobbed up and cruised through slowly. I worked out where it was headed and lowered a crust into position.
As it approached it seemed to hang mid water looking at the crust. It seemed an age, then, slowly it inched forward and sucked in the bread. The fight was quite localized, sharp jerks on the rod tip followed by a dogged battle under the rod tip. It went into the net at the first time of asking, not the big girl I was after, but perhaps the prettiest fish in the lake.
It was quite a moment, a carp for Rich and so very close to home time. It weighed 13lb and worked the camera well. It capped a busy angling weekend beautifully and sent me on my way with a very big smile.