A week ago ducks were walking on the ice covering my local pond, but today an unseasonal updraft of warm air from the Azores had banished the frost, to bring with it a dull day blessed by fine drizzle and the need to still wear thermals. With those left over maggots aging in the fridge, I decided on an afternoon session at the lake, but first set about modifying a heavy pole float to cope with the shallow water. Cutting the wire stem, I wound an eye up close to the float base to allow free fall of the unweighted hook link. Shotting it up, there were only about two inches between the last shot and the surface. Perfect. A quick lunch and I was ready for a couple of hour’s finding out if the foat worked.
The carp here live in a thick soup of mud and brown water, leeched out of the surrounding pine forest, the maximum depth being not more than two feet. Setting up my 12.5 foot Normark float rod, Shimano reel with 6 lb line through to the 4 lb float rig, I cast out twenty yards and showered a few catapult cups of red maggots over the area. With three maggots on the size 14 barbless hook, suspended off bottom, I sat and waited for something to happen, keeping busy with regular firings of maggots. A couple of times the float stem dipped as interest was shown, but no more. I tried a double 7 mm pellet of bread on the hook. Again dips and a full on bite, but no fish. Maybe it was rudd?
A sound behind me warned of my wife approaching, taking a detour on the way to post Christmas cards at the nearby Post Office. She stood and shivered, contemptuous of my eternal optimism, continuing on her way with me reminding her, that I usually hook a decent fish, when she gets out of shouting range.
Large single bubbles began to burst on the surface. Something was down there stirring it up. Back to three maggots and I cast in followed by more maggots. A carp took on the drop with the catapult still in my hands. It was on, coming close enough for me to ready the landing net, before it woke up and accelerated in the direction of the island. My wife was passing the bottom end of the lake and I called to her. No response. This was a 5 lb common and going round in circles, which needed bullying on this tackle, or I would never get it in. Mistake. The hook flew out. I replaced the mashed maggots and cast out again. Time to remind my wife that I had lost a fish as she walked away. Her phone was ringing, when the float sank away again. Dumping the phone in the bait tray, I set about playing this next fish. It was smaller, but still a handful. The phone rang, my wife answered. I informed her that I was now playing another carp. She said “Oh… Good Luck” and rang of. You can’t beat wifely support.
Weighed in at 3 and a half pounds, this common was shaped like a barrel and in perfect trim, the hook transferring to the net. A recast over more maggots, saw the float dip and sink away slowly, until the strike sank home, then all hell broke loose, the fish standing on it’s head, flapping a massive tail on the surface. My float rod was never designed for this sort of punishment, but survived being bent to the butt several times. This was a much larger carp and on one of it’s many passes, the coarse scale pattern of a mirror carp stood out clearly. The commotion attracted the attention of a pair of anglers on the opposite bank, who arrived in time to see the broad backed monster scooped into the net.
21 inches long and nearly 7 lb in weight, this mirror was an absolute tub at around 6 inches wide at the shoulder. The water is so shallow, yet until hooked, there is no sign of these carp on the surface. The disturbance did not put off the fish and minutes later I was in again, the new float sliding under. My body is not used to this sort of a work out, the fish with nowhere to go, but in a lateral direction in the knee deep water, pulling away at full speed. Soon a flash of orange and more irregular scales revealed another mirror.
In the now low light, the pic could not do justice to this golden mirror carp at 19 inches and 4 lb 8 oz. I was now ready to pack up, offering my swim to the onlooking anglers, but on refusal made one more cast. Having planned a short session, I had no reviving hot cup of tea with me this time and had to summon up the last of my reserves, when the float sank away again. The fish was unseen for several minutes, after the first run, bringing it back to under my feet, in and out of the landing net, then off again. My audience commented on the power of what we could see to be a common carp larger than my first, which refused to give up, but the hook held and number four was on the bank.
I can understand why anglers get obsessed by carp, putting them on a pedestal, but like most fish, once you get them feeding, they are an easy fish to catch. I was pleased and also exhausted catching these carp. My float idea worked a treat and of the three fishing that afternoon, I was the only one to catch.
It took three of us to get these fish in the landing net, before lowering them back into the water, no room for any more.