Due to my recent reports of pollution on my local river, the Environment Agency are keeping me informed of their actions to improve the conditions on this urban waterway, beginning with the removal of trees to improve access for anglers, while allowing more light to reach the river bed. Meeting the local EA officer for a chat in the car park and a walk along the bank to view their intentions, which also will include work to improve the flow, plus the restocking of chub and roach to replace those lost, filled me with hope, but also a feeling of grief for the fish lost.
Returning home for lunch in the sunshine, produced a growing itch within me, that needed to be scratched; putting a bend in a rod, but time was against me. I’ve been promising myself a lure fishing session on a pike filled canal 15 miles away, but that will have to wait for another day. With a carp pond only half a mile down and with wifely permission fresh in my ears, half a dozen slices of bread were whizzed up in the liquidiser, before the van was loaded ready for the short drive to the carpark.
The pond had it’s usual mix of bird life, mallards, plus the noisy Canada geese, which had been joined by a dozen overwintering mandarin ducks, the drakes showing off their plumage to full effect.
Before tackling up my 12.5 ft Normark float rod, I mixed up a tray of bread crumb and ground bait, wetting it down to soak. The plan is then to set up ready to fish, while keeping an eye out for a member of the duck feeding fraternity to arrive with a bag of bread.The ducks, especially the geese, can spot a feeder from a hundred yards and gather at the water’s edge in anticipation. While the chaos of the feeding process is under way, I lob tennis ball sized clumps of ground bait out into the swim, in this instance six balls in a rectangle 15 to 20 yards out. Being shallow, the balls need to break up on contact, to avoid the geese coming over later for a feast from the bottom.
Using a modified pole float, with a fine tip, I cast a double punched 7 mm pellet of thick toasty bread into the baited area and waited. Although flat calm there was a drift on the pond from right to left and after mending the line, the twitch had attracted a fish, the float dipping, almost to the tip, then popping up. On the third dip I struck. Nothing. Bait gone. Rebaited , I cast into the same spot for a repeat performance, this time the float holding under. Missed again. With the float carrying all the weight and the hook link free to swing, the fish were just sucking at the bait with their lips. I added 3 inches to the depth and recast. After initial interest, the float remained static. Maybe the bait was gone? I lifted the rod slowly to see if the bait was on and the surface erupted as a carp was on for a second, watching a V shape zoom across the surface.
Time was getting on. I hadn’t started, until 2:30 pm, it was now 3 o’clock. Single bubbles were beginning to appear on the surface of the baited area, while a dark mud stain was visible. The fish were there rooting through the ground bait, but being very casual with the bread bait. Finally a proper bite, the float slowly sinking away, as I struck, taking up the bow in the line with a sweep, that made soft contact with something. It was carp already swimming toward me, that exploded with power, once it felt the hook. At last a bend in the rod right through to the butt, as the unseen fish swerved away from the bank making for the island, while I backwound at half speed to slow it down. With 6 lb line to a size 14 barbless, there were no fears of a break, but with plenty of snags on the bottom, there are no guarantees. The fish came round in a circle, close to the bank, just beyond my landing net, then rolled. A nice common. Continuing to roll, I pulled it toward my landing net and in. Phew! that was hard work.
22 inches of brute power, not pristine with slight tail damage, but just what I needed to break my duck. The hook had been barely holding the top lip, coming out once the pressure was off. Now confident that I had it sussed, I missed the next bite. Sitting with my hands on my knees, I had watched the float dive away with the line following and made a grab for the rod too late. At least the bites were regular and the next strike made firm contact with a much smaller common, that seemed unable to understand that I was in charge, diving all over the place, coming to the net at the third attempt.
The baited area was now stained with black mud from fighting and feeding carp, however, casting to a recent bubble usually brought an immediate response of interest, the float dipping a few times, followed by a slow sink. The next fish was another biggy, heading straight for the island at a speed I could not stop, the line singing in protest as it reached the shallows of the island, the carp rolling in a foot of water, before everything went solid. It had snagged me and dumped the hook. Pulling for a break, a line of bubbles indicated the the snag was free, a bundle of twigs dropping it’s contents as I reeled it back
How do they do this, transferring the hook to a branch in seconds. Tying this lot together was a tangle of 20 lb line, possibly from a night fisherman overcasting into the trees. Once free, I cut the line up with my scissors, before finding a litter bin. If a duck, or goose were found tangled in this heavy line, the authorities would soon call a halt to fishing on this pond.
I was still missing bites. Leaving them too long often meant no bait, the bread softening up in the water, being sipped in like soup by the carp. It could take ten minutes for a bite to develope, or fail. Next bite will be a fish. Then it was.
About two pounds, I thought it was a bigger carp, pulling hard to my left, trying to find sanctuary among the tree roots along my bank, but giving up against pressure of rod and reel. It had been a while since the second carp, the sun had sunk behind the houses, a cool breeze was beginning to blow across the pond toward me and without my winter layers of clothing was beginning to feel the February chill.
With my need to catch a rod bender satisfied with three carp, I was ready to pack up, gathering my bits and pieces together, when looking up I couldn’t see my float. It had been right out in front of me, but I now spotted it close to the bushes on my right. Reeling up the slack, I swept round in a strike and was in again, mud stirred up by the turbulence of another much larger common swirling up to the surface, following the fish as it disappeared round the corner out of sight. Side strain and backwind turned the forward motion out into the open water, where line was regained and the golden flank of another common carp momentarily broached the surface. The fight was still on, but I was winning, each pass bringing it closer to the net, until success, it was in. Needing both hands to grip the net and lift it onto the bank.
What a tub. This fat common was in danger of running aground in the shallows at my feet and if I needed a bonus fish, this was it. Just a second with the disgorger and the hook came free from the side of it’s mouth. A minute later, the net was lowered into the water and the broad back submerged like a submarine and the carp was gone.
These carp give you quite a workout and certainly felt in need of a cup of tea, as I pulled the trolley back to the van.