Within easy walking distance of my home, the local pond usually gets my attention during the afternoon after lunch, arriving back home in time for tea. With it stuffed full of late feeders, such as common and crucian carp, I skipped tea, making do with a slice of cake to keep me fueled and walked the trolley down to the recreation ground before 5 pm.
Fish were already moving as I set up my pole, with a patch of bubbles on the surface 9 metres out and I made myself comfortable for what I hoped would be a productive few hours fishing. On previous visits I’d also had a lone mini tench and wondered if there were more of it’s bigger brothers about. My only bait was sweetcorn defrosted from the freezer, my first dilemma being being to loose feed, or ball the corn in ground bait, knowing that the bread base would bring the rudd multitudes into the swim. I opted for the latter, feeling that the size of the bait would select the better rudd and the pole is an efficient method for emptying a swim of these fast biting fish. As predicted, the float slid away the moment it hit the water and the first of many rudd swung to hand.
Prepared for action, I was wearing my tatty old bait apron, a relic from my first ever match team, which was sponsored by a local tackle shop, the shop name covered by a handy pocket, when I moved on to another team. You can’t buy aprons like this anymore, it being ideal for cleaning the hands with bread baits and slimy fish. The rudd were coming one a minute, the fins varying from bright red to variegated like the one above, to gold like the one below.
The balls of feed had caused an eruption of bubbles from the bottom, but the surface feeding rudd kept coming, despite overshotting the float nine inches from the size 14 barbless hook. At last a different bite, the float lifting and dropping in rapid succession, to finally sink away. I expected a bigger fish, but this little tench managed to pull the heavy elastic from my pole, trying to hold it still for this picture, also proved a challenge.
The rudd continued to take the sweetcorn, but who cares, when pretty fish like this are coming one a chuck?
A more fiddly bite resulted in a miss, but the next one set the hook and a small crucian came jagging away to the net.
The rudd got fewer and the crucians got bigger.
A steady sinking of the float across the swim, heralded a better fish and the elastic shot out from the pole tip, as I lifted into a common carp, that stirred up the mud in a frantic attempt to escape, diving into the lilies, then out through to the middle of the pond. Eventually the elastic came back to me and I could break the pole down to 3 metres to bully it to the net.
Getting on for two pounds, this fin perfect common carp, was the first, in what was warming up to be a busy evening. Rudd and crucians being interrupted by a brief flurry of small tench, this being the best of half a dozen.
The rudd had finally been pushed out by the carp and tench, while more elastic stretching commons were turning the water black in their struggles.
My set time to pack up of 8 pm was fast approaching and on the dot, the float cruised away, being a passenger on a fast moving carp train, the elastic extending to it’s full limit, as a much bigger fish made off toward the middle and I grabbed lengths of pole in an effort to ease the strain, hanging onto the full length at 11 metres, as it raced around the shallow pond. At some stage during this battle, I was joined by a passerby, an East European and a fisherman, who sat down by my side offering words of encouragement in broken English. Fish and angler were getting tired, but I was winning, lengths of pole were coming off and the runs were shortening; this would be my best carp ever from the pond. My landing net was out and I was down to 3 metres of pole, the carp was wallowing on the surface and only needed another two feet, when pop, the hook came out. I looked at my watch, it had taken ten minutes to lose this fish.
Looking at my new found companion in disgust, I responded to his gestured suggestion that I try again and dropped the float back into the bubbles. It sailed away again at top speed, the elastic zoomed out, but this one just kept going, only for the rig to ping back, when the barbless lost hold. That was enough, I was being out gunned, almost relieved at losing the fish. Time to pack up.
On the scales this net, aided by my much stronger Lithuanian friend, pulled round to just short of 15 lbs, enough for any angler in just a few hours fishing. The up hill walk back home seemed a lot steeper this time round.