Rumours that my local pond was to be drained down for work on an undermined pathway, were confirmed, when I found my way blocked by builder’s fences on arrival for an afternoon of carp catching this week.
The fences extended to the far end of the pond, which still had open space and having invested time and energy walking to this point, doubled the distance with a detour through a nearby wood to access the recreation ground. Being the school holidays, all but one swim were occupied, this one a parrot cage with an overhanging tree and an impenetrable bed if lilies.
Intending to fish the pole, the overhanging branches would not be a problem, as I would be shipping the pole back to only 2 metres to land my fish, while intending to use my heaviest elastic, to a 6 lb line with a 5 lb hook link attached to a size 14 hook, in an attempt to haul any wayward carp out of the lilies, which has claimed too many of my better fish in the past. If I’d had access, my ideal swim would have been the one opposite, drawing fish out to a baited area beyond the lilies.
Trying to avoid the plentiful rudd, the plan of attack was no bread based ground bait, but a bed of curry flavoured hempseed, with loose fed cubes of Spam luncheon meat, also dosed with curry powder, over the top and on the hook, feeding an area 7 to 9 metres out, before tackling up. First cast in, the float slid away and the elastic bounced with a quality rudd. So much for the plan!
My faith was restored on the following cast, when a dithering bite, that drifted slowly beneath the surface, resulted in the elastic stretching out beneath the lilies, before a perfectly formed crucian carp came to the net.
That first hour ran like clockwork, only putting in a few grains of hemp every other cast and no loose fed meat, the float kept going under, a small tench, crucian, or common carp taking the 6 mm cubes offered at the edge of the lily pads every put in. A lift of the float, that shot sideways into the jungle of pads, was the beginning of a tackle test, my pole bending in an arc, as the elastic followed the float deep into the tangle of roots. Keeping my pole flat to the water, the red elastic eventually defeated the runs, the common carp making a break for the open water, each charge getting shorter, until it was ready for the net.The surface was now a mass of churned up mud and bubbles, which had put the other fish to flight, the next half hour being barren, with the occasional half hearted dip of the float, not even the small rudd seemed interested.Soon desperate for bites, I mixed some bread and ground carp pellets with the remaining hemp and balled it in, cutting the cubes smaller with scissors, also scaling down to a size 16 hook to 3 lb line.
The response was immediate, with a decent crucian making off with the bait, the juddering fight briefly taking the fish under the lilies again, before coming to the net.
This pond holds a mixture of commons and crucians, plus a variety of hybrids of the two, some with fins that span from bright red to black.At one time I had collected a gallery of onlookers, as the net came out at regular intervals, demonstrating the efficiency of the pole over rod and line, giving them a grandstand view, when another decent common carp ran away with the bait, stretching the elastic to it’s full extent.
There was a sigh of relief all round, when this one was landed, one of my fan club obliging with the camera. The next cast, the float zoomed away again, bumping the pole top, as a bigger common hooked itself, first taking elastic across the pond and I added two more lengths to the pole. My hopes of keeping this fish in the open water were dashed, as it turned relentlessly back toward the lilies, pushing them aside as it dove deep among the leathery pads. For five minutes, I was still in contact, the fish pulling out elastic, then easing back and was confident I would get it out, giving it slack every time the line went solid, for it to start to move off again. Eventually it all went solid with no sign of movement and I pulled for a break, and was relieved to ping the rig back less the hook. 6 pm had been my intended pack up time and with just 15 minutes left, decided to return home early for a change.
With fish like these only a short walk from my home, it would be a great pity if the bank reconstruction results in a “fish rescue” that changes the balance of this pond, which proves a training ground for young anglers, while boosting the egos of the not so young like myself. This net weighed in at 14 lbs and did not include one of my bigger carp, that managed to jump ship, just before this picture was taken.