Carp challenge from the shallows.

July 14, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Clear skies and blistering heat deterred me from my intended fishing spot on an open banked river, the dace, roach and perch having to wait for a cooler day, opting for small lake a mile from home, later in the day. Created as a balance pond to take flash flood waters from a brook, that runs through the housing estate, the lake sits in a hollow with a small island in the middle, the depth set by a dam to a mere two feet, although capable of taking six feet of extra water. Unlike my other local still water, this lake only has rudd and common carp, plus a few grass carp. There are no lilies, or weeds and appears quite barren, but the heavily coloured waters hold a few surprises for the casual angler.

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On my doorstep, with free parking only yards from the bank, I should fish the lake more, but it is a water, that I have not sussed out the killer method for, my results being random, rather than predictable. Having said that, I have caught some respectable sized carp up to 8lbs here and been broken by larger fish still. I do not consider myself as a carp fisherman and am not equipped to catch the bigger specimens, stepped-up carp rods not my thing. In the past a 9ft 6in feeder rod had been pressed into service to fish a float rig, but found lacking at close range, to control these powerful fish at the landing net. This time I’d set up a 14ft carbon match rod to 6lb line, with a loaded insert waggler float and a size 14 forged barbless hook on a 5lb link.

When I arrived, carp were cruising around with their backs out of the water and I settled my box between two trees, that were growing out into the lake. Plumbing the depth, there was only 20 inches of water off the end of the tree to my left and set the float to 18 inches, just clear of the muddy bottom, burying the hook in a grain of sweet corn. I mixed up a 75% bread to 25% ground trout pellet ground bait, wetted down to just hold into a ball, putting four balls into a 4 ft square area, just off the end of the tree. A dozen grains of sweet corn were catapulted over the ground bait and I cast into the middle of the feed.

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With so many carp around the tree, it wasn’t long before bubbles and clouds of black mud began to stir, my float dipping and swaying, as fish nudged the line. The orange tip submerged and line followed float, as the corn was taken, a smooth firm strike to the right, bringing an instant response with an explosion on the surface from a rapidly accelerating carp, that forced the rod down to the surface, allowing the reel to spin free to absorb the initial rush. In such shallow water every run and turn was transmitted straight to the rod, trying to counter with opposite pressure, while keeping the rod as upright as possible. Reeling hard, the carp was arcing round toward the tree on my right, passing under it and emerging with a branch in tow, acting as a parachute and coming closer to my outstretched landing net. It was not going to be that easy and the common rolled, before heading back out toward the middle, shedding the branch en-route, kicking up a shower of spray as it did so. At last it slowed and began rolling against the pressure, swimming toward the bank and my net.

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Still full of fight, the 4lb common carp tried to jump back out of the net several times, this being the only time it was able to pose for the camera. The hook was easily removed from the side of it’s mouth and was returned minutes later.

All activity had now stopped in the baited area, but it wasn’t long after more feed, that bubbles began bursting on the surface again. The float dipped, then sailed off, the strike hitting soft resistance as a small rudd bounced across the top. The six inch fish had swallowed the whole grain of sweet corn down to the back of it’s throat, needing the disgorger to extract the barbless hook. Delaying the strike had allowed it to take the hook down, the next rudd being struck as the float sank. Yes, we all know what happened next; on the fourth rudd bite, the strike hit solid resistance, lightly hooking another carp, which ran into the next bay, before the hook pulled out. Curses.

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More feed and more waiting, interrupted by the occasional decent rudd, kept me occupied, but the bubbles had ceased. Checking my watch, it was still only 7:30 pm, the time that I felt the carp should be coming on the feed, but not in my swim. Other anglers had arrived and set up, but none had caught yet and was considering copying the two guys to my left, who were legering big bread baits close to the island, when I realised, that I couldn’t see my float.  Picking up the rod, I felt tension on the line and lifted slowly. Bang! I was in again, the line zipping beneath the tree, the water erupting out of sight on the other side. “I’ve got no chance” I thought, laying the rod over parallel to the lake and giving line as it made straight for the tree at the far side of the bay on my left, passing under the lines of the two next door. “Fish on!” Lifting their rods high in the air, they avoided a tangle, allowing me to put full side strain on, to turn the fish away from a mess of branches under the tree and certain loss, it bow waving out to the middle, but in my direction, keeping on the pressure, while retrieving line. In deeper water, the line cut a V through the surface, then the float appeared, as the fish slowed. I was winning the battle, but had a long way to go yet, as it made short, line singing, power surges away, only to be pulled back closer each time. The net was ready, but it veered off, just at the critical time, managing to swim back out twice, before I was able to pull the net toward me, trapping it.

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At 19 inches long, the scales went round to 5lb, not a specimen by any means, but a hard fighting fish on the wrong tackle, that deserved a quick return, the hook fortunately within easy reach. My neighbours in the next swim were impressed that I had got the carp in at all on my unsuitable tackle, both using rods more fit for beach casting in my opinion.