Summer is but a month from its inevitable end and I have still to catch enough of a number of the summer species to earn myself challenge points for them. Tench are still outstanding despite a couple of concerted efforts for them, as are king carp, who, I have to admit, I have avoided thinking about. I'd a venue in mind, and an approach too. These had been in place since January but I'd never acted. Now it seemed I'd have to...
There's a little place just up the canal that has a good head of carp, quite peaceful and idyllic in appearance if you face the right direction and studiously avoid the sight of bristling poles. I fancied this place mostly because I can walk there in half an hour and stand a chance of doing what I wanted to do, which was to get my point off the top, with freelined floating crust.
You know, a bit of bread at one end and bloke at the other. Nothing in between. No gadgetry, no gimmickry, no flash gimcrackery. At least here, I thought to myself, we have probably the last remaining bastion of the carp fishers art, the only skill not completely overhauled by the over-determined carp angling industry, even if it has to be practiced in a fishery somewhat too crowded with the species for comfort.
I can't remember the name of the place, it always escapes me somehow, and besides, the owner, who was sitting fishing like a gnome with a pole in the margins as I crossed the field toward the water, was a taciturn old bugger, undeserving of my free publicity. Still, I wangled a three quid ticket as he couldn't change a tenner, and wouldn't want to be bothered to come around later, so I was smiling all the way to my peg.
The carp were on the top. Good. I set up an avon rod and as I was facing straight into the sun I attached a loaded waggler two feet from the hook, because I couldn't actually see the crust half the time. So much for purity!
My first peg choice was a bad choice even though plenty of fish were patrolling around as it offered no cover and the carp would not accept a crust in open water with even my very fine six pound line visibly attached. Educated, evidently. Second peg was better and I managed a five pounder off the side of a lily bed.
I was enjoying myself, I have to say. I think I'd forgotten just how riveting, thrilling and satisfying it is to catch carp on crust on relatively light tackle and I realised that I had not practiced it since the early eighties. I have caught a lot of carp on dog biscuits in the meantime, but somehow, that's a different game.
As I was fishing this peg for a second carp, who were proving more wily than I'd thought they'd be, another angler across the way threw in his spare bread at the end of his session. Later I noticed a lot of surface activity to my left and walked along to see what it was. Here I found a group of seven or eight carp out in the middle of the lake amongst some broken lilies that had found the whole slices and were in the process of noisily breaking them down into bite sized chunks.
I moved along sharpish...
I soon had one hooked from the centre of the lilies but after a five minute struggle with what was probably a low double figure common carp, and just as the fish was tired and at the net, the hook pinged.
I then noticed that the lake was almost completely deserted, as if I'd missed a signal that all the pole anglers had heard. Do pole anglers all arrive at the same time and pack down six hours later? I don't know, I haven't the foggiest notion about match angling or the habits of match anglers, but I suppose it would make sense to fish in practice as if you were in competition, wouldn't it?
It was nice having the place to myself for the remainder of the evening and when I started to actually land a few fish and got the weight total up to twenty pounds, I thought that I might even be in with a good chance at the point.
That is, until shit happened...
The eight inch top section of my expensive carbon net pole just snapped in half with a sickening splintering noise, with the fish safely in, but without undue strain and without warning. I must have cracked it without knowing...
At least I landed the fish, but only just...!
No way to repair, and no spare in the quiver meant an early walk home. At least the session served as practice for next time and the way this pond is stocked, the carp point won't be that difficult to achieve over a full day session in favourable weather conditions for crust fishing.
Hopefully this fine spell of weather we are currently enjoying will persist a little longer..?