|Lovely Kent countryside views|
After a quick look around nowhere looked any better than anywhere else to be fair so I still only had the one swim in mind based only on the weather change to come.
There were 8 of us so we did a quick watercraft draw. Unbelievably I picked ticket number 1 from the bag so I had first choice! I just had to go in that corner swim I wanted. The right hand bank running 90 degrees adjacent to that swim is a no fishing bank and is the dam so I had plenty of water to go at.
Friday was spent setting up and baiting heavily in anticipation. It was very hot and didn't look good for a bite anywhere so I took my time.
I did a brief bit of plumbing and found from the dam the bottom sloped down more gently than I expected and was about 8ft at the bottom roughly 7 yards out from the dam end. I left the marker at the bottom of the slope and baited from the dam in a straight line out from the marker for about 3 yards down the lake. It made it far easier and quicker to bait from there as it was just a few yards rather than the nearly 50 yards from my swim.
I baited really heavily for me. It was a gamble but I was convinced numbers of fish would follow the new wind and end up here and be turned on by the low pressure. I filled a coolbox with a few litres of partiblend, 3 pints of maggots, 2 kilos of sweetcorn, 2 kilos of 4mm betaine pellet, 3 kilos of 12mm boilies (crushed and whole) and added a bottle of liquid food for good measure. Most of it went in the lake! 50 large Spomb-fulls!
Given the conditions and all the commotion I didn't expect much to happen initially and thought the earliest I would get a chance was sometime in the night.
It didn't happen but by lunchtime Saturday conditions were starting to change. The wind was turning and we were getting a few drops of rain. I was getting itchy feet though and I was curious to see if there were any stalking opportunities so I reeled in and went for a mooch around. It didn't look great anywhere up the shallows and the rain was getting heavier so I cut my wandering short and quickly retreated to the bivvy and I was also seeing a few fish showing in my swim now.
I busied myself with tying some fresh rigs. One rod was on a hinged stiff rig with a pop-up and tipper and I was going to use this to cast around if needed. The other two rods were going to be recast onto the baited area.
One was on my favoured multi-rig - a 12mm Form pop-up overweighted on a 7 inch hooklink and size 8 Fox SR barbless. The other again was a 12mm pop-up but on a blow-back rig - a longish hair, probably about 12mm separation and a 6 inch hooklength with about an inch and half of coating stripped back from the hook. The same hook was used. The pop-up was made to just about sink by adding the counterbalance to the hair under the boilie. All the hookbaits had been soaking in liquid food for a few days.
I chose to use heavy 4.5oz leads thinking that the norm on a day ticket lake was 2-3 ounce of lead so I just wanted to be different.
I was keen to get cast back out as there were more and more fish showing so I quickly measured my lines out and got them clipped up to the baited spot mark. I didn't put any more bait in as I didn't want to spook them. They were on me and I just wanted them to feel safe and start feeding. So just 3 casts, lines pinned down and I was fishing.
The wind and rain were getting stronger and things looked perfect. The forecast seemed to be deadly accurate for a change.
I sat in the next swim with my mate Steve and we watched more and more fish turn up and start showing in my swim. Another mate, Dan, joined us a short time later and we continued to see more shows. I had to move my roving rod to a spot where fish kept showing so I quickly braved the rain and got that sorted and retreated back under the brolly with the lads.
I was full of confidence. The carp had read the textbooks for a change and doing exactly as expected.
As the rain got heavier Dan number 2 joined us and we decided it was barbecue time! Just as that was warming up I got my first take on the multi-rig rod on the baited spot - just a couple of bleeps and everything was held tight so I hit it. After a nice fight a common popped up and into the net it went. 30lb 4oz of immaculate carp! I was overjoyed. The carp wasn't and it gave me a right slap in the face as I leant over it to lift it!
We all went back to our swims just before dark so everyone could get their rods out. I got changed into some dry clothes and retired to the bedchair. I eventually nodded off around midnight.
About 2am I had a little catfish. I didn't put that rod back out. A combination of pouring rain, trashed rig, being shattered and hearing carp over the spot stopped me recasting. I had a rod left on the bait so I was more than happy.
A couple of hours later that rod screamed off - no messing about this time. I ran out and struck and felt satisfied this one was a carp. It was now hammering down. I was to get soaked through again. This was an epic battle. Just heavy and slow. At one point it was just coming over the net cord and powered away again forcing me to give quite a bit of line. It really didn't like coming into the shallow edges. I had my suspicion this was a better fish by the general slowness and deep wallowing I could hear.
I eventually forced it into the net and I was pleasantly surprised by its good looks. I also thought it looked close to forty pounds. The starburst of scaling at the back end on both sides was stunning. The scales told me it was 37lb 4oz - a big fish but it was more than that - it was a fantastic looking brute of a mirror carp...