It’s been a cold damp winter so far and enough to test the most committed angler. I got to this point at the weekend, as you can only have so much going against you before you think “bollocks, I’m taking up golf”
My alarm goes off at 6:20am and it’s another day in the office, but my plan is to drop into Willow Park Fishery on the way home. I finish early on a Friday and even earlier if I can get in before 8:30am. All was going well until, yep, the man flu struck driving in. Why it had to wait till then I really don't know. My workday was spent with both nose and eyes streaming.
Work’s finally done and I’m now sat in the on-site café waiting for a break in the downpour, coffee in hand questioning the level of idiocy I was at. At this point it was somewhere between I don't even care and complete idiot. The gates close at 5pm and it’s still constant rain. I’m not in the right frame of mind to deal with man flu and get soaking wet with a night of frosts, so I went home. A long hot bath and too many cold and flu tablets later I went to bed for some much-needed sleep. I will see what the morning brings and make some decisions then I thought.
Well the morning thankfully gave me a break with reduced symptoms, so my plans were to have breakfast with a buddy and take a walk round the syndicate I’d managed to get a ticket on this year. The afternoon was warm and I found myself set up in a little corner swim back at Willow Park Fishery now feeling optimistic. That was until just after dark when it poured down again and as the night followed it all froze solid. Thankfully the manful was not getting worse, so I sat watching the sun come up with a coffee. For all my efforts I’d only managed a single bleep in the night, so much for my first proper session this year I thought. Anyone got any golf sticks for sale…
I did however see a few fish fizzing in open water with the odd carp breaking the surface. I couldn't get into the area I wanted with a couple of guys fishing that already, but with any day ticket it’s about learning how angling pressure affects the fish. I could see them backing off into deeper water with the 2 guys casting further and further down the lake. With this knowledge I sat in a swim for 30 minutes watching the water which told me everything I needed to know.
The plan of attack was two pop up rigs cast to fizzers or showing fish. The chosen weapons for the last ditch blank saver were 2 pop ups. To my disappointment and some 30 minutes later my only rewards were a couple of liners, but no fish. I picked my phone up and started to write to Karl at Wychwood, “I’m giving up fishing and taking up Golf” when, “click, click, click” slowly one of the rods on the floor was away. A good solid fight followed and it was a good 20lb fish trailing a zig and a 4oz lead – gutted!
The highs and lows of carp fishing can be soul destroying at times. The plus side was a stunning mirror went back with a treated sore lip and no long term damage. Down side, someone was breaking the rules about barbless hooks and using a system that wouldn't allow the lead to eject!
I only have the basics with me so I put my gear back in my original swim and took a break for some much-needed food. I guess I got back to my swim around 1:30 ready to pack up, but the fish were still out in that open water spot. The temptation was too much and with half my gear packed up I was back casting singles by 2pm. I had my alarms with me this time, so I could continue to pack up. Within 20 minutes the closer of the 2 rods was away and after a great little fight under the rod tip I’d saved a blank. I was just about the put the fish into a retention sling whilst I got my camera sorted and the bobbin on the other rod pulled up tight. I quickly placed my first fish safe in the margin and as I played the second – come on.
Time for a few pictures and the rods were back out, only for another bobbin to pull up tight. By this time I was in full pack down mode to make it to the gate for 5pm, so a quick picture and rods on the deck. I reeled in one rod, put the straps on it and eased it into the Wychwood rod sleeve, but before I did I heard, click, click, click. The rod on the floor was away again.
Another quick picture and a mad rush for the gate, but I made it with 9 minutes to spare with time to put the net, sling and mat back into the store. Willow Park Fishery supply all anglers on the big lake with a complete set up as part of there fish welfare commitment in 2017.
So what started out as a testing session which got worse over the changing day, turned into an epic little winter session. The lesson learned was you can’t catch what’s not in front of you. Even now I spend too long trying to make it happen, when I need to take five, re-group, and remember why I’m doing this.
Tight lines guys and remember to enjoy your fishing.