It was turning into a warm one. A stark contrast to the previous day that had seen me shivering in multiple layers. I was on my way to a new water, for a quick session only, and there was plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine. The city bars were full of sun seekers enjoying some spirit altering tonics, families in the parks fed ducks, and nearer to the venue, cyclists, ramblers, and even a few hand gliders made an appearance. I was in no doubt that a certain species of fish would be doing the same as us humans. Taking advantage of the suns warm rays and where better for them to do this than in the margins. A place where it would not only be warmest but also where there would be opportunity to find natural food too. Those carp are not daft. Or are they?
There would also be something extra special for these carp to eat. A few boilies and pellets would soon be finding their way into interesting looking and intimate areas. If I was quiet and patient, the shallowness of the water close in, would mean the bulky carp would give their presence away. A tail pattern or a broad back breaking surface. No need to fish blindly. For the first hour or so the lake was pretty quiet. I had never fished here before but I was confident that the carp would eventually behave like carp of other waters. A little faith was needed. And patience; it was still the middle of the afternoon. Time for a cup of tea then. Sure enough as soon as my attention was taken up as I poured from the flask, I heard the unmistakable ‘bosh’ of a flying carp once more entering its domain. The ripples emanated from the other side of a tree to my left. Promising. I drank the tea slowly. Time enough to observe that there was now a carp or two at close quarters a little to my right. Quietly into the bait bucket I reached. A few pellets were sprinkled over an area not six inches from the marginal grasses. The fish came in, creating vortexes as they hoovered up the free food. Whilst watching them, and with shaking hands, I had been baiting the hair with a small boilie. A PVA bag was attached, and once I felt the area was quiet enough, I carefully placed the rig in the water. It was about a foot deep. A few more pellets were offered and I placed the rod on the ground.
I kept well back. Indication would be a rod quickly heading to the middle of the lake so I secured the rod butt under my own. Five minutes passed. It’s in these moments that time seems to distort. What feels like a few blinks of the eyes often turns out to be much longer than that. An afternoon can quickly vanish. It never seems to happen the other way round though. In the interim I had seen no further signs of feeding but I was confident that the fish were still near. After all there was free food around. From nowhere the clutch began screaming and line was stripped from my reel. A carp was hooked and the fight had begun. An unstoppable force. In contrast to this initial run however the rest of the fight saw the fish plod around, trying to keep in the deeper water, past the marginal shelf. It didn’t take too much longer for what looked like a fair sized mirror carp to roll over the outstretched net.
A near twenty pounder, caught on a handful of bait, in a foot of water, six inches from the bank, on a beautiful spring day. There is something really satisfying about spotting fish, gaining their confidence, and ultimately hooking one close in. Of course, you can do this at range but somehow the proximity changes everything. The intimacy. The almost instant action. The fact that from start to finish, barring only the fight, the fish are within touching distance. Well, almost.
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