Some demons to vanquish today, the Winter League, whilst not a disaster team wise, raised a few questions for me, 25 hours without even hooking a carp, was that something I was doing wrong, or was it just the draws? The pegs I drew didn't exactly throw up plentiful carp weights for anyone else, so I am reasonably happy that it wasn't 25 hours of incompetence, but there is always that nagging doubt.
Driving down to the fishery, at first glance it looked like the there had been several new lakes dug since my last visit, but it was just confirmation of how much rain we've had, as the low lying fields are flooded.
I did have some casters and Devil's spawn in case I drew a skimmer peg, apart from that I had hard pellets and a few punched bits of meat for the hook, none cubed up to feed, it was to be a pellet or bust approach today. I usually get myself positioned near the front of the draw queue, but today settled for a place at the back, something has to change!! Ben Hagg was just in front of me and he drew himself and Scott Puddy pegs, 119 and 132 respectively, how is that possible, two corners in one dip!!
I wasn't quite last in the tub and had 97 staring back at me when I opened the draw card, given that the Met Office had forecast a 50% chance of rain and a 20mph NW wind, it was a peg I wouldn't have chosen, the wind (and potential rain) would be blowing into me from my left. That pretty much settled that I would be fishing for carp, I didn't fancy holding 14m or so of pole for 6 hours in those conditions. Two lead rods set up, identical except for the attachment on the band, a 0.20 hooklength with a 14 QM1 and a band, the other rod a 0.20 QM1 14 with a plastic spike on a longish hair. A waggler rod taken out of the bag, plumbed up and I was expecting with the forecast and the wind as it was, for it to stay there. This had 4lb sensor mainline, a 0.16 hooklength and a 16 PR36 with a band, my tried and trusted lines and hook for waggler fishing.
I did set up two pole rigs to fish at 11m, the depth was the same at 14m, so there was an option to push out if necessary, using the same rigs. The rigs were the same, 4x14 floats, just the lines were different, one on 0.20 with a 0.16 hooklength, one on 0.16 with a 0.12 hooklength - just in case there were skimmers to catch.
96 was in, so not much room to my right, 98 wasn't in, so a bit of room to my left and 99 had Chris Davis on, he'd just set up one lead rod and was trying out gloves, to try and alleviate a problem with his hands. With Lodge lake being in, I had Steve Jackson immediately behind me on peg 66, but we had an amicable arrangement for pole shipping, using each other holdalls in lieu of rollers.
I started on the lead and 8mm pellet, couldn't get 6mm's far enough out in the wind and rain, 20 minutes with no indications were enough and I had a look on the pole line, that I had been pinging 4mm and the odd 6mm pellet. Nothing there either and I could see that Phil Hardwick on 88 had a carp on the lead, so it was back on that. I had a couple of liners, but no bites, I wasn't convinced the 8mm pellet was right, so switched to a 8mm punch of orange meat, this was almost instantaneous in producing a fish, a decent one as well, nigh on 15lb.
I had three more and then Chris on 98 packed up, I am assuming the gloves didn't solve his hand problem, this left an awful lot of water to my left, as Mash on 100 was fishing the pole for silvers, I had one more, but the liners and indications had stopped. I did try casting down to my left, but that was equally unproductive. I had been feeding 3 lines, the 11m pole line, 6mm pellets at about 25m and 8mms at 40m or so. I switched to the waggler over the 6mm pellets and was getting a few indications when the float disappeared, a 8ln mirror put up a spirited fight, before coming to the net. Next cast I had a bite and missed it, that was it, I persevered for a while longer and tried the waggler again later in the match, but never had another indication or bite on it.
I did try the pole line again, 2 skimmers came from that, but it was slow going and I felt I needed to catch more carp, so back on the lead, I had one more bite on yellow meat, a common that was very reluctant to come to the net, in the way big commons often are, it was shaped more like an F1 than a common and Steve commented on this when he weighed me in.
No further bites, liners or indications, I am sure the fish dropped back into that big area of unfished water, I could see that Steve Tucker over on 81 had a few fish, but they didn't look to be of any great size and I was sure that those on the riverbank hadn't had too much, but I couldn't see what had come from further down the diagonal bank. My 7 carp went 75.12 and the 2 skimmers 1.03, so 76.15 total, which was enough for 5th on the day and a section win, second on the lake to match winner Roland Lucas who was on 102.
So, the demons banished, I can still catch carp, even if it means resorting to the lead......!!