I fished the pool I call Clay Farm Pond yesterday, mainly because the lights are out on my bike, and wife and daughter objected to my taking another long bike ride down winding
lanes, at the darkest time of the year. The Other Pool would have to wait, for once.
I awoke to a frost, which I almost welcomed, because a tramp through two fields and
an orchard lay before me, and the ground would be firmer underfoot. In years gone by, I would have been more excited, because there was always a chance of a big fish at Clay Farm Pond. Those days, I fear, are long gone, thanks to the big freeze of 2010/2011
when there was a fish kill. The pool is spring fed and the deaths should not have occurred. But the spring was in part responsible. The farm above the pond uses of a sewage soak-away, through reed beds; and effluent managed to get into the pond that year,
via the spring. When the ice came, and the lid stayed on for two months, the noxious gases built up and the worst happened. However, I suppose it’s true that even unhappy events can teach us something. Most of the larger “kings” perished
but the feral-type commons seemed to sail through the disaster and they were still there to be caught in numbers that spring, after the thaw. This proves to me that old-strain genes in carp, ‘wildie’ genes if you like, have adapted to hardship
and the British climate in a way that “king” genes have yet to do.
Well, what was I expecting to catch yesterday, as I set out? To be honest,
and I’m sorry if this sounds a little shallow, I like to catch at least 100 carp each year, and as my tally stood at 90, I was hoping to catch the Clay Farm fish in numbers.
Statistics, I know, are the antithesis of pure angling; but I’m sure we all fall into the numbers trap from time to time.
I also wanted to
experiment a little – mainly with meat-balls, a new bait for me. Nothing happened for two hours, and then the bites came. I had one, two, three sail-away bites, - where the sight-bob simply disappeared and the line followed after, - snaking away. I missed
each one. I couldn’t understand it. But perhaps the cold water was hardening the meat, making it hard to clear the hook? I try not to ever use the hair-rig, of course.
cut a meat-ball into little cubes and slid three cubes over my size six hook. This worked, in that I soon found myself attached to a very small common.
The bob continued
to twitch and inch quickly over the surface, but I gained the impression that the carp were not exactly enthralled with the bait. I decided to return to my trusty bottom-fished bread flake, and this worked a treat.
I caught another four carp – three of which were small but lovely fully-scaled mirrors. These are the new stock, to replace the kings that died in the 2010/2011 freeze. Two of them, by the state of their tails,
had clearly encountered last winter’s otter, but they appeared to have healed up nicely.
The last knockings fish was the best carp of the day – an old stock
common – certainly a king, but one that had clearly survived both the bad winter and the otter. It was not a huge common, - but as near to flawless as anyone would wish to see.
The fight was impressive too, involving a run towards overhanging willow branches then swinging out towards the island, taking line against the Mitchell’s clutch all the time.
This was in stark contrast to the fully-scaled fish, which came to the net with hardly a wag or a flutter, as if the hook had only half-disturbed their winter slumbers.
This shows once again, at least to my satisfaction, that commons, ferals and wildies are far more hardy and resistant to cold.