I cycled to Woodside today, along semi-flooded lanes, with a desire to catch a carp off the top, despite the cold weather; - despite the fact it is January.
The carp at Woodside are “bread heads” – they like bread off the top; although I say this with an authority that perhaps I lack, because I have only fished the pool three times to date. It is closed to anglers
unless they have booked lodges on the site, and most who book lodges are not anglers. Woodside, you see, is a rural holiday retreat, and an award-winning nature reserve.
However, the owner,
Ken Davies, kindly allows me to fish there, if I phone in advance, because we have known each other for some years.
Returning to the “fire in my head”,- to catch a carp on
surface bread, - the initial prospects were not good. I broke up a round of bread and threw the chunks onto the surface, by the main reed beds, but nothing stirred. So, I would have to fish on the bottom? Even the rudd, which are so evident during the summer
months, were nowhere to be seen.
I decided to be cautious and offer no free offerings to carp. My bait would be popped-up flake, fished tight against the reeds in around 5ft of water. This
involved fishing a narrow space between a tussock and a bush, but I didn’t mind, because everything seemed right. I was waiting for “passing trade”.
Everything seemed right,
- everything that was, except the weather. The cold winter rain was soon falling again, and my confidence started to ebb. This was a problem because, like most anglers, I need to be confident to fish well.
But the sun came out, shortly before noon, and soon afterwards my sight-bob vanished and I connected with a scamper common, which gave a very spirited account of itself, all the way to the net.
A similar common followed a while later; and then I started to hear “clooping”. I reeled in and crept down to a little bay, to investigate. The bread I had thrown in, on arrival, had blown into the bay and was now being taken!
I broke down the sight-bob rig and was soon free-lining surface crust. Sometimes we cast brilliantly and other days we are dire, don’t you find? This was one of the good days. I managed to cast
30 yards, to just before a bunch of reeds, - to within one foot of where a carp had just taken crust. If anything, the bait landed too close, but the carp didn’t seem to mind. The crust was taken within minutes and a slow, plodding fight followed. It
was a leather carp: the first one I had caught for donkey’s years, - in fact, it was the first I’d seen in donkey’s years. Is it me, or are leather carp becoming incredibly rare?
It had a slightly damaged mouth, from an earlier hooking, no doubt, and an otter had clearly taken a nip from its lower tail lobe. But it was still a very welcome sight indeed at the bottom of my net.
I tried to tempt another carp from the bay. They were there, but they were cagey. A few free offerings were taken but the hook-bait, floating among them, was ignored.
capture of their companion had obviously put them on guard, I reflected, as the sun sank low, behind a line of distant oaks.
I tackled down and cycled home – pleased to have caught three
carp, and especially happy to have taken that leather “off the top”. My wish had indeed come true.