Catching large numbers of carp in a single session seems to almost miss the point; and yesterday was a “big hit” for me, with 12 landed: not including two foul-hooked,
due to maddening hook slippages on the way to the net. The best fish of the day I could not count, but it didn’t matter so much, because I had caught it before, actually, when the hook was firmly in the mouth. It was the leather I caught in the
winter, from Woodside, – and yesterday, of course, I was fishing there.
This time, I removed the hook quickly from the pectoral and slipped it back, without taking a
The carp were really keen on surface bread; I knew they would be, because conditions were humid and thunder was grumbling to the north east of Much Marcle Ridge.
Rain clouds, with their ragged edges, were circling the pool too, which lies in a great verdant bowl, surrounded by the rolling fields and woodland of deepest Herefordshire. Woodside is an award-winning nature reserve, and a holiday lodge venue, and the pools
are closed to anglers, unless they are holiday-makers. However, as I’ve known the owner, Ken, for many years, he is kind enough to let me fish, if I phone in advance to arrange it.
Now, as to “big hits” missing the point, most enjoyable though it is always have a rod bending, or soon to bend; - well, that’s true, because like all sportsmen and women I think we forget that during a long session we soon get subject
to fatigue. I’m at my very best – tip-top by my own standards, during the first three hours of a session. I am alert and decisive then; and when I recall yesterday, it is the memory of the opening hour or so that allows me most pleasure.
I arrived at the water’s edge by wandering around the edge of the large field and only getting near the water when I could approach from behind a deep screen of rushes.
I could hear clooping; and free-offerings of bread, thrown close to the reeds, were soon taken. The carp were very, very close – some of them, perhaps, no more than six inches from
the side. I positioned myself alongside the extensive reeds, but five feet back, and I cast out floating flake with a deft underarm flick. The bait was taken within seconds and I was soon playing a lively, nicely-scaled mirror. It was one of those times
when I felt in complete mastery of my art. I relished every run, every turn, every roll, and responded with both precision and elegance. They were, in fact, moments of numinous elegance.
The carp was soon on the mat, unhooked and returned – and that was the high spot of the day, really, because – if only to my own satisfaction – it was a set-piece exposition of what carp fishing can be, and should be.
Later on, the fish continued to feed and, as the heat increased, the ravenous rudd shoals were a particular problem. I had to find places where there were fewer rudd and more carp –
often banging out flake forty yards or so, to surfacing fish.
This worked, in that I continued to catch steadily. But I wonder if fatigue and an aching arm were responsible
for those hook slippages? It just required a lapse of concentration for a split-second, - a slight slackening of the line.
So I went from being immensely proud of myself to
being a little disappointed again, in the space of a few hours.
Last month, when I lost a very large carp at The Other Pool, - well, I was cold and wet and tired. But
these are excuses, aren’t they?
I must teach myself not to fish with such intensity, - to take rests and, perhaps like Chris Yates, to have a sleep with my back against
a tree, when the overwhelming and simple experience of hunting and catching carp gets all too much!