Hoveland has not been very kind to me this year; until yesterday it had rewarded my efforts with three resounding blanks in a row: but perhaps I deserved those blanks after telling
friends and family how it was a "double factory" where decent fish could be expected on a regular basis. Yesterday was a dramatic day, in terms of the weather: with imperious purple thunder clouds above the hills and fields of Herefordshire, while I fished
on in sunlight, with only swooping swallows for good company. One swallow seemed to delight in following the underlating contours of the bank to head straight at my head, before veering off. Other swallows - no doubt in search of flies - turned circuit
after circuit around the smaller island, where a hawthorn dripped white blossom into the shallows. True to what I had started to think of as "The Curse of Hoveland", my day started badly. I was sight-bobbing paste and also prawns down the side, and I
missed three perfectly good takes. I expect the wiley carp were merely running off with the bait between their lips. Later, when I found a reasonable number of carp in a little bay, below and around floating gunk and sticks, I was tortured almost beyond endurance.
My surface flake and crust offerings were being mouthed and taken - five, six, seven times - but it was impossible to set the hook. Most strikes led to a shower of sticks, leaves and gunk, because the direct line to the fish was compromised in this way. I
finally decided to put a floating bait around one foot off the gunk and to sit it out. In this way, at least, the line would lift off the surface cleanly on the strike. This worked, eventually, and a hooked common swung right for a power run out of that little
bay and across the front of the main island - no doubt hoping to dive into the island's snaggly willow roots. The AKN 116 rod and old Mitchell reel did their job, however; and after an arm-aching battle, with plenty more runs, I had the fish in the folds of
my 42 inch net. I thought it might go double, but on the scale it went 9lb 7oz. I was delighted to have caught, to be honest, given my previous record on this particular pool, this year. Naturally, with one of their brethern fooled, all the carp in the bay
disappeared. I moved up towards the little island. In the margins, beneath my feet, there was clouded water and the tail-tips of feeding carp, breaking surface. I thought about a bottom bait but decided to tempt one to rise, with crust as the bait. Eventually
this worked. A common rose to cloop the crust in two. It rose again, once, twice, three times to inspect the remaining hunk of bread, which had my hook in it, of course. Finally, its lips sucked in the bait and it turned off. Another impressive battle ensued.
The fish was a long one and during the tussle, with numerous power runs in shallow water, I thought it was larger than it actually was. As it turned out, it was a scraper double - 10lb 2oz, and still a very welcome sight in the weigh sling, after such fireworks.
During the last hour, I tried popped-up flake off the island and was rewarded with another feisty common, of around 6lbs. I left with the sense of satisfaction and relief, after such
an uncertain start, and following those three disheartening blanks beforehand. Three fish; - that kind of hat trick's always welcome.