Funny month, August; especially late August. In England, it's barely summer, with the leaves already starting to turn and fall in some locations, as they were at Pridewood, last Friday. The curl
and clapper seeds of the lime trees along the farm lane were already down in some numbers, as were a quantity of pale yellow leaves. It's a carping time I love, actually; and for 30 minutes I assumed I had the small Herefordshire pool all to myself... but
I was already playing my first carp of 8lb 4oz when the first fellow carper arrived, to see me in action at the head of the pool, (my AKN 116 bending heathily as I kept the common from submerged willow fronds.) I'd spotted this fish easily, because it was
stirring up impressive clouds of red Herefordshire mud in the shallows. I cast into these aquatic clouds with popped up crust, under a sight-bob rig; and the sight-bob - essentially a subtle little bulb float, soon shot away. (To pop-up crust, I set a small
plastic float stop about two inches above the hook, and I squeeze tungsten putty around the float stop - just enough putty to critically balance the crust. Of course, I squirt the crust with a little scopex before casting out. Crust and scopex, believe me,
is a very effective combination, on many occasions.) My smallish common caused quite a thrash in coming to the net, and the swim seemed lifeless afterwards; and so I moved to the dam end of the 1.25 acre pool... and considered actually fishing from
the dam itself, where the venerable old carp like to gather - more often than not, under a little bush - and around its submerged roots. (A friend, Nigel Evans did very well in that spot, a few years back, when a layer of scum was helping to hold the fish..
but I digress. On Friday, the tiny bay before the dam was a veritable storm of bubbles, and so it was my obvious second choice of the day, for a swim.) I planned to use the popped-up crust technique again, but an 8oz roach, followed by the hooking of a slightly
larger roach, which rolled off the hook, let me know I would be tormented by small fish if I tried it there. I decided to try the surface, with quite large hunks of crust and scopex - large enough to withstand the assaults of the baby rudd and roach. Within
a few minutes, a hunk of crust simply sank, in a heave and undulation of water. This common carp - an eleven pounder as it transpired, must have sucked down the crust from some way beneath the surface. I was pleased to land my first double of the day, and
my second fish, not least because four or five anglers on the other bank were having no action as yet, despite using more 'modern' methods. About one hour later, a long-looking common surfaced for my scopex crust, and following a screaming first run against
the Mitchell's clutch, it treated me to a odd circling type of fight. It soon came to the net, however, and I weighed it at 13lb 11oz, after thinking it might weigh a little more. Again, I decided to move - this time just about five yards along the bank, where
I noticed a number of suspicious ripples in the margin. Luckily, all the other anglers were on the other, more 'popular bank', with several allowing themselves the luxury of driving down to the water's edge, before setting up. I had an entire bank to myself!
I crept along, to the general area of the suspicious ripples, and gingerly put in a front and back rod-rest, because I could see how sizable carp were very close indeed to the bank, and the technique was to be classic margin crust. Richard Walker would have
been proud of me, - perhaps! I lowered a hunk of crust straight beneath the rod top, and I waited. Only the last few rings of the rod were over the water, of course, and I was well back in my low chair. I was close enough to see any action though, needless
to say. After about 30 minutes, a carp's lips simply broke surface, taking me almost by surprise, and the fish took the crust. The 1.5ft of slack line I had deliberately left between the Mitchell 300 reel and the rod's first ring must have already pulled tight
as I raised the rod smartly for a right royal battle. On the scales, the chunky common went 15lb 3oz. I actually think it was a carp I had caught on prawns, at 15lb 1oz, about five years ago - and virtually in the very same spot. If so, it shows that the Pridewood
carp, which were last stocked more than 30 years ago, may have done all their growing, as they head into late middle age.... but who can say for sure?