My urge to capture an early Spring carp was gathering pace and intensity. I'd had a day doing a fairly long chuck (for me), with my twelve footers and big reels when Neil caught his common. It all felt cumbersome and heavy. I know that my cane rods are not what you'd call featherweight but at nine to ten feet in length, they feel balanced and somehow 'right'. I've always favoured eleven foot rods for barbel and have never bought into the need for longer so to wield those beasties about again was not for me.
Of course, my dodgy shoulders have a say in which rods I can and cannot use and I have come to the conclusion that light is sensible for the time being. So I bought a couple of Free Spirit, ten foot carp rods. Quite capable of lobbing 80+ yards but also nice and neat for margin work. I dug out a pair of old Daiwa Regals and was ready to go. Ready that is once I'd sorted my rear rod rests out. My last bite saw me lifting the rod and pod together and by the time I'd untangled one from the other, the fish had gone. Another thirty four quid was spent on a system that allows you to fix your rod in the event of a brutal take yet remove the rod by simply lifting the rest from a recess. Rock Steady Back Rests by Bank Bug if you find yourself so inclined. Just the job.
Duly armed and inspired I looked at the weather and figured it was worth another go. I'd even visited the lake mid week and baited a spot (told you I was keen) and was now casting close to an overhanging tree. I sat back and waited. Eventually Neil arrived and wandered off to drop into a margin swim that was a bit too adventurous for me.
You know those days when you set out full of optimism only for it to disappear within minutes of casting out? That's how it was on this trip. The wind was wrong, the sun stayed behind a grey curtain and it felt dead. I was too far from the action area and no fish was going to come to me and my bait. I should have upped sticks and gone for a walk to fish along from Neil but it just felt like too much effort. I packed and left. Neil hooked a fish but lost it.
Today was different. The sun shone and I just knew that some carp would be on the fin. The roads were frustrating and the dog was sick - again - but I was soon bouncing along the farm track. I didn't recognise the van that betrayed that someone else was fishing but, unconcerned, I headed to the windward end as the freshening breeze was starting to chop the surface,
I had to walk a distance to the swim due to the muddy track and then back around the bay to feed my chosen spots. I was glad to slump in my chair and relax. I just knew a bite was due.
About an hour later (12.30) and the alarm shrieked as a fish tore off. The rod came away with a gentle lift and the short rod bent firmly into the running fish which bore deep and long toward some sunken trees. I dropped the rod tip and gave it some stick. Eventually, the fish yielded and kited off away from me. It fought long and hard, giving more long runs when close in. A great performance and an enjoyable christening for the rods. Eventually I slipped a lovely orange mirror into the net. Relief! It went 23.14 and I felt a weight lift from my shoulders.
Having slipped it back, cooked a cheese toastie and messing up the crossword, I became aware of much banging and revving of an engine. This went on for a while so I reeled the rods in and drove around to the chap in the blue van. He was stuck fast in slippery clay and all his efforts, including a small winch, had failed miserably. My 4x4 Honda soon had him out and my grip strips (plastic plates for just such an emergency), saw him able to three point turn and face the gate again. We had a long chat during which time the wind dropped. I returned to my pitch, packed and headed home - content.