On the whole, it has been really tough, I've managed to pick a few off but, for the most it, I feel I've been 'flogging a dead horse'. This can have a few downsides, from an angling point of view, you can burn yourself out easily when it's clear that it just isn't happening. Secondly, and on a more personal level, with no means of escape, I'm subjected to the painfully ordinary 'everyday' that I've spent my life trying so hard to avoid. The days just seem to drift on by, I work and try to write but if you're not stimulated then there's nothing to really write about, all in all it's a very frustrating time. So to ease my slightly 'shackled' feelings I'd like to take you back to a 'short' afternoon session that I did up on Cants mere. This blog harks back to the start of summer in 2016, it's hard to believe that so much time has passed me by but when you're in a perpetual state of 'pursuit', time just doesn't come into it, you're forever focused on the next water, the next cast and the next potential piece of the wild being eased over the landing net cords. Factor in the constant search for words, both poetically and for the blogs, you really don't have much mental space for anything else.
Escape The Monotony
My past sessions on Cants had been successful and I knew there were some more good fish to be had, word still hadn't really got out about the size of the carp that now resided there. I was sticking to my original plan, I'd focus on the water hard and when the crowds started to arrive I'd simply ghost off and start fishing somewhere else. Over the last year or so I've started to choose my waters carefully. When the banks are heaving and everyone is chasing the same prize, it sucks every ounce of enjoyment out of it for me. Hence why I don't just jump on the day ticket circuit, the idea of turning up to Linear or Farlows and hemming myself in between hundreds of other lines is my idea of hell. I value isolation and peace far more than the chance of a 30/40IB fish. There's part of me that feels if I did fish these types of places I may well have a few bigger carp underneath my belt, but I've got to stay true to myself. Part of my own fishing is the continuous search for the perfect space. That destination between the 'here and now', that feels like the perfect home, it's a location you can't really describe in words, but you know in your heart when you've found it.
The Perfect Sky
On the day of the session I was pretty eager to get going, for two main reasons. Firstly the conditions felt spot on, it was really overcast with rain showers and a lovely strong wind. As I stepped foot outside, hung right above my head, was the perfect sky. I've fished under this type of sky before and I've always had a good result. Secondly, after the best part of 25 years of searching, I'd finally managed to get hold of a mint set of the original Tony Fordham, Sportex Kevlar carp rods. I'd always dreamt of having a set of these from the moment I'd laid my eyes on them, harking way back to the days of Crowborough tackle. I managed to pick up a set of three for an amazing price, they've got a super thick blank, they're as light as hell and they have the classic purple whipping that was the first thing that caught my eye. I think it's safe to say that another part of my angling life is very much complete owning a set of these rods. I was itching to use them and I thought that Cants would be the perfect place to give them a good go. If they could withstand the crazy thrusts from some of those long commons then they could survive anything. The tackle was packed and I was soon 'zig zagging' up the A12, the rain was beating down the windscreen and, every so often, a gust of wind would catch the van, it was pretty treacherous but when the water is calling you, you've got to listen.
As expected, when I arrived at the venue the car park was empty, the rain had eased and the wind had dropped, this gave me enough time to do a quick lap of the water and get myself setup. Looking at the clouds gathering in the distance it was clear that I was going to be getting a right old soaking today. But I knew the fish were going to be feeding so I was prepared to 'take it on the chin'. After a quick scout about it was clear to me that there were some fish tucked up in the back bay. I could see at least five separate patches of fizzing, it was a 'no brainer'. I picked the swim directly opposite, this gave me a lot of options. Because carp were clearly in the vicinity, I'd give myself one cast with each rod. They'd be no clipping up or faffing about, both rigs would go straight out followed by a couple of handfuls of bait, this would be spread around the whole of the bay area. I wasn't going to feed directly over the top of each rod. The fish were there so I wanted to get them rooting about, if I was going to start piling it in I could kill the situation before I'd even started. I was going to take on the role of an 'angling sniper', get everything in position as 'covertly' as possible without alerting the carp to my presence.
View From The Swim
Bait-wise I'd opted for the 'sweet plum seed', it's super effective and one that I want to start using more. Because I wasn't familiar with this specific section of the lake I was going to ditch the bottom baits and fish low-lying pop ups. Judging by the amount of trees surrounding the bay, I suspected there was fair amount of junk on the deck. Rig-wise, as usual it was straightforward, I'd be fishing 1.5oz inline leads with a relatively short hook-link. This might sound a little odd for fishing over possible debris, but I didn't want to give the carp an inch. There have been at least two separate occasions in the past where I've witness carp ditch a pop up on a long hook-link. I wanted everything short, compact and discreet. I fish this rig on various hook-link materials, my favorite being a 'Trigga-Link' combi. Today I'd opted for the 'Rig-Morale' hydro link in 25IB, I'd cut the fluorocarbon inner core out, just short of the hook eye, this created a lovely hinge effect. Add a PVA nugget on the cast and that should ensure it lands well and sits primed ready for a carp to come along.
A Simple Pop Up Presentation
So with both rods ready I now had to gauge the correct amount of 'oomph' to put into each cast. I hadn't really helped myself opting to use a set rods I'd never fished with before, I was going to go on instinct here. Picking up the first rod and preparing for the penultimate casts, it felt slightly odd, the old Sportex blank is much thicker than any rod I've used before, and it's incredibly light. Raising the rod above my head, I really felt like I had 'history in my hands'. A short sharp jolt saw the lead fly seamlessly through the air, as the rig cut through the waters skin, I waited for a 'DONK', I didn't get one. The impact of the lead hitting the bottom kicked up a small explosion of bubbles, I was definitely in the silt. The second rod went out as poetically as the first, I was now fishing. I catapulted roughly two handfuls of bait all around the bay, I wanted the fish to start actively seeking out each individual boilie. If they started to get into a rhythm, I had no doubt that one would trip up on my hook bait.
As the heavy clouds started to move in overhead I just managed to get the brolly up before the heavens fractured. It happened within seconds, the sheer power and velocity of the rain was unbelievable. If I was on a ship it would of sunk, never to be seem again. I perched underneath my fibreshield clinging onto the storm poles. It's seen me through many storms before, the gusts of wind where rocking it backwards and forwards. For a second I though that 'Armageddon' might've finally arrived, coming to take back a planet that's rightly his. In all fairness I wouldn't blame it if it did, when I look at the sheer misery and destruction that the human race has inflicted on the earth, it makes perfect sense to me that 'the powers that be' would want to take back what is inherently theirs. Whilst the chaos continued I held on for dear life and tried to focus my mind elsewhere. Through the madness that was unfolding I could see clear feeding bubbles coming up all around the bay, the fish were clearly feeding heavily.
As I sat still clinging on as if my life depended on it, the water started to flood in underneath my brolly, within a few minutes there was a small stream running under my feet. It was all strangely exhilarating, all the colors of the trees were so vivid and the air was clear and fresh. The concrete desert of London seemed a million miles away and I couldn't help but think how lucky I was to be able to escape it every so often. Eventually everything started to ease, the rain, that minutes ago resembled bullets, was dispersing, the clouds that resembled my perfect sky started to clear, and before I knew it. The sun was shining and it felt like a completely different day, it's as if the world had cleansed itself of all the wrong doings. As I crawled out from underneath my shelter, I soaked up the atmosphere, paying close attention to the million and one rain drops dripping and 'plopping' off the trees and thumping onto the ground. I had such a profound sense of clarity, now all I needed was a carp to complete the picture.
Peering out across the water it appeared that the feeding had slowed down, I really hoped that the sudden sun was going to throw them right off. I've experienced this before, everything is perfect, it's looking like a bite is on the cards. Only for the sun to start beating its heat down, thus moving the goal post considerably. A few hours past and the conditions stayed exactly the same, there was no point in me recasting or applying anymore bait. The swim was setup perfectly, patience was the key. The afternoon was swallowed up in a blink of any eye and I really started to doubt that anything was going to happen. I watch the water, the rod tips and waited, I was urging something to happen. Just when I thought that all was lost, two fish topped in the bay, they were perfectly synchronized. Directly below where they showed, streams of bubbles starting flooding to the surface. I was on edge, it all seemed too perfect.
The world fell silent .. then ... 'BOOM', my left rod was away, a huge eruption came from where I'd placed the bait. This was a big fish, I could feel it in my bones. I lifted into dead weight, the fish powered off to right with such force. I tinkered with the clutch, the 'Sportex' blank was not arched right around. Every so often it would creak - which was slightly worrying, I put this down to the fact that they really hadn't been used and the varnish/resin was expressing its disgust as they were forced out of retirement to handle such a beast on their first outing. The rod handled the carp beautifully, I was making good ground and with some careful consideration the fish was slowly coming my way. Not before too long I finally had it in netting distance, I still hadn't laid my eyes on it. All of a sudden it surfaced, it was a common and it was rather large. With my legs shaking and my arm aching I slide the net into position, 'slowly does it' ....... 'RESULT'. Peering down at the beast that laid waiting in my net, it was clear that it was a very big fish.
After The Storm, The Beast Arrives
To be honest I was totally speechless, this was a serious creature, it's as if the violence of the weather I'd experienced earlier had manifested itself into the shape of carp, and I'd gone and tamed it. The width of its back was crazy and both the color and proportions were nothing short of perfect. A few shots were taken and I slipped her back home, it was a surreal experience watching it gently glide off into the nothingness. I didn't bother casting back out, my expectations had been surpassed so I thought I'd leave on a high. It had been a short, crazy day, 'Armageddon' had arrived in the shape of a beast, a cleansing of the world through biblical rainfall had washed all the 'ills' away, and I had a chance to use a set of rods I'd been obsessing about for the best part of two decades. Who said fishing was boring?. The low evening sun accompanied me on the journey home, and as I approach London town I saw Canary Wharf looming on the skyline in the distance. I knew I was entering back into the apparent 'real world', a land of confusion, a place that offers a strange sense of isolation, the polar opposite to what angling provides. I would do my very best to survive until the next opportunity came for me to make my escape. I sensed it wouldn't be too long before the water was calling me once again.