Stockton Reservoir seemed ideal. It's a fishery I've always enjoyed, particularly in the summer months. It's very close to home, full of double-figure carp and a good head of silvers, and, on two sides at least, it strikes a good balance between commercial style fishing (gravel paths, wooden platforms and high stocking levels) and a mature, natural environment including lots of planting in those all-important margins.
|5lb 11oz, a nice start...|
However, that was the last of the wrap rounds. Instead I started getting plucks, shudders and violent little snatches - behaviour I had seen on a recent session in Devon. Then as now it was roach to blame, delicately plucking meat from the hair rig without getting hooked - and then as now I proved it by foul hooking one of them as it tried to swim away. I made a couple of tweaks, and a shorter hook length helped me pick up a nice couple of crucial carp (to 1lb 7oz).
But the carp seemed to have moved on so it was definitely time to switch to the left hand margin that I had been priming with hemp and meat cubes - and time to get that pole out.
|the main event - and my carp pb is|
now the same as my pole pb!
To be honest a fish like this, caught so close in, can be a pig to land on a rod and line. It turns out that on a pole it can be many, many times harder. I'd read all the books and gathered all the advice about playing big fish on the pole, but when it comes down to it, if an angry double figure carp which is full of energy on a warm August day chooses to make a fight of it, all you can really do is let the elastic absorb run after run and wait until, eventually, he gets tired.
It took perhaps half an hour for me to finally scoop the net underneath the fish, by which time I was physically exhausted and mentally shredded. The main problem was not knowing what the kit was capable of - exactly how much pressure could I apply to bring him to the surface without pole, elastic or line coming under threat of breaking? To make matters even more complicated, I was acutely aware that I was fishing a relatively slender size 16 hook and a 3lb 8oz breaking strain hook length (to make sure that any breakage would definitely be there, and avoid any risk of a fish being left towing a float rig or pole section around). I felt instinctively that the whole set up should be strong enough to bring the fish in (eventually) - I just couldn't be sure!
To be honest I wasn't sorry that this wonderful mirror was to be the last carp of the day - I'm not sure I could have coped with another so soon afterwards. Instead the roach moved in, and I switched my attention to my ongoing quest for a pound plus roach. The general run of fish picking up the luncheon meat bait was the right side of half a pound, but when I hit 12oz and 13oz fish in quick succession I felt sure the prize was to hand. As my appointed hour of departure approached I finally struck into a roach capable of stretching that heavy carp elastic and I drew what I felt sure was a one pound fish over my landing net.
|oooh, so close - a bit battered but|
the closest I've come to the pound yet
And now, next time at Stockton, I can clear my mind ready for a proper run at the big roach I'm sure are in there.