Perhaps then I shouldn't have been quite so surprised to find a dozen or more large carp patrolling right under my feet as I arrived on the horseshoe lake just before 7am on Saturday morning.
A delightful sight of course, but one which begged the inevitable question - how to catch them?
Trying to resist the temptation to rush, I flicked a few pieces of crust out, but there was no evidence of them taking off the top. Instead I turned to the worm and started to put together a peculiar hybrid outfit - my rarely-used carp rod, 15lb mainline and flouro hook length incongruously fitted with a tiny reed stem float with a dendra worm writhing beneath. Sounds odd I know, but I honestly couldn't see any other combination in my kitbag which would have allowed me to hook and hold a large carp just feet from the reeds, platform legs and other hazards so close to the bank.
And do you know what - it worked! The worm went in a few times just a metre or so to the left and right of the platform in front of me. One or two of the big girls sailed straight past it, and then whoosh - the float buried, I struck carefully, and off went a strong, strong fish.
Once I had the fish heading away from the margin I was content to carefully back wind and give it some space out in front of me from which to make a couple of determined runs, before slipping the net under it five minutes later, quite literally shaking with happiness. I can't quite put my finger on why, but there is simply nothing else in fishing quite like stalking and catching a big fish from right under your feet.
And this margin-caught mirror carp was a beauty. Not as heavy as I'd initially thought at 'only' 9lbs 5ozs, but it was as picture-perfect a fish as you could wish for - lean and strong, intricately scaled and rose-hued in the already-strong morning sun.
When I finally got to that second rod, it was a traditional feeder with 'deads' on the hook in the hope of roach or bream. It produced taps, liners and a couple of missed bites, but as the bobbin on my sleeper rod danced indecisively up and down for the remainder of the morning it became clear that the bream had moved in and taken a fancy to my close-in pellet and boilie offering instead.
I landed three of them in the end, the largest just over 4lbs, to finish the morning with: a notional 'bag' of around 25lbs; a multitude of birding 'ticks' including a cuckoo and a pair of fly-by oystercatchers; and a silly grin, still plastered all over my face.