The temperature had certainly risen quite a bit, not only was it mild, it wasn’t raining either which meant I was in for a comfortable day on the bank if nothing else. On arriving at the lake I unloaded the fishing gear and headed for my usual favourite swim. I had a quick wander round but with no carp sighted I settled into my peg and started where I’d left off on Christmas eve, one rod on the spot I’d been putting bait on regularly and the other ‘on the chuck’ as far over to the out of bounds bank as I could get. I was fishing by about 11.30am and I was due to wrap it up at 4pm which gave me 4 and a half hours to try and catch a winter carp.
Despite the milder weather no carp showed for the first few hours. It was roughly 1.30pm when I spotted a carp roll, the fish turned over in a bay that went behind me on my left hand side, I couldn’t reach that fish from where I was fishing so I made an immediate decision to move. Before the rings had disappeared from that rolling carp I was gathering my fishing gear together. Once it was packed away, I pulled the rods in and moved round into the bay.
From my new swim I had a couple of easy casts to reach the general area I’d seen the carp roll. I did wonder if I should wait for another show but in the end, I only had a couple of hours left so I took my best guess and put both rods out with my usual pva mesh bag on each rod. I really should have waited before casting the rods in again as just 10 minutes later a carp rolled again. I wasn’t particularly close to it and I had no choice but to pull a rod in and recast. I left the pva mesh bag this time, I was close enough to where the carp were showing and a single peparami hookbait would do the job. Another 5 minutes after repositioning the left hand rod, another fish showed slightly off to the right. These two spots were roughly 40 yards apart. I made another snap decision to move the right hand rod and I dropped another single peparami hookbait on top of this fish too.
It was just about 2pm when I’d finally got myself settled down again. I was confident something would happen this time, with both hook baits cast to rolling fish it was surely just a matter of time before one or both of them were picked up. Usually on this water, baits cast to showing carp are picked up pretty quickly but on this occasion it didn’t happen. I’d been literally sitting on my hands waiting for one of the delkims to signal a run and after an hour of no further carp showing and no sign of that run I began to think my luck was going to run out again.
I put the radio on to catch the 3pm news and to see how the boxing day football was coming along. They gave Villa and Chelsea as a 4-4 draw which was a bit of a surprise, Liverpool were only just kicking off and with no live commentary to listen to I waited for a quick weather forecast which usually comes at the end of the news bulletin. I never heard the weather forecast, just before it came on the right hand delkim bleeped a couple of times then went into a full blooded run, I looked up to see the right hand rod tip pull round and the line begin to peel off the spool. Brilliant, after a coupe of blanks a screaming run was most welcome. I was on it straight away, as soon as I struck I instinctively knew I was into a decent fish. I’d hooked the fish just 20 yards out and I made no impression on it at all for the first few minutes. It just felt like a big heavy weight, a sure sign I was playing a good fish. I applied a steady pressure, just because the fish wasn’t moving far didn’t mean I had to try and crank it in, I kept a steady pressure and sure enough I kept gaining the odd yard of line. The carp never actually took any line off the clutch. It just seemed to plod around, kiting from side to side on a gradually shorter line. After what seemed like an age but was probably no more than 5 minutes, I caught site of the carp in the clear water. It was a long fish and I had a half an idea it was a twenty. I kept calm and kept the pressure steady, the fish circled round in front of me a few times before eventually popping up on top, having caught site of the width across the carps back, probably a twenty turned to definitely a twenty and as it wobbled into the waiting landing net I knew it was going to be another one of those fist clenching ‘yesss’ moments that all north west carp anglers love.
I was gazing into the net at my prize when that familiar ‘got to get to work’ thought kicked in. I secured the net and left the fish safe in the water whilst I got the weighing and photography gear ready. When I broke the net down and eventually lifted the fish out of the water I changed my mind about its size. I was thinking 22-ish but when I lifted it out onto the unhooking mat that estimate went up to 25+. It was a real pig of a common, not only did it have a back like arnie, it had quite a gut on it too. My new 25+ estimate turned out to be as near as damn it right as the scales revealed a weight of 25lb 2oz. I rattled off a few pictures on the digital camera and released the fish back to its watery home, I watched the fish sink down in the water and slowly swim off until it was out of sight. Once the carp was gone, I got on with the job of sorting my gear out.
I quickly had the rod sorted out, my peparami hookbait was still intact so I simply dropped the rig back in the area I’d just caught from. Despite seeing another carp roll near to the other rod nothing else happened and at 4pm I packed my gear away. Once I’d loaded up the car for my return journey home, I dropped into my original peg and left them a bit of bait ready for my next winter carp session.
After struggling for a few sessions I drove home with a big smile on my face, a boxing day 25lb+ common was more than I could have hoped for and I was glad I’d made the effort to go. I’ve sort of reached a crossroads in my winter carping now, 25+ is about as big a fish as I’d expect to catch from this particular winter carp water and I’ve a decision to make, do I carry on fishing there knowing I probably won’t better that fish or do I move on to another north west carp water for the rest of the winter?. I think I’ll be giving that decision some thought over the next week or two.