21 September, 2023 |1 Comments
Adam Whittington: Late Summer Ramblings
Adam Whittington reflects on the remaining few sessions of his fishing this summer…
I was on a family beach holiday recently and found myself on the receiving end of a truly terrifying question. My better half rolled towards me, all glistening lotion and clinking ice cubes, and said “what are you thinking about?”.
I’m not one for lying to my lady, but the truth would have definitely led to trouble. It’s tough to explain that, during a romantic getaway, I was considering whether a solid PVA bag might be the answer to some areas of silkweed I’d found at a gravel pit that lived several countries from where we lay.
I dodged the bullet by rattling off something about scatter cushions or the work of Jane Austen and peace resumed. This pastime of ours can certainly be all consuming and I wish we all got a shiny quid every time our thoughts drifted towards the pursuit of carp…
Another couple of weeks later and I was thankfully back at the lake, with cocktails swapped for a mug of tea and an unusually warm September night. Like many of us, my sessions these days start straight from work, so the light was already fading by the time I got rods out, clipped up tight against the far margins of a small, intimate bay behind one of the tree covered islands.
A reliable night time area, my plan being to up sticks in the morning and try and find some clues. The emerging moon threw huge shadows over my swim as I cracked a beer and reflected that my confidence was a little shaky after just three weeks away from the pit.
Prior to this, I’d been in a real rhythm of two nights every week, and the results had come – I hoped I’d not lost that connection. My answer came at three in the morning, when the dream I was having about Cheryl Cole, an egg whisk and a glass coffee table was rudely interrupted by an enraged Delkim.
The fish was powerful enough, but moved rapidly and the numerous changes of direction suggested it was no monster and a handsome common nudging twenty eight pounds finally allowed me a few self takes in the moonlight.
I was up and about early, pushing the barrow round in what was already crazy heat for the time of year. The fish were making themselves known in the thickest weed beds that adorn the large gravel bar which runs like a spine over much of the lake.
Thick set shoulders caught the light every now and then and the odd dorsal fin flicked up, as if waving in approval at the ridiculously hot September weather. Frustratingly, they were the wrong side of the bar; every now and again one would head right up onto the gravel, pushing a submarine like bulge of water ahead of it, but then it would inevitably turn just before the underwater summit and head off back to the lush weed growth in the safe area beyond my reach.
I placed my rods as near as I dare to the sun worshipping carp in the hope one would drift into my zone.
I had very little in the way of bait out there, as I was hoping to nick a bite on the top and sides of the shallow bar rather than create a feeding situation. Just a handful of Frenzied Hempseed, tigers and buckwheat, combined with a few broken boilies. As ever, soaking the entire bucket in Shrimp Extract and the match angler’s favourite, Fish Gutz, gave me total confidence in the attraction.
The day drifted by all too quickly, with friends coming and going, tea bag graveyard close to overflowing by the time the sun went down. I woke before it was fully light and watched the world come to life around me, set to a soundtrack of birdsong, with Blackbirds shouting the loudest and longest and angry wrens arguing to themselves in the bushes.
About an hour drifted by and then came a few clues; nothing as obvious as a carp throwing itself around the swim, but the subtle stuff. The backwards glance of a nervous coot, followed by a pin bubble or two and a gentle sway of the lily pads. Then, a flurry of beeps and the tip curled down towards the backlead, the extra tight clutch refusing to yield an inch as I grabbed the rod. The near bank shelves off dramatically in this area and carp seem to save their fight for the near margins, this one being no exception.
It was five or six minutes before the first impressive boils distorted the surface as a huge tail did its work, many feet down. Five or six minutes more and it was exactly the same situation, massive tail patterns yet no actual sightings of the fish.
Eventually a broad, chocolate coloured head rose up and I managed to fold a substantial amount of carp into the net. The scales were bounced, jiggled and gently sworn at, but still didn’t give me the extra ounce I needlessly wanted. The great fish missed forty pounds by just one ounce and was a glorious looking fish, angrily flicking its dorsal fin up as I held it.
The following week, mojo restored, I was back at the lake with enthusiasm.
Arriving after work, I set up next to Andy Camo for the night on a small peninsular, fishing open water in ten feet or so over tight beds of bait. Whilst we giggled into the night, ate and drank plenty, we didn’t feel there were fish in the area and I was on my toes by eight in the morning, drawn to the end of a biblical wind by four or five fish rolling in quick succession.
I didn’t want to cast at these fish, who were clearly already in residence, so elected to wade one down each margin, as slowly as my balance would allow.
My middle rod was also waded straight out, where I could just make out the glow of a gravel patch. Once the waves lapped perilously close to the top of my chesties, I lowered this bait just off the gravel, into the light silt beyond and quietly gave the area a kilo or so of disced CompleX-T, hemp, buckwheat and corn.
Baiting was done by hand, with as much subtlety as I could, lines were sunk, backleads added and left hanging completely slack from the rod tips.
The wind kept blowing hard down into my swim, with low pressure in charge and the threat of thunder looming.
It certainly felt perfect, but the shows gradually fizzled out and I couldn’t help feeling I had definitely now got away with getting the baits in unnoticed. There is such a definite pattern at the lake – if you arrive on them, you will almost always fail (although this pattern seems reversed in the winter). If you are there before they arrive, you’ve got a good shout.
An evening of real expectancy followed with the rods silent throughout. Tiredness, and a little rum, meant I turned in early that evening and slept soundly until six the next morning, when my middle rod absolutely melted.
The fish then tore off across the surface in truly spectacular style – fighting hard doesn’t necessarily go with big fish. Really big fish often offer little resistance and if they come straight to the surface and wallow, that’s the squeaky bum situation where you have probably hooked a giant, as opposed to a screaming clutch.
This one did fight hard, begrudging every inch of line I regained. Once it safely rolled into the net, I could see where the strength came from – it was clearly a male fish with a huge tail and pecs the size of dinner plates.
Another good fish as well, at thirty eight pounds and ten ounces. There’s a disproportionate number of commons in the pit and, whilst the mirrors are both rare and special, I never, ever get tired of these amazing old fish.