The fog engulfs my SUV as I drive down the dirt road that leads to the place I am fishing this morning. It takes a special sort of crazy to end up at a place like this. When venturing out to “off the grid” locations, I sometimes worry about getting injured and not being found for a while. I recall a morning while walking around a pond in Cumberland where I ended up in mud up to my waist. Looking around I realized just how far I was from anyone. Even though I had told my wife where I was going that morning, I had changed plans last minute and she wouldn’t have a clue where I was. The thought of dying crossed my mind for a second but perhaps I was being a little melodramatic. In the end I was able to free myself, conjuring up my best impersonation of Bear Grylls getting out of quicksand. I walked into work that morning completely covered in mud, on time for a change.
I’ve been hitting a few places that have been on my mind all winter, including the weedy lake. The problem with these places is there is little to nothing known about them. Finding fish requires the thing I have the least of, time. Let’s say you have 2 days out of the week where you can fish for 3 hours. Maybe you sneak in a few scouting and baiting missions in before and after work. In these three hours you have to fit in driving, walking (if necessary) and of course setting up. All these things eat up precious time. Is 3 hours really enough time to fully assess the potential of a given location? Catching a fish is of course the best thing that could happen. Chances are there will be more. Blanking may simply leave you with no real answer but enough information to forgo another trip. Now, what do you do if you see a mighty common leap into the sky and then you blank? Hm… by the end of your first session you have a decision to make. Do you go back for more or give up? For me what it comes down to is a question of what you want to get out of your fishing. Yes, you could blank for a few sessions while you figure things out but you very well may end up bagging up. If you don’t wanna spend your time that way, you could go to one of the well-known carp waters and improve your chances.
The few outings I had in April only resulted in more speculation. The highlight of one of these sessions was the rod tip knocking around pretty violently, the culprit was most likely a carp. It was enough to go back for one more session which resulted in a blank. Needless to say I moved on; the weedy lake was on my mind. After some light baiting in the margins, I was convinced the fish had stopped by for a visit. Additionally, while doing some scouting, I heard what sounded like a pig being dropped from an airplane. It must have been one of the lake’s giant commons for certain. In spite of the positive signs, I blanked again! It reminded me of just how maddening that lake could be. By now it was late April and I was beginning to worry I was doing something terribly wrong.
“I should probably catch a carp.” I confessed to a friend. It was really starting to get to me. On a rainy Friday I hooked into the first carp of the year at a nearby “runs” water. The fish was on for about 30 seconds before I slammed my rod tip into a tree limb and then came off. The rain was really coming down and I was just not feeling it. Maybe it was that there was no real mystery or maybe it was that I was there out of weird self-imposed pressure. Once again, it was time to move on.
With no other plan and April coming to a close, I reluctantly followed up on a tip I was given. It was a new location for me and upon arrival I saw a few fish rolling about 150 ft. out. A welcomed sight after not seeing a fish the whole month. It wasn’t long before I had the first fish on the bank, a nice lean common. The session would turn out to be my personal best outing with 5 fish landed. A few days later I was back for 7 more. Incredible.
It all came good in the end.
If you are struggling and haven’t seen any signs of carp, move. You can drive yourself crazy questioning your bait or your rigs but neither matter if there are no fish around. There is no magic bait, no super rig. Location is the key.