Four fish visited the unhooking mat during Tuesday morning’s memorable session which included three 20s. A total of 5 blanks transpired before this morning’s first fish. Five blanks in a row is not something I would describe as “fun”. I’ll be honest, after the third one my motivation was truly starting to waver. Four and five must have been 6 of the longest hours on the bank ever. I can’t tell you exactly why I failed to catch for 2 weeks but I have my own personal theories.
In 1904, Horace G. Hutchinson wrote: There are exceptions to all rules, but as a rule I should not advise an angler to waste much time in carp fishing-life is too short and the art of catching carp takes too long to learn, and there are so many other fishes waiting to be caught. “Sour grapes,” I think I hear some enthusiastic carp angler say. No, I mean what I say as the highest compliment I can pay to the fish, for he is so wary and cunning that it is simply waste of time to devote hours, days, weeks to his capture. In some waters well stocked with carp you may count on getting a fish or two now and then, but such places are the exceptions, and the capture of a 10 or 15 lb. fish is a good reward for the expenditure of much patience and skill.
Maybe Horace is right?
I spent Sunday night with a friend fishing for striped bass. It was refreshing to do some “simple” fishing. By “simple” I mean, one rod and just a handful of lures as opposed to the usual mass of gear I carry with me when I am pursuing pond tuna. I had a fantastic time and even though my waders sprung a leak I managed a couple stripers including a near keeper. I’m not much of a saltwater angler but I will have a few outings this year with my friend Mark.
Throughout the week I’d been consulting with my carp fishing friend who gave me some valuable suggestions, including prebaiting heavier than I had been. At around 9:30pm on Monday night I set out to do just that. Early this year I read an article where they took some underwater pictures on how bait disperses in water. Underwater photography seems to be all the rage in the British carp magazines I read. Now this may seem like yet another thing to over think in carp fishing but bare with me. In the article they concluded that just a few spods worth of bait, the equivalent of a couple handfuls, is really not that much considering all the debris, plant life and other stuff you’ll find at the bottom of a lake. If your aim is to draw in and keep a lot of fish grubbing around the area you are fishing, you really need much more. Ever since reading that article, I try to picture what the bait I’m depositing into the water looks like. I hadn’t been feeding the fish much for the last few weeks. I guess my assumption was that it was spring and they would be on the feed anyway so little piles of food would be enough to catch their attention. It definitely works when it works, but just like trying out different lures and colors when fishing for game fish, you must figure out what presentation they want. On arrival I encountered what was probably a homeless person sleeping in the swim. I didn’t notice him at first and he startled me when he asked, “What are you fishing for?” in a gravelly, tired sounding voice. He didn’t seem particularly weird, maybe just a little intoxicated. I made small talk with him while I deposited about 4 gallons of particle mix into the swim with a baiting spoon. Once I was done, I wished him a good night and headed back to my car.
I arrived at the swim Tuesday morning, just before 5. My homeless friend was still there but left shortly after I had finished setting up. After the first hour I had a screaming run that had nothing on the end of it. I started worrying that this too was gonna be a blank. I changed up my hookbait a bit and after about 30 minutes the runs started. The first fish was a very lively 14lb male common. I must have fought that fish for about 6 minutes; it simply did not quit. Dare I say it fought harder than Sunday’s ~28 inch striper?
I had reeled in both rods while I dealt with unhooking the fish and after releasing it I only put one rod back out while I sorted out the other. Before I got a second rod back out, the other was away. This time, it was a nice rotund 21.5 female common.
Feeling completely satisfied with the morning’s fishing I decided I would put one rod in a spot just under some trees to the right of where the action was, leaving just one rod in the baited area. However, I never got around to trying that because shortly after recasting the first rod, I was on again. This time an even 20 graced the net.
By now I was VERY satisfied by how the morning had gone. This wasn’t a “runs” water I was on and I cannot remember the last session that resulted in more than 2 fish. It was just before 7:30am and I decided I would play around and use a pink pop up for this last cast. I cast out the rig and as I started to slack off the line to attach the bobbin, I realized that line was being pulled from the reel and that for the fourth time that morning I had a fish on. I was convinced I had snagged it by the tail or something but once I got it close enough, I saw that it was indeed hooked in the mouth. By the time I released that fish, it was time to pack up. Who knows what would have happened if I stayed longer.
Life is too short, I agree with Horace. It’s too short to spend not doing things we love because we may potentially fail. I agree that carp fishing is not easy and maybe that is what makes catching one so rewarding. You’re gonna blank, that is part of it. You’re also going to have days like I just had. Eventually you’ll have a good morning.