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Carpe diem

Still smarting from the lost carp of last week, I elected to extract my revenge at a local lake that teems with them. I hadn't been for two years but it looked more or less the same - though the reed beds in the middle have either died off or been tidied away.

And there they were. Dozens of carp of indeterminate size, cruising around on or near the surface, nosing bits of debris, taking the occasional insect, bumping into the ducks. Great fun. I tackled up with a 12ft North Western, large fixed spool reel and 8lb line straight through to a size 6 hook. Bait was dog biscuits. Now despite what people say, these need virtually no treatment to make them soft enough for the hook. All you need is a plastic bag or a bait box and some boiling water. Put your dry biscuits in the bag/box and pour a little boiling water over them. Seal the bag/close the lid and give them a good sloosh around. By the time you get to the water, they'll be ready to use.

My first bite came courtesy of a horsefly. Oh how they love my sweet, sweaty flesh. (In Ireland two years ago my hand went up like a balloon after a bite like this). Second bite was a small common which tore into the dog biscuit as if chased by all the demons of carp hell. In all I caught six, of which the biggest is here - probably about 7lbs, but maybe a touch more. I lost three more, one of which was sizeable, but packed up before 10.00pm feeling happy and contented.

I don't actually like carp fishing much, but catching them like this is exciting. Sure you can see them coming a lot of the time, but after a while, you can almost sense them lurking beneath the bait, even if there's nothing to actually see. And that moment when the bait and water around it seems to drop, creating a little belly in the water when a fish is moving up from underneath to take the bait, is electrifying.

So, as long as there are no bite alarms and it's kept simple, then maybe I do enjoy carp fishing after all.

A nice mirror carp caught off the surface. Biggest of the season so far. The float's there for scale.

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