Back In The Game!
Cornish carper, Tony Welch reflects on a recent session on his local venue, Argal Lake...
It was last knockings as usual, when at around 7.30pm I decided to fit in a quick overnight session before work the following day. I’d been struggling to get on the bank of late and with a weather forecast of thunder and lightning I thought to myself, “If you can’t catch anything tonight, you never will!”
With this in mind, I grabbed a kilo or so of Cell and Hybrid from the freezer and off I went on my mission to set-up before the storm arrived. No such luck, I arrived at the lake around 30 minutes after the rain had started to fall. With no time to waste I donned the chest waders and my Downpour Jacket, grabbed my Tempest Air and quickly set-up with the strong easterly wind pushing directly onto the rear of it. Once the bivvy was up I made a dash with the rest of my kit and threw it under the bivvy before it was too wet. In all honestly I didn’t have much kit with me - just the bedchair/sleeping bag, brew kit and a bit of tackle. So I was literally set-up in only a few minutes.
Tackle and Rigs
For my hookbait presentation, I decided to use ‘Snowman’ set-up, so a 18mm Cell bottom bait straight out of the bag coupled with one of my own chopped down ‘Orange Special’ pop-ups. Rig-wise I opted for awesome size 8 Covert Mugga hook attached to 20lb Silt Trickster Heavy braid and 20lb Trick-link to form a ‘Combi-link’. It’s a little fiddly to tie to start with, but instead of using a Knotless-Knot I decided to tie the braid to the hook with a Palomar knot - I think it sits nicer than a Knotless-Knot when using a very soft material such as braid - more secure if you like. The tag end of the knot goes back through the front of the hook eye and I tie an over-hand-loop to form the Hair. Lastly I half hitch the Hair to the hook so the Hair exits the hook from the back and approximately opposite the barb. To finish the rig I use an Albright-Knot to attach the braid to the stiffer material with a figure-of-eight-loop at the other end to attach the rig. With the rig sitting ‘helicopter’ style on a short leader the set-up is ready to go.
Argal Reservoir is around 65-acres in size, and I was set-up in what I like to call the ‘North Bay’, itself some several acres in size and much shallower than the rest of the lake. Its also full of rocks and stumps so knowing where to put my baits was paramount. The ‘banker’ rod is usually the right hander, however on this occasion the middle looked favourite because the water level was down a few feet and the usual right hander area was a touch too shallow and I couldn’t get to that exact spot. The middle rod however was cast around 70 yards onto a lovely flat sandy/hard silt area set between some stumps. The gap is around two rod lengths between the stumps so plenty of room for one bait. The rig sailed out perfectly and I stopped the lead in flight around 6 feet above the water and gave a drag back on the rod so I could feel the lead down on a tight line. The lead came down with a beautiful thud, bang on the money I thought! The other rods went out in similar fashion and I then peppered a kilo or so of free offerings over all three rods.
Luckily as I finished getting the rods in and I tucked myself under the bivvy the storm really picked-up and it absolutely hammered down with rain, accompanied with some extremely loud bangs and lightning that literally hurt my eyes. It was all a bit exciting for a minute there! I also had what I would describe as a river running through my bivvy and under my bed but it just seemed to miss my kit, which was lucky! Just as the worst of the storm was passing and I was watching the lightning move further away my sounder box let out a single beep. It was the middle rod and I noticed the bobbin had lifted slightly. The line hadn’t pulled out of the clip so I went and investigated. The line was tight, very tight, and although the line was still in the clip there must have been a fish of some description on the end so I lifted the rod into it. There was a solid resistance on the end and I remember thinking to myself “that’s not a bream” and then I remembering to keep the rod down! I had a little chuckle to myself thinking what a way to go, bent into a good carp then BOOM its all over!
I continued to play the fish as it kited from right to left and went on some powerful runs, and I mean powerful. At one point my clutch was tight and the fish tore off line before I had the chance to slacken the clutch, I honestly couldn’t believe the hook didn’t pull. Anyway, I eventually slipped the net under the fish, flicked on my head torch and could see I had the ‘Silver Common’. It’s a fish I’ve caught before but after the run of luck I’ve had of late she was more than welcome. It was far too early in the night to think about sacking the fish so I opted for some self takes in the dark – before treating the hook hold and slipping her back. Incidentally the hook hold was slap bang in the centre of the bottom lip around 1.5-inches back. The perfect hook hold - she was never coming off!
The rod was recast and I tried to get some sleep. The wind was still smashing into the back of the bivvy so I was snoozing at best until the same rod was away again at 4.30am. This time a stunning little mirror brought a smile to my face. At first I thought this fish was a stocky, and if it was it was doing well with a summer weight of 16lb. The largest stocky mirror that went in was 12lb. However on checking through the stocking photos I couldn’t find this mirror so I have to assume it’s an actual Argal spawned fish, which I was over the moon about.
The session was really reminding me how much its pays to stick to the things you know and not chop and change things for the hell of it. Better to stay confident by digging in a bit and putting the effort in that way success was always guaranteed. I couldn’t really sleep after the capture of the mirror so I watched the morning come to life with a few brews, packed up and headed home for a shower, then work. After several blanks I felt like I was back in the game!