Looking back over 21 years worth of carp fishing diaries, I was fascinated to discover that, to the best of my knowledge, I had only once before been granted permission to fish on Christmas Eve. The auspicious occasion to which I refer, was in 2008 at a time when I was a member of the Little Aston syndicate in Sutton Coldfield. Presumably, I had turned up at the venue at around 5.00 pm on the 23rd December after working in Birmingham and fished overnight on peg 1. According to my diary entry, I landed a 14lb 14oz Mirror at 02.10 am on the 24th, from a point 3 rod lengths out, in front of “Martin’s” as it was known. Now, although I have been carp fishing for several years more than my diary records show, it is unlikely that I would have ventured onto the banks on Christmas Eve before this date, so to be allowed to repeat the experience once again would be a rare privilege indeed.
Frustratingly, my recent fishing activities have been seriously curtailed by seasonal music preparations (my band has been insanely busy with gigs in the lead up to Christmas). What’s more, the precious few opportunities to wet a line that have come my way have resulted in blanks. Nevertheless, I approached the impending Christmas Eve session with unabated enthusiasm. Naturally, I had a plan B in mind, should the daytime fishing on Wetlands specimen lake prove unproductive. A rapid transfer to the match lake would be in order, should that scenario occur.
And so, at 7.00 am on Christmas Eve, 2018 I settled into peg 9 of the specimen lake. “Keep it simple”, was order of the day, to facilitate an efficient migration to the match lake, should it be required. Accordingly, my bait boat was left at home and my bivvy plus bed chair remained in the car. One rod (cast down the left hand side tree line) was baited with an Essential IB 15mm pop-up. The other two rods were fanned out clockwise (45 degrees apart) at 30 yards distance. They each bore an Essential IB 15mm bottom bait, plus a small PVA bag of Skretting Protec 4.5mm pellets. All 3 baits were dunked in a matching dip and liberally drizzled with Pineapple Goo before being cast out.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t alone on the specimen lake – Pat had occupied peg 10 for a 48hrs session and another angler was set up in peg 8. Pat packed up (fishless) at around 2.00 pm but the other guy remained in situ. The day slowly ebbed away, with no apparent evidence of feeding carp to be seen anywhere across the lake. Hence, at 4.00 pm when the last match angler disappeared through the gates, I reeled in and hastily drove round to the far side of the match lake to peg 11 which is near the old monkey cages. Apparently, the match had been won with a weight of circa 50lbs from a peg towards the café corner. My plan was to fish over to the same area, but from the opposite side of the lake. I saw no reason to change the baiting strategy, so all three rods were freshly dunked in bait soak, re-equipped with a PVA bag and launched across to the target area,
At 5.50 pm, the left hand rod signaled a twitchy take, eventually producing a 9lb 0oz pale Mirror. Thereafter, it went quiet until 11.10 pm when the middle rod (also equipped with a bottom bait) followed suite. An 8lb 10oz dark, orange-hued Mirror eventually joined me on the bank after a spirited fight. At this stage it became apparent that a clear sky and rapidly falling temperatures had taken their toll, such that most of the lake was now covered in a thin layer of ice, thus preventing me from getting the rod back out. To make matters worse an abortive take on the right hand rod took that rod out of the equation as well. Hence, I was now down to one rod, and that was fast becoming locked in surface ice.
I awoke the following morning at 6.00 am to find that the sky had clouded over and the ice had melted away. Regrettably, I had been unaware of the change and had failed to take advantage of the situation by re-positioning my other two rods. Naturally, a post midnight carp would have been highly desirable, but it wasn’t to be and the quest for a Christmas day carp continues. All the same I was well pleased to have put a couple of Christmas Eve carp on the bank and hurried home to celebrate a family Christmas in a genuinely merry condition.