The trouble was, the carp and the weather were not really playing ball. After over a week of frost and fog, the weather had slowly warmed up and the first session of the week looked promising with cloudy skies and no wind, perfect conditions. Despite the lack of rain over the previous ten days though I could not quite believe how high the water level was in the lake. If anything it was at one of its highest levels of the winter, and boy, has that been high!

I was in two minds whether to bother as it was still just two half swims to fish on the whole lake but the conditions looked good and with only a couple of weeks to go until the end of the season it was worth a go. Back on with the waders and gently feeling my way out I managed to get both PVA bag rigs in good positions. I was getting used to sidewards cast now, if anything I was getting more accurate with those casts than the overhead casts. I had long since identified the two trees that needed to mysteriously fall down that were preventing me casting overhead.

With rigs cast and a bit of free bait out I looked out across the water hoping for a sign as the dusk gathered. A pair of Canada geese flew in as they had done for the last month, hoping they could nest on the lake in a month’s time. There would be no chance of that happening though if the swans had anything to do with it, plus the foxes and various dogs that wander round the lake. If they choose an area that is flooded though they may be in with a chance.

As darkness fell completely a star or two showed through holes in the cloud layer. By 10am it was back to clear skies, falling temperatures and fog threatening, there seemed no end to bad weather this winter. The conditions were still good enough for a carp though and the roach flipped around on the surface for most of the night, they at least were beginning to notice that spring was just around the corner. However my baits remained untouched and before I knew it, it was time to crawl out from under the blankets and start packing up. At least the pink glow of dawn is visible now when I have to make my way to work.

Unfortunately I missed two mild nights but by the time I could go again it was still mild and cloudy, although the sun was shining when I unlocked the gate and the car by autopilot found itself in the back of the swim. Trying to avoid the mud (where both Stewart and I almost came a cropper when the cars refused to negotiate the slope back on to the track) I managed to reverse the car into the bushes somehow. Stewart apparently had spent an hour trying to get up the slope putting branches and stones under the tyres in the pouring rain, oh the joys of winter carp fishing.

It was an afternoon and dusk of strange lights as the leafless trees were illuminated pinks and reds as the sun got lower and lower in the sky. I took the opportunity to use the camera; there had not been much opportunity to use it on carp lately, though the pike had kept it in working order. The water level had dropped a few inches from the last session so I was able to punch a couple of casts to the areas I really felt should produce; one over by the islands and one over to the far bank. With everything set I sat on the unhooking mat, on what was turning out to be quite a springlike evening, looking for signs. Over by the islands something caught my eye on the flat surface of the water, bubbles. Bubbles were breaking the surface over a large area close to one of the islands, fortunately this was where I had cast my left hand rod, confidence grew a little.

The trouble with bubbles, in autumn and as spring takes a hold, is that they can be produced by just about anything. Nine time out of ten unfortunately it is the weed dying in autumn or in this case, near to spring, it is the new weed forming releasing gases in the bottom. However I shut this probability out of my mind and tried to convince myself that the bubbles were caused by the carp waking up and grubbing around.

Stewart turned up after dark for a chat. His plan for the last fortnight of the season was to deposit a huge sackful of hemp into the other fishable swim off to my right to see what happened. My experience of doing a similar thing at the end of winter a few years before was attracting every roach and rudd in the lake with the lakes population of jack pike following. Many nights of line bites followed as the pike tore back and forth across the area. Still it was up to him to try it, in theory it could just about be the best thing to do. Personally I’ll be fishing it out with PVA bags in the hope for one last carp. After all my plans for a sack full of hemp were for the warmer weather of spring and summer where the quarry will be carp hardly anybody has caught before.

The night stayed mild and breezy, perfect conditions, it does not get any better than those conditions in winter but still the carp refused to show and again I packed up carpless. The weekend brought more cold northerly winds and frosts, by the Sunday a layer of snow was on the ground. Winter will just not give up!

Have fun!