Upon my arrival the sun was shining brightly and the stroll around the banks was quite a hot one. In a sheltered bay there was a sight I had not seen since last September; carp were basking on the surface, around a dozen of them, none of any great size but they were a welcome sight. I took the majority of my tackle to the swim I had been fishing most of the spring and quickly set up a rod for surface fishing. I had been waiting for this opportunity for a long time and had with me a light rod of around a pound and a half test curve and a reel loaded with floating braided mainline. To this was tied a size 8 barbless hook and a wadge of floating putty to give me some casting weight. For bait, I used a corner of a piece of sliced bread the size of a walnut.

Back at the bay the carp were still drifting around and now with Polaroid sunglasses I could see them better. The majority were commons around the 10lb mark but there were four carp of some sort of ornamental strain, being a yellowish-white in colour. These were bigger, all around the 15 to 18lb mark, well worth fishing for. I flicked a few bits of bread out. The carp stirred and after a few moments the first common approached a piece and ever-so-slowly sipped it in through its lips. The others seemed to be watching their mate and seeing nothing dodgy happen to him, more began to approach the half a dozen bits of bread floating around.

I cast the baited rig out to the side of the shoal and wound in the slack line gently. One of the white carp approached it then turned and charged away, not a good start. I slowly wound in, rebaited and cast again, this time beyond the main group of carp. This time a common took it with a swirl immediately. I found myself connected to it almost by surprise; the rod was bent well over as my quarry dived away into the deep water. It gave a decent account of itself but before long a nice long common carp was in the net. It was not one of the biggest but weighed in at a little over 8lb, most welcome, especially as I was in a t-shirt for the first time in far too long.

The rest of the carp soon re-appeared and I chanced my arm again. This time I had to wait a little longer for any of the carp to take a bit of bread but when one took my hookbait it was one of the white ghost carp. The fight was spectacular and fast but unfortunately as I turned it from the marginal bushes the hook sprang out of its mouth and it was gone. A little disappointed I tried again but the sun was beginning to fall and the carp, although still visible, never regained their confidence to feed again so reluctantly I wound in and set off for the main swim for the night.

I fished as usual with trout pellets using half and whole liver boilies over the top, this time though I used a PVA bag on the spot 40 yards out on the edge of the still invisible lilies. It was this rod that screamed off after only an hour of casting out. In the gathering gloom I fought with a fish that bored away in the deep margins and I even had to give line, surely another carp. Soon though the olive green flank of a tench showed as it twisted itself around trying to rid the hook. A nice female of 5lb 10oz, I was happy with that, it had tested the 6lb mono mainline to its best and it was a pleasure to see it drift off as the last light faded.

All was quiet for a while and after dark a pale yellow full moon showed through the leafy trees opposite, getting higher in the sky with every minute. It was a mild muggy evening just right for carp and tench but I was not that keen on the full moon. However, no sooner had I closed my eyes than I was awakened by a flying take on the other rod, cast to the edge of a marginal bush. The fish was right under the branches but by lowering the rod tip under water I had no fears for the line and moments later I was engaged in a battle under the rod tip. This one really was fighting hard but it did not feel like a carp, not having the full out power and before long I could see the outline of a tench.

In the net I could see it had the huge paddle fins of a male but it also had the deep flank of a female of the species. I was both pleased but not surprised to find it weighed the right side of 5lb, my biggest male so far from this lake. After a photo or two it was powering away up the margins. I recast and sat back thinking back over a hectic few hours, unfortunately the action ended there and, apart from a series of line bites in the early hours to the rod 40 yards out, all the action ceased. I packed up on a sunny dawn with no more fish to my credit.

Back at work I received a worrying phone call about the lake I was planning to fish for its big carp in the summer. Some of them had died with the first onset of warm weather, including the mid thirty-pound linear that I so wanted to catch. I could not find out how many had died but as the lake only held nine carp anyway it was not looking good, it could be time for a fast re-think of my summer campaign; best laid plans…….

Have fun!