Part 3- Setting up camp
Looking around I have the lake to myself and it is time to choose which of the 30 pegs will be my domain for the day. Why is it that the greater the choice, the greater the dilemma? Can I remember which was the dream location and which was the desert? As I ponder this issue a noise from behind focuses my attention. An interloper on my patch. Another potential hunter, loaded with gear on a barrow.
The barrow is the ultimate carp-man status symbol and is also an indicator of the seriousness of the owner’s intentions. While it does not necessarily confirm his (or her) fishing ability it is usually a good sign that they know what they are doing. It is a purpose-built unit with wheels and handles and knobs and attachments and everything you could wish for (he said putting his tongue back in his head), to smooth the trip from car to peg.
As I stare at the approaching figure, I can also see that he is dressed from head to toe in camouflaged Gortex. A shining beacon of the carp hunter. Just what I needed, a real professional setting up on the same lake as me. He looks at the lake then at me – nods and moves off in the opposite direction and disappears from view behind the island in the centre of the lake. I am now not sure if he knows something that I do not or if it is just the usual “man” thing of keeping our distance.
In any event it galvanises me into action and I find my ideal spot to set up camp.
I am facing the centre island with its margins and tall reeds and no trees within casting distance to the left and right of the peg. This will save me the embarrassment of trying to disentangle my line later in the day after one of my less than professional casts.
I look down at the wooden platform in front of me to ensure that it is clear of duck and goose ablutions (not nice) and notice the peg number. Thirteen!
OK – I like a challenge and my arms cannot even think about picking all my gear up and moving. What’s in a number?
Being the person I am and of that age, (Pops indeed), I lay my gear out around me with military precision.
First things first – up goes the chair. – Easy !
Now for the new, all singing all dancing, “H” style twin rod rest and bite alarm unit. I manage to extract it without spiking myself with its pointed self-adjusting feet and assemble it within arm’s reach of the chair. It looks a bit like a machine gun post. The only thing missing is an ammo belt!
Next are the alarm units, which screw into the front part of the cross bar of the rod rests. This is done very carefully. Firstly, so you do not drop them over the edge of the platform to disappear in the muddy depths and secondly to ensure that they are in the “off” position. There is nothing worse than having a continuous high-pitched beeping as you set them up. A sure sign that you are a novice with a new toy and which is likely to extract much “huffing” and “glaring” from your neighbours. It’s all part of the unwritten fishing etiquette.
From the depths of my carry-all case I slide out the sleek black rods and carefully assemble each of them to their full 12 feet, ensuring that the rod eyes are aligned to the reel seat,
Sitting in my chair with the assembled rods laying in their rests to my right, and my tackle bag to my left, I carefully place my bait box in the shade under my seat.
As I am doing this, I suddenly have the feeling of being watched. I turn around to see four ducks and a moorhen standing in a row, as if on parade. They clearly have intentions of setting up a commando raid on my bait box when I am otherwise engaged.
“Shoo” I say with much arm waving and creaking of the chair.
The largest of the platoon of ducks looks casually left and right and, in his own time, marches off with his pals in line behind, casting one look over his back that says – “I know where you live”