The first cast
Having assembled the rods, I carefully mount the reels and thread the line through the rings in readiness to fix my ‘terminal tackle’.
No, this is not, as it may first sound, the end game plan for the local rugby team (although the carp may have a different view of this), but the working end of the fishing line that presents the hook and bait to the fish.
After making the decision on which type of bait to use, the choice of terminal tackle is probably an angler’s most talked about subject and, for any novice, is a ceaseless minefield of options.
Never mind, I have read all the books, watched YouTube and consider myself educated, if not experienced.
I have also been reading up on how to present ground bait alongside my hook bait and have purchased my first pack of PVA mesh!
What this? PVA mesh, I hear you ask behind tittering laughter as you visualise deviant fishermen’s clothing.
Well it is not that at all, but a rather clever system of enclosing ground bait (crushed up boilies and other delectable and tasty fish appetisers) in a mesh bag, which you place on your hook. This dissolves in the water, leaving all these goodies around your bait helping to attract the fish and disguising the hook.
All you need to do is ensure that the PVA bag is securely attached to the hook as you cast and that it does not get wet before you complete the cast.
All is done and I am ready for my first cast. I carefully look again at the lake and select a spot directly opposite, in the reed margins off the island. There must be hundreds of carp there just waiting for my bait!
Arm raised, rod at 90 degrees, weight secured to its clip, hook with the latest version of a Tuti Fruiti boilie and PVA bag loaded with goodies. My fingers slip the bale arm on the reel open to let the line free and
The line slips from my retaining finger and the weight, hook, boilie and PVA bag drop behind me onto the wet grassy bank. (The word ‘wet’ is important)
I take a quick look round to see who was watching. Thank god, nobody.
A fast re-set and then back to the magic 90-degree angle and my arm pulls the rod forward for the textbook cast – whoosh.
However, all is not what it seems.
My hook and weight are now hurtling directly for the trees on the island opposite like a demented freight train and the PVA bag with all its goodies is nowhere to be seen.
I look up just in time to see a distant speck in the sky as the bag (now slowly dissolving as a result of its contact with the wet grass on the bank), reaching the top of its parabolic curve, on its failed attempt to reach outer space.
It descends and hits the lake just missing the ducks, which are now lined up in small flotilla watching the fun.
There is much flapping of wings and quacking, (which sound very much like laughing to me), and, all in all, a bit of a commotion.
I manage to drag my line back from the trees opposite and examine my terminal tackle to ensure all is still present. Yep – hook with boilie plus weight are still attached and are OK, just a few small twigs and leaves to remove. Not what I expected to catch!
I look around and take stock. Still nobody about, other than the ducks, so my dignity is unblemished
A new PVA bag is quickly manufactured and secured to the hook.
Rod at 90 degrees and whoosh, a more controlled cast places the hook, bait and PVA bag exactly where it was intended.
The ducks, sensing that the immediate fun is over, decide to resume patrol and cruise persistently over the area where my bait is sitting. I am sure that they are sending out sonar pings to try and locate the bait, hoping for a free feed.
I place the rod carefully on its rest with the line resting in the bite alarm and attach the drop weight, which holds it taught so that the alarm will detect the slightest movement and alert me to presence of a fish, or so the manual says!!
All goes well with the second rod and I now have two lines out ready for the unsuspecting fish.
My anticipation levels are at their highest and I settle back in my chair with a self-satisfied grin on my face. I am ready to land that record carp.
As I sit down the view through the trees of the island opposite opens, and I see the ‘professional’ fisherman sitting directly opposite. There is a small smile on his face and, as our glances meet, he nods casually in my direction!
He has seen everything!