One of the things I love most about Mangerton Lake is fighting with the completely mental inhabitants. Carp are much loved because of their strength and power. Viaduct was the benchmark for 'How many pole rigs or pole sections will I break today?'... But Mangerton Carp are right up there with the very best of them and could probably out sprint Usain Bolt in his prime.
As usual, I completely forgot to actually take photographs today, so the picture above is from our coaching session. But I fished from the swim right in the foreground, which points you at a weird angle looking at one end of the lake, instead of straight across.
There were more cars than I had really hoped for when I arrived at 8.30am, so I hastily unloaded my gear onto the trolley. I was just getting round to the bungee cords, when a taxi swept into the car park next to me. The door flew open and, as if packed in under considerable pressure, a young lad that I recognised from Revels launched himself from the vehicle, holdall in hand, to lay claim to one of the easy walk swims... Why is it that bungee cords never hook on as quickly when you're in a mild state of panic? I quickly realised that, even if I had managed to get hooked up faster, there was no way a chubby middle aged bloke pushing the equivalent of half a tackle shop on wheels, was going to out manoeuvre the gazelle like skippings of a youth in trainers. So I let him have this one...
Being a considerate type of bloke, I pitched up in an unoccupied area of the lake on the far side. This allowed plenty of space for my companions for the day, Lydia, Mike and Faith (Yes, we actually had and actual Junior coming along!!)
Setting up was coming along nicely when some familiar figures appeared through the gate, with a waved greeting. Soon I would be joined by my happy friends from last week. But wait... something was amiss. Lydia, who's smiley face could usually light up any room, was scowling.
"Morning" I said chirpily.
"Couldn't you have picked a spot any further round the lake?" came the retort.
I felt only stunned fear as her eyes bored in to my very soul. This was not the start I was expecting. I buried my head in my shoulders and continued to plumb the depth using only slow, deliberate movements in case any thoughtlessly swift motions triggered more wrath.
Here was Mike coming the other way round the lake, surely things would be ok now?
"Morning mate, everything ok?".
"Not really, I hate being late!".
I feared that today might be a bit awkward...
After the quiet literal dumping of gear, I sat down with Faith to show her how to set up her waggler, which she did pretty well as it happens. She started off getting some knocks and dinks on the float, but the breeze was a steady one and kept blowing her float through the swim fast than was needed, even at short range...
I thought it was time to try her out with a short pole, a shock stick, with hefty rig attached. Straight away, the float buried and we were away. Faith's little arms were tested to the extreme by some feisty old Carp. Which were returned after being made famous by the camera.
I had been able to have a little fish by now, interspersed by 'Little jobs' from the little lady, and it was time for lunch. Faith had already had her nosh, so I headed up to the other two after leaving Faith with strict instructions to keep hold of the pole in case Mr Carp took it for a swim.
I had got no further than 20 paces, when a small voice wafted through the air.
"Yes sweetheart, what's up?".
"Your pole is floating"...
"Your pole is floating on the water".
The Daiwa Air was indeed out and ready for use, but surely that had not took a dive, had it? A deathly coldness trickled down my spine. My walk turned to a jog, which turned into my version of running. Relief swept over me as I saw my pride and joy still sat on the rollers. Relief turned to despair when I saw the shock stick laying in the lake.
She was right. It was indeed floating. But for how long?
Landing nets were grabbed and vain attempts were made to steer the stricken pole back to shore. It bobbed once, twice, then it released what I can only describe as a series of soft, fart in the bath like bubbles, the Matrix Torque pole disappeared into the murky water.
Few seconds of disbelief passed, followed by mildly panicked scraping of the lake bed with landing nets and, by tapping along the bottom, located the doomed pole which fortunately did not have a fish attached to it.
It isn't an expensive pole, but I wasn't going in after it. Mike who had initially thought that this was going to be the most expensive days fishing ever, was now loosening the belt of his trousers, as if he needed an excuse to do so anyway, especially when they had my iphone to play with... It was then that I had a brainwave. I attached the pole 'tulip' to my landing net handle, managed to snare the pole and, like the Mary Rose, return it to the surface to be secured by my colleagues in the rescue party.
Mike, who by now had his trousers round his knees, looked slightly disappointed at the prospect of not having to strip off for a dip. I've never known anyone so keen to get his pants out in public before, and I pray that he was going to stop at the pants. The debt for him going into the waves 'Au naturel' would probably be immeasurable.
With disaster averted and everything where it should be, we had lunch at Lydia's and a good old chat. By now it was 1.30pm and I hadn't really done much fishing for myself. I decided that some head down fishing for the rest of the day was required. The Pellet Wag is my weapon of choice whenever I can get it to work, and Mangerton is one such venue. I tried different ways of presenting the float and feeding patterns but, to be honest, I could have caught no matter how I cast the float out and much rod bending happened.
On to the short pole (Now cleaned off), fishing it in really close with similar results from some pretty hefty fish at times. A 4.5 metre pole with black hydro elastic always makes we wince as everything is stretched to the max, but it is incredibly good fun too...
In the blink of an eye it was 4.30 and time to finish. I ended up with 34 Carp ranging from 4 to 10lb+, Five of them easy doubles and most being in the 6 to 7lb bracket and the completion of at least 150 'Little Jobs' for Faith. The fishing had been everything that I have come to expect from Mangerton Lake. But My favourite part was getting to know my new little friend (and partner for the Senior/Junior pairs match) much better and hearing a normally quiet Faith, twittering away like her life depended on it. It was a real joy to be in her company today.
Thank you also to Lydia (Mrs Guru) and Mike (Pantsman) for another great days fishing and I look forward to the next one...