From The Privvy – Chapter Ten

An Eventful Season

The close season that followed was spent working hard and before I knew it June had arrived, I hadn't made up my mind where to fish but wasn't too worried as something would turn up. I had several options but just couldn't make my mind up. June the eleventh and I still hadn't decided where to fish, the Chilham club had just acquired Coningbrook and if nothing else turned up I would fish there. It might have been a bit crowded, though, as Chilham had to share it with the Faversham club. That evening the phone rang, it was Chris wanting to know if I was interested in fishing 'The Ocean' with him and a few friends that summer, I didn't know anything about the water but decided instantly that I would give it a go. I said goodbye to Chris and now filled with enthusiasm started making bait and sorting tackle out. I sent a cheque and two photographs off for a ticket and then finally started to feel very apprehensive.

I knew Chris was a capable angler as were his friends, I also knew that the ocean was a very difficult water and was worried that I might spend the summer watching the others catch fish while I struggled. June the fifteenth arrived and at about nine o'clock in the morning I loaded the van and departed for Larkfield. When I arrived Dave Lawrence was already in a swim near the island, Jeff Tarrent and Ken Rowley were in two swims on the far bank, Chris had gone to Horton as he had a good draw and didn't want to miss out. I set up in a swim next to Dave and we plumbed my swim, Dave was going to fish both rods on a sand pile about forty yards out in front of him, I was going to fish the margins of the island. Jeff and Ken were going to fish on and near a plateau that was about sixty yards out in front of their swims.

We spent the day talking and I was told that next time I came I should bring the same bait as they were using, Ken gave me all the base mix and additives I would need then we had a picture shown and I remembered why I had felt apprehensive. Although my biggest carp was a common of thirty-one and a half pounds, I knew that these anglers had caught much bigger fish. Dave had his pictures of some Darenth fish, including a fish just short of forty pounds that he had appeared on the cover of one of the magazines with. Ken had pictures of his fish from Keston, Redmire, Wraysbury and Ashleigh pool. Jeff and I took the opportunity to go and find the shops; it was thirsty work talking in the heat!

As it got on for evening we returned to our swims to prepare for the night ahead. Dave was a bailiff on the water and made sure no one cast out before midnight. When midnight arrived fourteen leads hit the water, seven anglers on more than forty acres of water; all we needed now was a fish. Within half an hour Dave had it, a mirror of twenty-three and a half pounds, he had caught it over a bed of hemp. Over the next three days we caught a few tench and eels between us but no more carp, so Dave and I packed up, agreeing to fish again in a couple of weeks time. Dave had told me that the fish he caught was his best one ever, it had come from a water that didn't do anyone any favours, I thought about it and decided I would have rather caught the one he was holding on the cover of the magazine.

Over the past few years, I have started to realise that the weight of a fish is an irrelevance; its merit can only be measured in personal satisfaction. I had always avoided the pressured circuit waters, believing some of the rumours I had heard about them, but as I got to know Chris and his friends better I realised I had made a bad mistake and had missed countless opportunities in the past by not fishing them. When I got home I made up some the bait Ken had given me. It had been formulated by Chris, Jeff and Ken and was a blend of bird food and nut meals, it also had a previously unused protein source and was enhanced with pig nectar, quite different to anything else about at the time. I rolled up about three pounds of the bait and decided to go back to the lake. 'Sod work! Who needs money!' I thought. I wanted to fish where Dave had been fishing but to save myself a long walk I was going to fish from the opposite bank where I could park my van in the swim. I was not very surprised to find Jeff already there when I arrived. We organised ourselves so that we could cover the island and the sand pile and fished for a couple of days. This time we caught tench, eels and pike but no carp.

The next weekend I met Ken at the lake on the Friday morning. He had arrived the night before and was just packing up. He had caught a tench and an eel. Jeff and Dave arrived that evening and we fished in a line covering most of the spots where we had seen carp activity. We caught the inevitable tench and eels but also had odd little pulls that would remove the bait from the hook.

We had reasoned that if we kept baiting the same spots that we knew carp frequented, then we would create feeding spots and start catching a few fish. On the Saturday night a very large carp jumped right over the top of my bait, Jeff and I were sitting out and saw it but Dave was in his bivvy so we told him what we had seen. He asked if we were sure it was a carp and Jeff said, "Unless a pig has just fallen from a passing helicopter it was a carp!" I sat by my rods until it got light, but nothing happened, so I reeled in and both my baits had gone. I re-baited and recast; within half an hour I had a screamer. I wound down and struck but only reeled in a broken hook length. I had felt no resistance at all, so I suppose it had been another boilie eating pike.

That Sunday morning we had a discussion about the bait; Ken was no longer fishing and we knew Chris had not had any action at Horton, so we decided that the bait wasn't doing what is was supposed to. We actually decided that it was useless but were more tactful when we discussed it with Chris. The fact that we had regularly caught tench to nearly ten pounds on it didn't occur to us, but like all carp anglers when we weren't catching we thought the bait was crap! If we had been catching it would have had nothing to do with the bait but would have been entirely due to angling skill; pathetic, isn't it? When we discussed the bait with Chris, we decided to change to a fish meal that I had been using. I gave Chris the recipe and told him that if you didn't let the eggs soak right in it could sometimes float. He modified the mix a bit to try and reduce the chance of this happening and made each of us about forty pounds of base mix. We also changed the flavour to one that I made by mixing terpenes oils with acetates or esters. Chris christened this flavour "Ester Fruit" and was keen to try it out. At the time of changing the bait, Chris had an aversion to fishmeal's, but having an inquisitive mind, he wanted to try and sort some of the problems that are inherent in fishmeal's out. I have always felt that carp anglers lost out when Chris wound up his bait business, he sold a range of baits that were all tried and tested and had over the years caught thousands of big fish; they were also very reasonably priced.

The thinking behind my flavour was that terpenes oils are supposed to be rich in triaglycerol, which is one of the substances that shellfish secrete when changing their shell. This is the time when the shellfish are most susceptible to being eaten by fish, so it's fairly reasonable to as
sume that Triaglycerol could be an attractant. The acetates were added for their natural food element; they also contain trace elements that are essential to carp. I did try to buy some Triaglycerol once. The first chemist shop I went into told me to get out and the second one I tried told me he would have to check with the manufacturer and picked up the telephone; it looked as if he only dialed three numbers, so I left the shop! Whether Triaglycerol is unpleasant or is used to make something unpleasant, I don't know, but I haven't tried to get it again.

The new bait did no better than the previous one. Dave's wife had accompanied him to the ocean one weekend and didn't like it all so they went to Darenth. Dave had a twenty-eight pound mirror straight away, so we knew the carp would eat the bait and felt no need to change it further. Jeff and I continued to fish the ocean until October, but caught no carp at all. The only carp caught by anyone during the period we had fished there had been the fish that Dave had caught.

I enjoyed the summer spent fishing the ocean; it is a very difficult water, so you seldom see anyone else fishing there. Jeff had explored different avenues of fish nutrition to me and we had long discussions about bait while fishing there, since then we have formulated some excellent baits between us that not only catch well, but are nutritionally beneficial to the fish. It is not a popular idea with many anglers at the moment to use nutritionally balanced baits. The popular concept at the moment being to fill a barely adequate bait with high levels of so called attractors. If you feed your fish for any length of time on baits that have excesses or deficiencies you will end up with fish that have excess or deficiencies; it's really not worth the risk.

Anyone who wants to fish the ocean should bear in mind that the top half of the lake is used by wind surfers. The man that organises the wind surfing is called Peter and he bent over backwards to help us while we were there. He gave us a key so we could get in or out at night. He allowed us to use his facilities and also allowed us to fish from his property when there were no windsurfers on the water. He also offered us the use of his boat. Most of the windsurfers are novices, but there has never been any aggravation between them and anglers on this lake; it should stay this way.

When we stopped fishing the ocean, we fished a club lake that was not too far away. At first it was Jeff, Chris and myself that fished it. I had fished it previously but it was a new water for Jeff and Chris. We continued to use the fishmeal and ester fruit and also fished the same swims whenever possible for the same reasons as previously mentioned. Throughout the autumn we fished regularly and between the three of us we caught about fifty carp. As the cold weather of winter set in Chris moved to another water but Dave Lawrence, Graham Hacket and an old friend of mine, Terry Smith, joined Jeff and myself. Between the five of us we had another thirty carp despite some very adverse weather conditions.

The bait and the method worked perfectly. By always fishing in the same swims, which were all in a line along one bank, we effectively managed to keep one line of fishmeals in front of all of us every weekend that we fished. When we first started fishing there was a lot of weed in the water and we could only fish the holes in it but as the weed started to die off we managed to spread our bait out a bit. Our trips to the lake were always fun and almost every session had something happen that was quite memorable.

The first time Jeff and I fished the lake was quite eventless, other than that we both caught our first carp of the season, but on our second trip quite a lot happened. I arrived on a Thursday morning to find Chris in the corner swim, which was the one I had wanted to fish and, as I approached his tent, a lurcher jumped out of the door and barked at me.

"Up to your old tricks again, Haswell?" I said, "I can't get rid of the bloody thing," he replied, "I think it's hungry and I'm not giving it my grub". If he had really thought it was hungry he would have given it all his food. Chris has a soft spot for animals that was about to be tested. I set up in the swim next to him and had just got sorted out when it started to rain. I went to Chris's bivvy for a cup of coffee and learned that he had caught a fish of about fourteen pounds the previous night. We were onto our second coffee when I heard my optonic go off. I ran back to my swim and wound down onto a fast moving fish. The rod bent and quite easily overpowered the little bream that was responsible for the flying take. I had just recast and re-baited when Chris came up for another chat. As we stood talking, it got dark and started to rain very heavily, so Chris went back to his bivvy and I got into mine. I put on my one-piece suit in case I had a take and had to go out in the torrential rain that was turning my swim into a quagmire.

I laid back on my bedchair and dozed off. I woke up about an hour later to find something damp, warm and hairy on the side of my face. I laid very still and tried to work out what it was. I didn't know what it could be, but suspected it was something to do with Chris. I sat up and flicked my head round sideways. Whatever it was landed in the hood of my one-piece suit. I was just going to pick it out when it moved and panic set in. I was trying to shake it out of my hood with one hand while trying to take my suit off with the other. At the same time, I was trying to get out of the bivvy. Whatever it was fell out of the hood and landed on the bed. It was a ferret; it jumped onto my lap, ran down my leg and disappeared under the bed. It hadn't bitten me and so I reasoned that it might be quite friendly. I didn't feel like going to sleep again with it in my biwy and decided to lure it out with a bit of food, I got a sausage and a rasher of bacon out of my cooler box and the ferret came out from under the bed. I backed out of the bivvy and it followed, as I moved away from the bivvy another ferret appeared from the door and followed the first ferret along the bank. If I wanted to get anymore sleep that night I would have to get rid of them both. The trouble was, as soon as I put the food down they would eat it and be back in my bivvy looking for more. The idea of two ferrets with very sharp teeth crawling over me while I was asleep didn't appeal to me at all, and then I had an idea that just might work. I pushed the sausage and bacon between the inner and outer skins of Chris's bivvy. I returned to my bivvy and got back into my sleeping bag. About twenty minutes later Chris called to see if I wanted a coffee. When I got into his bivvy, he pointed to the top of it and said "Look. Something has crawled up there and gone to sleep". He also told me he had seen another animal moving about outside his bivvy. I couldn't have been more surprised if I had tried.

The next morning Jeff arrived and set up next to me. We made some breakfast and as soon as the smell of cooking got into the air one of the ferrets appeared from under a bush. I gave it a scrap of sausage and it ran off with it. A few minutes later the other one arrived. I gave that one a bit of bacon and it also ran off with it. Then the first one came back. I gave it a bit of bread and when it ran off we followed it. It ran through the undergrowth and put the food in a h
ole in the ground and then ran back to my swim. Near the hole we saw a third ferret that was larger than the other two. Jeff told me that this larger ferret was a male and the other two females. The male waited safe in the undergrowth while the females scavenged his breakfast - not a bad life being a male ferret is it?

That night Chris caught three small carp in a row. It was unusual to catch carp from this water under ten pounds, but Chris managed three in less than an hour. He caught a fourth carp about an hour after he caught the last small one. This one weighed about twelve pounds, but was very pretty, so Chris wanted a photograph taken. Photographs taken in the dark are always hit or miss and when I got the pictures back I was glad to see that every detail of the fish had come out; so had every detail of Jeff. He had dropped his trousers to his knees and tried to do a moon behind Chris's head, but the picture had been taken before Jeff had thought and he was still facing the camera. Later that night I had a mirror of twenty-two and a half pounds and shortly after that Jeff had a mirror of twenty-four and three quarters pounds.

At first light I had another take and hooked a much better fish that ran straight out for about twenty yards and then just fell off. I went to wake Jeff up so that we could take some pictures of our fish and when he pulled his sleeping bag back there was a ferret snuggled up with him. Chris took some pictures of both our fish and then went home. Later that day Jeff and I both had another twenty each and while eating dinner Jeff had an eighteen and a half. We took the pictures of Jeff's fish straight away and when we returned to our dinners one of the ferrets was waiting patiently for her share. They had run away with any of the food we had given them, so I broke an egg on a plate to see what it would do. It got hold of the plate in its teeth and dragged the whole lot off into the undergrowth! Terry had arrived earlier that day and had caught a mirror of about fourteen pounds, so as we got ready for the night ahead we were expecting more action. Just after it had got dark two local anglers set up just passed us and threw in about twenty pounds of boilies. None of us had so much as a bleep, so at about ten o'clock the next morning we packed up and went home.

The next weekend we were back. Chris and I met at the lake on the Friday morning. He went in the swim I had previously fished and I went in the swim he had fished. Terry arrived Friday afternoon and set up in the swim Jeff had fished previously. Nothing was caught until about midnight when Chris went back to his swim after having some supper in my swim. Chris's swim was only about twenty yards from mine, so it was O.K. to eat in each others bivvies, but when he got back to his swim he found one of his reels half empty; his Delkim had packed up. He started to pump the fish back in but it was heavy going as a lot of weed had collected on his line. When the fish was about ten yards out, a large ball of weed got caught in his tip ring. As Chris picked at the weed I suggested he handlined the fish in but he said no, it was too late because Terry had already handlined it. As it went in the net the hook dropped out and Terry left the lead and rig lying in the margin. Chris managed to unpick all the weed from his tip ring and started to reel in again and said something to the effect that it would have only been luck if he had landed it anyway.

"You don't want this then," I said as Terry lifted the net from the water. It was a mirror of about fourteen pounds. Not as big as we thought, but still the only fish out since we had got there. The next morning Jeff came down and Chris packed up. Jeff moved into Chris' swim and as Chris loaded up his barrow he called along the bank "I've beaten you this time, Buss". He should have kept quiet, my optonic bleeped, the rod tip pulled round and I was into a fish. It was landed without any dramatics and when weighed it was a common of nineteen pounds fifteen ounces.

"Call me when you catch a twenty", cackled Chris and set off up the track cackling to himself. I photographed the fish and put it back and then hung the weighsling on the scales to make sure they were at zero. The read minus three ounces, so the fish had weighed twenty pounds two ounces. Another angler, also called Terry Smith, came round to see me that morning and as he sat down next to me on my bedchair one of the ferrets came in and jumped on my lap. I picked it up, gave it a stroke and a piece of bread. It ran off with it but was back in a few minutes, I had just recast and was standing in my swim when it went in the bivvie door and jumped on Terry's lap. "Don't worry, they are quite tame", I called, as I said it the ferret realised it wasn't me it was sitting on and jumped up and bit Terry in the chest; it just sort of hung there by its teeth.

In order to save the ferret from a horrible death, I put it in a sack and carried it up to the car park, which was about half a mile away. I let it go and walked back to my swim. When I got there Terry had gone and the ferret was sitting on my bed. The ferret eventually got tired of looking for food in my bivvy and went off to see Jeff. One of the bailiffs came round and Jeff put the kettle on. The ferret was a bit close to the Coleman, so Jeff picked it up and put it on the end of his bed. The bailiff picked up the ferret when he saw that they could be handled and it bit him through the thumb. Again, it just hung by its teeth. I had thought at first that they must have been someone's pets and had escaped, but apart from Jeff and myself and one or two others they didn't like people and would bite them at every opportunity they got.

Later that day Jeff decided to make another cup of tea but his Coleman wouldn't light. Usually when this happens, the generator tube is blocked and has to be replaced, but occasionally it's only the jet that is blocked. The way to find out is to put a little bit of pre-heating paste under the generator and light it. This causes the wire inside the generator to expand and push through the jet saving you the cost of a new generator. We didn't have any pre-heating paste, so I poured a little bit of petrol on to the top of Jeff's cooker, but there must have been a spark of life in it because the half litre can of petrol I was holding burst into flames in my hand. I looked for somewhere to throw it but was surrounded by people. I ran round in circles looking for somewhere to throw it and eventually had the good sense just to drop it and kick it out the way. The petrol had jumped from the can and set fire to my arm and body warmer. The body warmer started to melt and globules of burning nylon ran down my legs. I jumped straight in the lake and when I thought I had gone out I saw the petrol that had soaked out of my clothes was burning on the surface of the water and had re-lit my body warmer. I finally managed to put myself out and climb out of the lake. Everyone there had found it very funny; Terry had laughed so much he stared to suffer with oxygen starvation and was laying face down on the floor making grunting noises. I packed up and went home with no eyebrows and a very badly blistered hand. In the circumstances I think I was probably very lucky.

Nothing else came out after I had gone in fact nothing every came out on the third night. We could always find reasons for it, but despite the reasons nothing else ever came out.

Jeff, Chris and I found another enhancer to try at this time, a substance that when used in laboratory test had caused small carp to show a fifty percent increase in weight gain when it was included in their feed, so it was definitely worth adding to our bait. Chris got hold of a sample and he and I worked out a dosage and included it in our bait. By the time we had arrived at the lake, our bait smelled off and we caught no fish at all. Whether the sample we had was 'iffy" or whether we put too much in our bait can't be found out until we can get another sample and give it another try. If we ever get it right it could make quite a lot of difference to the fishes acceptability of our baits.

While I was puzzling over the unexpected results of this new substance, I met Andy Davies for the first time. He had also been fishing the lake and like Chris had caught quite a few small fish, but no big ones, whereas most of the fish Jeff and I caught were upper doubles or twenties. I can't speak for Andy but Chris, Jeff and I were all using the same rigs and bait, so it seemed as if it was coincidence until I found out Chris was glugging his hookbaits. The effectiveness of glugging hookbaits can vary from water to water and it isn't always a good idea. First of all, there's the question of what you glug your baits with. Some liquids are very attractive to carp but others when used in high concentration can repel the fish, so before you soak your hookbaits in anything you have to be certain that the fish will be attracted by whatever you're using in concentration. Some flavours will repel carp when soaked into individual baits, but after they have been in the water for twelve hours or so the carp will eat them quite happily, although it would be extremely stupid to soak anything in concentrated flavour other than hookbaits that carp can never swallow.

When you have got your bait soak or glug right, your hookbait will then be the most attractive bit of bait in your swim, so if a single carp finds your bait, the hookbait will probably be one of the first taken. If the carp are moving round in groups of two or three similar sized fish, then the method is still viable, but in waters where the fish move in groups of several fish of assorted sizes, the method will always catch the greediest fish in the group, usually a small one.

All this is only viable if your rig is up to the job and nowadays a lot aren't. Glugged hookbaits are almost always fished as pop-ups and the practice of pushing a piece of tube over the eye of the hook, trapping a short hair against the shank, will prevent a lot of fish from being hooked on any kind of pop-up. The carp will suck at odd baits and when it sucks in a pop up the bait will rise into the roof of the carp's mouth. None of the other baits will do this, so a fish that has been caught on pop-ups a few times will know that it is about to be hooked. It is then a fairly simple matter for the carp to up end and back off the bait. If the hook is upright and tight to the boilie, it will almost always drop out of the carp's mouth without making contact. If the hook does prick the fish, it is quite often very lightly and the fish falls off shortly after being hooked. It is obviously far better to use a rig that doesn't allow this to happen. Stiff rigs, longer hairs and hooks that sag down under a pop up are just three ways of improving things; there must be a lot more ways of doing it.

It's one of the most aggravating things in carp fishing, but rigs that hook well quite often tangle well too. I used to use a paternoster type rig that hooked fish quite well and was also fairly tangle free, that is until I used it with critically balanced baits. I would see the rig enter the water looking okay, but it would sometimes come back horribly twisted. It took a long time to work out what was happening, but when I did find out it made critically balanced baits impractical on almost any rig.

What was happening was that as the lead hit the bottom the bait should have still been balanced because the pressure was still equal on all sides but the water on the bottom was cooler than that in the balancing bucket, so its density was greater. The bait would settle on the bottom and then as the bait cooled a little it would rise up to the extent of the hook length. After several minutes it would very slowly start to sink. If there was any line twist in the main line, it would slowly wind up the hook length until the balancing weight would hit the bottom. If there was no line twist, the hook length would end up in a heap with the boilie on top of it. I, therefore, no longer use critically balanced baits.

The weekend after the enhancer experiment I went back to the lake, but stopped on the way to buy some new line. It wasn't until I got into the shop that I realised I hadn't got enough money on me to buy the usual big game, so I decided to buy Sylcast, the cost had gone up out of all proportion, it was almost as much as the big game. They had some spools of fifteen-pound breaking strain Sylcast in fluorescent yellow at a third of the price, so I bought one. As far as I was concerned it was the same line as the more expensive Sylcast anyway. I loaded up my reels at the lake, cast out and settled back to make a cup of tea. I couldn't take my eyes of the spools they looked as if they were glowing and I began to regret buying the line, that is until I had a take and landed another twenty-pound common. As it got dark I remembered reading about daylight fluorescents and ultra violet light and imagined that my two lines were going to look like lasers penetrating the water. I settled down for a good night's sleep, but didn't get any. I had four takes through the night. One fish got into some weed and came adrift the other three were mirrors of twenty-one, twenty-two and twenty-four pounds. Despite my success with this line, I replaced it with big game the next week, as I prefer the abrasion resistance you get with the big game.

Did I get the takes because the fish could see the line and weren't worried by it or was it just coincidence? This was the best night's fishing I ever had on this lake and it was in December. The ideas about the effect of line upon fish in the water are extremely varied; certainly fish in different waters respond differently, but fish in a given lake can react differently to different lines. I believe that the line most commonly used on a water is the line that fish recognise as danger most easily.

I didn't fish the water again until just after Christmas and that was for just a day session, I arrived at first light with Daryle and set up in a swim that sloped fairly steeply into the lake. We sat at the back of the swim and I thought that if I had a take I would have to be very deliberate about how I walked to my rods or I could end up with wet feet. I had cast up against some reeds and was worried that I wouldn't get to my rods quickly enough. Shortly after lunch I had a take; it ran straight down a channel in the reeds that ran parallel to the bank to our right. All caution was forgotten and as my feet hit the mud at the back of the swim they slipped from under me and I slid through the swim flat on my back straight into the lake. I managed to grab the rod as I went past and even managed to wind down on the fish as I climbed out. The fish was almost at the end of the channel and was heading for a bed of reeds so while reeling as fast as I could. I ran along the back of the reeds after it. I had got about half way down the channel when I fell in again. From this position I could get a
decent pull on the fish and, after getting someone to throw me a landing net, I landed the fish, a common of nineteen and a half pounds. Chris had caught this fish a few weeks earlier from another area of the lake. As far as I am aware it was our only duplicate capture from this lake.

It was a couple of weeks before I fished the lake again and despite the foul weather conditions the lake was fairly busy. We took what swims we could get and got the biwies put up as quickly as possible, so that we could get out of the snow. I had just cast out when I heard a shout from Jeff's swim on the other side of the lake, As I peered through the snow that was flying sideways across the lake, I could just see a landing net sticking up out of the water looking just like Excalibur. I thought Jeff had fallen in and ran round as fast as I could. When I got there, Jeff was out of the lake and had a mirror of twenty-four pounds twelve ounces in the net. He told me that it had got in some reeds and he had thought that it was a much bigger fish so he had gone in for it. I was not amused. He had spent a few weeks in intensive care with a heart attack a couple of years before and jumping into nearly freezing water was just plain stupid. He later confessed that he didn't know what was on the end. He had cast his old stalking rod into a hole in the reeds and climbed up a tree to look for any fish that might have been in there. He had only got half way up the tree when his rod was pulled in. He didn't want to lose it so he stripped off and dived in after it.

The next day most of the anglers went home. Graham arrived and set up next to me and Terry moved into the swim on the other side of him. We spent the afternoon discussing the viability of putting a plastic coat on your leads and various other related things. I spoke to Brain Mills recently about this and he told me that some years ago he had float fished using the lift method. He alternated between a lead shot an inch from the hook and a tungsten shot of the same weight at the same distance form the hook. His only bites came when he had the lead on the line. He had no bites at all with tungsten on it. There lays an answer. Water is full of electrical charges, so I never was clear whether the electrical charge created between the lead and hook attracted or repelled carp, but now it would be a simple matter to find out whether lead or an equal weight of tungsten created the larger charge in water. If it was the tungsten then the charge would repel, but if it was the lead then it would attract the fish. I telephoned the head of physics at Kent college and he told me that it was too complex with too many variables to be able to give an answer. He then said that if I wrote to the head of chemistry at Canterbury University he might or might not commission one of his post graduates to do a study on it. I've written to him, but as yet have not had an answer. I have a tank and if I can get hold of an electrical meter that registers small enough charges I will have to try and do the experiments myself.

After the technical discussion I told Graham a few mucky jokes I had heard. We sat up quite late drinking tea and telling each other dirty stories. The next morning Graham complained that he had kept waking up through the night because he was having, as he called them, erotic dreams. He then remembered something he had left at home and went to get it; he was gone for three hours.

The last weekend of the season soon came round and a social was planned. Jeff and I were the first to arrive and fished a night with no one else on the lake. I caught a fish of about fourteen pounds at midnight. When I hooked it, I realised that the lake had a thin layer of ice all over it, but by holding the fish on a tight line it slowly came in. As it came up under the ice it kicked up a bit and broke the ice where the line went through it. Jeff netted it and we were both surprised that my line hadn't cut through on the edge of the ice.

The next morning, Terry and Graham arrived and later that evening Dave turned up, but somehow managed to walk right past us in the dark. He walked through the mud with all his tackle to the end of the complex and then had to walk all the way back. He was exhausted, the mud on this lake comes up to your knees. We all caught a fish or two despite the lake being quite crowded and the next afternoon we were all sitting in Graham's swim having a cup of tea and discussing modifications to be made to the bait for the next season when Jeff started to laugh. We asked him what was so funny and he said that it looked like the bloke opposite was fiddling with himself. From where we were sitting, we could see right into his bivvy door and Jeff had got it right first time. Despite all the noise we made he didn't realise we could see him, either that or he was so involved he didn't hear us. I imagine he'd heard someone say that you've got to be a w***er if you want to fish for carp and he had thought that it was obligatory!

The season ended and we packed up. I had spent the whole summer without a take but had caught nine twenties and quite a lot of other fish through the winter. None of us had caught anything very big, just lots of fish up to mid twenties.