The weather actually turned out better than forecast; 27-29 degrees with a very thin high overcast and spells of clear skies made for great visibility. The carp well well on the feed too and there were plenty of shots to be had. Which was good because I've spent a while turning these fish into spooky pricks. During the first lockdown, I was fishing them near daily once the outdoor exercise allowance came in and I'd been pestering them pretty regularly for years before.
One of the main difficuties I've been having is that they seemed to be fairly immune to the otherwise reliable drag and drop presentation. My first work around was long leads on moving feeders, which worked but wasn't totally ideal. Generally I think the carp do like to think they've found your fly and often seem to dash the last few feet once they see the fly. The problem is, the length of lead that I found myself needing meant it was a bit of a lottery as to whether the fish would come across the fly after my best guess at where to drop it. They don't swim in straight lines that often! And then there's the other fish milling around while you focus on the one you're after, it's much easier to spook a fish you're not paying attention to.
Thinking about these fish is what, for the time being at least, seems to have cracked the code. The sound of the fly line, moving on the surface seems to be what they've come to be afraid of, which I knew and had been compensating with longer leaders. I rarely fish less than 15ft and often longer anyway but sometimes even that didn't seem to be enough. So on Monday I decided to tie up something realy long. At 25ft I had basically made a very heavy French leader type thing. Now, there are parts of this stream that are only 20ft across so a lot of the time the fly line doesn't even have to touch the water. After a few adjustments to casting, accuracy was good enough and I started catching fish at a rate in line with what I'd have expected a few years ago- even on the drag and drop which they had been running a mile from before. I finished up with 8 fish in a couple of hours, nothing ver big but still a lot of fun. So far, I can't see any disadvatages for the close range carping that I really enjoy, so we'll see how it goes.
It took me a while to make what now seems a fairly obvious leap, but I made it eventually and that's what matters I suppose.