Sunday, 15 November 2009

Carp Tackle Box Pt2

Last time round I started to take a look through the tackle box I use for my carp fishing. As I said then, my tackle box is actually a storage container from B&Q and it looks exactly like a medium/large fox tackle box but costs a lot less!. I try to keep the amount of tackle I carry to a minimum but despite this the sheer amount of items I carry means that this simple look through my tackle box has spread to more than one diary entry and in all honesty its likely to go further than that as there’s a lot of bits and pieces.

My Carp Tackle Box and Tackle Bits and Pieces

Kryston Mantis
I’ll continue this look through my tackle box by looking at another hook length material, this time it's Kryston Mantis, a coated braid that comes in very handy for me in certain circumstances. If you’ve read any of my previous blog entries you’ll know kryston silkworm is my all time favourite hook length material. Silkworm is a very supple material and its not the best material for avoiding tangles at range. If I have to fish at any kind of range I generally change to Mantis. I leave most of the coating on and just strip back enough to make the hair and maybe an inch or two extra behind the hook to create a hinge. By using Kryston Mantis for my long range fishing rigs I find I can avoid tangles a lot more and you really need to know your rigs are sitting right at range. Mantis does this job really well and I’d recommend you give it a go on your long range setup, as with all Kryston products Mantis is very well made and completely reliable.

Kryston Mantis Coated Braid, my second choice after Silkworm

Kryston Heavy Metal Plus Putty
Whilst we are on the subject of Kryston products, I have to say I’m a big fan. I’ve been using Kryston fishing tackle for as long as I’ve been carp fishing. My next item in the tackle box is one of theirs too and that’s Heavy Metal Plus Putty. I tend to fish a lot with pop-ups and baits that are critically balanced so they sink very slowly and heavy metal putty is excellent for balancing out buoyant baits. Heavy metal grips braided lines like Silkworm and Mantis very well and it’s a pretty dense material compared to most rig putty on the market today so you don’t need to use as much of it, which is a bonus. I use pop-ups so much that I’d never not have a tub of heavy metal in my tackle box, it really is a great product.

Kryston Heavy Metal Plus Popup Rig Putty, excellent!

Carp Rig Tubing
Rig tubing is very much a personal thing and I tend to avoid branded names. The rig tubing photo here is Franks Leads own brand and I’m quite happy to use this even though it doesn’t say ‘korda’ or ‘ESP’ on the packet, it is after all the same thing. The other place I get my rig tubing from is Dave's of Middlewich as they have their own rig tubing too. Both Franks and Dave's rig tubing is excellent and it’s a lot cheaper and convenient buying from Frank on Ebay than buying korda rig tubing from a tackle shop. Both Dave's own brand and Franks rig tubing sink well and thread quite easily and I’m happy using these products, they work well and unlike branded rig tubing, neither of these two products will break the bank!.

Carp Rig Tubing from Franks Leads, you don't need an expensive brand!

Lead Weights
You’ll notice my tackle box doesn’t have many lead weights in it. When you’re travelling light ditching lead weights from your tackle box and rucksack is a real saver on weight. You can end up carrying round pounds and pounds of lead if you’re not careful and I’ve fallen into this trap myself in the past. These days I almost exclusively use Franks Leads Ebay Shop to buy my lead weights and my rig accessories like rig tubing, swivels and tail rubbers. The leads I use are Franks inline square pear leads in 2oz camo green or brown, these do me for the majority of my fishing and I won’t change them unless I really need to fish at range, in which case I switch to a more streamlined distance bomb. I used to make my own lead weights years ago and I still carry the odd one with me today. Making your own leads is actually quite easy to do but it can be messy and its not without its problems safety wise, if you‘d like to know more about making your own have a look at my Making Leads Blog Entry from a year or two ago. As Franks Leads are quite cheap I tend to use his these days rather than do them myself, one things for sure, if you are after lead weights, the last place you should buy them from is the tackle shop!, if you buy lead weights from your local tackle dealer I guarantee you’ll get ripped off, take a look at Franks, his leads are excellent quality and you won’t go wrong using them.

Franks Leads Square Pear Lead, my favourite lead weight

I’ll have to stop this continuing look through my tackle box for now as this entry is starting to get a bit long, in the next few weeks I’ll continue looking at my tackle in detail as there are some other useful bits and pieces that I carry with me, I haven’t looked at hooks yet either and I’m wondering if that wouldn’t make a whole entry on its own!. Next time I sit down to write in a couple of weeks time I’ll see how things go and if I can keep my comments on hooks to a minimum I’ll include them in my tackle box series, otherwise a look at hooks will come as a separate entry at some point in the future.

Until next time, tight lines.


Sunday, 4 October 2009

Tackle Box for Carp Pt1

One things all carp anglers have in common is their tackle box. I was fishing last weekend when one of my mates popped round for a chat and a brew. I’d not long finished setting up and my own tackle box was out in full view. As he sat down on my guest chair he commented that all anglers like routing through other peoples tackle boxes and promptly started routing through mine whilst I made a brew.

I’ve actually got no secrets as far as my carp tackle box goes, it’s a pretty standard tackle box that just contains the bare essentials and little else. I like to keep my fishing simple and my tackle box is reasonably small on purpose. There’s nothing worse than carting round a whole lot of tackle that you’ll never really use and by keeping my carp tackle box to a single layer medium size I can just carry the rig and end tackle bits I need without getting carried away!.

B&Q Storage Container is not unlike a System Fox Tackle Box!

My carp tackle box itself is one of those storage containers you get for nails and screws!. I’d really recommend anglers have a look in B&Q before you go and spend silly money on a system fox box or similar tackle box. My tackle box actually looks just like a medium fox box from the outside, the only real difference was the price!. Whilst a fox box will can set you back anything from £20-£50 depending which one you buy, my B&Q version was just £4.95!. That’s not a miss print, four pounds and ninety five pence was how much my tackle box cost!. I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s latched onto B&Q storage containers, I regularly see tackle boxes on ebay and they look just like mine, if you can’t be bothered heading for your local DIY store then the old faithful ebay is well worth a look if you're considering a new tackle box or you’re on a budget.

For the next couple of blog entries I’m going to be taking a look at exactly what’s in my tackle box and I’ll start with Mo‘s Co PVA String. Mos Co has been around for quite a while now and Mo has built himself an excellent reputation for quality PVA string and mesh. I always have a spool of Mos PVA knocking round in my tackle box, it’s ideal for making stringers and it’s cheaper than anything your local tackle shop can offer!.

Mos Co PVA String, it's cheaper than the tackle shop!.

Kryston Greased Lightening Turbo Juice. Greased lightening is a cracking treatment for your mainline. If you ever find yourself in the position of needing every last single yard to reach the fish this stuff can help, it actually reconditions your mono and cuts down on friction as your line passes through your rod rings, the result is extra yards on your cast and this can mean the difference between success and failure. Greased lightening has certainly helped me put a few bonus fish on the bank over the years!.

Kryston Greased Lightening Turbo Juice for extra yards on the cast.

Korda Hybrid Extenda Stops. Korda developments are probably the biggest tackle manufacturer in carp fishing today, despite this I’m not a big fan of korda tackle, it’s mainly their leaders I have a problem with but credit where it’s due, these extenda stops are a fantastic little invention. They allow you to change the size of baits on a hair rig without actually re-tying your rig. I doubt I’ll ever be without a couple of different sized packets of extenda stops in my tackle box, for once korda have got something absolutely right.

Korda Hybrid Extenda Stops, an excellent addition to your tackle box.

Kryston Silkworm Braided Hooklength. I’ve reviewed kryston silkworm before on this blog. There’s nothing more I can add to my origonal review of this hooklength material. It’s simply my favourite hooklength braid and has been for the last 15 years. My confidence in this material is absolute and despite many other hooklength products coming onto the market, silkworm has remained my number one hooklength braid.

Kryston Silkworm Hooklength Braid, total confidence for me!.

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep my blog entries to a reasonable size and trying to cover what’s in a carp tackle box in one go just isn’t possible so I’ll stop writing here and continue looking through my tackle box next time.

Tight Lines


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Screaming Reels Pt3

Following on from Screaming Reels Pt2, I was so tired I couldn’t face putting a rig back in the water, as soon as I dropped in I’d barely get 5 minutes before a run would occur. After releasing that last 14lb mirror I left the rods out of the water and got my head down for a while. The peachskin sleeping bag was very comfy and I was soon snoring my head off. Unbeknown to me Barry started catching after I took my rods out and he started to experience the same prolific action I’d been having, he did come to wake me up to do some photo’s for him but when he heard me snoring he left me alone which was very good of him because I was knackered!.

I woke up at 3am to the sound of a car alarm, I couldn’t tell if it was coming from the car park or the local housing estate so I told Barry I was going to investigate, I grabbed my head torch and walked up to the car park in the dark just in case it was one of our cars. Fortunately it was coming from the housing estate and our cars where all safely locked up with no sign that anyone was around. I headed back to my swim and decided to start fishing again. Barry made another brew and I dropped the rods back on the same spots again and topped up the swim with bait just as I’d done before. Haiths red band pigeon conditioner and pellets on one rod and just pellets over the other.

It was a good half an hour before anything happened, the right hand ‘pellet’ rod fished straight out in front of me rattled off and after a short fight I netted what turned out to be my smallest fish of the night, a common of 8lb 8oz which I didn’t bother photographing. I baited the rod and under armed it into position again. Thankfully the next run felt like a decent fish and it gave me a decent fight in the margins before slipping into the landing net after 10 minutes or so. It was another common in the same weight range as the two 17’s I’d caught earlier and after hoisting the fish up on the scales I settled on 17lb 2oz, my third 17lb+ fish of the night.

My red letter night continues with a 17lb 2oz common

After a third 17lber things went a little quiet for a while, I heard what sounded like a big fish crash along the margins to my left. In the still of the night it sounded like someone had thrown a pig into the water and I sat waiting for my next run hoping that some of the lakes bigger fish were finally moving in. Surprisingly it was a good half an hour before the right hand delkim finally burst into life with another screaming run. The fish didn’t take a lot of line, twice it kited to the right but some heavy side strain kept the fish from going into Barry’s swim. In front of me the fish just kept deep in the margins and it took a considerable time to bring this particular carp to the surface. Despite a long and protracted fight in the margins it still didn’t register that I might be attached to a big fish and it wasn’t until the carp went into the net that I actually realised. I switched on my head torch to be greeted by a stunning looking common, it was a long fish with a girth that instantly said 20lb+!.
I knew I had one of the fish I wanted and I quickly got to work setting up the camera ready for some photo’s. When I actually lifted the fish from the water I knew it was well over 20lb and the scales gave me a weight of 23lb 14oz. I was delighted to have caught such a big fish for the water and it certainly made the trip worthwhile for me. Barry was on hand and a lot of photo’s followed before I returned my common to the water. As the fish went back I couldn’t help wondering if this fish was the carp I’d heard just along the margins half an hour earlier.

Another Big North West Carp weighing 23lb 14oz

That was it for me, I finally got the big fish I was hoping for in what was probably the last hour of darkness, I put a fresh pellet on and topped up my swim with freebies again but the desire to keep working and keep pulling fish in was gone now I’d got the result I wanted. I planned to be off the lake around 7am, I had a long drive home and I was tired so I decided 7am seemed a decent time to leave, there would be very little traffic on the road at that time which would be just as well as by now I was fighting to keep my eyes open again!.

As it got light the lake had one more surprise in store, this time it was the left hand delkim that signalled another screamer, the fish hadn’t really gone for the red band pigeon conditioner in a big way, I was actually expecting this rod to do the most fish but this turned out not to be the case as the majority of fish came to the pellet rod. It was well away this time though and the spool on my infinity reel was whizzing round as the line peeled off. I hit it and the rod hooped over as an angry carp tried to get under the tree in the margins. I quickly applied some heavy side strain to keep the fish away from a snag and once I had the carp in front of me I felt I’d gained control of the situation. A few minutes later I netted my 14th carp of the session. I quickly got the fish onto the mat and weighed it at 15lb exactly, a nice fish to round the session off with.

A nice 15lb Cheshire Carp to round off a fantastic session!

Bearing in mind I’d slept for 3 hours I‘d still had a red letter session, in that time Barry had racked up another 7 doubles to go with his earlier fish and I reckon I could have easily had that many again had I not had a few hours on the bedchair. My other mate Steve who was further down the bank finished up with 11 doubles of his own. Between the 3 of us we’d had some superb fish but I’m not sure I could face another night on such a prolific water. I won’t return to this lake again until winter at the earliest, I find the lake is more of a challenge just fishing days through December and January so I’ll return then for another look at this prolific carp water.

Tight Lines


Sunday, 23 August 2009

Screaming Reels Pt2

Just picking up from Screaming Reels Pt1, I’d started fishing at 15.00pm on the afternoon of Saturday 1st August and by 19.45pm I’d racked up no fewer than 6 doubles. The carp were coming at a rate of more than 1 per hour, bearing in mind you have to play the fish in, weigh and photograph them before re-baiting and re-casting, you can understand just why I wanted a base camp set up!. After that sixth carp I wound the second rod in, packed everything away and lugged my gear a hundred yards further up the bank and dropped in next to my mate Barry who’d arrived a few hours previous.

The first thing I did was get the stealth brolly up, as I was doing this Barry shouted over to ask if I wanted a brew, what a star, I’d not had time to think about eating or having a drink so I gratefully accepted Barry’s offer and cracked on with getting my gear sorted out. Once the stealth was up I got my bedchair and my trakker sleeping bag set up then pushed them both under the brolly. The rods and pod were all quickly set up and within 5 minutes I was settled down and ready to start fishing again. Barry was literally 5 yards away from me as we were occupying adjacent swims and he popped his head round the brolly with a nice steaming cup of tea just as I was hair rigging a bait on my first rod. As I was fishing the margins casting and baiting was easy, the left hand rod went just off an overhanging tree in the margins and the right hand rod went straight out in front of me, the left rod had a small bed of red band pigeon conditioner with a few pellets fed over the top and a pellet on the hook whilst the right hand rod was just pellets, one on the hook and 20-30 scattered around the rig itself.

I managed to eat a bit of food whilst I was having my brew and I stood chatting to Barry about our chances for the night ahead. As the light faded we were both expecting a sleepless night, it was just a case of how many we’d catch rather than would we catch anything at all!. Barry was in first, as we stood chatting one of his antique Super XL bite alarms burst into life and he began doing battle with a decent fish. Like me Barry was fishing the margins so his fish took off like a rocket and gave a really good account of itself. It was another common and a decent fish at 18lb plus a few ounces. The fish was documented and returned to the water and not long after my left hand delkim gave a single bleep. This was the rod that was fished over the red band pigeon conditioner and I guessed it was a line bite. I didn’t have to wait long after that, just a few minutes later the left hand rod was away with a blistering take!. I was on it quickly and just like Barry’s fish a few minutes earlier, this one gave a really good account of itself as it bored up and down the margins for 5 minutes or so. With 15lb big game line on my spools there was no way any of my fish were going to get away and it was just a case of wearing the fish down until it was ready for the landing net. There were no problems and I netted my seventh carp of the session. The move next to Barry was looking like a good one when it came to the size of the carp, along with Barry’s 18lber, I’d also caught my biggest of the session so far, a common weighing 17lb 6oz.

Cheshire carp fishing again, 17lb 6oz

An upper double each was a good start to the night ahead, my 17 had arrived at 21.30pm and I had to wait another hour for any more action. I could hear carp crashing all over the lake and I was literally sat on my hands waiting for another bite. It was the right hand rod this time, this was the rod that was just a pellet fished over more pellets. There was no warning, the alarm just went off and the spool on my infinity baitrunner reel just fizzed, I have my delkims on low so the sound of my spool ticking is as loud as the alarms themselves and under cover of darkness a full blooded run still sounded like it could wake the dead!. This fish played out just like the last one, it felt slightly heavier than the carp I’d caught during the afternoon and after a good scrap in the margins my thoughts were confirmed when I weighed and photographed another 17lb fish, this one was slightly heavier than the last at 17lb 12oz.

17lb 12oz North West Common

I re-baited my rig and a gentle underarm cast had another pellet back in position, I topped up with another 20-30 pellets and sat back to await the next run. This was my plan for the night, keep the traps reasonably small and fish for them one at a time rather than bait heavily, I was only fishing the margins anyway so it was very easy to keep just a little bit of feed in the swim, enough to get them on the bait but not enough that I might have to wait long for a bite!.

After my second 17lber I didn’t have to wait very long for another fish, I think we knew things would most likely kick off big time and no sooner had I dropped my rig back in when it was away again!. Being out in the Cheshire countryside it would have been pitch black if it wasn’t for the moon which was just about giving enough light to land my fish. Like the two 17’s this fish fought really well in the margins and it was great to see these fish taking line off the spool rather than just wallowing into the net from long range. I eventually netted this fish after playing knit one pearl one with my left hand rod. I’d positioned my unhooking mat at the back of my brolly and just left it there, I didn’t see the point in hanging it up to dry when I knew full well more fish were likely to follow so by now I had a system going and was able to get through weighing and photographing pretty quickly. I switched my head torch on to unhook my fish and noticed that I’d caught another mirror my third of the session in all, it weighed in at 14lb even which was the same kind of weight range as the previous two mirrors I’d had in the daytime.

14lb South Cheshire mirror carp

It was getting ridiculous, every time I dropped in I barely had chance to get in the sleeping bag before one of the alarms would start up and the reel would scream. Another common of 11lb 6oz quickly followed the mirror and after I returned it I felt like I was completely shot!. I couldn’t cope with any more runs and Barry was having a quiet time next door. It just seemed that I was intercepting the fish as they came along the margins and with my bait being the first they came across I was getting most of the runs. Just before midnight I decided to wind in and have a bit of a kip, I was tired, my back was aching and I just felt like I really needed to close my eyes so I dived in the bag and settled down to a few hours sleep.

This story seems to be turning into an episode of war and peace (lol) so I’ve decided to split it into 3 as there’s more to come, until next time, tight lines everybody.


Sunday, 9 August 2009

Screaming Reels Pt1

If you are a regular reader of my north west carp blog it won’t have escaped your notice that there haven’t been as many updates this year. Going back to my last winter entry, Winter Carping Pt7, I was thinking of changing waters and starting on my new syndicate early. It was the syndicate that stopped my writing in its tracks simply because there is a strict publicity ban. I did indeed ‘go syndicate’ and I’ve spent late winter, spring and most of the summer time quietly trying to get amongst some decent syndicate carp. My fortunes have been mixed, I haven’t struggled to catch fish but I have struggled to catch any of the big ones and I’ve only managed a couple of big carp since February. There has been one major milestone to happen on the syndicate and that was the capture of my first north west 30. The 30lb barrier is a target I’ve been trying to reach on 'home soil' for 13 years now and one day in July I finally slipped the net under one of the only remaining targets I actually had in my angling life. It was a special moment and one that meant a lot given the amount of time I’d been chasing this particular goal.

Following the capture of my first north west 30 I started to think about my fishing a little, after 6 months solid fishing on the syndicate I was ready for a break so I organised a bit of a social session with a couple of mates. Steve and Barry were up for a trip to a runs water so we decided to have a night on my winter runs water, it was always productive in the cold and we expected some serious action from the carp hence the ‘Screaming Reels’ title for this entry!.

It had been 6 months since I’d last visited Cheshire and I must admit I’ve missed the shire a lot, Cheshire has some stunning countryside and some nice lakes and I was happy to be back in this carp anglers paradise. My sat nav still had all my old haunts programmed in so I plotted my usual course to the lake and set off just after 1pm on Saturday 1st August. The journey to the lake was only delayed by some road works but that didn’t matter, I had the rest of the day and all night and I knew full well I wasn’t going to blank on such a prolific north west runs water.

I arrived literally a minute before Steve, as he arrived I was sitting in the car scanning the lake for signs of carp. There were plenty of fish crashing everywhere but one area in particular was looking like a Jacuzzi with all the fizzing that was going on, occasionally a carp would poke its head up and roll before a mass of bubbles would hit the surface. That area meant an easy choice of swims for us and Steve took one side of the bubbling area and I took the other.

I started off fishing just as I do in winter, a pellet bottom bait with another couple of pellets in a pva mesh bag cast right on top of the hot area. I had both rods in by 15.05pm, it had started to rain a little so I moved my tackle underneath a tree to help keep it dry, I only got my rucksack moved when the right hand delkim let out a series of bleeps, I turned round to see my monkey climber just reaching the floor so I jumped on the rod, wound down and hit it!. Sure enough I had my first carp of the day on and despite the fish being hooked 50 yards out I quickly gained control of the situation and made easy headway when it came to getting the carp into the margins, in fact my first fish didn’t fight much at all and after a few minutes I landed a nice common that looked roughly average size for the water. I got my unhooking mat, scales and camera out and quickly weighed and photographed the fish before returning my prize to the water. My first fish was a common that tipped the scales at 13lb exactly. I jokingly shouted to Steve next door that he should pull his finger out as I’d already had one within 3 minutes of getting the rods out but it turned out he’d had one too and he’d hooked his quicker than mine!.

13lb Common, my first fish of the day

With my first fish caught I quickly baited my rig with another pellet, added another pva mesh bag and whacked the rod back out again. With so many fish bubbling up in the area I was literally sitting on my hands waiting for the next run to come. It took another 45 minutes before my left hand rod rattled off, no drop back this time, just a screaming reel as the bait runner fizzed away. I was on it straight away and the carp gave me a little trouble as it kited to the left and tried to get beyond an overhanging marginal tree. I reacted to this quickly and applied some moderate side strain to keep the fish on my side of the tree and when I saw I’d accomplished this I eased off on the pressure and just played the carp in with no trouble, I saw the fish was a mirror as it slipped into the landing net and it looked a little bigger than my first fish. I quickly ran through the weigh and photograph routine and my mirror turned the scales to 14lb 8oz.

14lb 8oz Northern mirror carp

Things went a little quiet after the mirror and I actually managed to sit down for an hour or two, I got the stove out, made a brew and contemplated the night ahead. I really wanted to fish the margins during the night and I decided not to set up the brolly until I’d moved later in the evening. I planned to just leave the rods out until Barry arrived then pick a more comfortable margin swim when he was settled in. Having decided on a plan of action I just sat watching the carp bubbling away and I wondered why my third run hadn’t come, there were fish all over the area and with 2 carp caught inside the first 50 minutes I expected more. I had to wait two and a half hours for any more action and it was the left hand rod that melted away again. It was a bit like groundhog day as this fish did exactly the same as the last one trying to get the other side of the marginal tree. I was having none of it and more side strain kept the fish coming to the waiting net. It was another mirror roughly the same size as the previous 2 fish and after a quick trip to the mat I weighed it at 13lb 14oz, a very pretty mirror it was too!.

13lb 14oz Scaley cheshire mirror carp

That 13lb 14oz mirror kicked off an intense feeding period, the mirror arrived at 18.30pm and I followed it with commons of 12lb, 10lb 4oz and 10lb 6oz all in the next hour, it was getting to the stage were I couldn’t keep my rods in, I just seemed to be either playing or weighing and photographing a carp!. By 19.45pm I was knackered, luckily Barry had arrived and set up so I wound in and looked at moving swims. I felt like I needed my stealth brolly up with my bedchair under it, I’d been literally standing up for the last few hours and I really needed a base camp. With this in mind I dropped in next to Barry for the night and what a night it turned out to be!. I’ll continue with Part 2 of ‘Screaming Reels’ for my next blog entry, until then, tight lines.


Sunday, 26 July 2009

Burton Mere Carp Syndicate 1992

The last time I wrote a blog entry about my early carp fishing years I wrote about my first brace of twenties which I caught in 1995, this was part of my 'red letter days' series which first appeared on 'Anglers Diary'. This is really part 6 of that series and I’m going back even further, to 24th September 1992 to be exact. I actually started carp fishing in June 1989 on a local pond, those first few sessions produced carp for me and a couple of PB’s including my first double which came off the top on anchored surface crust!. Right from the word go local anglers kept saying Burton Mere was the place to be to catch carp. It didn’t take me longer than a few weeks to pay my first visit to the woodland pool on Burton Mere and 3 carp including a new PB mirror of 12lb 6oz on my first trip had me hooked on the place!.

There are more red letter days to come from my early days at Burton Mere, I cut my carp fishing teeth on woodland pool and later the syndicate ‘mere’ itself and during my time on the water I caught a lot of carp. This particular story relates to my first ever session on the syndicate pool. I wasn’t actually a member of the syndicate at the time but I was allowed to fish it on a day/night ticket basis for which I was charged £8 for 24hours. I’d watched the carp in Burton mere pool closely whilst fishing woodland pool and I couldn’t resist having a go for them. The mere held around 8 x 20’s at the time and the back up doubles were much larger than the average sized carp in woodland.

My first night on the syndicate lake turned out to be productive, I knew I had to go looking for the carp and I found them fizzing up in a swim known as ‘the giles’, so named after a guy called Giles who fished it regularly in the 1980’s. Giles was a clever carp angler, the bloodworm beds in front of the peg where immense and I watched intently as fish fizzed everywhere in front of my chosen swim.

On the left hand side of the swim was the remains of an old abandoned boat house, the brickwork was still in place but the boat house itself was long gone. Having had a couple of casts around the swim with a marker I quickly found a channel that ran from the old boat house, directly across the swim cutting through open water and heading out towards the corner of the first island that was in front of me. This channel was a good 18 inches deeper than the surrounding area and it went straight through the middle of the fizzing I was watching, it didn’t need a rocket scientist to work out that the carp were feeding heavily in this channel so this is where I placed both of my rigs. The left rod went in the channel half way over to the island and the right hand rod went three quarters over into the same channel. I scattered a few boilies round each rod and a few more in between both baited spots which were about 10 yards apart. Obviously Giles the 80's carp angler had latched onto this channel and I didn't know it at the time but I'd found the holy grail in terms of hotspots in this swim!.

With my traps set I settled down to my first ever night on the syndicate lake, my PB at the time was a mere 14lb and I hoped at some point to break this on the mere. Despite the daytime fizzing I couldn’t buy a bite during daylight but an hour or two after dark things changed for the better. I was actually trying to get off to sleep but being my first night on the mere I was too wound up to sleep so I just sat watching the isotopes in my monkey climbers. Like most carp anglers I can’t concentrate on one thing for too long and eventually I started to drift off to sleep. It was as I was just nodding off that my left hand rod tore off, the sound from my super compacts and my bi tech viper sounder box was more than enough to make sure I was wide awake in a shot and I quickly jumped up and hit the rod.

The fish kited left and tried to make its way to the main pads in peg 19 so I applied some side strain to make sure it didn’t reach them, the pads were quite a way away and with 15lb big game line on my spools the carp was never going to reach sanctuary. I turned the fish and eventually managed to get it back to the same place I hooked it. Another 5 minutes later I had the carp circling in front of me and without the aid of a light, I sunk my net deep and waited until the carps nose touched the spreader block before lifting the net. The manoeuvre worked and I netted my first carp from the syndicate lake!. Despite being in my learning years, even back then I always had a plan and a way of doing things, I knew where my scales and my torch and other things were so I got my prize onto the unhooking mat and weighed it in at 13lb 2oz. Not massive by today’s standards but back then it was only 1lb off my personal best so it was a great fish for me!. My mate Phil did the pictures and once my catch was documented I returned my mirror to the water and sorted out my rod.

13lb 2oz, my first carp from the Burton Mere syndicate lake in 1992

I recast the rod and topped up the swim with a few more of my home made boilies and settled down again. Things went quiet after that first carp and it wasn’t until the early hours of the morning that the next run came. A steady ‘one toner’ on the right hand rod had me scrambling off the bedchair to grab the rod. A quick strike and I was in again. This carp felt a little heavier than the last one and it gave me the run around for 10 minutes before finally giving up, this fish just chugged up and down the margins so there was never any trouble apart from a few occaisions when the fish came close to my other line. Once again I dropped the landing net deep and waited for the carps nose to hit the spreader block before lifting and engulfing my prize. This fish was a prize too, a fully scaled mirror, one of 3 that was known to inhabit the mere, I weighed this fully scaled at 16lb 12oz, a new PB and a lovely looking fish!. The fully scaled was a known fish called spike due to the front of its dorsal fin just being a spike, the carp was always well known to the syndicate members but later the fish found fame when it was caught by carp fishing duo Rob Hughes and Simon Crow when they visited Burton Mere as part of their day ticket series for carp world a few years later.

'Spike' the fully scaled at a PB of 16lb 12oz from Burton Mere

Naturally I was over the moon with my new PB and I sacked it up in the margins for a few hours as I had no camera man around to do any pictures. Once the sack was secure I recast the rod, I knew when I sacked the fish that I’d be up all night to keep and eye on it and it was logical to carry on fishing. The recast was only out half an hour when it was away to another flyer. Once I was into the fish I realised it wasn’t as big as the fully scaled mirror I had in the sack and when I lifted my landing net from the water I guessed this one was my smallest fish of the night. It was my smallest fish of the night but it was still a special one, I peeled the landing net mesh back to find a common!. There were very few commons in Burton mere and this one, weighing in at 11lb 9oz, was actually a PB common by a couple of ounces!.

PB Common of 11lb 9oz topped off my first session on the syndicate lake

I sacked this fish too, when my camera man turned up at first light I had two PB’s to photograph and I was on cloud 9 for the few hours up until daylight. No more runs came my way and in the morning I dealt with my two fish and returned them to the water. I was a little uncomfortable sacking my fish for a few hours and I took the photos at first light rather than wait a bit longer for the best light. Once my two fish were safely back in the lake I headed back to my old fox supa bivvy and crashed out for a few hours before packing up and going home. My first taste of the Burton mere syndicate was a positive one and as soon as I got home I found myself plotting another visit.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Insect Repellents for Fishing

One of the worst things about fishing in summer is getting bitten by mozzies. These horrible little midges seem to inhabit every piece of water in our country and if you’re unfortunate enough to get bitten you can expect to see a nice red bump on your skin which will itch like mad for a few days. That is the best case scenario for an insect bite, if you are unfortunate to have an allergy things can be a lot worse!.

How to avoid mosquito bites (click below to watch)

Having fished for such a long time now I’ve got to the stage where I’ve tried so many insect repellents I’ve actually lost count, the reason for me trying so many is that midges seem to like me….a lot!, and I suffer quite badly in the height of summer which is why I’m writing this short piece about insect repellents for angling.

Avon Skin So Soft Dry Oil Body Spray, an excellent insect repellent.

Over the years I’ve found the best 2 angling insect repellents to be Avon Skin So Soft which is a dry oil body spray from Avon cosmetics and Jungle Formula insect repellent which contains deet. Avon Skin So Soft is so good as an insect repellent they actually dish it out to the armed forces. The active insect repelling ingredient in Skin So Soft is citronella and this is why I’d recommend anglers carry both of these products, because if citronella doesn’t work then deet usually does and vice versa.

Jungle Formula insect repellent, very effective against insect bites!.

Depending on what insects you are being bitten by, either the citronella based Skin So Soft or the deet based Jungle Formula will work. I’ve yet to visit a water where both of these insect repellents have failed, one of them always seems to do the job and since I started to carry both of them in my rucksack a few years ago I’ve reduced the amount of insect bites I get considerably. Years ago I used to get eaten alive at this time of year but today I may get just an odd bite during the summer when I’ve forgotten to apply one of these two repellents.

You can buy both Avon Skin So Soft and Jungle Formula quite easily, Jungle Formula is available from every camping shop I’ve ever been in and everyone knows an Avon lady!. As usual there are also cheaper places to buy both of these insect repellents and I get mine from ebay, you can actually buy both of these repellents cheaper on ebay than you can in a camping shop or from your local Avon lady so it makes sense to save some money if you can.

Stopping the mozzies is the first line of defence but you can never completely rule out being bitten, if there is any bare/untreated skin you can guarantee a mozzie will find it!. Mozzies will also bite through your clothing if it is thin enough so you have to be careful. If you do get bitten there is a product you can use to help ease the itching and that is Piriton Tablets, they are used for allergies like hay fever but they work really well for easing the itching you get from mozzie bites so its worth having some of these tablets with you just in case.

Tight Lines


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Viper Icon Bait Boat

Bait Boats, like them or not they are now a big part of the carp fishing scene. There are a lot of anglers out there that don’t like bait boats but I believe it’s the user that’s the problem, not the boats themselves. Owning a bait boat doesn’t give you the right to fish anywhere the boat can reach, you should always stick to the confines of your swim and not venture into another anglers water, if you stick to this simple rule then you will avoid crossed words with other anglers, I’ve actually been the angler without the boat and I certainly didn’t appreciate some knob thinking he could fish in my swim as well as his own, if you own a bait boat, please don’t be that knob!.

Viper Icon Bait Boat

Last year I joined a syndicate lake, the lake in question has 3 sets of power lines running parallel down the lake, it quickly became obvious that the carp where regularly sitting in safe areas of the lake which couldn’t be reached by casting. Any attempt to cast to these fish holding areas always meant a brush with the power lines so I avoided these swims and really struggled to catch. The lads who where consistently putting fish on the bank where all using bait boats and simply sailing them under the power lines and onto the fish. I had no choice in the end, it was either join them or keep on blanking so I had a look at what bait boats where available and eventually settled on the budget Viper Icon Bait Boat.

The viper icon bait boat has a single hopper.

The Viper Icon bait boat is a cracking little boat, ideal for fishing in the UK. There is only one hopper on the Viper Icon so its one trip per rig when getting baits into position. A bait boat is simply a tool to be used when necessary so I only use the Viper Icon when I need to get my baits under the power lines, if I can actually cast to a chosen spot then I will, so one bait hopper is plenty enough for me. Its rare to actually put out more than 2 rods with the bait boat as I usually cover the margins and fish over bait with my third rod.

The battery compartment on the viper icon bait boat

Bait boats all suffer from one problem, they really do hammer the batteries. The Viper Icon is no exception and the battery meter on the front is very handy to have, if the battery meter is showing anything other than green then I wouldn’t risk putting the boat out, I have run a battery flat on the Icon and it was a real pain having to go for the syndicate boat to retrieve it, in fact I was lucky to have access to a rowing boat so be warned and only use a bait boat with a well charged battery.

Bait Boat Batteries, it always pays to have spares!.

The battery problem with the Viper Icon bait boat eventually led me to seek out a couple of spare batteries just in case I had a good session and had to use the boat a little more than expected. I like my fishing tackle to cost as little as possible, that’s why I went for a Viper Icon in the first place and when it came to finding spare batteries that old favourite Ebay was the cheapest place I could find them. There are plenty of 12v 7 amp hour batteries on ebay but they require a few more little modifications before they will fit the Viper Icon bait boat.

Spare viper icon batteries need velcro to hold them in place.

The first modification is to add some velcro to the battery, as you can see from the pictures, the Viper Icon battery velcro’s to the battery holder and fits inside the boat. The batteries come without leads too and again these can be bought off ebay for a pound or two and soldered to the battery terminals as I’ve done in the pictures. The price of a couple of spare batteries, some velcro and a few connectors to fit the Viper Icon boat is not much more than the price of just one battery from Viper themselves so it really is cheap, if you buy more than 2 batteries its even cheaper!.

Solar charger, worth having if you are fishing long sessions!.

As well as a couple of spare batteries for a bait boat, its also handy to have a solar charger if your doing long sessions, I don’t personally fish for more than one night at a time and the spare batteries mean I don’t need a solar charger but I found one on ebay that was so cheap I bought it. Solar battery chargers are the biggest rip off of all, I bought mine from an ebay shop that specialises in camping accessories and they sold 12v solar chargers for caravans, they work perfectly with the batteries required for a Viper Icon bait boat and my little 2 watt solar charger was just £12 and that included delivery!. A 10 watt version nearly as powerful as the ‘solar suitcase’ sold by Viper was just £38 on ebay so again a massive saving . My little 2 watt solar charger takes quite a while to charge up a battery but for me, I’m happy if it gives me that little bit extra in a battery to get one more trip in, that’s all I ask and all I need as I carry a few spare batteries.

Viper icon comes with a nice carry bag.

Having looked at spares for the bait boat, it’s worth remembering that the handset also runs off batteries and that Viper don’t supply rechargeable batteries or a charger when it comes to the handset. Again I found plenty of suitable rechargeable handset batteries and a charger on ebay really cheap and its worth getting a couple of sets of 8 rechargeable batteries, one for current use and a standby set in case the batteries you're using go flat, there’s nothing worse than running out of batteries, specially when the carp are feeding!.

Radio gear for the viper icon bait boat.

In conclusion I’d recommend a Viper Icon bait boat to anyone, it’s a simple no frills bait boat that does what its supposed to. Spare batteries and other accessories can be bought easily and cheaply off ebay and it’s a bait boat that certainly won’t break the bank. Since using it my catch rate on the syndicate has gone up as I can now reach the fish when they are held up in areas I can’t cast too and above all, it means I can put my hook baits and rigs in place safely and accurately, if your thinking of buying a bait boat, give the Viper Icon the once over because it’s a really good buy.

Tight Lines

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