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


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