Sunday, 19 November 2017

Best Fishing Waterproofs



The good old British weather, as fishermen we just can’t escape it and if you’re a regular bankside visitor or you’re new to Angling and plan to be fishing a lot, then sooner or later you’ll find yourself caught in the rain and you’ll get a good soaking.

The good old British weather, sooner or later you get wet!

It took me many years to realise the value of a decent set of fishing waterproofs and when I started researching what I was going to buy I wasn’t particularly happy with the choice. I couldn’t find a decent set from a fishing tackle company, not many sold them and those that did were quite expensive. Fortunately internet carp forums were getting very popular and it was quite easy to find out what other anglers were doing to get round the lack of choice and it became obvious very quickly that army surplus gear was very very popular and with good reason, you could get top quality waterproofs for fishing from an army surplus store for not a lot of money and Ebay was the place to go for them and funnily enough it still is today.

Click below to watch me take a look at the best fishing waterproofs available today.

British Army Goretex Overtrousers
My first purchase was British Army Goretex Overtrousers, being made of goretex they were incredibly light weight and completely waterproof. My normal waist size was 36 inches so I ordered goretex overtrousers with a 40 inch waist. Remember these trousers just go straight over the trousers you’d normally wear for fishing so it pays to go a size or two bigger to get a good fit. The trousers have an elasticated waist and legs so they are very comfy to wear and combined with a pair of Wellington boots (wellies) the bottom half of your body stay’s completely dry and being army surplus gear, the standard army DPM Camo pattern fits right in on the bank.


British Army Goretex Overtrousers, one of the best waterproofs for fishing.

Rip Stop Army Poncho
My second ‘fishing waterproofs’ purchase was a Rip Stop Army Poncho. The poncho is great for fishing, you literally just put it on like a jumper. It throws over you and you just poke your head through the hole in the top so it drapes down off your shoulders whilst you’re still wearing a coat underneath. The hood keeps your head dry and if you need to get your hands out you can just unfasten one of the studs that run down either side of the poncho. It’s made from ‘rip stop’ nylon so again the rain water just balls up and rolls off leaving you completely dry. The poncho is incredibly light weight but the ‘rip stop’ qualities mean it won’t tear if you catch it on some brambles or a branch. Another good point about the poncho is the colour, again olive green is perfect for blending in on the bank.


Rip Stop Army Poncho, one of the best waterproofs for fishing.

Neither the goretex overtrousers or the army poncho have any real thermal qualities but they are both windproof and they will help a little with wind chill at certain times of the year. Both are simply light weight garments that are designed to keep our soldiers dry and to pack away into a very small space and this makes them the perfect and certainly the best fishing waterproofs you can buy. Like many anglers before I’ve benefitted from using army surplus waterproofs, even today you’ll be hard pushed to find these kind of quality waterproofs at such a reasonable price. I wouldn’t use anything else to keep me dry when I’m out fishing in the rain and I’d highly recommend them if you go fishing regularly.

As well as my YouTube Channel you can also follow me on Instagram now. I use Instagram to post pics from the fishing sessions I do in between filming and writing this blog so just Follow Me to see what I'm up to at the moment, you may just get an idea of what will be in my future fishing videos too.
Until next time, tight lines.

Mark.



Sunday, 30 July 2017

Polarized Sunglasses for Fishing



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The sport of fishing is a strange one, we get bombarded with adverts and advice about baits, tackle, rigs and lures yet in reality fishing is as simple as putting a bait or lure in front of the fish. Finding the fish is near enough everything and if we break captures down in terms of importance then catching fish is 98% location, 1% bait and 1% rig, you simply can’t catch them if they aren’t there.

Brown lens polarizing sunglasses for fishing, great all rounders if you're new to our sport

With location being so vital to successful fishing, Polarised Sunglasses suddenly become a very important item of tackle that we really can't afford to be without. A good pair of Polarised sunglasses will take the glare off the water’s surface and allow us to see down into the water and this is a massive help when it comes to finding or spotting fish. With a pair of sunglasses on you can certainly spot fish that you couldn’t see with the naked eye. If you are a fly or lure angler polarizing sunglasses also offer some protection for your eyes, we’ve all seen the pictures that go round social media sites like facebook with an unlucky angler having a hook right through the eyeball after a freak accident, pictures like that really make me cringe and simply wearing a pair of these glasses whilst fishing will keep your eyes safe from harm, especially if you are casting repeatedly.

Click below to watch me talk about Polarizing Sunglasses for Fishing


Choosing a pair of polarizing sunglasses for fishing is easy for new anglers if you follow this simple advice, just remember that lens colour is the most important thing when considering a new pair of Polarised Sunglasses and below is a quick guide to the three main lens colours and their use in fishing.

Black or Dark Grey Lens Sunglasses
A black or dark grey lens blocks out the most light from the sun. This makes them ideal for bright sunny days. You know the type of day, not a cloud in the sky and the sun beating down relentlessly. If you are out fishing in these conditions then black or dark grey lens glasses are perfect for fish spotting when it’s really bright.

Polarised Sunglasses featuring a black or dark grey lens, great for finding fish on bright sunny days

Amber Lens Sunglasses (Yellowy colour)
An amber or yellow lens lets in quite a lot of light. This makes them ideal for low light conditions. Again you know the type of day, it’s dull and overcast with plenty of dark clouds around or it’s late in the day and approaching dusk and the light is fading. If you are out fishing and it’s quite dull then the amber lens glasses are perfect for spotting fish in low light conditions.

Amber lens Polaroid Sunglasses, ideal for spotting fish on dull and overcast days

Brown Lens Sunglasses
A brown lens is a really good compromise between black and amber lenses. Brown lens sunglasses don’t block out as much light as the black lens and they don’t let in as much light as the amber lens. Although they aren’t perfect for very bright or very dull days, they offer the best compromise if you just want one pair of glasses and it’s the brown lens polarizing sunglasses I’d recommend a newcomer to fishing to buy first because they will be great for all but the very brightest or dullest conditions, which is most of the time.

A bonus mirror carp caught when I spotted some fish with my brown lens polarising sunglasses

I’m mainly a short session carp angler so it’s vital that I locate those carp as quickly as I can. The first thing I do when I arrive at a lake is put my polarised sunglasses on, I’ve gained so many bonus captures when I’ve walked around a lake and found carp I wouldn’t have seen with the naked eye. Of all the items of tackle out there, a decent pair of polarizing sunglasses for fishing are a must for all fishermen the world over, whether you are a fly angler, a lure angler, a carp angler, a pike angler, river angler or a sport fisherman of any kind, a decent pair of Polarised Sunglasses will help you catch more fish and you are certainly missing out on extra captures if you don't own and use them.

Until next time, Tight Lines.

Mark.




Sunday, 2 July 2017

Pellet Fishing for UK Wels Catfish



For my first trip of the year targeting UK Catfish I wanted to try an area of the catfish lake I’d never fished before, at least not for catfish anyway. I had a feeling it would turn out to be a good spot but unfortunately I found the area occupied on my arrival at the lake so I’ll have to leave that particular gut feeling for another time. With my new swim ruled out my best option was to drop into my favourite swim in the middle of the lake so at 2pm I pitched up in a very familiar swim and gave myself half a day to bank a wels catfish from the lake. In June it’s half light at 10pm so I had a maximum of 8hrs to bag a fish for the film that’s embedded into this article below, little did I know what was going to follow!.

First up I had to tie my rigs. Catfishing for me is very much a compromise so I just use a ‘stepped up’ carp rig. I use a size 8 Korda Kurv Hook with 25lb ESP Sinklink Braid as the hooklength. I simply hair rig a single 16mm Coppens Pellet then put the hook on knotless knot style. The hooklength is around 10 inches long (just less than the length of a ruler) and the lead arrangement is a homemade inline lead with 18 inches of Rig Tubing behind it. It’s a very standard type of carp rig and the idea is to fish for cats and carp whilst having the strength in the hooklink to land both.

My pellet rig for UK Catfish, it's just a stepped up carp rig

I rigged up a bait pretty quickly and under armed the first pellet out 15yds or so. On top of this hookbait I put a bed of around 100 pellets although I did lose count whilst putting them out so that’s a ball park figure. Once the pellets were out and the rod was on the Delkim I began to sort out the second rod, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this rod, did I put another trout pellet on and go all out for cats or compromise and target carp on the boilie?. I thought I’d sit down and have a think about that for a while so I left the second rod on the rest and began feeding mixers over the top of the pellet rod that was already fishing. I’ve done this before in the past and as well as attracting carp to feed in my swim, the carp feeding activity also pulls in the catfish.


I never did get that second rod out, I pondered what to do with it for just under an hour then my first run came to the pellets. It was the usual stuttery type of take you get from a catfish, they seem to take the bait and just not realise they are hooked and this one was no exception. I hit the rod and found myself attached to my first catfish of the year. It lacked the power of some of the larger cats that inhabit the lake but despite ‘only’ being 14lb 8oz it was still a powerful fish and it gave me the run around a little bit, specially close in as I had quite heavy beds of lily pads either side of me. All went well landing the fish and in less than an hour of fishing I’d already got some film footage.

Pellet Fishing for UK Catfish, click below to watch

Because ESP Sinklink is a braid for carp fishing I make sure I check it after every catfish, the ‘sandpaper’ type pads in the cats mouth can damage a braided hooklength and this had happened during the playing of this mid double catfish. I stripped the rig down and tied a new one using the same hook and the same Swivel and Kwik Clip, basically I just replaced the damaged braid with new stuff.

I was fishing again in no time and half an hour later it was déjà vu as I picked up a second wels catfish similar in size to the first one. I weighed the second cat in at 13lb 8oz, just a pound smaller than the first. Neither of these fish were what I was really after but if the cats kept feeding as they were the law of averages would mean a bigger one sooner or later, so again I tied up another new rig to replace the braid that had been damaged during the fight and under armed the bait out. After each wels catfish caught I was also topping up the swim with a further 50 Coppens Pellets so there was always plenty of bait to keep them interested.

After a quick brace of mid double cats it went quiet and I managed to have a brew and a bite to eat before it kicked off again. I was still fishing with the one rod and again it signalled a stuttery take that suggested another catfish had taken the trout pellet hookbait. Straight away I could tell I’d hooked into the right sized fish as my line peeled off the Reel under pressure, the difference in power between a mid double and a mid twenty was clear and I had to fight this one all the way to the landing net. I had a lucky break with this fish when it came straight over and through the pads on my left hand side, I was in a bit of trouble for a moment but once it cleared the pads it was just a case of keeping it under control until it was ready to Net, which thankfully wasn’t long. On the scales I got 25lb exactly, not quite as big as I was hoping for but it would certainly do!.

A 25lb UK Catfish caught on trout pellets

By now I was into a routine, again I changed the rig due to some damage to the hooklength braid, I had a new rig tied and out and another 50 pellets on top of it in no time. Half an hour later it was away again and again I found myself hanging on as my line disappeared from the Reel at a rate, like the last mid twenty I had just as much trouble with this one, indeed this catfish eventually found its way into the pads to my right and for a few minutes I was locked in a stalemate unable to move the fish. I piled on the pressure to my left then again to my right in the hope of getting the fish moving again, when I’d done this I applied as much pressure as I could in an upwards direction to try and get the fish up near the surface, this worked a treat and I managed to steer the fish into the open and keep it under control until I could get the Landing Net under it. My second twenty in half an hour weighed in at 24lb 2oz and it made up a very nice brace indeed with the 25lb fish that came just before it.

24lb 2oz UK Catfish caught using pellets, just as they do on Spain's River Ebro

I put the rod out again but after a couple of bruising scraps lasting more than 20 minutes each I was knackered. When the rod went again for a fifth time I was starting to think ‘not again’, thankfully the fifth wels catfish in 4 hours was the smallest at about 5lb, I didn’t bother weighing it and after filming a little bit of commentary for the video I decided to pack up early rather than try to catch another one. I’m pretty sure I’d have caught again had I stayed until the end but 5 catfish in a half day session was an exceptional catch and to be honest I was worn out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at fishing for UK wels catfish with trout pellets, as anglers who visit Spain’s River Ebro will tell you, trout pellets are a superb catfish bait and pellet fishing for UK Catfish is just a scaled down version of how catfish anglers fish over there. If you have catfish in your water or you’re going to a day ticket catfish lake then pellets will be a top choice of bait for sure.

Until next time

Tight Lines

Mark.




Sunday, 21 May 2017

Cromwell Lake Carp Fishing



The Cromwell social didn’t exactly get off to a good start for me this year. I was right on schedule until a few miles before my A1 turning when my sat nav decided to take me the wrong way due to a new road layout and an out-of date tom tom. I had a nightmare after that and just working out the right direction took me an hour. I arrived with no time to have a walk around and talk to any of the anglers that were packing up and I was barely in time for the draw which I didn’t get to film this year. I just let everyone take their pieces of paper from the hat, it’s always tempting to dive in and grab one as everyone looks at their position in the draw but I’d already decided I was having the last one in the hat so I took a backseat and waited. Taking the last one paid off big time and I got 3rd choice of peg, I couldn’t have been happier, I had an inkling the fish were stacked in the middle area and being 3rd out I was guaranteed a swim that would cover the fish. I chose peg 6 in the end, I’d been in this peg once before on our very first Cromwell social so I had an idea of what to expect, it was the lakes ‘long chuck’ swim and I was well geared for fishing at range with my Torrix TE Rods.

Cromwell Lake Carp Fishing, click to watch

Our booking started at 9.30am on Friday morning so I took my time and set up the bivvy first before getting to work on the rods. I’d decided to go all out on zigs for this session, it was high pressure, sunny but with a cold wind North Easterly wind, the exact same conditions I had last time I’d fished peg 6 three years earlier and I’d caught on the zig rig back then. I set up with 3 Fox Zig Alignas, I’d heard on the grapevine black foam was doing the damage so I started with two on black foam and one on yellow foam as yellow had caught for me on the last two Cromwell trips. These were fished with a Drennan Super Specialist Hook in size 10, the same hook I use for my Barbel Fishing. The water in front of me was 12-13ft deep and my zigs were fished at 9, 10 and 11ft as I focused on the narrow band of water 2-5ft down from the surface. Now casting a 10ft long zig rig over 100yds is not an easy thing to do, I had to use a two bait PVA Mesh Bag made with pop ups just to keep the Drennan Double Strength hooklength from wrapping up around the main line, once I started using the small bag of pop ups I managed to avoid the tangles. I had to lay the zig aligna and mesh bag on the ground to cast and then try and loop the cast high so everything stayed straight as it went out, this combined with the power needed to cast a 3oz lead over 100 yards made the whole process quite tricky but eventually I had 3 baits out at ranges of 100 to 110+ yards.

The Fox Zig Aligna's I used at Cromwell Lake

The day passed uneventfully and I took the chance to have a nap mid-afternoon, after hitting the road at just after 5am I was knackered so a bit of kip and a nice big casserole for tea was just what I needed. I was actually watching my Nikkai TV in the evening when the middle Delkim bleeped once then sang its lovely warbling song. I was on it in a flash, I wound down and struck into a solid fish which immediately started taking line even at long range, a sure sign of a decent sized fish. I played it for a minute or two before everything went solid and I found myself stuck in the heavy weed. Bailiff Mark was kind enough to come out in the boat and I waited anxiously as he made his way out to where the fish was stuck. In my mind I’d already conceded defeat and it came as no surprise when Mark signalled the fish was gone. I wound in to find the line had parted a couple of inches from the lead.

I re-tackled after the loss and managed to get the rig back out just before dark. To say I was annoyed and disappointed would be an understatement but things got worse during the night when the right hand rod peeled away at 12.30am. This fish didn’t have the power of the previous lost fish but it still managed to find some weed. I managed to free it and played it all the way in, I had the carp rolling on the surface in front of me when it powered off one last time and as it did, my hook length parted again. I was devastated, two losses, both to breakages, I was not a happy bunny at all and I threw the rod on the rest in disgust and went back to bed. In the morning I tied up a fresh zig and once again I was fishing with 3 rods.

Second day I did a bit of filming for the video that accompanies this article (above), apart from getting some footage of the lake not much else happened until the evening. At roughly the same time as yesterday the middle rod bleeped once before my main line slowly started peeling from the Clutch. Again I was on it quickly only this time I managed to pressure the fish towards me. It was slow and ponderous but it kept coming and I had my heart in my mouth as it got closer to me. Inevitably it found some weed on the way in but the fish was much closer to the bank this time and with some steady pressure I managed to get it moving again. As it came into the margins I caught a glimpse of a lump, as soon as I saw it my first guess was thirty plus. A few minutes later Kev slipped the Landing Net under her and I breathed a sigh of relief, after a few heart stopping moments I’d finally put a Cromwell carp on the bank.

Kev held her in the margins whilst I sorted out the mat, sling, scales and cameras ready for weighing and the photo session. We weighed her in at 35lb exactly, all I could think of at the time was that I’d got one and I hadn’t blanked, we did the photo’s and called Mark the bailiff out so he could see it, he gave the fish the once over before I returned her to the water.

My 35lb Cromwell Lake Mirror Carp, caught on the zig rig

I recast the zig just before dark and when I sat down it sank in properly, this fish is actually a new PB Mirror and it beat my old pb of 32.06 by a couple of pounds. Suddenly the two losses didn’t seem so bad, they’d been playing on my mind all day on Saturday but this fish went a considerable way to making up for them. I fished on through Saturday night and on Sunday morning I got the last of the footage for the accompanying video (above) before I packed up at 9.30am. I stayed until the end and left the rods out for as long as I could but no more runs came and I settled for just the one carp in the end.

The Cromwell social was another tough one, apart from my 35, Brent managed a brace of low twenties and my mate Darren chipped in with a 23+ so there were only 4 fish caught with quite a few lost due to the weed. If you’re heading to Cromwell I’d definitely recommend dropping the lead on the take and fishing with the zig rig, if you can get on the carp, it’s a method that will work.

Please have a watch of the accompanying video that’s embedded into this article and subscribe to my youtube channel, you’ll find lots of decent videos about my fishing on there and I try to make sure they contain plenty of tips and advice on how to catch.

Until next time, tight lines.

Mark.



Sunday, 16 April 2017

Maple Peas for Carp Fishing



Maple Peas are a classic 70's carp bait, it was the writings of the great Rod Hutchinson that first got me interested in using maple peas as a carp bait and even now I can well remember his classic book 'The Carp Strikes Back' and the follow up he did in the late 80's called 'Carp Now and Then'. Hutchy made some outstanding carp catches back in 70’s and I first found myself drawn to using maple peas myself back in the early 1990's, some 25 years ago. At the time I'd just been made redundant and I was skint, there was no way I could participate in the premier baits fishmeal revolution that was going on in carp fishing at the time, I just didn't have the funds so I opted to start using maple peas for my carp fishing, if they were good enough for Hutchy all those years ago, they were good enough for me.

Back then I used Maple Peas on a Lymm Angling Club water called Grimsditch Mill Pool, both my mate Paul and I bought a sack each so we had 40 kilos between us, we prebaited with those two sacks then bought another sack each to fish with. To cut a long story short I quickly discovered maple peas were a superb particle bait for carp fishing and fully deserving of the reputation they had for catching carp.

Lymm Angling Club's Grimsditch Mill Pool in the early 1990's, where I first used Maple Peas

Times change and in the 25 plus years since I first used Maple Peas I've done a few campaigns with them and they've always been very successful, I do use boilies and other particle baits though so maples have been forgotten about in recent years. I've been thinking about my bait for this spring and summer and I thought a trip down memory lane was in order so this year I'll once again be using maple peas as my first choice carp bait.

I popped over to my local livery and collected a sack of Bamford's Top Flight Maple Peas, I like bamfords for my particles, the sacks they provide always have nice clean bait in and this sack of maples was no exception, the peas were nice and clean with no dust at all. I opened it up as part of the video accompanying this article and although I didn't say it in the film (below), I was very pleased with the quality of the bait.

How to prepare and use maple peas for carping, click to watch!

Like any particle bait for carp fishing, Maple Peas need to be soaked and boiled, I soak mine for 24hrs then boil them for 20 minutes. At this point some of the peas will have started to split but most will still be whole and that's exactly what I'm looking for when I've finished preparing them. A further test I do to check that they are ok is to take a maple pea between my thumb and forefinger and squash it, an unprepared pea will be as hard as a bullet but if you've done them right, a well prepared pea will squash between your fingers under not much pressure, check out the video accompanying this article to see how that’s done first hand (above).

For presentation I have two rigs I use, the first is a simple knotless knot hair rig with a single maple pea on the hair (you can use them as snowman bottom baits too), I use a size 12 Korda Kurv Hook for this rig, I realise a size 12 might seem a little small but the korda kurv hooks are particularly big for their size and probably the equivalent of a normal size 10 hook. It's really just a case of balancing the size of the bait with the size of the hook and at roughly 8-10mm in diameter, a single maple pea goes really well with a 12/kurv or a standard Size 10 Hook.

A couple of simple carp rigs showing how to present maple peas for carp

My second rig uses the same hook and braid but it's a 'snowman rig', it's a single maple pea with a 10mm Cork Ball on the hair. Now a 10mm cork ball is exceptionally buoyant so I trim mine down so the bait sinks with the weight of the hook, you have to trim the cork ball quite a lot, so much so that it looks like an apple core when you've finished but that doesn't matter, it's an outstanding presentation and the carp will take it no problem. The braid I use on both rigs is usually ESP Sink Link Braid, I like this braid as it blends in with the bottom well and sinks of it's own accord without needing 'Sinkers' or 'Drop Em' to pin it down, not having to buy extras to pin a braid keeps the cost of your fishing down. The length of both rigs is around 6 inches, I always shorten my rigs when particle fishing, you are naturally fishing tight beds of small baits so the carp don't have to move far between baits and the shorter rig naturally helps prevent bite offs.

A snowman maple pea presentation trips up a carp

It’s been a few years since I last used Maple Peas and to finish off the video to this article I took my newly prepared peas to a local lake. The lake is well stocked but the fish are no pushovers by any means, they are well fished for and they know how to avoid getting caught so a result was by no means guaranteed. Most anglers on the lake use boilies and they do catch fish but the carp do seem easier to catch if you do something different. I gave myself 4 or 5 hours on this session and after a slow start with nothing showing, half an hour in I clocked a few fish in an area nobody was fishing so I moved swim and walked a bait down to where the fish were. I put the rig in amongst them along with a few handfuls of peas to get them interested and it didn’t take long before the rod pulled round and I was away with a small mirror, I’d guess at around the 6lb mark. That fish must have spooked the rest because they went to ground after that which was a shame as the one I caught was perhaps the smallest I saw show.

A small mirror taken on Maple Peas

I find on hard fished waters the carp are easier to catch if you do something different, when everyone else is using boilies, particle baits like Maple Peas can score really well, not only can they out fish boilies on pressured waters, they are a fraction of the price and the sack I have cost £10.99 for 20 kilos. When I first started using maples it was because I’d just been made unemployed and I was skint, today I use them to be different and because they catch me carp when boilies don’t and they do it without costing a fortune. If you’re looking for a bait for the year ahead and don’t want to pay £10-£15 for a kilo of frozen boilies in the shop and you don’t mind preparing your bait a day or so before you go fishing, give the maple peas a try, you won’t be disappointed.
Until next time, tight lines.

Mark.

A Cheshire twenty taken on maple peas, click to watch.



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