Sunday, 28 December 2008

Winter Carping Pt4

I had a few days annual leave booked over Christmas and with Saturdays 22lb common fresh in my mind I decided a return trip to the lake was in order so I packed my gear early on Monday morning and headed back across Cheshire to my winter runs water.

Things had certainly changed since Saturday, the wind had eased right off and the carp had decided to show themselves. As soon as I pulled into the car park I was greeted by a carp crashing about 50 yards out and right in the entrance to the small bay off the main lake. I got out of the car and looked over at the area and inside 60 seconds and 5 more carp broke surface, in fact the more I looked the more I saw and the area was absolutely crawling with carp, it was an awesome sight with fish topping all over the area.

There was no time to waste, I had to get to work so I unloaded the car and headed for the bay swim that had been the scene of my boxing day and new years day twenties over last Christmas. I couldn’t get myself set up quickly enough, I had the rod pod down first and my two rods were put together in no time. My rods still had the pellets on from Saturday so I didn’t bother putting fresh baits on, I had to get the rods in amongst those carp as soon as possible so I just attached a pva mesh bag to each rod and cast them out. The first rig went off to right where a lot of carp seemed to be gathered and the second rig went straight out in front just on the edge of where another group of fish were showing.

I was settled in very quickly and I was expecting action straight away. Winter carp fishing can be a bit unpredictable, I thought I’d got my baits in quietly and that the carp hadn’t spooked but half an hour later I was having serious doubts about my swim, the fish had just stopped showing completely!. I made a decision to move the close in rod a bit further out into the middle of where the carp had showed instead of on the edge of the area, I had hoped to pick fish off without disturbing them and I’d obviously failed at that so I just went for the jugular so to speak.

I was actually contemplating a move to the centre of the lake when at midday all hell broke loose, the right hand delkim melted as a carp picked up my pellet and bolted for the horizon. I was on the rod quickly and after just a few seconds of playing the fish the left hand rod did the same!. With 2 fish on at the same time I was in trouble, I had to end the fight with the first carp as quickly as possible so I applied more pressure to try and bring the fish to the net. The carp actually felt quite decent, not as heavy as a 20 but certainly better than average for the water, this prolonged the fight and all the time I had the fish circling the other rod was running!. Eventually I netted a nice mirror, I secured the net and grabbed the second rod, by now this fish was quite a way out but it was still on. I had a job to cut down the distance between me and the fish in case it kited either side as I had bushes trailing in the water that might cause problems. Luckily the fish came straight into the net with very little fight and 5 minutes later I was stood there looking down at two carp in my landing net!.

I had a feeling of déjà vu, I’d caught a common and mirror brace from this swim on the 29th December 2007, just a week short of one year ago. Here I was again in the same situation, as I did then, I got my sling sack out and retained one of the fish whilst I weighed and potographed the first fish, the mirror weighed in at 16lb 12oz and after a few pictures I released this fish and brought the common to the unhooking mat, the common proved to be slightly smaller at 14lb 4oz but together they made up a nice brace of winter carp. Luckily everything had gone smoothly and I was happy to have both fish returned to the water safely.

First of my winter carp brace, a 16lb 12oz winter mirror

Second of my winter carp brace, a 14lb 4oz winter common

I rebaited my rods after my two fish and covered the same areas of the lake again. I sat back expecting some more action but after an hour nothing had showed and the area that looked like a carp stock pond two hours earlier was now empty of fish. I had a bite to eat and a drink from my flask and contemplated a move to the centre of the lake. After giving it until 2pm I finally made that move to the middle of the lake and to my prebaited hotspot. With the carp moving into the main area of the lake, this area would surely give me another chance before I went home at 4.30pm.

I put a pva mesh bag onto my hotspot at around 40 yards, the second rig went slightly off to the left about 50 yards out, this was an area I figured the carp may pass through on their way to the main area of the lake and the out of bounds area. Over the next hour I saw quite a few carp crash and they had moved out of range and into the out of bounds area. The fish obviously knew where to go to get away from angling pressure!. There was an odd fish showing closer in so I was hopeful of another carp before I went home.

I had to wait until 15.40pm before the run came, out of the blue the hotspot rod took off and my right hand delkim burst into life. This fish kited to my right and gave me a bit of a scare as it came close to an over hanging tree but some steady side strain had the fish close in and after a short fight in the margins I netted my third carp of the day. On the mat I carefully unhooked the fish and started my weighing process, on the scales I had 15lb 4oz, a few pictures followed and I returned my carp to the water, a nice mid double winter common to go with my brace of carp from earlier on.

Third winter carp of the day, a 15lb 4oz common

I had my rig back on the hotspot again for the last half hour of my session, by now a few carp had rolled in the area and I was convinced the hotspot rod was going to produce another fish. By 16.25 I had all my gear packed away with just the rods and the net to go. I looked at my watch waiting for 16.30 exactly before I wound in and started baiting up again. I was going to leave the hotspot rod till last as I was sure something was going to happen. When 16.30 arrived I walked over to the rods and just before I picked up the left hand rod it bleeped once, I paused for a second and sure enough the left hand rod in open water suddenly pulled round as a run developed!. I wasn’t expecting that, I was convinced it would be the hotspot rod but I wasn’t complaining, I hit the rod and began bringing my fourth carp of the day to the net. Everything went well and eventually I netted another nice common. I had to go digging in my rucksack for my scales and camera but eventually I got everything set up and my last carp of the day turned the scales to 16lb 8oz, another better than average fish for the water.

I was just about to wind in when this last minute 16lb 8oz fish took my bait

The light was fading fast and I still had work to do before I went home, I packed the rods away and thankfully the hotspot rod didn’t go before I wound it in although I was still half expecting it too!. Once my gear was packed away I got on with spodding in some more bait as I was planning a return two days later on Christmas Eve. It took me a while and not for the first time I ended up spodding in the dark. With this task duly completed I headed for home more than happy with my four late December carp.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Winter Carping Pt3

Last week I got out of bed on Saturday morning, looked out of the window and promptly went back to bed!. The weather had been so cold I didn’t think it was worth going fishing. It was milder last Saturday but the rise in temperatures was too late to thaw the ice in time so I went Christmas shopping instead.
The following week was Saturday 20th December 2008, the weather had stayed mild all week with quite a few days topping 10 degrees, on top of this there was quite a big wind blowing and I really fancied my chances of putting a couple of winter carp on the bank this weekend.

After an uneventful journey across Cheshire I pulled into the car park for my first look at the lake. No fish were showing but they didn’t have to today, I went and stood in my usual peg and surveyed the middle area of the lake, there was a straight westerly wind piling straight into my swim with white capped waves crashing over my bank, it was perfect conditions for fishing the area I’ve been spodding bait onto every week before I go home.

I didn’t waste any time getting the rods out, I had them assembled and baited with a pellet each in no time, both rigs were accompanied by the usual pva mesh bag of freebies and I cast one rod straight onto my baited area and the other rod slightly off to the right and slightly behind my first bait. The baits were being fished at around 40 yards range but I still needed to put a bit of effort into the casts as the wind was quite strong.

I back leaded both rods and turned round to go and get my sounder box out of my bag, I got half way to my rucksack when one of the spools on my infinity reels started hissing away!. I turned back and grabbed the rod and sure enough, a quick strike saw the rod go over and I was into my first winter carp of the day. The fish kited to my right and I must admit it caught me by surprise, by time I realised what was going on the carp had taken out my other rod and left me with a bit of a tangle. It didn’t stop me landing the fish and after a 5 minute fight under the rod tip I netted my first fish of the day.
Untangling the mess wasn’t too bad once the carp was on the mat and with both rods out of the way I secured the fish in the water whilst I readied the camera for a few photo’s. I weighed the fish first and the scales gave me 15lb 2oz, a nice old common and a good start to the day!.

15lb 2oz winter carp made it a quick start to the day

An early carp like this generally meant a good day was on the cards, my fish had come at roughly 11.15am and I was confident it wasn’t going to be my last fish of the day, it was just a case of how long I’d wait for the next fish and how many I’d end up with!. Nothing much happened after my first fish, I watched the water but nothing showed which was unusual on this lake. The mild weather was giving me confidence but I couldn’t understand why things were so quiet?.

It was 2.30pm before the same rod on the baited spot was away again, I had no trouble avoiding my other rod this time and after a spirited fight I slipped the net under a small common that had a bit of a gammy mouth. I went through the usual unhooking and weighing and despite its small size I took a picture, more for the blog than anything else as it wasn’t a particularly big fish at 10lb 8oz although all carp are welcome on a short winters day.

10lb 8oz, not massive but all carp are welcome in December!

I had just under two hours of my session left so I quickly sorted out my rig with a fresh pellet and attached a new pva mesh bag to the hook before dropping it back on my baited spot at about 40 yards range. I watched the water closely for the last few hours, I saw one fish crash out in the out of bounds area of the lake about 180 yards out, this fish was off the back of the wind which seemed a bit strange as it was so mild and my two fish had come literally in the teeth of it. Another fish rolled off to my left at about 60 yards range and I thought about covering that fish with a bait but with less than an hour to go and two fish already coming to my net I decided to sit tight and see what developed.

I’d had my stealth brolly up during the day and with an hour left I decided to put it away, this meant I could sit and watch the water sitting down instead of standing as I had done for the last few hours, I poured myself a coffee from my flask too and just sat in the wind watching the lake for more rolling carp. I was busy looking at the bay behind me when a single bleep from the left hand delkim focused my attention on the rods. There was a big pause before a second bleep occurred. I had a feeling something was going on so I got up and walked over to the rods and as I did so my monkey climber suddenly shot up to the top of the needle as a full blooded run developed.

I was on the rod quickly and my light strike was met with a solid resistance. It took me a while to get the fish moving towards my bank, playing the fish in was a slow affair and I must admit, at the time it didn’t really register that I might be attached to a decent fish. As with most big carp, this one was like a dead weight compared to low doubles that are usually quite lively but the penny still didn’t drop for me?. I’d like to say I had a dogged fight under the rod tip but this particular carp just came straight up on top and waddled straight into my waiting net. It was only then that I caught a glimpse of the fish itself, it was another common and the gut on this carp and the shear width across its back meant I was looking down at a December twenty and a nice early Christmas present!.

My unhooking mat was hanging in a tree drying so I got it down and set up everything to weigh and photograph the fish, I’d actually began putting everything away in readiness to bait up so this carp caught me on the hop a bit. On the mat I zeroed the scales and hoisted the fish up, it was well over the 20lb mark and the needle settled on 22lb 10oz. Well I was delighted, I’ve had a few twenties from this Cheshire carp lake over the years but I didn’t recognise this one which made it all the more sweeter!.

22lb 10oz, a big winter carp from the North West

I put the rod back out again but there were no more pickups this time. I got the spod out not long afterwards and deposited a kilo of pellets and maize onto the spot I’d just taken my three fish from. It took a while to get the bait in and it was just about dark when I’d finished so I headed off home happy that I’d taken a December 20 after all that cold weather a few weeks earlier!.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Winter Carping Pt2

I was listening to the radio earlier today when the announcer reading the weather stated that we’d had the coldest start to a winter in 30 years!. I didn’t doubt this for one minute, when I banked my first and only double figure carp of the winter so far I actually felt like I’d got out of jail on that trip because the temperatures were so low.

I kept an eye on the temperatures prior to my second fishing trip of the winter and again they were low all through the week. When Saturday came around I very nearly didn’t go because I thought the lake would be frozen over. I always have a back up plan when it comes to my winter fishing so I packed my rover lure bag so I could visit the river dee if the lake did happen to be iced up.

Luckily for me I didn’t need the lures so the pike were safe for another week. When I arrived at the lake it was clear of ice and thankfully there was no fog this time either so I had a good view of the lake. I made my way to my usual swim that covers a large amount of water, the odds were that the carp would be somewhere within casting range so I got myself setup up and cast both of my rigs to what I call my ‘starting spots’, the areas I’ve caught regularly from in past winters. One of these hot spots had done me a carp the previous week so there was always a chance. Whilst I waited for a bite I kept scanning the water for signs of fish moving.

It wasn’t long before my best mate the local robin was being a nuisance again begging for food, I didn’t mind feeding him but he didn’t seem to understand that he wasn’t supposed to crap on every item of fishing tackle I had with me!. I continued scanning the water for most of the day but no carp showed. That might not be much of a big deal on most carp waters but the lake I’m fishing is exceptional and it’s very rare not to see at least a couple of carp roll during the daytime. These carp are so prolific in winter that I’ve even witnessed upwards of 50 shows when the lake has been half iced over!. Today however, I wasn’t seeing anything and it wasn’t until I listened to that radio announcer that I realised just how bad the weather conditions have been this winter.

Cheeky little robin perched on my rucksack!

I continued watching the water for signs of carp right up until 4.30pm when it was time to go home, it had been the quietest winters day I’d ever known on the lake, the temperature barely made 4 degrees all day and with the light fading it was getting very cold very fast. I made haste when it came to putting bait in my swim and I was finished and on my way home in record time!.

When I got home I could feel my throat tightening and the next morning I succumbed to a cold which stayed with me for most of this last week. I’d recovered enough to go fishing this weekend but the temperatures hadn’t. The lakes had been iced up all week but on Thursday night into Friday morning the temperature rose a little and it began raining. Rain is good news when the lakes are frozen up and I hoped a bit of the wet stuff would get me fishing. I delayed any decision on going until I got up the next morning and checked the weather websites and had a look out of the window.

When I got up I logged onto the internet and had a look at the bbc weather, the temperatures hadn’t come up very much and looking out of the window there didn’t seem to have been much rain during the night. I doubted there was enough of a thaw to have made the trip worth while, there was always the pike fishing on the river but that was going to be my only option and as I’m mainly a winter carp angler I based my decision to not go fishing on the fact the lake would definitely be frozen over.

This brings my winter carp fishing up to date, one freezing cold blank with no carp showing and one abandoned trip due to the lake being frozen over. I hope that announcer on the radio has some better news about the temperatures for next weekend!.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Winter Carping Pt1

After a long break from carp fishing I finally felt like I needed to be on the bank again so on Saturday 29th November 2008 I paid a visit to the old winter carp water I’d done so well on in the past. This Cheshire carp water is well stocked so there’s always a chance of some action but I hadn’t reckoned on the weather!.

I woke up early on Saturday morning as I wanted to be at the lake in plenty of time to have a good look around. Unfortunately I found myself packing the car in freezing fog. I actually contemplated not going at one point, not only was the fog hazardous to drive in, it’s probably the poorest conditions of all for catching carp, specially in winter!.

I wasn’t going to be deterred, it had been nearly 11 months since I’d banked a New Years Day twenty from the lake and I was ready to renew my chess match with these lovely commons. I drove a bit slower on the way to the lake due to the fog but eventually I pulled into the car park to get my first view of the water. It was certainly foggy, the first thing I looked at was the margins, sure enough they were ice free despite it being freezing cold so at least I could actually get the rods out.

Due to the fog I couldn’t see very much so I unloaded my fishing gear and made my way along the bank to my usual winter carp swim. I’ve fished the lake for many years so I knew the swim well, my new plan was to get the rods into areas I know have produced for me in the past then sit and wait for the fog to lift so I could watch the water and hopefully work out the carps location. The out of bounds bank was about 200 yards straight out in front of me and I could barely see it, I could just about make out the tree line through the fog and that was enough to give me the line I needed to cast on. I quickly put the rods together, tied a couple of new rigs on and dispatched two peparami hook baits along with a small pva mesh bag with a couple of freebies in. I could only guess at the range my baits were cast but I did step into the casts and I gave each rod a good overhead thump, I’m guessing they landed somewhere around 80-90 yards out as I didn’t see either rig hit the water due to the fog!.

Once the delkims were set I settled down quite quickly, I didn’t realise it was so cold, there was ice forming on my monkey climbers and at one stage my main line was actually frozen to the tip rings until i freed it!. The resident robin was on the scene as soon as I arrived so once I’d got everything sorted out I gave him some food. That was a mistake, he turned out to be a real pest and after crapping on my rucksack, chair, flask, mat and bait box I’d just about had enough of my feathered friend!. I stopped feeding him and decided to try and watch the lake, the fog had lifted a little although I still couldn’t make out the colour of the leaves on the trees opposite.

Winter Robin, I made a mistake feeding this little fella!

I was scanning the water for signs of fish when at 11.45am the left hand rod suddenly burst into life without warning, I was quite stunned, these were possibly the worst conditions for catching carp yet the spool on one of my reels was going into meltdown!. I jumped up and hit the rod and it arched over nicely as I felt that characteristic thump of a carp on the other end. I kept the pressure steady and the fish came slowly towards my bank, there was a few bushes in the water down to my right and I did think these might be a problem at one stage as the fish kited over to my right but some consistent side strain kept things on track and after a short fight in the margins I slipped the landing net under my first carp of the new winter season.

Well that was a good start, nothing had showed so I must have pretty much landed in the right area as the bait had only been out for just over an hour. I quickly set up the tripod and camera and got the unhooking mat and scales ready before lifting the fish out of the water. It was a nice common, not a massive fish by any means but most welcome on such a cold day. I weighed the fish at 12lb 2oz which is probably an average sized fish for the water. I rattled off a couple of pictures and released the fish quickly so I could re-bait my rod and get another hook bait back out to the same area.

12lb 2oz winter carp caught in icy and foggy conditions

My re-cast was good and the fog had lifted enough for me to see my rig land this time. The next hour passed uneventfully and I had a brew from my flask and some ham sandwiches I’d brought with me. Around 1pm I caught sight of a fish, it rolled in the area I’d picked my carp up from and I already had a bait there so my hopes of catching another fish rose considerably. Another hour passed when a slow run developed on the same rod, I was on it quickly and as I wound down and struck I expected the rod tip to pull over but it didn’t, I just hit fresh air instead. I checked the rig over and everything seemed in order, I paid particular attention to the hook point and this was ok too so I put another pva mesh bag on and recast my peparami hook bait back to the same area.

As the afternoon wore on the fog lifted enough for me to see the golden colour of the remaining leaves on the trees in the out of bounds and late afternoon the clearer conditions allowed me to spot a couple of carp that rolled in different areas. As it was getting late I just made mental notes of where I’d seen the fish and then got on with putting a little bit of bait in to give them a little taster and hopefully encourage them to hang around my swim.

It was so icy my landing net froze solid!

With my baiting up done I headed for home around 4.30pm I had a hard time packing up as my landing net had frozen solid after the morning fish I’d caught. I’d been trying to get my net dry by shaking it but every time I propped it back up against a tree it would be as solid as a board 15 minutes later. I did manage to get the net back in it’s bag after wrestling with it for a while. The frozen net was an indicator of just how cold it was and I left for home happy that I’d opened my winter carp account and happy that I’d caught a carp with the odds stacked against me.

Tight Lines

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Lure Fishing Session for Pike

The last time I went fishing I was feeding carp on the top and floater fishing so it seemed a bit strange to be heading out pike fishing on my next session. October is traditionally the start of the pike fishing season though, I’d managed to miss my first piking session due to prior commitments so when the second Saturday in October came around I was ready and waiting to go with my lure bag.

Most of my pike fishing is done with lures these days, they are just so convenient, neither you or your car ends up smelling of dead fish after a session and as far as I’m concerned that’s a good enough reason to stick with the lures!. For me, lure fishing is about searching out potential spots pike might be held up. It’s a very mobile approach and in a typical lure fishing session I’ll cover 3 or 4 different waters in the same day. This makes my sat nav extremely useful and I rely on this little gadget to get me around the north west from lake to lake with no fuss, if you’re an angler that visit’s a few different waters or travels any distance, a sat nav is a cracking device to have.

The first lake I visited was one of my old stomping grounds for carp, a nice Cheshire mere that also contains a few pike up to mid twenties. Most pike in this water are small I thought it might respond well to a lure fishing approach. The first swim I tried was one of the car park swims, I knew from previous experience that a few pike had been caught here in the past so I investigated the swim with a large mepps aglia spinner. I started off on the right hand side of the swim fishing shallow at first and moving slightly further left with each cast until I’d covered the swim in an arc.

Once I’d covered the swim I did the same again but I counted the spinner down a little to fish it at a different depth, I fished around the swim at all different depths but no takes where forthcoming so I had a wander round with my rod and decided to try near a set of lily pads as it seemed like an obvious ambush point for a predator like the pike.

I started again on the right of the swim but nothing happened until my mepps aglia got near to the pads. On my third retrieve a small pike had a snap at my spinner, I didn’t hook the fish but I caught site of a characteristic green flash of a pikes flank. Previous experience has taught me that I’d probably get a take next time the spinner went through the swim. The take didn’t come first time through the swim, it came on the second run through. As the lure came near the pads the pike grabbed it properly this time and I had a short battle with a jack that had no chance of getting away as I was using a 20lb wire trace and 30lb breaking strain power pro braided mainline. I placed the pike on my unhooking mat and used a pair of forceps to remove my spinner, the forceps are ideal for avoiding a pike’s sharp teeth and I’d recommend them to any budding pike angler. Once the spinner was removed I weighed the fish at 4lb and took a quick photo, even though it was small, it was still my first pike of the season.

My first lure caught pike of the new season took a mepps aglia spinner

I couldn’t get another bite after the small pike so I tried a change of tactics, I switched my mepps spinner for a spinnerbait and tried in amongst the dying lily pads themselves. Spinnerbaits are excellent for this type of fishing as they don’t get caught up easily. I was able to retrieve my lure through the pads in the hope of finding another pike. I did see one pike strike in the pads but it was in an inaccessible area that I couldn’t reach and there was no bites for me in the areas I could reach so I moved on.

The sat nav got me to my next lake in no time at all, I couldn’t fish this Shropshire mere without a sat nav because its in the middle of nowhere and very difficult to find. I’ve never known a county with so many single track roads as Shropshire!. The second lake was rumoured to hold a few pike but rumours were all I’d heard. There were a few carp anglers in residence on this lake so I had to give them a wide berth. You never can tell where carp anglers are actually casting too so as a general rule I won’t go within two swims of them. This didn’t leave me with much water, just the margins and a tasty looking set of snags that might hold a fish if I could get a lure close enough to them.

I started with a mepps spinner again working from right to left then I worked the swim again at different depths, I went through most lures and plugs I had but with no luck at all. I have a feeling I might get lucky on this lake but it will be on another day when the carp anglers aren’t around as they were occupying all the areas that contained lily pads and I reckon the pads would probably give me my best chance of a pike on this lake.

During the afternoon it had begun to rain lightly, it was that horrible drizzly type of rain and after an hour of standing out in it I was soaked so I quickly decided to call it a day rather than visit a third water. There will be plenty of time to catch more pike this winter so I headed home with just the one small jack to my credit but at least I was off the mark.

Tight Lines.

Indian Summer Carp

The weekend after my return to yateley I was a little bit stuck for a venue, the weather had been very nice for nearly a fortnight, real indian summer conditions with temperatures nearing the 70’s. Unfortunately the really high pressure associated with settled weather conditions meant the going was likely to be tough on the carp fishing front. With this in mind I opted to visit a well stocked Cheshire runs water to give myself a chance of getting a bend in the rod.

As soon as I arrived at the lake I had a feeling I’d catch, it was just a matter of how many. The carp were on the surface in numbers, as I stepped out of the car and looked across the lake I saw a lot of backs breaking surface on the far side and nobody fishing round there!. I grabbed my gear straight away and headed round to the swim that was full of fish. After dropping my gear and watching for a few minutes I decided floaters were the best line of attack and fortunately I’d taken a couple of bags of chum mixers with me.

The only problem with using floaters was the bird life, there was a large amount of seagulls on the lake and they would cause problems for me sooner or later. I began to feed mixers slowly, just half a dozen at a time to start with. It didn’t take long for the carp to show and interest and the first bait was sampled and taken within minutes. I continued feeding mixers and slowly the fishes confidence grew as more and more carp joined in. I’m amazed I managed to avoid the seagulls for so long, a few of them even flew over my baited area and ignored it despite seeing the carp getting stuck into the floating baits, a sure sign nobody had been floater fishing on the lake for quite a while!.

After an hour and a half of constant feeding with the catty my swim looked like a jaccuzzi, there were carp everywhere with their mouths out of the water scrapping for every last mixer. The swim was nearly ready for a hookbait so I slowly began to put a floater rod together. I set the rod up with a drennan sub surface controller and a 10lb drennan double strength hooklength that was 5 feet long. A single mixer superglued to size 10 esp big t raptor hook completed the setup.

I was just waiting for the superglue to dry on the hookbait when two ducks appeared from nowhere and charged straight through my swim grabbing every mixer they could. I continued to feed the mixers as the ducks had their fill but it was another hour before the carp started to get their confidence back again, just as they did a swan arrived on the scene and set me back again, next to arrive were the gulls and at one stage I had a swan, a couple of ducks and about 30 gulls all over my baited area grabbing every last mixer, in with these birds were the carp and they weren’t going to miss out on their free food. My answer to the birdlife was to step up the feed and I simply hammered in the mixers, the birds had their fill and when they couldn’t eat anymore they simply drifted away and watched from a distance, even the gulls had their fill and half an hour later I was sat with a swim full of carp again.

The carp were a little more wary with the disturbance from all the birds and they kept coming back for seconds every so often. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t really going to get the carp completely preoccupied because of the birds so I changed tactics and set up a zig rig. I knew the water was roughly 3ft deep so I set up a zig rig with a 2.5ft hooklength and a small monster pursuit boilie pellet for a hookbait. My new tactics were to put the zig rig out slightly to one side of the baited area and to continue feeding mixers to try and build the carps confidence again.

The zig rig had been out maybe half an hour when the water erupted and my delkim suddenly burst into life. I was on the rod straight away and after a spirited fight I landed a small common that I guestimated to be around 6-7lb in weight. I took a quick picture on the mat and returned the fish then continued to feed more mixers whilst I sorted out another hookbait for the zig rig.

Zig rig caught common of around 7lb, the first fish of the day

I was fishing again a few minutes later, this time I put the zig closer to the feed area. It was perhaps another 30 minutes before I had a repeat of the last run, the water erupted again and again the delkim warbled its tune. This fish turned out to be a small mirror of perhaps 4lb. I returned the fish unweighed and set the zig rig up again with another fresh boilie pellet. By now I was fishing right in amongst the feed area and it didn’t take long to receive another blistering take. Unfortunately this fish kited to my right and I had to pile on the side strain to try and keep it from getting round a marginal bush. It was a real hang on for dear life moment and sadly my hook length parted as my line came into contact with the submerged branches of the tree.

My swim went a little quiet after loosing the fish and before I could build the carps confidence again the wind sprung up making it impossible to feed more mixers. It was blowing straight in my face so my mixers just kept getting blown straight back at me. As well as feeding mixers during the afternoon I’d also been feeding in some large elips pellets from hinders. With this new breeze blowing I simply switched to my usual knotless knot hair rig and fished on the bottom instead.

Switching to bottom fishing produced my 3rd carp of the day

Switching to bottom baits produced another run half an hour later and after a spirited fight I netted another small common around the 7lb mark. By this time I was knackered, feeding mixers for over 4 hours with a catty really does take it out of you so I called it a day with just 3 fish to my credit. Judging by the amount of carp that had been in my swim I should have had more but you just can’t avoid problems with birds ruining your groundwork. They’d been a real pain for me on this session and they’d cost me dearly, judging by previous floater fishing sessions on this water I’d have been looking at catching over 10 carp for the session. At the end of the day, you can’t rush the carp through to pre-occupation on chum mixers. It takes time to build them up with careful feeding so its hard to avoid our feathered friends. I’m now thinking of buying a laser pen to help me out next time!.

Tight Lines.

Return to Yateley Sandhurst Lake

Last weekend I finally made a return fishing trip to Yateley Sandhurst. The trip started with a short journey to my mate Steve’s in Runcorn. Once at Steve’s I loaded my carp gear into his motor so we could share the fuel costs and I left my car on his drive. I packed my sat nav too and this incredibly useful device got us to yateley angling centre to collect my day tickets and then onto the lake with no difficulty at all.

Safe arrival courtesy of the sat nav

I knew the fishing was going to be a struggle, the air pressure had been continually rising all week and we were greeted by a flat calm lake that didn’t exactly look inspiring. I spent a fair few hours walking round the lake looking for carp but very little showed. The odd carp I did see were up in front of the car park peg and I had no chance of getting near them as the lake was busy.

Having spent most of the day looking for carp I resigned myself to picking a swim from the best of the rest as it was getting late. The swim I chose was peg 13, I’d fished this swim on my first sandhurst carp trip back in may and caught a thirty from it. The wind was pushing down the lake towards peg 19 so I had a hunch that 13 might be worth a look. I got my rods set up and cast my rigs to the same area I’d caught from last time. On my previous trip I’d witnessed an amazing display from the sandhurst carp as they topped and rolled in this area so it seemed logical to fall back on my limited experience from the last session.

The night passed uneventfully and I was disappointed not to have some kind of action at first light. I left the rods out until 9.00am whilst I had some breakfast then wound in and went for a long walk around. Other anglers would be going home during the day as the lake was exclusively booked for the weekend so I wanted to get an idea of where I was going to fish later on.

After 2 hours of walking round I knew the fish were up at the car park end and if I drew well I’d get on them and be in with a chance. I returned to my swim at 11.00am so I could cast out my rigs again. The previous day only 2 fish had been caught and both came within 10 minutes of each other just after midday. With two carp coming out so close together time wise I thought this might be some kind of small feeding period so I wanted my baits out through this time of day just in case.

I’m so glad I did get the rigs back out. At 11.45am one of my snowman hookbaits was picked up, I was watching the water at the time and hadn’t seen anything when right out of the blue one of my delkims burst into life and the line peeled off the spool at a good rate of knots!. After my initial bemusement I quickly slipped into routine and hit the rod. Sure enough it arched over and after no movement for a few seconds I eventually felt a kick on the end from what felt like a decent fish. The fight was a bit of a stalemate for 5 minutes or so, the carp took no line but neither did I make any back. The fish wasn’t snagged, it was just a heavy weight on the end of the line and eventually the steady pressure had it moving towards me.
I’d hooked the fish about 50 yards out and once I’d managed to get it moving it came into the margins quite quickly, again the carp never took any line and looking at it in the clear water I could see it was a nice fat mirror that looked to be around mid twenties. I was a little nervous when the fish was under the rod tip but I needn’t have worried as the fish was well nailed in the bottom lip and I could clearly see this as the fish slowly rolled into the waiting net.

I must admit I was delighted to see that fish netted, I hadn’t been fishing much over the last few months and when I sat and reflected, I realised it was my first decent fish since I’d caught a 22lb 4oz mirror from a no publicity Cheshire carp water back in mid June!. I left the carp in the water whilst I got on with the business of weighing and photographing my fish. I put the unhooking mat on the road behind my swim and set up the tripod and camera ready for a smooth photographing session. I weighed the mirror at 26lb even, a nice fat fish that was in reasonable condition. My mates Steve and Gino were on hand and with their help I had the weighing and pictures done in no time. I released the fish back to the lake and watched with a big smile on my face as it drifted out of sight.

26lb Mirror from Yateley Sandhurst Lake

The lads were due at the lake just before 2pm and not long after I’d released my carp, the first of them arrived to have a look around the lake. I recounted my capture to them as they arrived and filled them all in on where I thought the fish were. Once everyone was present we had a draw for swims for the rest of the weekend. I was actually relieved to have caught as I came out second to last in the draw. Not only was the car park end of the lake stitched, I’d lost peg 13 as well and I was left with little choice but to pick from a handful of no hoper pegs!.

I opted for peg 19, this peg gave me a big view of the lake and at least 3 swims either side of me were empty. I was hoping the lack of pressure might see a few fish move into the area but they didn’t!. I had to sit and watch carp show up at the car park end and the lads up there managed to catch a few fish over the weekend. For me, my catching was over and I had to make do with the barbeque on Saturday and the fireworks that went on each evening. Despite looking hard I didn’t see a single fish up my end of the lake and I blanked the rest of the trip.

Peg 19, shame the carp were up the other end!

At the end of the day you pay your money and you take your chance, the draw had been unkind to me on this yateley trip and I accepted that I was very lucky to have caught my 26lb mirror when I did!. If I hadn’t insisted on fishing through that potential feeding period in the middle of the day I would certainly have blanked the whole trip.

Sandhurst Carp Lake Social 2016, click to watch

Tight Lines

Finally Fishing Again

Carp fishing is different things to different people, nearly 20 years ago I was literally consumed by it, after Kevin Maddocks best selling book it became known as ‘carp fever’ and back then I had it big time!. These days I can take it or leave it as far as carping goes. I’d not actually wet a line in about 5 weeks before this weeks session, the desire to get out there and catch just isn’t there at the moment and there are other things in life besides fishing!.

What made me go fishing this week was a pending return to yateley sandhust. Having not been fishing for a while I figured I might be a bit rusty so I opted for a night on a tricky Cheshire carp water I’ve been visiting occasionally this year. If nothing else at least I’d give my fishing gear a bit of an airing ahead of my next sandhurst trip. I guess it was the thought of going back to sandy that got me out again, there are just so many big fish in the lake that you can’t help but get excited about a trip there and after my last sandhurst trip I can’t help but wish for more of the same!.

I arrived at the lake early afternoon on Saturday, the first thing I noticed was that the two best swims on the lake were taken. These swims are so consistent that at this point I’d usually be on my way to another lake straight away. What made me stop was a carp cruising round on the surface, it was very visible and I stopped to watch it for a few minutes. It’s funny but the more you watch the more you see and after 5 minutes I’d seen enough carp cruising to stay and fish one of the lesser swims, for once, the fish were stacked up somewhere else other than the two point swims that give access to the out of bounds bank.

Naturally I set up in the swim that had the most fish present, it was late afternoon when I finally got settled in with all my rods in place. I staggered a couple of rigs at 30 and 40 yards range which is where the bulk of the fish where cruising round, obviously the carp were on the top so I wasn’t expecting much action until the early hours of the morning at least. The third rod I fished just beyond my two bottom bait rigs on a zig rig with a piece of yellow foam as bait, this was fished 3 feet up from the bottom in roughly 6 feet of water.

My aqua m3 wasn’t really necessary given that it was flat calm so I left it packed away and just slept under my jrc stealth brolly, one of my mates called it ‘classic September conditions’ but as I sat there under the brolly watching a flat calm lake with a full moon beaming down I knew it was going to be a struggle.

JRC Stealth Brolly, my home for the night on this session

I was a little disappointed that none of the cruising fish had shown an interest in the zig rig I’d put out, I believed the zig offered me the best chance of a fish given the conditions but I remained biteless despite my best efforts. As darkness fell I got the feeling the carp had done a runner on me and this was confirmed by the shear number of fish that were now showing in front of the out of bounds so the best I could hope for would be a chance in the early hours.

It was 5am when that chance came, a single bleep from the right hand delkim had me awake and what seemed like an age later but was probably only a few seconds, the rod ripped off to the tune of that lovely warbling sound. I’d almost forgotten how good it feels to hear your delkim going into meltdown whilst the spool of the reel is whizzing round!. I hit the rod and it arched over nicely as I made contact with the carp on the other end. The fish ran right but steady pressure brought it back to where I’d hooked it. I dropped the other rods so as not to get into trouble later in the fight as it felt like a good fish. After 5 minutes of steady pressure I hadn’t actually gained any line on the fish, it was still roughly where I’d hooked it 40 yards out and it was feeling quite heavy, the fish had made a couple of runs in different directions but I wasn’t making much headway in the fight. It was at this point I made a text book error, I increased the pressure on the fish in the hope of at least getting it moving towards me, I knew it wasn’t snagged, it was just big and I should have known better despite having not been out for over a month!. A minute after increasing the pressure on the fish I felt that sickening feeling as the line fell slack and the rod lost its battle curve, the hook had pulled out!.

I sat and reflected on what I’d just done, what a stupid mistake, it might sound daft but when playing big fish I usually take a step back to calm myself down and I run things through in my mind, I’m usually telling myself to go easy and just keep it steady but I hadn’t done that this time and I was kicking myself for loosing what was obviously a very good fish!.

I checked the rig, it was all in order and I couldn’t see any problems with it so I recast the rod and topped up with a couple of odyssey xxx boilies and returned to the bedchair to see out the rest of my session. I sort of knew there wouldn’t be another run, given the conditions I did rather well to get any kind of action at all. It was a shame I couldn’t bank a carp to boost my confidence levels prior to sandhurst but I had at least re-learnt an important lesson, never try and rush things!. If I’m fortunate enough to get a run or two at sandhurst next week I definitely won’t be putting extra pressure on any fish I hook!.

I fished on until 11am in the morning then had a bite to eat and packed up, even on the way home several hours later I was still annoyed with myself for blowing a very rare chance to catch a big fish from this tricky cheshire carp water.

Obviously there won’t be an entry for my blog next week as I’ll be down at yateley. The story of my sandhurst return will be posted on 28th September so until then, tight lines.

Tight Lines

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Line Aligner Carp Rig

A few months ago I joined a north west carp syndicate, one of the rules of the syndicate was that no long shank hooks were allowed. No long shank hooks was a pretty vague statement so I read the rules closely and it was recommended that a hooks shank should be no longer than that of a drennan super specialist hook. I knew straight away that this meant my beloved Kamasan b175's were on the banned list of carp hooks I could use for the syndicate and it sort of left me with a bit of a problem. I’d been using the kamasan b175’s in conjunction with a knotless knot since 1995 and my confidence in this hooking arrangement is extremely high, its probably the most efficient carp rig I’ve ever used!.

Prior to my usual carp rig, I’d actually used drennan super specialist hooks and as they were on the approved list for the syndicate it seemed logical to go back to them and fish with the rig that Jim Gibbinson made famous in the early 90’s, the line aligner. The line aligner and the knotless knot/b175 setup are very similar and they both work the same way, in fact I only switched to using the knotless knot because it was so easy to tie, both rigs are extremely efficient hookers of carp so it was no great hardship to use the line aligner again.

Tying the line aligner is reasonably straight forward, I actually start by tying a knotless knot the same way I would if using the b175’s. With a b175 the rig would be finished at this point but unlike the b175, the drennan super specialist hooks don’t have the 45 degree down turn on the eye that gives the rig the ability to flip over. This ability to flip comes from adding a piece of 1mm soft rig tubing which both extends the shank and adds the flip effect.

Knotless knot ready for the 1mm soft rig tubing that forms the line aligner

With the knotless knot tied I take a needle and thread the other end of my silkworm hooklink through the eye. At this stage I thread the needle through the tubing and bring the needle out through the wall of the soft tubing as can be seen in the picture below, pull the needle out so that hooklength runs through the tubing and exits through the tubing wall.

Threading kryston silkworm through the tubing wall

At this point the tubing can be slid down over the hook shank and manipulated so that where the silkworm hooklink exit’s the tubing wall is on the ‘inside’ of the hook eye the same as the knotless knot.

The tubing positioned so the silkworm exits on the inside of the hooks eye

Once this is done the rig is completed by cutting a 45 degree angle in the end of the soft rig tubing, the angle of cut is vital and the best way to describe this cut is to refer you to the picture below. As you can see the line comes out of the tubing on the inside of the hooks eye and the 45 degree cut in the rig tubing is on the opposite side going away from the hook.

Cut the tubing at a 45 degree angle and the rig is complete

Once the line aligner rig has been tied you can try the finger test on it. Pull the silkworm hooklength over your finger and try to manipulate the hook point so that its always away from your finger and won't catch hold. The hook point will always stay away until you hit the 45 degree cut in the rig tubing, at this point the rig will always turn and dig into your finger and you’ll never actually manage to pull it over your finger without it flipping and catching hold.

Try the finger test, the rig will always turn and dig into your finger.

I believe the line aligner works on the basis of the carp not actually knowing it's picked up a hookbait, hooking occurs when the rig actually tightens to the lead. The knotless knot works the same way, the 45 degree down turned eye on a kamasan b175 hook has pretty much the same effect as the 45 degree cut in the rig tubing on the line aligner. Both rigs are extremely efficient hookers of carp and having switched back to the line aligner for syndicate use I’ve remembered just how happy I was with this rig for catching carp.

Tight Lines

Leadcore Leader Carp Rigs

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a blog entry about leadcore and carp fishing for some time now, literally since this blog started in fact. To be honest, I’ve ducked out of doing it far too often so it‘s time I had my say.
Why have I ducked writing about leadcore and leaders?. Quite simply because I can’t stand them!. I don’t think there are many things in carp fishing that present such a danger to our carp but leadcore leaders are right up there at the top of my ‘most dangerous’ list. I don’t believe leadcore is being used safely and I’m not sure it actually can be!, although some ways are safer than others.

Click to watch a video of my leadcore free carp rig

I’m an old school angler and when I learnt to carp fish I learned to follow some simple rules, always find the carp being one, keep quiet and keep your movements to a minimum being another. Simple common sense things that all anglers should strive to do. Another simple rule I learnt fairly quickly was the simple rule of thumb for shock leaders and that is….if you don’t need one, don’t use one!.

The thinking behind the old school leader rule was safety, even back in the late 80’s intelligent carp anglers knew that shock leaders could cause problems in the event of the anglers main line breaking. So where did we go wrong?. Knowing that shock leaders had the potential to cause trouble, how did carp fishing end up down the leadcore leaders route and why do anglers think they are actually safe to use?.

I’ve seen many arguments about leadcore on the fishing forums and not once has a leadcore user actually put up a reasonable argument for using them. The only advantage in using leadcore is that it’s weight keeps the last 2-4ft of your line/rig on the bottom, that’s it, it serves no other purpose than to try and conceal your rig.

So we know the one advantage of leadcore but why is it so dangerous?. In order to understand what makes leadcore so deadly, you have to think ahead in your rig tying and question what you are doing, why you are doing it and what effect your rig might have in the event of your main line breaking?. After all, its when your mainline breaks that the dangers start.

Below is a picture of the instructions inside a gravel / khaki leadcore leader packet. As you can see, the leader is spliced into a loop and the angler is supposed to pass the leadcore through the hooklink swivel then pass the end of the hooklink back through the larger loop. This is then fished with a safety clip or inline lead but both ways of setting up the rig mean that the carp will still be left towing the leadcore round in the event of the main line breaking?. In my view, this is simply not acceptable and the red 'x' marks are the instructions I firmly disagree with!.

Leadcore instructions, not as safe as they appear to be!

Given that leadcore is heavy and usually around 35-45lb in breaking strain, ask yourself if a carp can break free from this setup should it ever get snagged?. What will a carp do when it’s hooked and lost? The simple answer is that it will head for a ‘safe’ area of the lake which will usually be the snaggiest area it can find!. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a fish in a snaggy area towing round a 3ft length of 35/45lb leadcore is potentially at risk, even if the lead weight is lost from the set up, that 3ft or so of leadcore is still there and if a carp does get tethered the chances are it will die of starvation. As an angler, do you really want to put the carp you fish for at risk like this?.

No angler should ever use leadcore that’s attached direct to the swivel of a rig as per the instructions above!. When your mainline breaks, the carp should be left with nothing more than the hooklink and as responsible anglers, it’s our duty to fish our rigs as safely as we can. With leadcore, the only way this can be achieved to any degree is with the use of a helicopter rig, specifically the old CV safety rigs that were designed for safe shock leader use in the early 1990’s. At least with a CV safety rig the carp has half a chance of getting rid of the lead and the leadcore but if I’m honest, even this rig has the potential to cause problems if its used on a choddy bottom or in weed.

CV Safety rig, not ideal but the safest way there is to use leadcore, just substitute the black tubing for leadcore.

How the cv saftey rig works, the whole rig gets dropped leaving the carp with no leadcore to get tethered on.

As you can see from the pictures above the CV Safety rig can leave your carp with just the hooklink in the event of your main line breaking, providing your lake bottom is firm and clean.

I’ve read the comments of pro leadcore users saying leadcore is safe if it’s tied up correctly, others have said their rigs are ok because they use a low breaking strain of hooklink or a barbless hook and that education is better than an outright leadcore ban. Come on guys get real!, barbless hooks have their own mouth damage problems and low breaking strain hooklengths are only really usable in open water fishing situations. Even then, they may still be strong enough to stop a carp from breaking free if it gets tethered.

Leadcore causing carp deaths really came to light in the early to mid 1990’s when the very high profile ‘arnie’ the 40lb common from orchid lake in Oxfordshire was found dead tethered to some reeds, it’s now 2008 and just recently the high profile Chilham Mill in Kent has just joined a growing list of fisheries that have banned leadcore after two of their precious carp were found dead tethered to snags. Clearly education doesn’t work and why would it when the instructions in the packet say its ok to leave your carp trailing a leader when your main line breaks?!. People come and go from carp fishing and education is always ongoing, in the meantime, carp like arnie the orchid common and the Chilham fish will continue to be lost!. Education is really just a lousy excuse for anglers to keep using leadcore in the mistaken belief that what they’re doing safe. Well it’s not and if you’re pro leadcore please think long and hard about using it because it’s simply not necessary in the modern carp world.

So if leadcore isn’t safe to use what do you do?. Well the daft thing is leadcore itself has been redundant in carp fishing for some time now, rig tubing has advanced to the stage where it’s now several times heavier than leadcore so it sinks like a brick and keeps your line on the bottom better than leadcore itself. Sure you have to go to the trouble of threading rig tubing onto your main line but isn‘t that better than risking another Chilham or an Orchid lake scenario?. Rig tubing also comes in a variety of colours too, black, clear and a whole host of different shades of green make it easy to conceal your rig from shy feeding carp.

ESP anchor rig tube, just one of the new types of rig tubing that leaves leadcore redundant in modern carp fishing.

Please ask yourself the old school question next time you go fishing, do you really need to use a leadcore leader?. I think any intelligent reader already knows the answer to that question. You don’t need a leadcore leader, so please don’t use one.
Thanks for reading.

Tight Lines

Red Letter Days Pt5

I’ve had a week or two away from carp fishing recently, not because of any particular reason, I just haven’t felt like getting out recently so I’ve simply taken a break. As I like to add at least one entry to my carp blog every week I’ve decided to continue my ‘red letter days’ series and look back at another of those special days in carp fishing when things fall right.

This particular ‘red letter day’ goes back to the mid 1990’s, Saturday 4th March 1995 to be exact!. At this time I was fishing a little known carp water in North Wales. I’d done the winter on this under fished welsh carp water and I’d been catching steadily through the colder months. I’d got my winter winter carp location spot on, the carp had been stacked up in and around a weedbed and I’d done well fishing in and around the dead weed.

Urban carping in North Wales during the mid 1990's

After a long winter, runs from the weedbed I was fishing had dried up a little and the previous week I’d caught a carp in the teeth of a big south westerly wind. This time the wind was gale force north westerly so again I opted to fish in the teeth of it rather than go back to the weedbed, I figured the fish had woken up a bit and although they weren’t rolling I had a hunch they’d be on the wind.
I got myself set up as comfortably as I could with a gale force wind blowing in my face, my mate barney thought I was mad and he couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to fish to the weed but I had a feeling the carp would move with such a big wind blowing. He’d opted to fish off the back of the wind so he could watch the water comfortably. I was fishing in a corner of the lake and I placed my hookbaits at the bottom of the marginal shelf just along each bank with the third in open water, the water at the bottom of the shelf was about 8ft deep so it was a fair depth and I hoped a patrolling carp would pick up one of my margin baits sometime during the hours of darkness.

I didn’t sleep much during the night, I’d like to say my location was spot on and the carp kept me up all night but it was the wind continually hammering my old fox supabivvy that kept me awake. I had a quiet night and by early morning I was still runless. I wound the rods in and went to have a chat with barney, he’d blanked too but during the night he’d heard carp crashing out somewhere along the bank to his left. I was on his right and the position he was hinting at put the carp on the back of the wind. I asked barney if he was going to move swims and he said no, he was comfortable where he was so having offered him the choice I told him I would pack my gear and move along the bank to his left to see if I could locate the fish and maybe get a chance before we went home later that day.

I knew the new area I was moving into, it was the weedbed area I’d done well from all winter so I opted for one bait in the middle of the dead weedbed with the other two rods just off the right and left hand edge of it. I didn’t bother setting up a shelter, I just hid behind the bedchair to avoid the biting wind that was now going straight over my head. I figured if the carp had been crashing in this area then they should be around the weedbed again. By 12.30pm I was starting to doubt if the move would pay off, I’d caught literally every session throughout the winter but I felt I was staring a blank in the face this time.

I wasn’t feeling confident at all when out of the blue at 1.05pm the right hand rod on the edge of the weed suddenly burst into life!. After the initial shock of my old super compact bite alarm sounding I ran to the rod and hit it. Sure enough the rod slammed over and I found myself doing battle with another hard fighting winter carp. This fish was a bit strange, after running 30 yards against the clutch it suddenly turned upwards and almost tail walked like a pike. I could clearly see it was a big fish with a very dark coloured black back. I had a feeling it was the lake biggie, he was known to tail walk on the first run and I’d never had any of my other welsh carp behave like this. After breaking surface in spectacular fashion the carp kept deep in the water for the rest of the fight. The fish fought particularly well in the margins and it took me quite a while to wear him down and get him ready for the net. Amazingly, as the fight was coming to an end I saw a second fish swimming with the big one, I even recognised the fish as a twenty I’d caught back in November 1994, the other fish continually flanked the biggun as it ploughed up and down the margins and it was only when he rolled into the landing net that the smaller 20 actually pulled away and disappeared out of sight!.

I had a lump of a carp in the landing net, the fish was known to be 25lb+ which meant a new personal best for me. I called barney and he came to help with the weighing and photographing of my new PB. The scales gave me 25lb 6oz, it was a magic moment holding up the biggest fish in the lake for pictures and I’ll never forget that fish!. Barney did a great job with the pictures and I returned the biggie to the water. We still had a few hours left so I put a fresh ultraspice popup on and recast to the edge of the weedbed.

25lb 6oz Winter mirror from a little fished North Wales carp lake

The recast ultraspice boilie had only been out for 5 minutes when it was away again!. This carp also gave a good account of itself and after a spirited fight I landed a lovely looking 12lb 12oz mirror. The day had turned out to be a good one and I was glad barney had told me about hearing the carp crashing out in the night. With a new PB and a nice double already under my belt I thought I’d cast the rod out again.

12lb 12oz Welsh carp came 5 minutes later

I wasn’t expecting anything else to happen after picking up 2 fish but amazingly the rod in the middle of the weedbed was away just 20 minutes later. This carp kept deep the whole fight and it was just as difficult to bring to the surface as the big one had been. I caught sight of the fish in the deep water and amazingly I found myself staring down at the low twenty that had been flanking the big mirror towards the end of the fight just half an hour earlier!.
I kept the pressure steady as I watched the fish twist and turn in the clear water, eventually this carp came closer and closer to the surface and once the fish had a gulp of air it soon gave up and went into the net. I was bouncing, even though it was a repeat capture I’d just caught my first ever brace of twenties and from a water that only had 2 twenty pound fish in it!. First time round in November this fish went 21lb 2oz, at the end of the winter he’d lost a little and I weighed the fish in at 20lb 4oz. I called barney again to do the pictures and he did the honours with the camera as usual. He congratulated me on my first ever brace of twenties too, it was a massive result catching the two biggest fish in the lake half an hour apart and the session became the highlight of a very successful winter carp campaign.

20lb 4oz Mirror that had been flanking the biggun just half an hour earlier!

I did put the middle rod back out again but I didn’t receive any further action. I couldn’t complain, the quick move for just a few hours turned out to be brilliant decision and things went better than I could ever have dreamed. I’ve had many red letter days since March 1995, my PB is much bigger these days and I’ve had a few sessions equally as good as this one but that first ever twenties brace still ranks as one of my most special angling moments.

Tight Lines

Back in Cheshire Again

It’s been a good few weeks since I last updated my blog with a live session report. There are two reasons for this, first is because I have quite a few entries written about other general carp fishing stuff that I wanted to publish and secondly because I was invited to join a publicity shy north west carp syndicate. I dithered over taking the syndicate ticket as my own lifetime isn’t long enough to fish the current waters I already have available. The syndicate was quite close to home though and it would certainly reduce my fuel bill if I started fishing there. With this in mind I took the ticket and I’ve spent the last month doing short evening sessions and the odd Saturday daytime on this new water.

I’ve had a few carp from the new syndicate but I’ve been less than impressed with their size, the lakes biggies had spawned successfully and as a result, the water was overrun with commons in the 2-6lb range. After 4 weeks of these small fish I decided to give the syndicate a miss for a while, it does contain some decent fish and I will visit again at some point in the future but for now I decided to head back to one of my Cheshire carp waters for my first overnighter since I tweaked an old back injury back in June.

I arrived at the lake to find only 2 anglers fishing and one of them was packing up, he’d done the night and lost a couple of fish and with other duties at home and the Edgbaston Test Match to watch he was pulling off. This was good for me, he was occupying the right hand main point swim which just happened to be one of the most productive swims on the lake.

Back in February 2007 I’d bought myself a brand new aqua m3 bivvy and having looked at the weather forecast for the weekend I thought it would be best to take my m3 rather than fish under my usual stealth brolly. Rain was forecast and the extra protection from the m3 would be a big help in staying comfortable and dry. I set up slowly during the afternoon and got myself well organised. When it came to the rods I brought along a couple of my daiwa infinities as the fishing was mostly long range, my preferred tfg x series rods were nice playing rods and they cast a long way but my infinities just had that little extra bit of power and I needed as much help as I could get to reach the 'out of bounds' far bank.

Aqua M3 Bivvy, I had some extra protection if the rain came.

My two infinities I fished ‘on the chuck’, single odyssey xxx pop ups fished as single hook baits on a helicopter rig as far over to the far bank as I could cast, one rod was tight, the other about 20 yards short. The far bank was out of bounds and the fish tended to hold up here to avoid angling pressure.
The third rod I fished at about 60 yards over bait. My odyssey xxx baits are rolled in 20mm size so 60-80 yards with a catapult was a relatively easy target to hit.

With the baits all out I sat back to listen to the afternoons cricket, England seemed to be in a good position to win the test match but as the afternoon wore on they lost what little advantage they had as the South Africans dug in. I was still listening to the test match early evening when a delkim holding one of the ‘chuck’ rods let out a few bleeps, the monkey climber rose a few inches, then fell again. I watched and wondered what was going on when the monkey slowly started climbing again, that was enough for me, I tightened the clutch, wound down and hit it. Normally I’d expect the rod to hoop over but on this occasion it didn’t. I hit fresh air with no fish on the end. I scratched my head and wondered what had happened. A tench perhaps? Or had I been done by a carp? There was also a possibility I’d picked up a trailer, quite a few carp had been trailing line and rigs this year with quite a few anglers cracking off whilst trying to reach the fish on the out of bounds bank. I’d never know exactly what happened so after thinking about it for a while I simply checked my hook point to make sure there was no problems then put my rig out again and settled down to listen to England loose the Edgbaston test match!.

This particular Cheshire carp water is known to produce in the early hours of the morning so I had high hopes of a run as it went dark, 2.30am until about 9.00am was regarded as the hot time for takes and a few fish showing at dusk gave me some confidence for the night ahead. Just after dark a carp crashed out twice at close range, the fish was just 30 yards out and far closer in than I was fishing!. Because it had crashed and not rolled I chose to ignore it. In my experience crashing fish are not feeding fish and I’ve not done well casting at carp that show this way, if the short range fish had rolled I’d have put a bait on it straight away but not this time.

My decision not to cover the crashing carp may have been a costly one. I slept through take time without a sniff of a fish and when I woke up at 9.00am I was a little disappointed not to have had some action. I had a drink and a bite to eat, packed my gear and headed for home at around 10-ish. I let a few of my mates know I’d blanked and after talking to one of them who fishes the lake a lot, he was of the opinion I’d dropped a howler by not covering the crashing fish!. As only an occasional visitor to the water I accepted his opinion and next time I see a carp crash out on this venue I’ll make sure I cover it, although I still maintain that casting to carp that crash is generally unproductive.

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