Sunday, 19 December 2010

Cold Water Carping

I’m sat here writing this on Saturday afternoon a week before Christmas, I should be out fishing but there’s several inches of snow on the ground and once again we are in the grip of another deep freeze. Last winter was the same, usually November and December are very productive for me but I was frozen off my winter water during this period last year and I can’t believe it’s happened again!. There would have been a lot more material posted last winter if it hadn’t been for the cold weather and it looks like the same conditions are going to scupper me from writing more again this winter.

I have actually managed to get one short fishing session in. I hadn’t seen my winter runs water for 2 years thanks to last years freeze and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded up the car and selected the lake from the favourites on my sat nav. On the journey to the lake nothing seemed to have changed and when I pulled into the car park at the lake I sat in the car for 5 minutes and watched the water for signs of fish. It was flat calm, ideal conditions for spotting any subtle disturbances made by a carp and it didn’t take long before I picked up on swirl out in open water.

In previous winters I’d chosen to bait an open water area out in the middle of the lake and just keep the bait going in so I decided my old spot would be a good place to start, I was on the edge of the slight movements I’d seen but for once I wasn’t alone on the water and I didn’t want to encroach on my fellow angler. I had no particular plan in mind for this winter so I was just going to fish with my usual bog standard carp rig but instead of going down the pellet and particle route I’d used in previous years, this time I was sticking with the mainline cell boilies I’d been using all year.

Mainline Cell Boilies, my chosen bait for 2010 and the winter ahead.

Day sessions are all I fish in winter so I quickly got to work setting up my pod and putting the rods together. A quick root through my tackle box to find a boilie needle and a few hair stops and I quickly had 2 mainline cell pop ups set up. I left them in the lake for 5 minutes then balanced them out with kryston heavy metal putty so they just sank. I set the putty 2 inches back from the hook on each rig and folded half of a foam nugget over each hook to trap the hair and prevent any kind of tangle when casting. With both rigs ready I punched out both pop ups to the old area I’d baited up in previous winters. One rod went right on the old hot spot and the other went slightly to the left as near as I dare the area I’d seen movement.

Once I’d got the rods sorted out I had a tidy up to make sure I knew where all my gear was then I settled down to wait for a run. It’s funny how some lakes just seem to be timeless, even though it had been 2 years the place looked exactly the same as I remember, the only difference I could see was the water level had risen slightly. I was hoping for one of those red letter days but sadly it didn’t materialise, the bright conditions and lack of wind meant I was going to struggle so there was no sign of the early run I’d hoped for. As I sat and watched I began to work out exactly where the bulk of the fish were, they were indeed off to the left of me but the odd fish crashed out in front and to the right during the late morning and early afternoon.

It was gone 2pm when the right hand delkim suddenly bleeped once then went into a nice steady take, the line was peeling off the spool nicely when I swept the rod back and made contact with my first cold water carp of the winter. It felt like a decent lump on the other end and despite hooking the fish around 80-90 yards out it still took some line off the clutch before kiting to the right. I began to pump the fish back to the bank once it had kited and I quickly gained line until the carp was in the margins. It put up a pretty good fight close in and it took a good 10 minutes of steady pressure before the fish popped up ready for the landing net. Everything went smoothly and I bagged my first fish from the lake in 2 years. I put the unhooking mat down, got the scales and camera ready before lifting my prize out to be unhooked and weighed. At the moment of truth I got 17lb 12oz on the scales, a slightly bigger than average carp for the water and a very decent result for an afternoons winter fishing in less than perfect conditions.

My first cold water carp of this winter, a 17lb 12oz common

After returning the fish I left the same cell boilie on and re-balanced the rig with another piece of heavy metal putty. I didn’t have a lot of time left and I’m always quite happy to re-use the same hook bait, specially if time is at a premium. Despite getting my single hook bait out to the same spot I never managed to pick up another carp. I stayed until it was near enough pitch black before I finally packed my new aqua rucksack and headed for home. I was happy enough to have caught a cold water carp on my first session of the winter and on the way home I was already making plans for my next session a week later. I had intended to take more boilies next time, I made a mental note to make sure I had my throwing stick with me next time as well. Sadly this session was a good 4 weeks ago and I haven’t been fishing since. The continual cold temperatures and snow are once again wrecking mine and everyone else’s winter carping and all I can do at the moment is hope there’s enough of a thaw to rescue some fishing between Christmas and New Year. Although, at the moment that looks in severe doubt too.

It will be 2011 before I publish my next ‘cold water carping’ instalment. I'll have to go fishing and catch something first!. Until then, I’ll just wish you all ‘all the best’ for Christmas and the New Year and I hope the lakes unfreeze real soon!.


North West Angling Clubs

Below is a list of Angling Clubs and Associations from around the North West. This is not a definitive list of clubs, just the ones I've come accross during my time online. If you happen to know a club I've missed out please add it via the comments box at the end of this post. It won't show up straight away as all the comments posted on this blog have to be approved first but your contribution will get seen once I've passed it.

Stoke On Trent Angling Society

Wheelock Angling Society

Prince Albert Angling Society

Northwich Anglers Association

Warrington Anglers Association

Winsford & District Angling Association

Lymm Angling Club

Wigan & District Angling Association

Wem Angling Club

Altrincham & District Angling Club

Port Sunlight Angling Club

Bay Malton Angling Club

Weston Angling Club

St Helens Angling Association

Newton Le Willows Anglers Association

Congleton Anglers Society

Southport & District Angling Association

Victoria & Biddulph Angling Society

Burton Mutual Angling Association

Ribchester & District Angling Club

Birmingham Anglers Association

Derby Railway Angling Club

Buckley Angling Association

Barnton & Frodsham Angling Club

Haig Angling Club

Weston Under Lizard Angling Club

Macclesfield Waltonians Angling Society

Nantwich Angling Society

Shropshire Anglers Federation

Salford Friendly Anglers Society

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Cemex Sandhurst Carp Session & Blog Update

My week long carp fishing trip to Acton Burnell seems like yesterday, I can’t believe we are at the end of October 2010 already!. I haven’t written anything new since my trip to Acton back in April, this has mainly been due to a lack of time and a lack of fishing I can actually write about. Being in a publicity shy carp syndicate has it’s advantages when it comes to fishing but it certainly doesn’t help when you are supposed to be writing a carp blog!.
Just to bring my fishing up to date a little, I’ve had a fabulous year so far banking no fewer than 15 x 20’s up to 34lb+ (the common I had from Acton Burnell), most have come from the syndicate but a couple have come from a north west club water, one came from my annual weekend at Sandhurst Lake on the Yateley complex.

The Sandhurst trip was memorable for all the wrong reasons, I had a complete disaster of a trip!. Somehow I managed to loose 4 fish on the bounce, two on the Saturday daytime were missed runs, one in the early hours of Sunday morning to a hook pull and a fourth found a snag when I played it in at range from peg 10. The fish that found a snag was particularly hard to take because I knew it was a right lump. Despite the 4 losses I still left Sandhurst feeling like I’d just scored the winning goal in the cup final. I was due off the lake at 3pm on Sunday afternoon, after 4 missed chances my confidence was rock bottom, I was staring at my first ever Sandhurst blank and I wasn’t very happy!. That weekend had been one of the coldest on record in May, a freak North Easterly wind kept the temperatures bitterly cold, I believe the day time high was just 6 degrees!. I’d travelled to Sandhurst with absolutely no cold weather gear, I just had a t-shirt and a fleece jacket, both of which were useless against the biting Easterly wind. A few of the lads lent me a couple of fleece hoodies and these helped but I still had to spend most of the trip tucked up in my sleeping bag just to keep warm.

Because of the need to keep out of the wind I’d left packing the bivvy until the last minutes before leaving and it was whilst I was packing this item of tackle away that one of the delkims signalled one final run, it was a screamer too and I quickly made contact with another Sandhurst carp. After the rotten luck I’d had all weekend I can tell you my heart was in my mouth for the duration of the fight. Even under the rod tip I was praying the carp wouldn’t escape, thankfully it didn’t!. I actually had to unpack my scales and camera in order to weigh and photograph the fish. It wasn’t massive by Sandhurst standards, a scraper 20 common weighing 20lb 6oz. It was so close to packing up time I didn’t even recast the rod, I simply packed it into the holdall and carried on packing up. 20 minutes later I was pulling out of the car park still with a massive grin on my face, a small fish that common may have been but it saved me a blank and a last minute winner is always a sweet moment in carp fishing.

20lb 6oz Common Carp from Cemex Sandhurst Lake

Apart from Sandhurst and Acton, the only other time I’ve left the syndicate was for a handful of short sessions on a famous north west club water in mid October. I love this type of hit and run carp fishing, keeping the sessions short and working hard to get your baits under a carp’s nose. These were the tactics I used the other week and they worked a treat. In 5 trips I banked 3 fish, another two 20’s and a high double was a cracking result for a water were 5 fish per year is the norm!.

22lb 10oz Mirror Carp from a Famous North West Carp Water

Switching to short sessions mid October has brought an end to my night fishing for 2010 and I’m back to the short sessions I usually do throughout the winter. I’ve written this piece to update the blog a little and to say I’ll be writing some more about my winter carping this year. My writing won’t be as prolific as it was in previous years but there will be some more new material coming during December and January as I take a break from syndicate life.

Until then, tight lines.


Sunday, 2 May 2010

Acton Burnell Carp

It’s been a while since I wrote an update for this blog, I’ve been enjoying syndicate life this past year so I’ve pretty much had my hands tied as far as updating this site is concerned. I’ve had some cracking fish though, 2009 was one of my best years for numbers of twenties and I managed to bank a couple of northern thirties too. Being in a syndicate is proving to be a good move on my part, I like the peace and quiet and being among like minded anglers sometimes opportunities arise and one such opportunity was offered to me earlier in the year, a week long trip to the famous Acton Burnell carp syndicate water in Shropshire!. I’d seen Acton Burnell on a few of the Matt Hayes fishing programmes on Sky and I’ve seen the place documented many many times, the waters at Acton have been fished by some very famous anglers so when the offer was made I did my sums (it was expensive!) and when I realised I could afford to go I duly accepted!.
Despite what you see on TV, I wasn’t sure what to expect as the Sat Nav took me towards Acton Burnell itself, a few short minutes later I arrived at the lakes and my first impression was that the lower lake was actually quite small. Things always seem to look bigger on TV and the upper lake, although much bigger, still looked a little on the small side compared to the impression you get from the TV. I was going to be fishing Acton Burnell Upper Lake and as I walked around I liked what I saw. The upper lake was stunning, it’s around 18 acres in size, a typical estate lake dammed at one end with an overflow to control the water level similar to Capesthorne Hall.
We’d had a draw for swims and my bad luck at the draw continued, I came out second to last and had to watch as every swim I was interested in disappeared!. In the end I was left with very little choice and I opted for a swim known as the ‘Pot Beds’. My swim was at the dam wall end of the lake and the fish were crashing and rolling up the other end so I knew I was in for a hard time on this trip!.

Pot Beds Swim at Acton Burnell Carp Fishery, my home for the week.

My bad luck continued after the draw when I managed to lock my keys in the boot of my car within a few hours of being there!, I put them there for safe keeping not realising there was a safety feature on my car whereby it locked after 60 seconds if the keys are in the car!. I couldn’t settle on Saturday night and following a blank night I had the AA out on Sunday morning. If you travel any kind of distance I can’t recommend the AA highly enough, they were with me in 20 minutes and I had my keys back 5 minutes later!.
After my drama with the car keys I was able to settle down to my fishing, I was restless and wanted to move on Sunday but there wasn’t anywhere to move too so I was stuck. I must admit I hadn’t done a lot of preparation for this trip and little did I know that the wind was going to change and push the fish down the lake towards me!. After a blank Sunday the wind whipped up south westerly and I began to see fish in my area. Just because you can see them doesn’t mean you can catch them, these Acton Burnell carp seem to be masters in avoiding anglers and on a typical week long trip, a few anglers would catch 1 carp each with maybe one lucky angler bagging a brace. Facing that kind of odds I was going to have my work cut out tempting one of these Acton carp despite them now being in my swim!.
The pot beds swim is opposite the dam wall at Acton, it’s a short cast to the dam wall and it seems the standard tactics in this swim is to cast a Lead onto the dam wall then go round and tie your rig on and place it with the use of chest waders and a landing net pole, this way you can actually get your rig and bait under the trees and you can bait up with pinpoint accuracy. I’d already done this and despite fish being in the area I couldn’t tempt a carp to pick up my bait on Monday or Tuesday.
Dam Wall at Acton Burnell, cast over and place baits your with chest waders!

Half way through the week and no fish, I had already began to ring the changes in my rigs, one thing that had attracted my eye recently was the Korda Sinkers. I never usually bother pinning down a hook length but these Acton Burnell carp really had me thinking about everything to do with my presentation. I put korda sinkers on my hooklength to pin it down and I ended up using a combination of normal backleads and Flying Backleads to really nail my mainline to the bottom. I wanted everything on the deck and out of the way because these fish were exceptionally cute!.
Wednesday night I finally managed to trip up an Acton Burnell carp. I’d placed a Mainline Cell Boilie under a bush on the dam wall and put a light sprinkling of cell boilies around the rig, I did this early on Wednesday morning to try and avoid any disturbance to my swim, the day had been quiet with just odd fish rolling in open water to my right during the evening. It was 11pm when the left hand Delkim bleeped a couple of times then quickly developed into a full blooded run.
I picked up the rod, wound down and struck lightly. Sure enough my rod arched over and my first impression was that I’d hit a brick wall, a sure sign I was into a lump!. My heart was beating out of my chest by this time and I kept muttering ‘don’t blow it’ to myself!. I kept the pressure steady and made slow progress bringing this fish in. Acton Burnell is in the middle of nowhere and with plenty of cloud cover it was a black night, I couldn’t see anything and I was literally relying on the direction the Rod was being pulled to work out where this carp was. Eventually I had the fish under the rod tip but I couldn’t seem to lift it up in the water to net it, for 10 minutes it circled round in front of me and all this time I had to keep talking myself into not applying too much pressure. It’s so easy in a situation like this to just try and apply more pressure and the result is usually a hookpull or a breaking of the main line. I’ve lost a few big carp at the net due to panicking which is why I talk to myself whilst I’m playing a big fish, I find I can keep a level head if I do this and it works for me!.
Eventually I managed to get the fish into a position where I could actually net it, this was a crucial point and as the fish slowly edged into the Net I lifted the mesh around my prize. I didn’t quite breathe a sigh of relief until I’d lifted the net and checked my prize was inside, it was so dark I’d just been going by the disturbance to the water to judge where the carp was. I checked inside the landing net and sure enough, there was my first Acton Burnell carp, a lovely looking common that looked well over 30lb in weight.
I secured my net and left the fish in the water whilst I got to work sorting out the camera and scales so I could weigh and photograph my prize. Acton Burnell supply Unhooking Mats, they are standard in every swim so I used the mat provided rather than my own as their mats are massive!. I placed my carp on the mat and unhooked it quickly, my rig had done its job and the fish was well and truly nailed in the bottom lip. This common was a long fish and it looked massive on the mat, I wondered how big it would go as I zeroed my scales ready for weighing. I hoisted the fish up and the scales gave me a weight of 34lb 2oz. I was delighted with that, my first Acton carp was a 34lb+ common!. Acton Burnell also has buckets for pouring water over the fish and after a quick bucket of water I cracked on with doing the pictures as best as I could in the pitch dark. I kept my Head Torch on for all my pictures simply because it allowed me to see roughly whereabouts both myself and the fish were on my Cameras flip screen. With the pictures done I released my prize back to the lake and the fish swam off strongly.
34lb 2oz Common Carp from Acton Burnell Upper Lake

I couldn’t get my bait back under the bush on the dam wall so I hooked my rig up to the butt ring of my rod and left it on the Rod Pod until the morning. I didn’t mind doing this, I’d managed to achieve my goal of catching an Acton Burnell carp and with my target met I could just chill out and enjoy the last few days of my trip. When the morning came I put my rig back under the same bush on the dam and began the wait for another Acton carp.
I should just point out that if you ever use Chest Waders to place baits or land fish or for any other reason, please wear a life jacket too. You never know what’s on the bottom of a lake, a soft patch, a branch from a tree, literally anything could see you loose your footing and if you fall over and get your waders full of water, you could find yourself in real trouble. I can’t speak for everyone else but I value my life far more than the price of a Lifejacket and I simply won’t go in the water without wearing one, lifejackets aren’t just for boats!.
If you use chest waders always wear a Life Jacket!

I was nice and relaxed on Thursday and Friday of my trip, the wind was still pushing straight into my swim and there were fish around but they were proving difficult to tempt. Although I’ve mainly concentrated on the dam wall I was busy all week dropping baits into open water areas where I was seeing fish roll, I even tried another swim for a few hours after I saw a couple of lumps roll there. One thing that quickly became apparent was that a lead weight landing in the area the carp were rolling was a killer, every time I tried casting at rolling fish they’d stop and I wouldn’t see them for the rest of the day. I even took to leaving baits in areas I’d seen most fish, in the hope they would come back the next day but even that tactic failed to produce a result.
Waders at the ready in the Willow Swim at Acton Burnell Carp Fishery

As I was packing up on Saturday morning I saw a fish roll and I was straight into my Chest Waders so I could cast to it, I didn’t give up trying to the bitter end but I just couldn’t tempt another Acton carp. I was happy with the one I had though, Acton Burnell is a difficult carp water and my week on there had been enlightening to say the least. It had been a while since I’d chased carp that were this wary of anglers and baits. Acton proved to be a tough water and overall I was happy just to bank a fish. Out of the 8 of us that fished the Upper Lake, one guy had more than one fish, 4 of us had one fish each and 3 blanked, coming out second to last in the draw I’m actually surprised I didn’t blank too so I’m well happy with my result and I believe we had a slightly above average week by Acton Burnell standards!.

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