A NEW JOB BRINGS ABOUT A CHANGE OF FOCUS

After a brutal winter in the North East of America, to say I was looking forward to getting out again is an understatement. The fact is I was going stir crazy as the frigid temperatures had seriously curtailed my winter fishing. The winter refused to budge but I didn’t waste the time as I worked hard to set up a new job opportunity which finally resulted in a concrete offer. Now according to my contract my new position was based on 35 hours, but as I wanted to make the role a success I soon found this time doubling. With my free time reserved for family activities I was finding it hard to even motivate myself to get out but in late March I decided to focus on the occasional foray to my further spots while concentrating more on a local water, only 6 miles away from me.

A little scaley beauty from one of my few winter sessions

A little scaley beauty from one of my few winter sessions

During April and May I ventured out for a grand total of 4 nights. I’ve never been a particular fan of long session fishing and much prefer sessions ranging from 12-24 hours. The fact is, longer sessions usually lead to a more casual approach and a sit and wait attitude. I prefer to spend a few hours watching the water and locating fish and having less time on the bank certainly hones this skill. A few hours in the right location will catch me just as many fish as if I fished for several days in the wrong location. The fact is, I cannot afford to sit and wait for the fish. I need to go to them and present them a meal they simply cannot refuse.

My first two overnights were very cold affairs and I really didn’t see any signs of fish no matter how long I watched the water. Even sitting up drinking coffee in the middle of the night gave me no real clues but past experience in the area had given me a good idea of where the fish would be and so I set my traps and trusted that should a fish have an urge for a snack I would be ready and waiting. As the water was still very cold I opted for a very light baiting situation using primarily a mixture of pellets that would put out plenty of attraction without filling the fish up. My location was proved correct as a stunning two tone mirror graced my net and even better it was over the magical 30lb mark.

Pellets formed my cold water attack

Pellets formed my cold water attack

A cracking two tone from a very cold night session

A cracking two tone from a very cold night session

The second session around 10 days later saw more fish activity as the weather had taken a turn for the better. This time I had more than one chance and landed three nice fish with a cracking upper twenty amongst them. The addition of a quality boilie to the pellet mixture certainly seemed to work and although I did not use a great deal of bait, the use of chopped and crumbed baits certainly gave me plenty of pulling power. Now over the last couple of years I have been utilizing PVA solid bags for a lot of my fishing as 1) It eliminates tangles, which is a must when one cast per session is the norm 2) It allows me to present a bait over almost any type of bottom, including weed 3) You can pack a lot of attraction into the bag and create an almost irresistible food pile 4) You can cast it to the horizon.

An long mirror that fell to a solid PVA Bag approach

An long mirror that fell to a solid PVA Bag approach

The PVA solid bags I use are the FOX Rapide load. It takes a few bags to perfect the technique but this system is very, very easy to use. Simplicity is a must when night fishing and so I also added PVA mesh so that I could present smaller packages of bait when fishing closer in. On my third session I actually arrived a few hours before dark to find quite a few other people fishing the usual areas. Instead of getting annoyed, I took the time to drive to a few new spots and have a look around and then I spent an hour sitting and watching the water. I was looking for the carp to TELL ME where to fish and I was rewarded with a subtle show, something I would not have seen if I was not intently watching.

At this point rather than cast a lead straight at the fish (something that is the kiss of death on this venue) I quickly grabbed my bait bucket and throwing stick and scattered around 50-70 baits in the general area. I knew that not only would this temporarily move the fish off, it would also serve to attract them back in once I could get a rig out. Five minutes later I duly dispatched a ‘pink pepper’ pop-up along with a small mesh bag of pellets onto the spot. I was interested to see how the fish would react to the new bait (Nutrabaits Blue Oyster) and less than two minutes later I was playing a very angry mirror carp! The commotion in only 4 feet of water scuppered any further chances and so I prepared fresh rigs and shortly before dark got both rods out onto spots in slightly deeper water.

Nutrabaits 'Blue Oyster' gave me instant results

Nutrabaits ‘Blue Oyster’ gave me instant results

The night passed uneventfully, apart from one nice twenty and I awoke at first light to find a fish eater (in this case a Russian angler who likes to kill everything, and I mean everything that he catches) less than 20 yards to my left. Considering there is over 1 mile of bank to chose from I was not feeling particularly friendly! However, I was to have the last laugh as 30 minutes later my left hand rod ripped off and I began a tussle with an old friend. There was no hiding the fact that this was a beast of a carp and I heard an excited Russian ask me how big?? My reply of ‘only a small one’ seemed to work as he skulked off and left me alone. Finally, ‘The Pet’ was mine again.

A cracking fish and one I am happy to see over and over again. Considering the size of the water and the number of fish present it seems strange I would catch the same fish several times but you won’t hear me complaining anytime soon.

'The Pet' in immaculate condition

‘The Pet’ in immaculate condition

My final session on this water was particularly pleasing as I had a brace of fish with a big crowd watching and I also managed a couple of cracking night time fish. However, with work getting more and more hectic I knew I would not be getting back until late summer and so I vowed to return as the water holds one more target I want to achieve before I leave it to others.

AN OLD WATER BECOMES MY NEW WATER

Weekends now became my only chance to whet a line, which did not amuse me! I hate fishing at weekends, unless it’s Sunday night, as it attracts the nuts, the stupid, the ignorant and the downright idiotic anglers and non anglers alike. Unfortunately, there is no reasoning with STUPID so I decided to first hit up a hidden section of the tidal river to catch some commons and then concentrate on a couple of remote areas of my local lake. The tidal river session went particularly well, as fishing fake maize and corn over boilies and ground bait, laced with pellets certainly got the fish feeding and I caught over twenty commons. They were mostly lean and angry mid to upper double males but I also got a couple of bigger specimens approaching mid twenties which certainly put a smile on my face.

Tidal rivers certainly separate the men from the boys and if your tackle is not up to the job the carp will make you look stupid. I had particular success with the FOX SSBP (short shank beaked point) hooks and all of the fish I landed were nailed and the only fish I lost were down to a rather nasty sunken rock the fish like to aim for at low tide!

A typical long and lean tidal river common

A typical long and lean tidal river common

After my foray onto the river I was to put short session fishing to the test. I had a Memorial Day Tournament to attend and as I needed to avoid the traffic and get a 5am start I decided to fish for a few hours before making the drive. I arrived in darkness and stealthily hid myself away. I knew the swim intimately, even though I hadn’t fished it for 18 months and after setting up my rods I waded my baits into position and scattered some hemp, pellets, corn and boilies over the top and settled down under the stars. I can’t say I was expecting too much but shortly after 2am one of the rods erupted into life and I made my way out into the lake to battle with whatever was on the other end of the line. After a spirited battle a cracked upper twenty made it’s way onto the mat. I quickly got the rod back into position and rebaited.

A welcome surprise

A welcome surprise

A few hours later the rod signaled another bite and the procedure was repeated. Another upper twenty! A cracking result and reward for making the effort. The session ended on a bit of a downer as while returning one of the fish I had another take, only for the fish to take me through an underwater snag and slip the hook. I hate losing fish, but especially when I am fish waters where I know the next fish could be a truly special carp.

Another upper twenty and reward for making the effort

Another upper twenty and reward for making the effort

I tried another short night session in the same swim, but I was fairly sure the fish would be elsewhere spawning and ultimately I was proved correct with a big, fat blank. I never stress too much over not catching as it all goes into the knowledge bank for future reference. I actually did not manage to get out again for another few weeks and I now felt the fish would be back from spawning and again, past experience paid off with a couple of nice scaley mirrors, one going just short of 30lb’s. The highlight of this session was listening to a concert going on locally and a massive firework display, all of which never seem to bother the carp on this lake as it’s the norm, not the exception.

Another long and lean upper twenty

Another long and lean upper twenty

EXPLORING NEW SPOTS

This brings me up to the last couple of weeks where I decided to rest my other swim for a few weeks and explore a new area of the lake. In this case I decided to take my kayak out as it makes access to the spot much easier and also allows me to bait up by boat if required. Unfortunately, I had picked a Saturday night which I knew would mean lots of boat traffic with most of them being drunk or well on their way. I was not to be disappointed!! It was madness on the water with all kinds of parties going on until the early hours and one boat nearly crashing into the bank. Oh well, back to the fishing.

I started with a couple of bullheads. Not a good sign as once on the bait they are very much a problem.  My solution was to move the rod into deeper water and bait only with boilies (Nutrabaits Techni-spice, glugged with hemp oil). It seemed to work with a couple of smaller fully scaled fish, gradually getting bigger in size until I caught a nice upper double. The boilies seemed to kick into life at first light and I had a run of fish resulting in a beauty, well into the 30lb range. Now, the lake has and does produce big fish but these are few and far between and when you catch a 30lb+ fish from it’s depths it is usually well earned.

This fish made me very happy

This fish made me very happy

A week later I planned a return session, but on closer inspection there appeared to be some kind of party, more akin to a Pagan sacrifice taking place. I decided to give the reveler’s a wide berth and took it as an omen I should be trying a new spot anyway. I paddled around and found an area I liked the look of, with the water going from 4 feet to a nice 10 foot plateau before dropping off to over 30 feet. As it was now dark I used the throwing stick and deposited around a kilo or so of mixed boilies at 50 yards with the plan to move both rods onto the spot should the carp become active. For now, the other rod went onto the 10 foot plateau and was baited with 10-15 balls of ground bait, laced with hemp, sweetcorn and chow pellets. Over this I fished fake maize as I knew that while not as selective as boilies it would almost certainly attract fish to the area and I could then change the baiting situation on future sessions if the area proved to be a fish holder.

The night was quite, apart from a boat that turned up at 2am, anchored a few hundred yards away and then for the next two hours regaled me with numerous songs and ditties. Seriously, I am not sure why anyone would chose to do this, but the same could be said of my own carp fishing addiction. Once they departed the fish seemed to respond and I was away at 4am. Unfortunately the fish found a massive area of water cabbages, which I thought I had avoided and even though I took the boat out, the fish won the day. Feeling sorry for myself I retreated onto my chair and it wasn’t until after 6am that redemption was mine in the shape of an awesome scaley mirror. The fish had everything I loved about the carp in this lake. Scaley, fin perfect and angry!

A fish with an attitude

A fish with an attitude

I returned it to it’s watery home and got a couple of hours of sleep before finally deciding that the fish had beaten me. I packed up everything and just had the rods left on the deck. Having checked the weather the evening before I was not expecting the thunderstorm that now descended upon me. At the same time as the rain started so did the action over the baited boilie spot. Sitting under the tree canopy I watched as clutch of one of my reels started to smoke! I quickly got into the water and waded 80 yards down the margins to reduce the chance of the fish kiting into the water cabbages and after a spirited battle I landed another one of the lakes beautiful mirrors. Having packed away everything, I had just unhooked the fish when the second rod decided to spring to life. At this point it would be easy to panic and leave the other fish on the mat, but instead. I tightened the clutch on the spinning reel to slow the fish down and moved the carp on the mat into the retaining sling. I then set the net back up before finally picking the rod up to play the fish. It was still attached shortly after a mid teen fully scaled mirror was quickly unhooked and released.

Ancient looking mirror

Ancient looking mirror

At this point the rain increased and so did the thunder. Knowing that I was stuck for the time being I recast both rods and sat down hoping that the rain would ease off, allowing me to kayak back to my car. Less than 5 minutes later one of the rods took off again and better still I got the take, fight and landing all on video. The fish turned out to be a stunner in the shape of a wild looking fully scaled mirror. It’s not the biggest fish I’ve ever caught but I couldn’t have asked for a prettier carp to finish the session.

A wild looking fully scaled mirror

A wild looking fully scaled mirror

During a lull in the storm I managed to get back to dry land and the safety of my car, but not without an absolute drenching in the process. I’m really glad I made the decision to concentrate on this lake again as while I can fish areas with more carp and areas with bigger carp, I truly feel this lake tests me as an angler. At times fishing can be heart breaking and at times it can be ridiculously easy, but this lake offers everything. It can be both urban and rural as it stretches for 4 miles; it has limited bank access even with a boat; the water traffic is unreal with pleasure boaters, water skiers, jet skiers, a very large rowing club and numerous pontoons full of partiers to contend with; it has a few shallow areas but for the most part drops to 20-60 feet in depths; it has a growing population of bow hunters; it has an annoyingly active population of catfish (bullheads) and finally the carp! While the lake has decent numbers of fish they are spread out and the bigger specimens are very much territorial and stick to the same areas which means with limited bank access it can be hard to even fish for them. There are also a lot more low to mid double fish than bigger specimens and to be selective you really have to work at your tactics. Any pre-baiting only results in attracting the bullheads and smaller carp and in the past I have spent a lot of time and money ‘priming’ areas only to be plagued with the wrong species. After all is said and done, I absolutely love this lake and smile every time my alarm sounds.

I’ll be busy for the next couple of weeks, but am already planning my return and hopefully I can catch the fish I have spent so many hours daydreaming of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkEZG-qZxfI&feature=youtu.be

Comments

comments