At the end of my previous article I was left with a choice to make; stay in a swim that was producing mostly smaller fish or gamble and move to a spot 45 minutes away to take advantage of the weather conditions. I decided to roll the dice.

Rods out after changing swims - mid session

Rods out after changing swims – mid session

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF WEATHER PATTERNS

My decision to move was in part due to experience. Having fished the area the previous two springs I had found that strong winds from the South always seemed to produce bumper sessions and looking at the previous days weather and the current forecast I knew I would be missing out if I stayed put. Once I arrived at the location I left my tackle in the car and went for a walk. This is something very simple but sadly overlooked by the majority of anglers. At times we all fall into patterns of behavior and I can’t tell you how many times I have seen anglers turn up to a lake or river who have already decided where they will fish! Even five minutes of watching the water can be enough to figure out the best areas and time spent finding the fish is never wasted. In this particular case I had a feeling the carp would be in the teeth of the wind (25-30 mph) but I still took 30 minutes to check several areas. I was proved right as I saw signs of several fish exactly where I thought they would be. It was time to get the rods!

QUICK BITESĀ 

Having seen evidence of carp in the area the last thing I wanted to do was start thrashing the water to a foam or setting up camp. I had the advantage of knowing the swim as I had fished it several times, therefore I could get a rig out without having to check depths or the make-up of the bottom. In this case I wanted to get one rod on a margin spot over a handful of bait and then retreat several meters up the bank to set up my second rod and arrange all of my tackle well out of the way of the actual fishing area. The baiting situation was simple enough; a snowman rig and 3 bait stringer fished over a handful of home made soluble boilies, less than 15 yards out. I gently swung the rig into position followed by 30-40 solubles and placed the rod onto the alarm. In this case the clutch was wound tight, therefore not allowing the fish to run at speed (due to snags in close proximity) but not so tight the rod would be pulled in.

Soluble boilies ready to airdry

Soluble boilies ready to airdry

PERFECT START

I slowly set up the area to weigh fish (mat, scales and camera) and also arranged my net and retaining sling close to the water so that I could fish efficiently if the fish were feeding in any numbers. I like to do this as once I land the fish I can unhook it in the net, secure it in the retaining sling and then rebait. I will then weigh and picture the fish once the rod is fishing again. This maximizes my chance to catch more fish rather than wasting valuable time when the fish are feeding! Just as I was attaching a rig to my second rod, my alarm signaled a steady take. I was on the rod in record time and hit into a very angry and very powerful carp. It did everything it could to get into the snags to my right, but with a 2.25lb TC rod I was able to exert maximum pressure on it without the fear of a hook pull. Having turned the fish it decided to use the waves and it’s weight and it took another 15 minutes to see my prize in the net. A stunning upper thirty was secured and I quickly re-baited and also deposited 1/2 a kilo of 20mm boilies into my second area, closely followed by a fluro pop-up rig.

The fish in the sling was stunning. A solid chunk with some unique scaling but with the bright sunshine the self-take pictures really didn’t do it justice.

38.5lbs of solid Mirror carp

38.5lbs of solid Mirror carp

Over the next 5 hours I landed a mixture of fish with several twenties amongst them. All of these fish came off my second spot, fished over a good amount of Dynamite Carptec boilies and all fell to a 15mm Fluro pop-up topped with fake corn. The presentation was simple enough, but deadly as the area had a light coating of silk weed. Combined with the heavy wind, regular bottom baits would have ended up being covered in weed in less than 5 minutes.

Typical feisty mid-twenty

Typical feisty mid-twenty

A long lean 27lb+ fighting machine

A long lean 27lb+ fighting machine

The action slowed after lunch time but I stayed an extra hour in the hope of one more fish. I made the slow ritual of packing away and as usual the last items were the rods. My patience was rewarded with one last take and another good lump joined my photo album. This one was a very lightly scaled fish but still a beauty.

Lightly scaled 30lb+ Mirror

Lightly scaled 30lb+ Mirror

EDGES

We all have our chosen methods and little ‘edges’ that we employ from time to time when the going gets tough. Over the years I have incorporated a lot of these edges into my fishing, disregarded many of them as fads, but most importantly found a few favorites that have stood the test of time. One of these is the use of glugs for my hook-baits, whether alcohol, fruit or oil based. Recently, I received a bottle of Betalin (from Saxon Tackle) and determined to use it over the next couple of sessions. The reviews I had read on it were excellent and on tasting it the first thing I noticed was it was neither overly sweet or gave a bitter aftertaste, unlike many modern dips and glugs. My next session saw me return to my previous success but the conditions were very different with hardly any wind and no carp activity visible. On a tough morning I still managed two stunning carp, both on Betalin soaked hook-baits. Now I am not saying I would not have caught on regular offerings but the Betalin gave me the extra confidence to stick to my game plan.

Just under 30lb's but one of my favorite spring captures

Just under 30lb’s but one of my favorite spring captures

32lb+ that like the Betalin

32lber that liked the Betalin

ONE LAST HURRAH

With the spring coming to an end and most of the fish having spawned I decided to try a couple of different areas over my next two sessions to hopefully rustle up another lump. Unfortunately, heavy rain over several days had put the river levels way up and on investigating two areas there was absolutely no way I would be able to fish the main river. As I had already driven over 100 miles I decided to look at one last spot to see if it was feasible. Fortunately, although the water level was high the actual flow was manageable and so the decision was made to stick it out. Not ideal conditions as it rained for 24 hours straight! I managed an upper double an hour or so before dark and then after changing clothes I tried to stay somewhat dry. With the heavy weed, I opted for solid PVA bags (not an easy task in heavy rain) and baited with chopped boiles over the top of the areas. At 3am I was rewarded with a very strong take and the next 10 minutes was spent playing the fish through the weed while getting absolutely drenched. I wasn’t too disappointed though as peering into the net I recognized the fish as an old friend. It must have been feeding heavily over the previous few months as it was in great condition and at over 44lb’s, a new PB.

I don't usually name fish, but this one is now christened 'Brookes Pet'.

I don’t usually name fish, but this one is now christened ‘Brookes Pet’.

The following week saw the river back to normal levels and the spot I wanted to fish previously now looked extremely good.

The river back in fine condition - would the carp be present

The river back in fine condition – would the carp be present

The area was overgrown, meaning it had seen little if any pressure recently. Usually, the fish patrol the marginal shelf and feed heavily at night, so I arrived in the late afternoon and slowly set up my tackle. I did have a take after only an hour which was somewhat of a surprise, but unfortunately the fish ran straight towards me and then kited down the margins which resulted in the braided mainline being cut off on one of the many rocks. It cut me off several feet above my leader so there was little I could have done in the circumstances but at least the rig was safe and I knew that the hook-link would pass over the leader knot and not leave the fish trailing the lead. I settled down for the night and shortly into dark I managed an upper double that tried the same trick. Fortunately I was alive to it’s tactics and I would quickly whilst walking backwards to keep a tight line on it. This worked a treat and the fish was soon landed, unhooked and released without ever leaving the water.

Another fish followed at 3am and this time a lovely fully scaled mirror of around 22lb’s was netted. Again, I slipped it back quickly and got back into my sleeping bag as the temperature had dropped quite a bit. I was in the middle of a fantastic dream (of me landing a 60lb+ behemoth) when I was awoken by one of the most violent takes I have ever received. The fish was powering off downstream at an incredible rate of knots and I had no choice but to run down the banks after it to make sure it could not kite into the marginal rocks. By the time I had the fish under control I was over 200 yards away from my net. I employed an old snag fishing method and instead of trying to pump the fish back upstream I kept it on a tight line and slowly walked it back in front of the initial take (just like walking a dog). The fish cooperated and was soon in the net. It was no wonder it fought so hard as it was a very long, lean male carp and at just over 30lbs it’s tail and fins were massive and I doubted it had never seen a hook before.

Last 30lber of the Spring

Last 30lber of the Spring

FINAL RESULTS

With the summer solstice just around the corner my spring fishing was at an end. In truth I wish I could have kept going as my results were way in excess of what I was hoping for. My target for the year was ten fish over the magical 30lb mark and I have achieved this in less than 2 months fishing. I was more pleased with the fact that the fish had come from several different areas and had challenged both my approach and my baiting strategies. I can only hope the rest of the year carries on in the same vein.

Releasing one of my Spring prizes

Releasing one of my Spring prizes

 

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