Tuesday 29 May 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Nine: Easy When It Goes To Plan.

 Carp fishing in my eyes is only as easy as you want to make it, especially when it comes to stalking. Lack of stealth, patience, watercraft and knowledge puts anglers at a disadvantage. Having all of the aforementioned and you stand a good chance at capturing your quarry.

 The other morning I arrived on a lake I have been targeting of late to find it as still as I've ever seen it, no wind and with the sun not even above the horizon I had a good feeling some carp would be spotted. As the mist rose off the surface of the mirror like lake I could just make out the shapes of some fairly large carp, two or three of which were possibly thirty pounders! As they drifted in and out of view I hastily set my rod and net up with the anticipation that they would visit me again.

 Concealed amongst some marginal reeds I felt confident that the marauding carp couldn't sense my presence and that any attack that I would spring upon them would take them completely off guard. For probably ten minutes or so I waited patiently before another shape slowly approached me, this fish, a common, possibly a mid double showed plenty of interest in something in the lake bed, with its snout churning up the sediment I couldn't ignore a feeding fish. A moist chunk of bread was eased into its path and within seconds the birdsong was shattered by the sound of crashing water.

 At no point can an angler ever be more excited than be in contact with your chosen quarry, yes size may factor into how much you might enjoy the battle, I know myself that playing larger fish does have an effect on you that the quicker it is over the more I enjoy it! But the fact can't be denied that playing a carp is immense fun. Size wise, this fish weighed no more than 15lb (14.8 to be precise) but it mattered not, just an hour previous I was stirring in bed with this very outcome playing out in my mind.

14lbs 8ozs.

 On the mat a nice stocky common lye in wait to be photographed (just a quick one for the "smaller" specimens) in a very relaxed fashion, no nonsense, just in, out and back in for it to swim off strongly. But my rewards didn't end there as I replicated my earlier success almost to the letter, the only differences were that this common was slightly bigger and a whole lot more feisty. Run after run, lunge after lunge gave me plenty to think about and put my little Nash Dwarf "Abbreviated 9ft 2.75lb TC" rod to the test.

 With such tackle and not much by the way of snags its pretty much plain sailing if the hook hold is good. Just a few minutes of battling my second carp of the morning was resting up in the net, it had been a good outing so far!

16lbs 8ozs.

 My first client of the day was booked in for 8am and time was pressing on so I had to decide on packing up around 715 to make it on time. Unfortunately for me that time came a little quicker than I'd have liked but it was good whilst it lasted.

 On to the next visit which I believe was 4 days later and I aimed to do the same thing, this time around I didn't have work to dictate when I could leave! The idea was to start at 5am and remain mobile to locate feeding fish, with good conditions again I was able to keep a low profile off the water-line and select fish which were feeding within the marginal twenty feet.

 Easy when it goes to plan.....now sometimes when stalking and a few fish have fallen foul to a bit of flake or crust you get the occasional carp which thinks its above the rest in regards to IQ, there is always a smart one which simply can not be fooled. I spent probably twenty minutes angling for this one particular carp before it shifted further and further out of the bay until I couldn't see it anymore.

 Not to be deterred I continued my laps of the lake in search of something to cast at, those ghostly shapes began to become more and more difficult to find. It took me well over half an hour to finally locate a carp on the feed, for some reason I was seeing less than usual and not entirely sure why.

 The carp that I had stumbled over was a good fish, certainly a twenty pounder. A wide back and really deep, its length was probably where it lacked, another half a foot longer and it could have been approaching the thirty pound mark. My stalking skills were called into action again, just like the morning trip previous. With the carp only feeding in little spells I had to guess where it would next put its head down, little puffs of silt would come up as its pectoral fins were wafting bits of debris up got me thinking, as a pattern began to emerge. Creatures of habit are always easier to target once they have been sussed out.

 A minute or so passed by before she put her head down again and this time the bread flake was perfectly placed, the first thing that went was the bait, as I struck the water erupted and one very angry common charged off towards the middle of the lake. For a few minutes I played the fish at distance as it used the depth very well, long hard runs stripped line off the spool and whenever I could turn her head I'd gain line and this battle of wills played out until she began to tire. Once she started to ease in I shipped out the net and she was mine.

 An old warrior of a carp, weighing in at 23lb 10oz I was happy with that, but clearly spawned out.

 After releasing that carp I spent the rest of the early morning searching for another opportunity, which ultimately didn't come. I wasn't bothered. My day was to get even better though, in fact much better as I experienced the capture of a challenge threatening carp....that will be published on my next blog post so stay tuned!

Monday 28 May 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Eight: Canal Doubles at the Double.

 With another herculean effort embarked upon, my day started off with a 11 mile journey to the starting point, from there I set off on foot to scour the canals in the vein hope to increase my already fantastic return over the last 6 weeks. Before this trip I'd only managed two carp in seven visits ( 6 blanks ) with them both over the 20lb mark (25.7 & 23.4), I would have bitten off someones arm to be offered those after just a few weeks of trying though.

 That "Thirty Pounder" is however the ultimate goal as "you" my readers will know by now. The conditions for stalking were fairly good, the wind was a little stiffer than I would have liked. I began my quest around 5am and ambled my way up the towpath, peeking into every nook and cranny or any other likely looking spot where a carp may reside.

 Hours of continuous walking didn't even yield the sight of a carp, just a solitary pike in the margins on the lookout for its next meal, that was until I reached a run of marginal reeds where I noticed a cloud of light coloured sediment up in the water. I knew there hadn't been a boat through in quite sometime, so it was likely to be a fish, bream do frequent a lot of this canal so it was possible it was one or more of them. I waited for a couple of minutes to see what emerged but nothing did, no tail patterns, no fresh sediment coming up in the water, in fact it got clearer as the sediment that was up in the water fell back down.

 I decided to leave and continue walking when about 40 yards up I noticed a tail pattern under the surface, a fish on the TOP! I exclaimed to myself, just the opportunity I had spent the last seven hours searching for! A moulded lump of flake went on and I eased it just beyond the carp and slowly teased it in the wind so it looked as natural as possible, the carp spotted the bread drifting and inhaled the bait with no hesitation, fish on and boy, did it fight! For probably 5 or 6 minutes I was being towed around, all I could do was turn its head in a bid to get the upper hand, thankfully after four or five attempts I finally got her head up and eased the lip of the net out, first time, that'll do!

Hard work is always rewarded.

 My third carp on the canals so far and at 19lb 10oz there were no complaints, these canal carp really do fight hard! The real task certainly is locating them, once you have, the skill required to catch them has to be flawless as these fish are not stupid at all. Not that I think they get targeted much, they simply don't see many anglers and natural supplies of food is their staple.

 With no other fish in sight I continued my wander up the towpath with a spring in my step, the capture of a fish does wonders for the confidence and half an hour later the sight of four carp marauding across the top got my piscatorial juices flowing!. Capturing one of these was to be quite a challenge as the bank was lined with narrow boats and barges which made casting and potentially the landing of a fish very difficult, so I moved away from the carp with one eye firmly fixed on them to a gap in the boats where I then threaded a 5SSG loafer to give me a better casting ability than a free-lined bit of floating bread.

 The plan worked an absolute treat as I punched the bait roughly onto the same line they had been working for some twenty minutes before I decided upon the float idea. Waiting for them to cruise towards my float took a bit of time but it happened, three of the carp cruised straight up to it, a common approx 20-21lb eyed it up before rejecting it, when a dark mirror sidled up beside it, slightly passing it before halting and back peddling to almost level with the flake, with one gentle suck, the bread vanished, no need to watch the float dip, the line to tighten or anything, I knew this was on!

 This mirror had a right bee in its bonnet, the first and only run was epic!, it tore off so quick I had to just admire the speed, nothing I could do to stop it or even slow it down, my only concern was the moored boats and a huge branch laced with weed which it typically headed straight for, as the carp ploughed through the snag I could feel and hear the horrible grating of the line where is was rubbing against the snag, what was worse is that the fish had gone through it entirely and was 30ft past it and my line was not sounding good, I felt at any moment that she'd come off to a line break, however the weight of the snag on the 10lb line seemed to have acted as an anchor for the carp and it stopped pulling. That was my cue to just begin gaining and hope the line would hold up.

 As I drew the carp nearer to the snag a large clump of weed covered the fish and allowed me to gain further still, as the carp came up to the branch the line flicked off and the weed fell off, I didn't know whether to be afraid now or not, thankfully the mirror had spent most of its energy and just cruised in to the awaiting net. That was close!, as I hoisted the net up and on to the mat the hook was in the net and checked the line which was completely shredded! Had that carp done anymore battling I am under no illusion I'd have lost her. This time around I got a stroke of luck.

My second of the day at 17lb 11oz, absolute stunner.

 These canals certainly do like to make the angler work! But I am only too happy to try, I know there is some absolutely special creatures in these systems somewhere and this was one of them. Nothing for seven hours or so and then two carp in thirty minutes or there abouts. I couldn't be happier with that return. I had promised the mrs I'd be back mid-afternoon so I had to keep that and left not long after the second carp and full of joy, that is what angling is all about!

Tuesday 22 May 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Seven: No Post Holiday Blues.

 Last Tuesday I was enjoying my last day in the balmy Tenerife sun, twelve hours later, I had flown 2280 miles and slept, packed my tackle bag, gathered my rod, showered, jumped on the bus and had already cast out! That's fishing and my morning was already planned out.

 A few hours with a half loaf of bread was just the tonic for a short nights sleep as the anticipation of getting out got the better of me, so much so I woke ten minutes before my alarm was due to sound which saved me the wrath of the mrs as I usually hit the snooze button a dozen times before I crawl out of bed. 10 years ago I didn't even need an alarm, my body knew it was fishing time and I was up and ready, every time, as I am getting older I feel on the odd occasion a little reluctant to make the effort.

 On my first round of the lake I failed to spot a single carp, whether it be down in the water or on the top. The lack of activity continued as I looked hard for quite some time, then out of nowhere a nice broad mirror swam into a wide bay, with its tail waving up in the water I knew it was feeding well. I flicked out a small piece of flake and watched it settle on the gravel, not a minute later she turned slowly and noticed my bait five or six feet away, the distance was made up very quickly and as the bread vanished I struck into it! Fish on! On a fairly tight clutch she powered off for possibly thirty yards before I could slow it up, these fish do fight well, I am never disappointed.

 A good five or six minutes of battling away she started to tire, I readied the net and sunk it, but as I finished getting prepared the hook pulled, I was gutted. It was probably around twenty pounds or so. Boll@x.....

 Not what I wanted to experience, for well over an hour I continued to search the margins with not an awful lot showing, until a pig of a common was spotted grubbing up right tight to some reeds, a cloud of sediment shrouded her as she continued to sift through the gravel looking for food, I simply couldn't resist easing a bait right onto her patch, my flake sank into the immediate area of the carp but with the cloud of sediment up in the water I couldn't make it out, it didn't take long for the line to tighten up on my finger! With a pig in tow I eased off slightly with this one as the fight played out, hoping to prevent the same outcome.

 Thankfully I got my prize and after a good couple of hours I finally got a good fish on the bank, happily she behaved well for some photos and weighing in, not often they do that there!

26lb 14ozs of sheer power! :) 

 My best from here yet but I have designs on thirties, only time will tell but when the season opens I will be gone from here as a chance of a forty simply isn't going to happen, it however is good fun and sharpening my skills for that day when a real monster may come my way!

 That by the way was it for me, the carp began to show much further out and well out of my reach, so I decided to call it a morning, not a bad one!

Monday 21 May 2018

Away Day for Marlin! And Whale-watching.

 Last week I was away with the missus in Tenerife for a little break in the sun. It was much needed and both of us couldn't wait to just do nothing and soak up some sun, so thats exactly what we did for 5 days. The other two days we spent out on the Atlantic Ocean.

 The first day we headed out on a sailing boat for a days cruising on the deep blue sea. On our day trip we were told that it's possible we could see Whales and Dolphins as they patrol the deep ridge that surrounds the island of Tenerife. Depths slope away at a consistent rate 20-80 metres, then out of nowhere the ocean floor vanishes as you are quickly over 1200-1500 metres of water, ideal depths for squid and other sources of food for deep sea specialists like Whales.

 We really hoped to see some as they are one of the only major class of animal I have not had the pleasure of seeing. That changed pretty quickly though as we came across a pod of possibly 20 just ambling seamlessly across the slightly choppy surface. This species of Whale is the Pilot Whale and it was a joy to witness their presence. Our captain didn't get any closer than approx 150m to allow them space and not pressure them which I thought was very responsible, so I had to rely on my long lens to get some half decent images.

 Having enjoyed that excursion I was looking forward to getting back on the water, so naturally we planned to go out fishing! Not just any fishing either. For a few years now I have really wanted to go out in search of a Marlin but to name a few. Well that time came but myself and the mrs decided to book an afternoon session, hoping the bright high sunny conditions would have passed and then the predators begin to go on the hunt.

 For a good four hours we trawled 7 rods armed with various imitations behind the boat, all the time my attentions were divided up between watching the broken water behind the lures and the fish finder/echo sounder. Unfortunately I learnt fairly early on that the Marlin and Darado haven't made it into the "shallower" waters yet and still out in the deep Atlantic.

 For me it was a good experience and apart from not catching it has certainly cemented a return visit when the chances are better to cut my teeth and something a little bigger than Carp!

Thursday 17 May 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Six: A Great Days Work.

 As Spring slowly gathers pace towards some slightly more consistent temperatures my sessions will increase in regulatory. This is usually planned using a few little pieces of technology that we all have at our fingertips. I use WeatherNow which is an up to the minute mapping of cloud, rain and storms. Also a quick look at the pressure (Barometric) to get a rough gauge as to where I may have the best chance at finding carp.

 I know some anglers who swear by these indicators to improve chances of catching, but others are a little more chuck and chance about their approaches. Both in opinion funnily enough do work, on their day! There's many times that I've not looked at more than the forecast to find out, "Is it sunny or not?" and "How strong is the wind". These two simply because I try to stalk all of my carp, if at all possible.

 The outcome of such trips can often have chequered results which is understandable. So having done  very little by the way of preparation I set off early doors, long before the dawn chorus filled the cool misty air.

 By the time the sun broke the horizon I was already prepared for what the day may swing my way. The heat could be felt very early on as I was set to endure a scorcher of a day, the mercury set to hit 28c.....with plenty of stalking/walking planned it was going to be a grueller. I knew where I wanted to fish so that was the easy part taken care of. Just catching was all that was left.

 Thankfully stalking carp in the sunlight with very little wind is always a bit easier, as long as the carp are playing ball. Within fifteen minutes of casting out a chunky common cruised into a small bay that was gravel lined and a shallow fringe of reeds to my left. As the carp came closer she cruised really close to the reeds, just brushing them as she passed. As my target slowly cruised away to the edge of the bay she double backed and again, slowly drifted to within twenty feet of my position, where I was crouched down on my haunches to maintain a low profile. Knowing exactly where the carp was made it easy to cast a bait. My bait of choice for the day was a loaf of the finest money can buy.

 My cast was precise and I eased my hook bait slowly back to the feeding position, as my flake slowly wafted through the water column my heartbeat began to increase, twenty seconds later it went through the roof as the cast and winching back into position was superbly executed and the carp made had clearly made up its mind as she turned full circle after seeing it fall to the bottom to suck it up. My Nash Dwarf "Abbreviated 9ft 2.75tc rod slammed over and a healthy bend confirmed what I already knew! It was a good fish. The fight was pretty spectacular as numerous powerful runs were met with long heavy sulks before finding that "second wind" and powering off again.

 My net was readied as my prize looked destined to surrender and I wasn't wrong, with a wide back it looked dead set to be a mid-twenty. Happy days....new water and a mid twenty in 20 minutes!

 At 23lb 7ozs I was made up, I didn't think I would be rewarded so swiftly. However, when it all clicks into place the limits are endless.

Just a little happy with that!
 My morning was not even half an hour old, the sun was still trying its best to get just a few degrees over the horizon before my duck was broken and I set off again looking to add to that lovely common. A few fish were showing but most at distance. For me the real buzz is being close quarters, I absolutely love it, sometimes I am fishing a lump of flake just 3ft off the bank and thats just how I managed to bank my next pearler!

 Many anglers aim for the far bank, or sometimes even the car park in the next complex! but that really isn't necessary as some of the countries best carp anglers will tell you. I'm not one of the best of course not, but I will certainly reiterate that ignoring the margins is only putting you at a disadvantage. For me, I would comfortably say that 40-50% of all the carp I have ever landed (that's a hell of a lot, well into the thousands with hundreds of them being 20's and 30's upwards of 36lbs).

 Roughly an hour passed before a feeding fish was located within freelined flake distance. A small plume of sediment was wafted into the upper layers of the water column in the margins thus hiding the culprit, it took me a good 4 or 5 minutes to finally catch a glimpse of what it was, then a stunning linear mirror appeared, roughly 25lbs and it was having a right grub up for breakfast, so I obliged by offering it some more food, only problem for the carp was, I was attached!!!

 The levering of the bait again was absolutely flawless the carp, never had an inkling it was being hunted, with a small pluck on the line I could feel its barbules touch the line, but the time between that and the flake vanishing down its gob was too short for it to realise its wrong move. That small plume of sediment turned into an enormous cloud as hell broke lose. My Shimano bait runner paid out line at such at rate I began to wonder if I could stop it! Such was the power a loaded spool began to look rather threadbare...I had to put the breaks on it though before I risked losing the fish to a snag or something worse. 

 Minutes passed before I really began to gain the upper hand and for what seemed like a great fight she came in on a 60 yard charge to give up right before the net, if I could only get it in! On the third attempt I thankfully managed it. Boom!

24lb 4oz Linear Mirror.
 The morning was turning out to be pretty great. I spent the remaining hour or so looking for more carp, but they became fairly difficult to pursue so I pressed on with the next part of my trip, a brisk walk was embarked upon as I look to make good of the favourable stalking conditions.

 No sooner did I arrive at my second destination I was greeted with the same spectacle as on the previous water. As marauding carp littered the surface I was led into the stalkers dreamland once again, numerous fish of varying sizes displaying themselves as if it were a pick'n'mix sweet stand. I simply couldn't chose which one to go at, that was until I noticed a stunning mirror carp sandwiched amongst a group of commons. This mirror was not a big fish but when it sucked my crust in, before all the hungry commons got there did I realise just how stunning it was. Wild & Urban, Immaculate, Pristine....and whatever other superlatives you could conjure up, make your own mind up.

Insert Caption!!!!!
 Yes, that mirror wasn't big, it wasn't weighed either, when they look this good, a simple photo and admiration for what nature can fashion is all that was required, then with one powerful stroke of the paddle, she was gone, maybe to not be seen again for a very long time.

 My day was made, I had had a great morning, but with such good conditions I had to make the most of it. I spent the remaining 5-6 hours parading around for more opportunities but these were quite difficult to find. Plenty of carp were making their way around the waters, their intentions though seemed to be swaying to the more social side of their lives, the warming waters was obviously having an affect on how they were behaving. Seeing this activity I left the carp on those particular waters and headed back for the deep dock where I caught my scaley mirror.

 Again, opportunities seemed to be few and far between. Possibly twenty minutes of arriving back two nice commons showed themselves in the upper layers of the water, these were feeding and not within a minute of angling my bait into position I was in once again. A chunky common powered off into the depths of the dock, using all of its might to avoid capture early on she gave up fairly easily and behaved for a couple of snaps in the blaring sun, 30 seconds and it was back in the water. 

 The release of that common pulled the curtain down on the day, a great day had and one to remember. Very pleased with that indeed. It was an effort too, in the boiling heat of the high sun my stamina was called upon but I came through it unscathed and another 20+miles added to my body clock!

Tuesday 8 May 2018

The Bloggers Challenge 2017-18 Campaign.

 Since last May 1st myself and a dozen or so like minded anglers who dabble in a bit of blogging were embroiled in the second instalment of the "Bloggers Challenge", I have to say before I go any further that it was good fun and the competition was coming from all angles, what with my canal systems mostly devoid of fish it made for an interesting challenge. Well done to all of you guys who made it the success it was!

 Massive congratulations to George Burton ( who's blog can be found here http://floatflightflannel.blogspot.co.uk ) for his stellar efforts and my partner in crime Brian ( http://www.pikeblog.com ) for a well earned third place. To win the bloggers challenge wasn't without its ups and downs as certain targets I aimed for failed to materialise, couple that with two and a half months out of the country during that time meant my fishing time was greatly reduced, although it has to be said I thoroughly enjoyed my time away!

 My top 3 captures of the challenge have to be these. In ascending order:

 Number Three: https://jamesthespecimenhunter.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/mission-accomplished-golden-orfe.html

 Number Two: https://jamesthespecimenhunter.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/carp-bug-part-two.html

 Number One: https://jamesthespecimenhunter.blogspot.co.uk/2018/04/topc-part-four-taming-towpath-titans.html

 Reasons for my choices are for different reasons but all boil down to the effort that is required to even get close.

 Number 3 and the Golden Orfe, my target was a 6lb+ specimen and I thought I would have it wrapped up in no time at all. How wrong was I, three years later and a dozen trips I finally got my chance and with my target smashed, it was job done.

 Number 2 is a tough one, but, I think number one just pips this to the top. I have settled on my river leviathan Common Carp at 28lb 3oz, which given my physical condition sustained on holiday was quite a feat. Having never laid eyes on such a beast on a river which was offering itself for an attempt at capturing this was one fish that never knew its mistake. A tense battle played out in the pacy current on my Mark IV 10ft cane rod and on the centrepin made this a truly wonderful experience when the sanctuary of my net meant I had won the battle of wills!

 Number 1......Do I even have to say what it could be? Canal carp are incredibly rare where I'm from and to catch one in ten-twenty trips is good going, so to catch two in a day and both over 20lbs! It could only be this session as its one I am fairly sure I'll never emulate but the dream of a 30lb+ specimen for my " One Hundred Pound Challenge" is certainly, for the time being, still just a dream. But I will continue to search for that one fish which will certainly put me in a good position to achieve what is likely to be my toughest challenge yet.

 Once again, to all of those who entered and angled their way through the last twelve months. A massive congratulations!

Sunday 6 May 2018

Toughing It Out For Crucians: Part Two.

 The blog title above is actually fairly misleading I'll admit and heres why. This is possibly my fourth or fifth trip in the last month or so in search of miniature gold, much to my disappointment they have been somewhat difficult to locate. My reasoning behind this being only my second post on the crucian front since my exertions on Enton Mere is because they were very drab affairs.

 Yesterday, I decided to spend yet another day in search of these awesome looking creatures. The dainty lunges, followed by the motion of an ever-decreasing circle is something that I do miss. For too many hours I have sat watching for the tiny little lifts or sailing away of the float, but until yesterday sport has been very sporadic and at best it can only be described as tough, I didn't hold out high hopes on a trip with a different complexion.

 With Enton closed, Harris lake on the Marsh Farm Fishery has been my go to place for the chance of crucians. Blustery conditions on the canals would have made hard work out of a tough situation, so the vision of a relaxing day in the heat of our latest mini summer was too much to pass up.

 A nice early start for myself, Brian and Richard see us on the water and fishing just before 8am and we proceeded to get a little bed of ground bait out on one rod which was fished with a float rod, dotted down to level with the water. The other I decided to fish the pellet cone and a piece of buoyant corn which I know is quite a popular method with some anglers on the fishery.

 By 9am the temp had already reached 21c with all the hallmarks of a tough day ahead! Only a couple of fish showed by this point and anglers who had caught had their successes at dawn or up to 7am, after that sport dried right up (likely due to the sun getting up above the horizon and small tree-lines).

 Midday had come and gone without the sign of a fish or activity below the surface. All my hopes seemed to be pinned on the late-afternoon/evening as the temps would begin to drop gently and the fish could begin to feed as dusk approaches. Thankfully I didn't have to wait that long as by 3;30 I began to catch, the float being my preferred method as for the remainder of the day after a move I started to build a decent little bag.

 Obviously after a couple of tench I thought I may have to move again to try and find the crucians, however not long after my third tench I finally struck gold in the shape of a 1.14 little cracker, this was followed up by another three, weighing 1.15 and two just over the pound mark, not the monsters that I have had the pleasure of catching on other sessions but equally as pretty to hold. In perfect condition they really are one of our best looking species.


Nearly a "two".
 Laying in the sunlight, on the mat, glistening in all their glory. Angling for me is not all about the next big specimen, but this aspect of it appeals to me just as much.

My Attempt at a Classic Crucian Photograph.

What A Start!

   Since the river season ended I've taken a 3 week hiatus from fishing, work as usual the excuse! Storm Kathleen however was predicted ...