Thursday 28 June 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Twelve: Search For A River Thirty Begins.

 June the 16th for me always comes around with a sense of anticipation and my mind works overtime at the thought of endless possibilities for my river campaigns. This year however proceedings will take on a slightly different feel as I look to maintain my current pursuit of Carp. So far I am thoroughly enjoying it and the challenge ahead is shaping up quite nicely as my targets certainly don't feel any easier to achieve than they did before I began in early April, the opening of the river season would add another dimension to enable me to now target all three of my challenges.

 This year there was to be no midnight start, no early season chub or barbel session, no 250 mile round trip. To mix it up I stayed closer to home and afforded myself something of a lye in, 5am the alarm sounded, forty minutes later I was in the car and on my way to my destination. I hadn't managed much time on this particular river to find out feeding areas or to pre-bait so going blind was the only option, not that it matters sometimes.

 To begin with a single rod approach was the preferred tactic to keep myself mobile, knowing how transient river carp can be, my options had to be kept fairly open to hopefully make the most of any passing opportunity. Upon arriving on the river I could see the occasional Bream floating around, sometimes even having a grub around on the bottom, Carp however remained very anonymous. Like most years the weed growth has been very good, hiding places increased ten-fold, just to make my job harder.

 Clear patches weren't to difficult to locate and after much deliberation for a few hours I settled on one and flicked a few broken boilies out and a handful of corn in a couple of patches of the gravel. With no sign of a carp by 1pm I was beginning to get a little curious as to why I hadn't seen any, I was tucked away nicely, so it wasn't going to be my presence that was putting them off when against the back side of the gravel run an absolute pig of a common waddled upstream with about ten Bream which were also really big fish, most of them I kid you not were double figure fish, IN A RIVER!

 Within five minutes of the fish arriving on the gravel run the carp had shifted on, clearly not interested in the little bit of bait on the bottom, the Bream however thought differently and my delkim sounded as my rod started to peel line. In the absolutely gin clear water I could see a huge slab shaking its head, possibly the biggest Bream I've ever hooked and within a couple of minutes a new personal best lay nestled nicely at the bottom of my 42" net. It's no Carp, who of sane mind could possibly turn their nose up at that! Awesome creature!

A new personal best at 12lb 7oz!

 Understandably I shaking, a lot, when my other rod decided to tare off, Bream number two on! and I hadn't even slipped back the twelve pounder yet, so I wedged the landing net pole between my legs and let one go as I guided the next in, this one smaller, which weighed 9lb 1oz. Crazy times.

 After that madness of having both rods out of the water the dust settled and I was able to take stock of what had just happened, I have not fished for Bream out and out before and have felt the time is near, this showing just illustrated how much I do need to give them a serious go, maybe next year.

 It took quiet sometime for the Bream to come back, when they did the inevitable unfolded as my left hand rod sang and a fish could be seen trying to shed the hook in the weed which lined the gravel bar that I had baited. Battles never last long with Bream usually, this one however either had a bee in its bonnet at being hooked or it thought it was a Carp! taking line and heading back for the weed bed isn't something you expect to have to prevent, it wasn't a small Bream in fairness.

My second biggest ever Bream at 11lb 15ozs. Wow!

  Maybe I got it all wrong and should have targeted Bream, who knows, the Carp may have shown a lot the carp fishing session went there was a lot riding on the evening/night portion, so naturally my mind was in turmoil, where would I spend the evening? should I keep moving? gamble that the carp would maraud under the cover of darkness and find me?

 Sunset had been and gone, the last snippets of light were fading on the horizon and the Owls kept me company, that was until their chorus was broken at 2245 by one of the most electrifying takes I have ever experienced, my Delkim went into meltdown and something made off very quickly. I could only imagine it was a Carp, not a very happy one either.

Proper river carp, wrist on that carp!!

Possibly my best ever photograph.

 This stocky specimen was the culprit and at 19lb 1oz it was a great start to my river carp campaign, that wasn't to be the end of the fun as throughout the night I had the pleasure of another four carp. Reason for not much by way of description as two of the four takes came at times when I had dozed off and practically hooked, landed and photographed the fish in a daze. The later pair of the four came at dawn where the conditions for stalking were made worse by the arrival of some dense cloud and a nuisance shower which lasted almost an hour. Not ideal as I made the decision to leave the shelter in the car overnight as it was a lovely evening, the dawn shower was not in the forecast!

Best of the four at 19lb 14oz.

The prettiest river carp I've ever seen, 16lb 10oz

A lovely old looking 16lb 0oz Mirror.

 These are my lovely additions to an already great campaign, next up for me would hopefully be to press on with one of the target weights so I leave myself a bit of time to focus should time get tight.

Sunday 17 June 2018

Dutch Successes.

 It's been nearly two years already since I last met up with friend Yannick over in the Netherlands, we had threatened to do a few trips in between, but the closest we got was a failed attempt last April due to the ridiculously poor weather. This time around everything looked good and we both got a few days off at the same time.

Beautiful place to spend a couple of days.

 After a relatively quick journey to Stanstead Airport and then a 40 min flight to Eindhoven it was time to get started. Yannick met me at the airport and we drove about an hour south in search of our first target, Grass Carp. I had a desire to catch a 20lb specimen and by the end of the evening I had the pleasure of banking a 22.00 personal best, this was backed up with another at 16.02 which also was a PB as it was caught prior to the "twenty".



One towing me around.

All hell braking loose as another is hooked.

Yannick with a mint Dutch specimen.

The smallest of the visit.

22.14 and a new PB for not very long.

 What a start that was!. We had another 3 days, so the grass carp specialist decided that we should give them another go to see if we could get something even bigger and it was to be an inspired decision as I landed another five Grass Carp weighing: 14lb, 16lb, 20.3, 22.14 and 23.4, the sport was brilliant. We were however made to work hard for them as the dense pads which lined most of the waterways made capturing and landing a very difficult challenge. As dusk approached the showing fish became almost constant which was quite awesome, so many big fish and not enough hours in the day to catch them all. We left around sunset and got back Yannick's house around midnight or so.

My Personal Best at 23lb 4oz.

Awesome feeling!
 The clock was set for 4am as we then decided to head out and search a load of drains, lakes and other small waterways in Rotterdam and I was met with an incredible amount of choices, we could only work at it logically and that was to basically do a portion of the waters in an arc that would see us finish back on a lake close to where we parked up. Apart from the odd shape ghosting around we actually struggled to get close to anything apart from a large common between 30-34lb which I stalked for a good couple of hours, I simply couldn't get my presentation right, it really let me down.

 In the evening we decided to leave the carp and head over the Waal river which is a very busy
tideway which is primarily used to allow freight liners and fuel barges to connect between Holland and Germany. To think in all of that our target was an Ide, a species I have never had the pleasure of catching or seeing. Just as dusk was settling in that all changed as I was in contact with a fairly powerful fish which stripped a few yards of braid on numerous occasions before the net slipped under my prize. Quite an awesome fish to be fair, the surrounding environment isn't what I'd call safe for them, clearly this isn't a problem. 3lb 9oz new and only PB for the specimen. There was to be no happy ending for Yannick as his valiant effort to woo an Ide ultimately was cut short by the lack of light, at gone 11pm !

Very happy with that!
 On the last day we knew that I had to be back at Eindhoven for 745-8pm roughly so that gave us a decent amount of fishing time still where one of my hosts friends also joined us for a days carp fishing (none of us had fished here) so it was all new to us.

 The first part of the morning yielded very little apart from the odd fish bubbling. By around 10am we decided to come away from Rotterdam and head back toward Yannick's village where we continued to stalk carp and two out of three were successful, for me, my first ever Dutch king carp.

 We spent the rest of the day under no pressure and proceeded to knock a few beers back and a BBQ! The Dutch way. Great successes for me certainty! Many thanks go out to the main man for making it happen and in October there will be some British species which will be targeted, like the Barbel and Grayling.

Tuesday 12 June 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Eleven: Patience is Key.

 My carp campaign over the last two months has been successful, around two dozens sessions have been made covering a wide range of canal sections and a handful of lakes of differing sizes and stock levels.

 The most recent of visits to the bank were in search of my first carp from this specific venue. 6 acres of lily pad cladded margins offered plenty of hiding places for the resident carp which are reputed to surpass the forty pound mark. My target was not necessarily to catch a monster on my first trip here, but certainly do enough research to mount a serious assault, which hopefully would culminate in either a new personal best or even better still a forty pound specimen which would be incredible.

Very carpy!

 Upon my first lap of the lake it became apparent the only places carp were spotted was amongst the pads, the open water looked devoid of fish as a stiff wind whipped up a chop, making stalking fish at distance practically impossible, so I was totally relying on feeding off scraps in the edge. To get an idea of depth I used a plummet and plodded it around to build up a picture of what I was working with when a couple of big carp cruised under a set of pads under my feet!

 To say I was surprised by their size was an understatement as two specimens, both over 30lbs nudged the underside of the plants as they ambled through, the anticipation was incredible, a lump of flake couldn't have been cast out faster. My only concern wasn't whether I could tempt them, but it was the density of the lily's that I had to contend with.

 The carp for a while remained active in front of where I was hidden, only trouble now was their lack of intent on feeding. For possibly half an hour I had two big carp and a couple of smaller ones tracking backwards and forewards, not at any time did one show interest, so I decided to waited it out and then introduce a small piece of slow sinking flake when one appeared. The largest of the carp was a common which was surely an upper 30, colossal in both length and depth, not at any point in my angling years so far had I been so close at targeting something so big for so long, normally its a 20 second window to make it count.

 For the entire duration of their presence my legs felt like jelly, monsters circling like vultures around a carcass. Possibly an hour or so since poking my rod through the bushes I finally got my shot as a smaller common showed some intent by taking a couple of seeds off the top. I readied my bait and flicked it past the common and drew it back straight next to where it took the seeds, just a few seconds later it backed up enough to get my bait in view and its eyes transfixed by my offering she took it obligingly, a decent sized mouth closed and with no invitation I struck into what turned out to be a carp with not much intention of fighting, or she didn't know what was happening as the fight lasted but a minute, not that I was complaining. The lily pads could have made that very difficult.

A hint of Koi in there somewhere.

 A nice common of 16lb 2oz on the bank and it was job done as far as I was concerned, a new water and success within an hour. A couple of snaps and the obligatory weighing and her ordeal was over, a quick sulk was followed by a right ol' soaking as she tore off....bit late, that was supposed to happen before landing her! But I don't mind.

 After that bit of fun the remaining fish vanished and for a couple of hours I pottered around the lake with Brian as we looked for a showing fish. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the lake appeared and upon speaking to a couple of other anglers a mental picture was being built. The picture was of a hard water where not many carp were getting caught and average weight was pretty impressive at mid 20's with a healthy population of 30lb carp and a couple of 40's, whilst in conversation with these various anglers they were all doing the same thing....bottom baits or pop-ups and waiting for the opportunity, with a stable barometric pressure of 1015-1022 for well over 10 days and no immediate change in the forecast the carp were seldom going to feed on the bottom as they'd be up in the water column.

Tempting the carp was just part of the jigsaw!

 All the gear and no idea. That quite often seems to be the case with a proportion of carp anglers, on the top is where the action is likely to happen owing to the high pressure and sunshine, I just don't get it, anyway, having walked a couple of full laps of the lake I decided to head back to roughly where I'd started, Brian wandered off for a look elsewhere on another lake and I hoped the carp I saw in the morning would revisit, that decision turned out to be a great one!

 Just ten minutes after returning to initial peg we started at a large mirror and common cruised into view from the deeper water and barged their way through the densely padded margin, shortly afterwards they began to feed off the top, this scenario was tailor made for me and I could not wait to get a bait out.

 As my waterlogged flake lay just under the surface a large mirror circled and with no pause she slowly glided up to the bait, one huge slurp was followed by a powerful surge, one that I would absolutely expect off of an angry carp, my 9ft Dwarf's 2.75 test curve was called into action as I battled tirelessly to keep her out of the denser area of pads where my 12lb line may have struggled to resist the constant strain. I knew straight away it was a thirty plus specimen and with that knowledge it put extra pressure on me to maintain the upper hand but that was not easy to impose, with the weight behind her the battle just kept going, on a long run which proved to be it's last she headed out towards an island where she began to round it before I had no choice but to clamp down and hope for the best, thankfully I had a favourable angle and managed to turn her head, thus forcing her to abort the attempt at freedom as I'm certain it would have been. That move turned out to be the deal maker, thirty yards of line gained and she approached the fringe of the pads once again, this time a little more tired there was no last minute gasp for freedom and on my first visit I had one of the lakes larger residents in the net.

I'll take that, ta!

 Buzzing in this shot with a 31lb 10oz stalked mirror, still buzzing now to be fair a few days on!

And a release shot :)
 I have to be honest here, once I watched her waddle off into the murky depths I lost the urgency to catch another, allow myself the opportunity to enjoy it for what it was, a fantastic carp caught from a tough venue on my first visit, not bad at all. The remaining couple of hours slipped by without incident and that was it. 

Tuesday 5 June 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Ten: 37 Days, New Canal PB.

 Thirty seven days is how long my canal personal best carp stood at, that was until I beat on the 26th May. Having worked so hard for my common which tipped the scales at 25lb 7oz I was rewarded with yet another towpath titan! Many early risings, many many miles walked and plenty of time spent muttering to myself it has surely got to be easier than this.

Releasing something special :)

 On my iPhone there is a health app which also has a pedometer, for my nine trips on to the canal since the beginning of April I have sauntered along 120 miles of urban and rural canal sections. Many of those miles walked have proven to be more fruitful than I could have ever imagined.

 Before this particular day I spent eight sessions for a return of four carp, but having walked so much and beginning to see the same fish (not specimens which will enable me to achieve my goal on the canal) the search for new pastures had begun. Within an hour I was to be rewarded with this lump!.

 With the sun high and bright, very light northerly winds and zero boat traffic I was able to stalk unimpeded, this doesn't always happen and when I stumbled over a small group of carp (four to be exact) I stuck around to try and catch one, as I tracked them a large mirror just caught my eye as my brother noticed it lift up off the bottom. Was this the very specimen I was looking for? As I tracked her every move I decided not to cast until I could see it slow down as she was cruising with real intent. About 40 yards from where I first noticed her she cruised into the margins and got her snout down into the weed, as she did that I flicked a piece of free-lined flake out which I hadn't squeezed so it remained very buoyant and as she arched up off the bottom she noticed the flake.

Absolutely ecstatic!

 Five or six minutes later a new canal personal best carp lay resting in my net, although she was ready to burst her appetite was certainly not thwarted, at roughly 0930 I cradled this wild monster. At 27lb 9oz it is actually my fourteenth largest mirror ever. I could not have been happier. Am I going to find a carp to break the 30lb barrier? I will certainly try!

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 ...