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 more......as 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.