Sunday 29 July 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Sixteen: Park Life.

 River heartache is an experience I never wanted to endure, especially when it was possibly the very carp I wanted, big, old dark common. I have had a few broken sleeps because of it, so naturally I had to put my mind at ease and switch onto the still waters to break it up.


530am, just beautiful.

 A couple of late afternoon/evenings and a couple of mornings of stalking gave me even more to ponder over. Ten weeks ago most of the lakes I frequent had scores of carp spawning, three days ago there was still plenty of reproducing going on, countless erupting weed beds as carp stormed their way through gave way to calm waters where the remaining population which would have finished were feeding quite confidentially, knowing some of these were only recently finished I opted to leave them be and probably answered the questions as to why I struggled to tempt anything in the early hours of dawn.

 Change of scenery was called for and finally a water where the activity was entirely food related, numerous mouths mopping up the Daphnia blooms along the outskirts of the dense weedbeds was a sight to behold, the average stock is around the 19-23lb mark from what I have experienced so far and that is quite impressive with a smattering of 30lb+ specimens in the mix. My tactic was a simple piece of crust on a size 6 hook, my only change to the usual set-up was the crust was fed through a hookable band mounted on the shank to keep my point of the hook entirely free, so far it has worked fairly well.

All set with the bait and wait approach.

 To begin with the carp were just within range, roughly twenty yards. Freelined crust is only really effective for close range angling as the distance factor does complicate proceedings and rules out feeding fish any further out than the max casting range, for that problem I do also carry a couple of 5g and 15g Korda Interceptor controller floats and the Korda Kruiser control 12lb BS floating line, yes any brand can be used and I've used loads of different brands in the past, however this line is pretty good at remaining straight and does lay nicely on the surface.

 Within an hour the first opportunity came in the shape of a 15lb common carp, a good spirited battle which ultimately was won, a wet net is always a good remedy for such poor luck last time around, bad luck does unfortunately seem to manifest itself in many ways and on this particular morning, Tuesday to be precise, a large mirror came into view from a thick bank of weed, I have to say it probably was a thirty pound plus fish as I recognised it from a photo I had seen earlier in the season and know it was the same fish, then it went 33lb+, but based on the fact they've been spawning quite a lot an educated guess would suggest it wasn't quite thirty or it was just over.

 She came up and made a bee-line for my crust and in no time at all my bait disappeared and the tension was taken up by a swift and firm strike to feel a good connection, just a few seconds passed when a massive swirl was followed by my line laying slack on the surface....I had lost her, initially I thought the hook pulled, however upon reeling in there was no hook attached. The break appeared to have occurred just above the knot on the line, I was quite peeved by this and took me five minutes to get another bait out.

 When I did get a new hook on and cast a lump of crust out I was quickly rewarded with a mint male common weighing at 20lb 3oz, complete with dribbles of milt on my mat......

 For that session it was wasn't before I had the annoying pleasure of losing two more carp, thankfully these weren't anywhere near as big so to get really down about it would have just been counter-productive. I'll get my chance again! 

Saturday 28 July 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Fifteen: The Heartache of A Lost Leviathan....

 Angling is full of highs and lows, some of the highs are so high you feel nothing can ruin your vibe, then the polar opposite of that is experiencing those moments in angling when you question everything as it seems someone or something is conspiring against you, of late, I have felt like that. My pace out of the traps at the beginning of this challenge was pretty quick, however I currently find myself struggling to get out as little time has been available as readily as I'm used to.

 The highs have been enjoyed as much as I can, knowing full well that these are usually punctuated by a stroke of mis-fortune or user error, the lows tend to happen when I least want it to. Last weekend I had a free shot at whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted, so I chose to head on to a river in search of that elusive thirty pounder that I'm sure exists. My journey north was rather quick and before I knew it I was trickling in a couple of handfuls Nash Scopex Squid to hopefully get some fish cruise into the area, this was around 830 in the morning, within five minutes I was setting up my rod and tying an 18'' hook length so I could keep the lead away from the bait to hopefully give the fish more confidence when out the corner of my eye a massive black common came downstream straight into the baited patch and began feeding!

 Never have I experienced such a quick response to baiting on a river and this fish was almost if not the very fish I travelled for, anything between 28-32lbs of pure solidness, she was wide enough to put a saddle on and ride, long enough to know she was big and gut to match! It was almost as if it was a mirage or I was dreaming but it certainly existed and was grubbing up right in front of me and caught me so by surprise I froze with the rig making material still in my hand as I watched this animal in complete awe.

 I began to shake almost uncontrollably as many scenarios pulsed through my mind, all of this unfolded and concluded in just a minute or so as roughly 40 boilies were cleaned off the clear gravels and then my dream river carp lifted up in the water column and eased downstream further and out of my view, the dense pads and ranunculus meant I couldn't track her in the water, so I set my trap as quickly as possible and baited the spot back to how it was with the hope she may return to have another feed.

 Six hours passed without a single show from a carp or anything else for that matter so I decided to put another two dozen boilies down and aim to keep an eye on it every other hour up to dusk. At around 230 in the afternoon I had a couple of dark shapes ghost in over my spot and they turned out to be bream, two were certain doubles and the other not quite of that calibre....thirty seconds later the smallest of the bream decided it liked the boilies and munched mine. 8lb 3oz and nearly as dark as an undertakers hat.

My smallest river bream of the season :) 
 That proved to be my only success downstream and really didn't see much at all, in previous trips gone by I had seen much more, I can only imagine the 31c weather had something to do with it and blaring sunshine that baked me all day, thankfully the heat began to abate as the sun slipped beyond the horizon. Leading up to dusk I headed back into the cutout I began my day in and noticed all my bait still there, so it was clear nothing had been back to mop up again, I didn't add to the bait already down and plopped my rig down right in the middle of the patch in the vein hope something would feed under the cover of darkness. I was halfway through eating a lovely rump steak when I was abruptly taken away from my food as my rod absolutely melted off, as I looked down in the water I could see a huge common powering off downstream, my nerves were shot and I think that I was a nano second away from shitting myself! She was huge and two powerful twenty yard runs just in view made for terrifying experiencing, I had to just let her tire in the main flow where very little could be done but turn her head when she wanted to go further down, a couple of minutes gone by by now and I slowly got the better of her as she cruised up under the far bank briars which were pretty much parallel with me, I could see every part of it and it was for sure the same carp which took me by surprise in the morning, I grew more and more confident as she gave that tell-tail side roll as the power was drawn out throughout the fight which was probably now at 5 minutes or so.

 The plan was to tease her upstream a couple of yards so I could drop the net below and allow her to drift down into the awaiting folds of my net, the plan was perfect. Then, out of nowhere she kicked into second gear and shifted a biblical amount of water against the flow as she caught a glimpse of my net! I say second gear, as the previous minutes were not in the same ball park, my clutch hissed as line pissed off the spool so fast I could nothing to stop it as a vast mid river weed bed came into the carps view, the hard work was soon unravelling and when the fish disappeared into said weed bed I could feel and hear the line grating and within ten seconds or so all the tension let up and I began to reel in a set-up minus my size 6 hook.......I was absolutely gutted, so close yet so far from what was possibly my river target of a 30lb+ carp. Writing this a week later almost to the hour the pain of losing it has abated very little.

10lb IQ2 hook length minus a fish and hook :(

 I stood and watched the river in amazement in how it could give and take an opportunity of a lifetime in such heartless fashion. A minute or so later I watched the weed hump up and at the top end of the bed I could see the shape of a prize I so very nearly won, just five feet was the difference or possibly five seconds. I am confident in myself I did everything right, this was just to be one of those moments I'll probably reflect upon for years to come for all the wrong reasons. I however will not give up and retribution will hopefully be sought after successfully.

Saturday 14 July 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Fourteen: Stret Pegging for Carp.

 My fishing over the last 4 weeks has become rather sparse owing to my work schedule packing out with lots of lovely clients happy to splash their hard earned money ( most of them, some born with silver spoons with their mouths ), however, I don't ask where it comes from, just that it's used to top up my funds!. Finding little snippets of time hasn't been easy, yesterday morning I made the effort to get up before the post-dusk disappearing act commenced on the carp front which seems to happen every day since the heat and strong sunlight has dominated.

 In truth I haven't had the urge to really get after the carp in the last couple of weeks as dissolved oxygen levels are undoubtedly decreasing everyday as we now enter the fourth week without as much as a drop of rain. The added disadvantage of tired targets due to spawning has wiped out the urge to get on the banks more often as I wait for conditions to become slightly more favourable, hopefully my patience will be rewarded with the capture of some very special fish.

 It was that time again to have the car serviced, so with a 9am appointment booked in with the Audi service centre I knew I'd afforded myself with some time on the bank, so thats what I did, 430am and I was already on the bank, ten minutes later I had found two carp, one a koi, the other a dark common, I had them both feeding, successfully got one to take a lump of stret-pegged flake and had it resting up in the net whilst I prepared myself for a couple of photos. Not bad, only small but a proper little character which one day may make a real brute.

6lb 4oz, my smallest carp of the season but one of the prettiest.

 Stret-pegging is a tactic I don't use often unless the swims are fairly slow or offer slacks where I can pin a bait whilst fishing over depth, only trouble is that sometimes when you know a fish is in your swim, this particular time, a carp, is that when the float slowly cocks and shoots under you would expect it to be that fish, however, I got a little surprise in the shape of this fighting fit summer barbel which went berserk in its full blooded attempt at freedom. My Mark IV had other ideas, in the net you go!

 A plume of bubbles with only a carp in view and end up playing and landing a barbel....only me eh.

 No threats to my river target on this trip and not likely to be from this particular watercourse but its enjoyable, that is good enough for me.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

T.H.P.C: Part Thirteen: Biding My Time.

 After a little break from fishing I got a short session in last Sunday and visited an old haunt of mine. Back in those days I donned Adidas tracksuits and a pair of snazzy fairly expensive trainers, armed with a 12ft Tamar 2.25tc rod from what I can remember and targeted monster carp with not a lot of success. Opportunities were often fleeting, not that a 12, 13 year old cared an awful lot. Wide expanses of water were virtually untouched and enormous carp ( usually from the wildest depths of my dreams ), here they really did exist but my angling prowess was not what it is now and only now having got back into the groove as far as carp fishing goes have I decided to revisit this particular river.

 Having arrived on the bank I was greeted by a cool rising mist as the sun only just began to lighten up the horizon, as the sun swiftly gained height the light shone through the mist to create an enchanting glow and could arguably have been one of the most picturesque moments I've had the pleasure of being on the bank for. Rolling back the years, it did just that. In ten foot plus of water and around 120ft across its no easy task to stalk a carp out, that however was my challenge for the morning and I knew real monsters lurked here, like real monsters that may never have been caught before, the sort of scenario to make the most evergreen of carp anglers salivate, well I know it did that for me, the drive down was punctuated with thoughts as to what could be there. Knowing this waterway from my childhood and never hearing anything about it for years really filled me a different type of thought, is there anything in there still?, have they died off? have other anglers found it and decided to hammer it?, those questions could only be answered after visiting it and continue to do so to build up a bigger picture.

 The sun began penetrating the surface film and for the first time in more than half a lifetime, I saw my first carp on this river and it was a sight for sore eyes. Then two more came by just ten foot from me and proceeded to feed on the surface, just the sort of action I could only have dreamed of.

 I decided to tackle this stretch with the same tackle as I have been using since April, this comprises of the following:

Nash Dwarf Abbreviated 9ft, 2.75TC rod, Shimano Baitrunner 4000fd spooled up with Korda Carpline 12lb, a Korda controller 5g and a size 10 Deception tackle wide gape hook and my every faithful bag of bread.

 Within 5 minutes of casting out at the three carp I drew back my controller and presented the crust just a few feet from the feeding carp, their mouths were working overtime, clearly hoovering up something but couldn't tell what, the crust however lasted all of thirty seconds as the smallest of the three carp eclipsed my bait and the line pulled up tight as she made off towards the middle of the river. After numerous powerful runs a lovely spawned out common glistened in the morning sun on my mat, which incidentally was now only just getting through the trees behind me.

 That was what I hoped for but not expected, that will do. 17lb 4oz :)

 The only thing about hooking that one carp was the other two vanished and for the rest of the morning I didn't see them again. A move was decided upon but as the sun got higher which should have made the job of fish spotting easy infact revealed nothing much at all, maybe its a good idea to keep heading back until I build that clearer picture, are they still there? clearly there are some and the other two fish were roughly 23-25lbs which is great, I can only think that bigger do still exist. I shall bide my time and keep dropping in, it may turn out to be a dead rubber, I guess time will tell!

Breaming of a Slime Fest.

   As the weather begins to warm so does the water and slowly but surely the Bream will come to a point where they will go off and spawn, en...