Sunday 28 April 2019

Spring Carping: Part Six, Chunky!

 Rod, mat, bag of bits, net and a few slices of bread is all that's required to land fish and big ones too. Simple but effect, especially those with limited time like myself. I have to select my target waters carefully and trust everything works out for me. Having stalked carp for 26 years now I learnt the ropes, got the t-shirt. That doesn't mean I have stopped learning and this particular trip was testament to that thinking.

 Arriving early doors as per usual I got myself loaded up from the car and headed to the lake. As soon as I got out the car I felt the wind was a little stiffer than the 5mph forecasted (naive of me to believe it'd be right...) which I wasn't expecting, a quick couple of hours stalking was the plan but this wind which turned out to be swirling didn't make things easy. Most bays weren't showing signs of fish on my first pass and on my second lap I could see that very little was showing apart from at range, now I don't typically mind that as fish tend to be more confident the further out you go.

 The wind however made this tough, casting 20 yards was only possible with a controller and the fish were barely showing at that range, 30yrds seemed to be the magic mark. By 6am the gusts were probably reaching 18-20mph. This didn't deter the carp from showing on the top. Buoyed by the defiant showing on my second pass of a section of open water I decided to try my luck.

 Threading the bread on the hook failed on every attempt to get out where I needed to be so I resorted to a bait band and put a big bit out so it was visible in the chop. I planned once I got the bait out I'd leave it as long as possible to minimise disturbance and trust the wind didn't drag the bait in towards me. Time as always was ticking away and over an hour had already passed by this point, knowing my chances were pretty good of at least a hook up I continued to stare through the polaroid's at my bait as I crouched on a limb of a tree about 10ft up, with that good vantage point I could see when the carp were closing in on the area.

 Five or six passes by one particular fish had my glasses steaming up, it was wide with large shoulders, at distance I couldn't see all of it and on the previous passes it looked like taking the crust every time and was readying myself each time to jump out the tree and grab the rod, but for something to disrupt it every time. This time she got closer and closer, by this point she was only five or six feet from crust and then she turned away, a complete 180 and disappeared out of sight, the light levels were improving all the time and more became visible as every minute passed.

 Lips! coming up under the bread! "oh shit", "she's got it"! I leapt out the tree to grab the rod with a burning clutch! the landing wasn't particularly soft but that wasn't felt for quite some time. I lifted the rod and wound down gently as she changed direction and the tension began to ease, fishing with controllers often they set the hook sufficiently enough that you don't have to strike with much aggression.

 As she cruised around at distance I could see that hump on her shoulders that I'd been watching intently, of the couple of dozen carp I watched for well over an hour by this point it was the biggest I'd seen, whats the odds! On my stalking setup I eased her closer and closer to the bank but had to be mindful of the roots that infested this area that I had decided to call my temporary base camp. Such was my fortune that morning the fight was played with nothing more than a pedestrian heart beat, the folds of my net soon bulged with a chunky common! Just what I wanted to see!

Ooooooohhhhhh :)

 Can never be tired of fish like this!

25lb 10oz of solid common carp.

Back she goes.

 First mid twenty of the spring, BOOM!

 Only thing with catching carp like that makes you feel like sticking around for another shot! Having released that chunk I got back up in the tree and scanned the surface among the steady chop, with nothing showing I was tempted to get a rod out on the bottom but I opted to give that a swerve.

 Glad I did to be fair as I moved lakes entirely and within an hour of stalking a couple of bubblers this awesome looking mirror finally slipped up, even if it had nosed my crust possibly a dozen times when coming off the bottom for a quick forage. Again not a monster, a lovely old character that I believe I caught from this lake quite some years ago, stunted by the size of the water I wonder how big she could have gone?

Pukka little scaley bad boy!

Saturday 27 April 2019

Spring Carping: Part Five, Not All Monsters.

 Having been amongst the twenty pound plus carp early doors its encouraging that the fishing is going in the right direction. Close to home I have a small lake that I drop into now and again on my way back from work, nothing big in there but it's a bit of fun and thats what fishing is really about. Targets/challenges are great to give you focus but this is where the kid in me shows through.

 A little light sport and not too long after arriving in the late afternoon I had this pukka little common, possibly 7/8lb and on the 15ft float rod with centrepin I enjoyed every second of the fight.

 Roughly half an hour later this punk of a ghost common carp offered itself up for a fight so I obliged and glad I did! Roughly 14lb and fat as butter I posed happily.

 Carp fishing and indeed all fishing doesn't have to be chasing monsters (all the time). Yes I know I do most of the time so I won't be a hypocrite, but to purposefully target smaller fish is good for the mind and offers itself as a reset if you like. Time to get back out for the bigger ones again :),

Friday 26 April 2019

Spring Carping: Part Four, Parklife.

 Weirdo's, dog pooh, litter and annoying passers by asking if I've caught anything are just some of the main attractions of fishing a very central location in the heart of the capital, the only thing that really keeps me coming back however is the quality of the carp that call this 2 acre lake, home.

 Typically I don't spend long here as my tin hat weighs quite a bit and not wearing it results in far to much drivel being listened too and I slowly give up the will to live! Like most visits here its dawn raids and this trip was no different. On the bank to coincide with the dawn chorus I closed my eyes momentarily and pretended I was somewhere in the countryside rather than the urban sprawl. Luckily or not I live close to my work and have a number of places to wet a line.

 As the sun began to creep above the tree line and slight mist began to glide across the surface I could make out sets of lips working out at distance as the carp began their early morning scan of the surface to collect any foods that may have been missed or added overnight. For me it was a chance to get a bait out and remain undetected. Remaining mobile with a single rod I followed pods of carp around until the right moment came my way and it didn't take long to get within five yards of a potential target.

 Many of the carp here are clued up and know the score, so feeding on the surface in the margins is something they try to avoid but at 20-30 yards its a different story and 15g controller makes short work of that distance!, once out I gently draw it back into the mix and try not to make any sudden movements and do my best not to create any vibrations as I draw my controller back in as that can often push the fish away. No such problems this time mind you. As you could imagine, the sun wasn't high enough to target individual fish so it was a gamble but this typical illustration of what this lake holds was just what the doctor ordered.

 20lb 14oz on the digi' and off the mark, adding to this common did prove a real challenge as that fish really put them on edge and I spent the next 45 mins wandering around before I had to call it quits to get in the motor and head off to my first client of the day. 

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Spring Carping: Part Three, Best of Both Worlds.

 On this trip I split my day on the water between the park lake and a large section of canal. The weather was fair with high pressure dominating again, the bright conditions were perfect for a bit of early season stalking. Current stiff winds at times have made it difficult to present surface baits successfully, however on this particular occasion the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place.

 A clear sunny morning had carp showing on the top for most of the time I was searching, not just any fish would do, I was actively searching out the bigger fish, twenty pound plus was the target and if the chance of a bigger specimen came about then I would concentrate on that. In my mind upon arrival I said to myself that there was a certain area that I wanted to fish but once I had arrived it was clear I'd struggle to get any peg! wall to wall carp anglers with three rods each.... was not what I wanted, so with that I got in where I could and made the best of it. Within an hour a succession of carp passed through that were watched but not fished for, that was until a nice chunky mirror carp came ambling through, I threaded on a bit of crust and gambled a little on its trajectory, luckily me for me it was spot on, the carp came up to the crust, looked at it but then drifted past it, just a few seconds later without leaving the immediate area she back-peddled so that her eye was level with the crust and processed what ever it was thinking, satisfied it posed no threat she back-peddled a further 3 or 4 inches and nudged the crust, again with it behaving naturally this time she sucked in the crust! I immediately struck and all hell broke loose!

 I was pleasantly surprised by the battle and made the most of it as once I had released this carp I'd already made my mind up to leave and head elsewhere, the very thought of me surrounded by other anglers and hemmed into one peg annoyed me.

 On the scales this chunky warrior weighed 21lbs 6oz and my best so far, a couple of pics in the early morning sun cheered me up no end and with a swift stroke of her paddle she waddled off into the deep. Smiles all around.

 A quick check to see I'd packed everything I headed for the car and I was once again on my travels. Not knowing exactly where I would end up I parked up fairly central to the patch I looked to work and with such good conditions spotting carp in what is relatively baron water is a huge bonus, overcast days can often fill you with dread that they have all gone. Funny place our canals.

 Last late spring/early summer I walked approx 130 miles, with nearly a marathon done in a single day. Without that sort of time on hand here now I aimed to get into double figures. Touch wood I'd make good of what were the best conditions of the season yet.

 For over two hours I marched at breakneck speed whilst scanning miles of water before I caught a whiff of a fish, albeit not my target it was good to see a few bream. Possibly a mile upstream more bream showed themselves amongst the reeded pilings which gave me hope that soon I'd find a carp and I did just that. A marauding mirror, probably a mid-double was cruising on the surface, nudging anything on the surface that looked remotely like food.

 This mirror looked awesome in the water, a beautifully dark fish and a nice light underbelly. I thought the capture of this fish was inevitable but the canal has taught to not be expectant on numerous occasions so I bore that in mind and played it slowly. Dropping my crust well away from the carp in an area I expected it to swim proved to be tricky as she often made random changes of direction which prompted me to recast on multiple occasions.

 After a game of cat and mouse which lasted possibly 10 minutes she finally headed on a straight line, one that my crust lye in! within seconds she had made up the gap and with no hesitation she opened her mouth and gently sucked in the crust. Filled with excitement we fought for a good few minutes, she certainly didn't want to come in. Having scaled down a wall to slip the net under my prize I got a closer look at this awesome fish, not a monster but that didn't matter at all.

My first canal carp of the season, 15lb 10oz.

 What an awesome canal warrior, very pleased with that and I was very right to enjoy the moment as much as possible because I spent a good 2 hours afterwards searching for one fleeting moment where a low 20 common showed herself before vanishing again. I can't say I was disappointed, bring on more!

Effort sometimes equals reward!

Monday 15 April 2019

Spring Carping: Part Two, Quick Draw.

 A couple of days later and back on the park lake, fishing apparently had got a little tougher owing to two clear nights prior to my next trip and my brother Richard joined me for a couple of hours on the bank, with a fairly brisk wind I found stalking the carp tricky and having stuck to the task for about thirty minutes I finally caved in and dropped two rigs out over a sprinkling of chopped boilies.

 We decided to plot up together and have a little catch-up, little did we know that after half an hour or so Rikki' right hand rod would melt off! It seemed like a good fish too as I readied my camera to get some action shots, no sooner did I finally get my camera out the bag his middle rod then started to scream off!...all happening then! I plonked the camera down and leant into the other rod.

 The one I was connected to didn't feel special so I allowed it very little by way of line and within a couple of minutes number one was in, bearing in mind Rikki was still playing his! taking his time is an understatement but he did finally get there and a pristine pair of common carp took a breather in the net before we weighed and photographed them.

Two in a bed :) 

Top: 23lb 1oz and Bottom 15lb 9oz. Not bad bro!

 For me the only action was that experienced on my brother rod, my two rods remained motionless before we both called time on it. 

Sunday 14 April 2019

Spring Carping: Part 1, Hitting the Ground Running.

 To begin the carp campaign I started on a fairly local park lake and for probably the next couple of months I will visit this water on and off, the target? a couple of thirty pound plus mirrors and at least one common carp up that way are present and I look forward to making their acquaintance along with a good head of twenties and a few stunners thrown in too.

 Conditions on the 26th of March were clear and sunny, however, unseasonably we had tempts of 14-17c for possibly four days which led into that weekend. The water temperature was taken upon my arrival and at 8.7c it was slightly warmer than I expected, with this unexpected combination I hoped a fish was on the cards and one of the reasons I have chosen this lake to do a bit of fishing is; one it also holds Tench, unfortunately numbers and sizes aren't well documented so as the water temp' approaches 11/12c I will look to step up my baiting up for them; secondly, a handful of the carp in this lake are awesome, something wouldn't expect from the backdrop.

 I arrived at the lake with a few hours spare to see what I could do. A quick lap of the lake to see if any fish were showing in the upper layers (barometric pressure was sat at 1027 and rising throughout the day) and whether any of the six anglers already on had had any joy. One carp at dawn to one angler and the others all pondering whether to stay or not, filled with confidence!

Left, a spinner/ronnie rig, Top right, the stiff hinged section.
 Rocking up around midday and not seeing anything on the top the decision was made to use two different rigs. The first a "Hinged Stiff" which comprises of a short stiff link (I use Korda MouthTrap
15lb) and a small pop-up (My choice is a 15mm white pop-up) then critically balanced with rig putty to a supple coated braid hook length. Obviously everyone is different and other combinations may work for others. The other set up was a "Ronnie Rig", why the name? I don't think anyone is entirely sure but it is also known as the "Spinner Rig" which is a devastating way of presenting a bait, especially if there is a thin layer of lake bed weed, like here it keeps the bait popped up just a inch off the bottom and most importantly just above the weed to make it more visible to passing fish.

Slacks line and ready for action.

 Within half an hour my right rod pulled up tight and the tip started to knock violently to the side and line started to peel off the slack clutch. Fished just off the marginal shelf I hoped this rod would pick up an enquiry, not as quickly as that it has to be said. A healthy scrap was played out in front of me before slipping a dark mirror over the cord, first blood.

  I hoped that would! With trying out new tactics you always fear that it'll take time to all fall into place. At 16lb 6oz it is one of the lakes smaller residents but a pretty one and in good nick too. Pleased with that.

 Having caught on that rig I felt more confident so to get it fishing again I re-curved the stiff link so the hook would turn at the very slightest of touches, no need to strike on this rig!

 Half past three came and went with nothing more than a couple of single bleeps, possibly crayfish buggering around with the bait or knocking my rig as they gorged on the 15mm half boilies I dropped out around my bait. Now typically these sort of rigs are used as searching rigs, once feeding fish have established themselves on the spot I would look to change rig and go hard on the bottom, the fact that the fish activity appeared to be sparse almost forced me to remain fishing the way I started.

 Just a couple of minutes later my left hand rod burst into life as the line pulled up tight quickly and my bobbin smashed the Delkim, fish on! At fifty yards out a large swirl broke the surface as I leant into it. A classic battle ensued as we played an even battle at distance, after a good showing I finally won and a scaley mirror lye resting up, first twenty of the spring.

 Thoroughly pleased with that, 20lb 5oz and my first twenty of the season, happy boy and very timely as I had to be gone by 4pm, after pics and release there were just a few minutes to get myself away.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

Thats A Wrap!

 My 2018/19 season was certainly my least intense for as long as I can remember. That said I had plenty of great trips in good company and on solo missions primarily in search of carp to achieve my challenge that I set myself back in April last year which is the point the new season for me starts.

 April: I set out early doors on the Tench in the vein hope of finding some good fish with a view of revisting in late May, the ultimate thinking behind that being a double figure specimen is on my wanted list. Apart from the Tench, Carp took centre stage as I looked to get hunting down an elusive canal beast which in just a couple of attempts I achieved, albeit not a thirty these were almost of the same calibre simply for reasons that those who fish these canals will only know.

First of an incredible brace. 23.4

A great afternoon on the towpath. 25.7 and my best to that date.

 May: Carp were still very much in my focus and with the weather improving the fishing improved too. Plenty of carp made it to the net with these two being the pick of the bunch. Also a trip out to Tenerife on holiday with the mrs gave me a great opportunity to target a Marlin but with it still early season I didn't manage to achieve that goal but I will try again.

 , But these cracking carp couldn't be left out, one of which was an awesome canal warrior.

 June: Now this always seems to be a busy month in terms of work, birthdays etc so I was pleased to get out a little and with that time I made my efforts count as I tracked and captured my largest canal carp yet at a staggering 27lb 9oz! Along with that were more carp, a 31.10 mirror, TWO!! personal best Bream off of a river! which weighed 11lb 15oz and 12lb 7oz!  and a few river carp to make sure that my challenge was taking off in all directions. What A Month June was! and that was only what happened in England. I also spent four days in the Netherlands in search of grass carp and I was to be spoilt rotten by the sport provided. 9 grass carp to 24lb 4oz, mirror carp to mid-doubles, my first ever Ide at 3lb 9ozs and a new PB Asp at a little over 4lb. What A Month indeed!!!

Canal PB carp.

Personal best Bream at 12lb 7oz
And what a backup fish! 11.15
31.10 mirror

Second best at 23lb 14oz

PB at 24lb+, from Holland with much love!

A cracking Ide from the tidal Waal river. 3lb 9oz

My best river carp of the season as it turned out, two ounces shy of 20lb.

 July: June was so good I knew it would be a tough act to follow, over that month I managed carp off of three different rivers with the best just over 17lb and 23lb+ from stillwaters, although I tried hard my attempts to tempt one of the biggest river carp I had ever seen were dashed, a ten minute battle became a stalemate and after much head scratching and endeavour I finally lost what can only be described as a true river giant, my chance of a river thirty slipped away right there and then.

A Mole 17+

A stillwater 22+

 August: For me time got really hard to come by and as a result I fished very little but when I did manage a couple of hours I invariably got a couple of fish to oblige, here is an old friend at 11lb 2oz, funnily its the same weight I caught her at three years ago! Thankfully for her I caught four months previous this time around so there is some progression being made.

A big smile, always satisfying to see an old friend.

 September: This was always going to be very light in terms of angling, after nine months of developing my little angel arrived into the world, with this it was understandable that I didn't get out much. A couple of short visits to my club lake were made but the blanks were beginning to mount up as plenty of angling pressure made it difficult fishing. This mirror probably the prettiest of the fish, although not the biggest.

19lb+ built like a breeze block.

This awesome common made a 4am start worth while.

 October:  During this month I managed a couple of trips out, this was for a days fishing on my birthday, 31 years of age and still thoroughly enjoying it. After 6 hours I netted a haul of chub any match angler would kill for, over 200lbs of fish with the best weighing 5lb 6ozs, a day me and my 15ft Greys Toreon trotting rod won't ever forget. The other trips were guiding my friend Yannick who made his way over from The Netherlands to sample some of what we have to offer and it didn't disappoint.

Best of a very large haul, emptied the keepnet twice!

The tourists first ever Barbel. 8lb 1oz

My Thames PB, 17lb 13oz

Another nice chunky Esox.

  November: Was spent on the predator front and it was a month to remember where I broke my personal best zander three times in about 30 hours, the first two going 7lb 13oz and then 9lb 1oz. Having witnessed a 13lb 3oz monster come to the boat that evening I found that fire that recently has dropped away a little bit. The result was my third PB of the two days! 11lb 9oz. Awesome!

The smile was a permanent fixture for days afterwards.

  December:  Pike dominated the proceedings and I capped off a good month with banking my third river twenty in the shape of a 20lb 8oz beauty, what a fish and I have to say somewhat surprised by its girth. Another half a dozen fish came over this month with most being double figure fish.

What a beautiful pike.

  January: Was much of the same as I continued my predator assault, more pike came to the net with the best weighing 18lb 9oz which avoided a proper photo by ploughing through my net at breakneck speed (thankfully I got a mat shot and weighed her first), these were joined by a few barbel from just a couple of quick fire trips, no less than two doubles were tempted in just 5 hours of fishing over two afternoons, quite a return when you take into account where they came from!

18lb 9oz escapee

First of the two doubles. 10lb 4ozs.

A not a bad back up either!!!  10lb 3ozs.
Oh and this happened too! 9lb+Bream on a 3-D Roach lure!

 February: Dace are always in mind when the back end of the season approaches and I wasn't disappointed either, although I didn't catch a pound plus monster this peach of 13oz 00dr made it in to cap off my efforts on the silver dart front. Pike again featured with my best going 16lb 0oz, but the best catch of Feb was a catch of Roach which was topped by a brace of 1lb 14oz and 1lb 15oz, my best two of the season.

Best Dace of a brief campaign.

A lovely 16lb 0oz female

1.14 & 1.15

  March: As work dominated the last month of the season I only got out a couple of times but I came up trumps with a nice river carp, a few chub, a couple of barbel and plenty for me to mull over for the closed season.

11lb 3oz mirror.

A mint winter barbel.

A plump 5lb+ chub to finish off my season. Not bad at all!

8 Years in the Making.

   So we find ourselves finally able to get back on the rivers and thank god for it too. I don't mind stillwaters and canals now and aga...