Thursday, 28 April 2011

A walk on the 'Dark side'.

Another week of hot still weather has passed, bringing the water temperatures up nicely. With my fatherly duties over by 3pm I hastily loaded the car and set off for a water I've never fished before. Actually this water used to be controlled by a syndicate and about twenty years ago a mate, “big 'un” & I stumped up the cash and set off for a recce, searching for Carp. We had a walk around, saw a few small carp and left decidedly unimpressed. Eventually our money was returned, we weren't given membership to the syndicate for some reason and that was the last I saw of the place, until today.

Nowadays the water is strictly controlled by a small club. It's quite a nice looking little place but otherwise fulfills all the criteria of a “commercial” type fishery in that it is crammed full of small to medium sized Carp. My “excuse” for fishing here today was to test out a load of new pellets in a variety of styles and flavours produced by “Lake Wizard”. The plan was to fish a method feeder on one rod and a PVA bag set up on the other, chop & change a bit to see what worked etc. However the weather was not really ideal for this style of fishing as the majority of the Carp appeared to be on the surface.

After having a leisurely wander around I could see Carp just about everywhere I looked and quite a few other anglers too. Eventually I settled on a swim in a nice shady bay. This swim ticked two boxes, 1- there were Carp about, 2- there were no other anglers present! I rigged up a method feeder using pre-soaked pellets, baited with a 10mm boilie and chucked it towards some overhanging bushes. What should I do with the other rod? It would be silly to ignore the surface gulping Carp so I chucked a handful of chum mixers out, surely these pressured fish would be wary? No, Carp appeared and slurped them down without a care in the world. Surface fishing used to be my favourite method of catching Carp, in fact I caught my first 'twenty' on a free-lined mixer back in 1985. Through the eighties and early nineties I done loads of floater fishing and know full well how frustrating it can be. Free offerings slurped down with abandon whilst hookbaits are ignored. I fully expected this to be the case today.

I tied a size 12 hook direct to 8lbs mono and baited with a single piece of floating fake corn. The carp were coming in close so there was no need for any casting weight I was able to flick the hook bait the required distance with ease. Another handful of mixers were chucked out and these too began to disappear down greedy mouths. Would my hookbait be taken? Yes, within seconds it was taken confidently and I set the hook into a fish which powered off before shedding the hook in an instance. Bugger! Well that must have pissed on the matches, to coin a phrase. I was sure the fish would have been well spooked now and half heartedly chucked another handful of mixers out. To my surprise these were being slurped down eagerly within seconds. I didn't have long to wait before another take and this time no mistake, after a brief battle a little mirror of about six pounds was in the net. I took a quick photo just in case it was the only fish of the day.

Now that must have spooked the swim? More mixers out and more Carp appeared to eat them without a care in the world. Within a couple of minutes fish number two had taken the bait and actually felt a bit bigger. After a strange fight in the margins I netted one of those funny looking ghostie koi things. A lot of anglers rave on about these but I thing they're just ugly. This one might have made it over the ten pound mark but I couldn't be arsed to weigh it. There were fewer fish around now, perhaps they had spooked or maybe I'd caught the greedy ones? Fish still fed on the mixers but were a tiny bit more hesitant with my hookbait. I dipped the fake corn into a tub of liquid flavouring and out it went again, this seemed to make a difference as within a couple of minutes I hooked a third fish, this time a common which soaked me in the net.

By now I was becoming restless. Yes I was catching fish but I wasn't learning anything about the pellets I was supposed to be trying out. I decided to catch one more fish off the surface before putting all my eggs into one basket and fishing both rods on the bottom. This last fish took longer than expected as I managed to miss two sail away takes yet still couldn't spook the fish in front of me. I'm pretty sure that takes came quicker on freshly 'dipped' baits than when I left it a while. Eventually I hooked and landed another common, a twin of the previous one, surely not the same fish? I'm pretty sure I could have continued catching like this all evening but it held no challenge. In just over an hour I'd caught more carp than in the previous decade.

I replaced the floater rod with a heli rig and a PVA bag full of pellets and concentrated on two bottom fished rods. There were loads of fish in front of me and my left hand rod was continually beeping. Almost certainly liners but I couldn't be arsed to back lead. Eventually I had a proper take and hooked into another Carp but this shed the hook after a second or two. I felt a greater sense of anticipation hovering over twitching indicators than I had watching Carp slurp down the floaters. The light began to fade, a water vole hurried along the margins in front of me and an 'orrible big brown rat ran down the footpath. I had to be somewhere so started packing up. An enjoyable couple of hours all told, not really my cup of tea but I'm sure I'll be back as it's a good place for the family to learn a little more.

And a few days later I returned, this time in the company of my better half, giving her the chance to catch something that pulled back rather more than the small silver fish she has become quite adept at catching. The day had been another warm, sunny one but a fresh Northerly wind had blown up as the afternoon had progressed. We arrived in the late afternoon and had a leisurely stroll around. There were a few other anglers about but we found a nice comfortable swim, out of the way, big enough for two and with a few fish showing.

My tactics for the night were to fish with two rods on the lake bed, despite the amount of carp cruising around on the surface. I fished a boilie/fake corn combination plus a PVA bag of mixed pellets to an overhanging tree opposite me. Also a cage feeder stuffed with pre soaked pellets and the same boilie rig was dropped beside a bush along the bank to the left. I did set up a floater rod too but this would be for Shelley to use. I began feeding with 4 or 5 chum mixers chucked out every minute or two and it wasn't long before these were being sucked down. However the Carp were a little more wary tonight, having been hammered for four days of a bank holiday weekend. Also there was a large amount of floating debris which made keeping an eye on the bait almost impossible. In the end I had to resort to attaching a small float as an indicator and using a larger flavoured floater made by 'Lake Wizard'. Shelley at this point was wandering around the banks with her camera looking for photo opportunities.

I couldn't resist having a go and it didn't take long before I had two small commons on the bank. By this time Shelley was back and I handed the rod over to her. There then followed a frustrating half hour with several near misses and a couple of lost fish before she set the hook into a Carp that stayed on. After that it was pretty much plain sailing for Shelley she hooked and lost a couple but did a good job in landing four fish in total, the best around six pounds. All the Carp were considerably larger than the silver fish she'd caught in the past.

As for me, well I had one of those days. I forgot how to cast, or more to the point I forgot how to avoid trees. I swear if I was fishing from a boat a mile into the sea I'd have found a way to cast up a tree. Maybe I should get a bait boat? NO!!! When I got it right I managed to catch a couple of fish on the bottom baits. There was one spot in particular, beneath an overhanging branch that produced a take within minutes if I could get the cast right... I also sneaked another fish on the floater rod before the end. We packed up with the light fading and the temperature dropping quickly, the recent hot spell had come to an abrupt end.

So after two evenings on a 'commercial' type water have I changed my mind about this type of fishing? Well yes and no. It is good fun for a couple of hours, if (& only if) you're catching and a good way to share some fishing with the family. It doesn't hold enough of a challenge for me though, for example, having caught a couple of fish on floaters I'd lose interest in that method. I know I'd get thoroughly pissed off if I fished when it was really busy too. One thing in particular struck me, this water has rules to safe guard the fish, i.e. no keep nets, barbless hooks only and so on. However, almost all the Carp I caught this weekend showed signs of wear and tear, damaged mouths, flanks or fins. Overall it is what it is, for the most part it's fun.

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