Monday, 30 December 2013

There goes another

I was up before the sun, tuning in the radio while I filled the flasks. News from Australia was dismal, I decided to spare myself some suffering and leave the radio behind. I lazily made my way to the water, it was growing light when I pulled up in the car park and there was one other motor, sure enough the angler was in my first choice swim. We exchanged waves as I wandered off to try somewhere new. Like all the lakes in the area the water is clear and weedy, I under armed a Herring next to an overhanging tree and left this area quiet while I cast a springdawg around, to explore the extent of the weed. By now it was 0800 and the sun was rising through the trees, the sky was clear and there was barely a breeze. Not what was forecast and not good Piking weather on these waters. Having found some clear water I chucked a Smelt out and sat back with a cup of tea, more anglers were arriving, all were friendly. Every now and then I cast a lure around but the weed made things difficult, after an hour I was beginning to have my doubts about the swim but a breeze was beginning to ruffle the water and cloud was building.

At 0915 I noticed the float bob and was on it quickly, with the float inching towards the tree I wound down and bent into minimal resistance, which soon turned into no resistance as whatever was on the end let go. I quickly dropped the Herring back on the spot and my arse had hardly touched the chair before the float was moving again. This time the fish stayed on long enough for me to pull it to the surface, a jack and I wasn’t too bothered when it dropped off for a second time.



With the wind increasing and cloud gathering I figured I was in with a shout so kept moving the Smelt around and kept persevering with the lure rod. After dropping the smelt in close I sat back to make another brew but before I had a chance I noticed the line twitch on the freshly cast rod. I pulled the line out of the clip and it trickled out slowly. After dropping the net in front of me I wound down and pulled, the rod stayed bent with a decent weight on the end. Before the Pike realised what was going on I’d dragged it into the net, here the fish woke up and thrashed the water in front of me. I held the net here for a minute until the fish calmed down then quickly lay down the mat and got all the kit ready. The hooks were just behind the scissor and popped out easily. This one was definitely worth weighing and worth a quick photo on the self-timer. Back into the lake, she slowly sank away.



I’d attached a poly ball to the trace on that rod. I had intended to pop the bait up but when I checked the smelt was a ‘slow sinker’ but whatever, it had done the trick. Dave Lumb mentioned a good method for popping up deads on his blog recently. I really like the look of it and will be giving it a try, like most of the best ideas it’s really simple. Check it out here http://blog.lumbland.co.uk/2013/12/i-thought-it-was-all-over.html

As the day wore on the wind increased and the cloud descended blowing drizzle with it at times. I rate these conditions for stillwater Piking so confident there would be a few fish on the prowl I worked my way steadily along the bank. I kept the deadbaits moving and cast lures around at times but the latter was still difficult. Despite my optimism I didn’t tempt any more fish into taking a bait and as the light began to fade another bout of drizzle convinced me enough was enough. It had been too long since my last fishing trip, I really needed a bit of chill out time and was happy with what I’d caught. And that will almost certainly turn out to be my last fish of 2013.


Some of that end of year crap I usually find myself typing...



So where the hell did that one go? Was it twelve months ago that I sat here full of Christmas cynicism, trying to find some words to end the year with thinking “where the hell did that one go?” Away from the water I spent many memorable hours and days with my family and friends in various situations. I’m blessed to know so many lovely people who put up with me. We managed to watch loads of live music, highlights being Eels playing a blinder in Norwich. The lil lady and I were so hyped up afterwards we went for a two hour midnight walk under a glorious full moon. It was a freezing cold March night with moon shadows and frost crunching under our boots but fantastic… Later in the year we made it to the Latitude festival which was brilliant again. Here Hot Chip & Kraftwerk were my faves but there was just so much good stuff going on and for once the weather stayed dry. 


I’m still addicted to Test match Cricket & following England has been frustrating. Yes we won the Ashes but we did it without playing well. I managed to get to the Oval for the first day of the fifth test against Australia, I think I must have jinxed the team because that was the start of Australia dominating…arguably? Then autumn and the calendar speeds up and it’s the return Ashes, a tired team that doesn’t want it enough or just a bloody shambles? As I type this there is a hint of a fight back, a bit too late. Whatever, this series is the end of an era for England and we passionate fans.

Last gig of the year was Happy Mondays with Shaun & Co on top form. Before you know it bloody Christmas again! Don’t get me wrong, I like the forty eight or so hours beginning the moment I hang the car keys up on Christmas Eve. It’s the month of bollocks that precedes it that makes me growl. It’s good to have these distractions when life in the real world throws shit at you. There’s always shit, it’s just the depth that varies. This year was a little deeper but I have big boots. Then there’s fishing…


2013 began cold and stayed cold for months, this made fishing hard work. The Pike were unpredictable and hard to find, the cold made it physically tough too. I managed to catch a few doing different things in different places but the highlight was seeing Isaac christen his Pike rod. By the time the river season closed I was Piked out, knackered, my bones ached and I yearned for warmer weather and different fishing in greener surroundings.


It stayed cold for months, frosts in April and single figure temperatures in May. My Tench and Carp fishing started slowly and continued that way, I could catch from the easy water with no problem but I didn’t bank a single fish from my favourite warm weather venue. Despite this I was learning lots and enjoying my fishing, that fish always seemed just around the corner.



The sun came out in July and the waters began to look how they should in the summer. At times the winter fishing had been an endurance test but now it was a joy to be out on the bank. Coincidently my fishing fortunes improved too and I had a really successful and enjoyable few weeks; my best Tench and a string of big Carp. It was really interesting fishing as I was learning all the time and for once I didn’t want summer to end. The previous Pike season had been tough and I wasn’t sure I had the energy for another.


My favourite Carp of 2013

It didn’t take long for my Piking mojo to return and the autumn season with the reeds still green was joyous, exhausting, bewildering and exhilarating, just as it should be. It was fantastic to be back on the water in a special place in comfortable conditions! On one trip I only had two takes in 40+ hours on the water and they both came within seconds of each other. On another I managed my best fish of the autumn from a new spot after a spur of the moment move. I spent many happy hours just chilling out and watching the Harriers. Then the salt tides came and who knows what next?

The definition of Irony? Just when the Broads Authority come to their senses and start to use improved methods and a more sensible attitude, nature at its most uncontrollable smashes in to the east coast with another tidal surge. Anglers are lucky to have great men on the ground looking after our interests so thanks and praise once again to Pike anglers of the year, John Currie and Micky Cox along with all at Norwich PAC/NDPC.



I think it was the autumn when ‘Mr Angling’ John Wilson upped sticks and moved to Thailand. JW did much to enhance Angling and its image to the general public. I’m sure he must have been the first person to celebrate Pike as a beautiful fish to be respected and above all returned alive, on national TV? However, away from the camera, it has to be said, he could be a grumpy old git. But then so can I! Matt Hayes had a new series this year too, another rod race thing and pretty good too but am I alone it finding his banging on about fly fishing bloody annoying?

I haven’t seen as many Otters in Norfolk this year but I’ve seen a dramatic increase on my local Suffolk waters. One water controlled by a local club has a serious problem that wasn’t apparent twelve months ago. I know of a Koi pond close to a brook that has been raided and chickens were taken too. Other waters where Otters have been present for some time have shown a large increase in numbers. In mid December I watched four juveniles swim past on a local stillwater. Established pairs are breeding and these will have to travel further for food.


My second favourite Pike of 2013

My local G.A.P.S club is taking the only sensible option and will begin fencing their waters very soon. This will take time and money but it just has to be done. Personally I much prefer natural looking waters and hate the sight of fences. It could also be argued that this will move the problem onto somewhere/someone else, including places I love to fish. Even taking these things into consideration the club has no choice, the fences must go up.

One of the happiest fishy things of 2013 has been seeing first-hand the G.A.P.S. club develop and grow. I’ve been a member for a couple of spells since the early eighties when I never felt part of the club. To my mind there were too many silly rules and I just joined because it controlled waters I wanted to fish. In my opinion there have been times when the club has (to put it plainly,) not been run for the good of all anglers. It’s great to see anglers of all types now having a say, making good decisions and making G.A.P.S. a club I’m proud to be a member of. So thanks to David Page and all of the current committee, long may it continue!

So then the fishing year is split nicely down the middle. The winter and cold spring was difficult all round but once the sun came out the fishing was good and all things considered, 2013 was a pretty good year.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

On borrowed time?

On the evening of December 5th the national news reported on the massive tidal surge that battered the North Sea coast of the UK. In the days that followed the news reported on the human cost, damage to homes and property that is heart breaking at any time, let alone the run up to Christmas. The news also told of the damage to coastal bird reserves, the mega rich RSPB (nature Nazis) even had the cheek to ask for more money! Then there were the pictures of wide eyed baby seals, separated from their mothers in the storm. It comes as no surprise that the damage to the freshwater ecology goes unreported in the mainstream media, nobody cares about a few slimy old fish.

For the second time since the autumn the Norfolk Broads have been hit by a surge of salt water that travelled up to twenty miles inland on all of the major rivers. Tides like this should only occur every fifty years or so but we’ve had several recently. Some will point to this being more evidence of global warming, who knows? The numbers of fish killed will probably never be known but previous surges in 2007 and 2008 devastated the fish stocks in some Broadland rivers. Nature is resilient and has a way of fighting back, it has done so in the past and there is no reason to believe it can’t do so again. However if sea walls are breached and dunes eroded the next tidal surge could change parts of Broadland forever. There’s nothing we anglers can do about this except enjoy what the Norfolk Broads has to offer while we can.

A recent Broadland Pike, hopefully it won't be my last!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

November

10/11/13

I managed to persuade Isaac away from his Xbox for a couple of hours down by the waterside. Fishing the last two hours of the day is much easier to manage than the first few so we arrived in the middle of a bright sunny afternoon and had a couple of deadbaits soaking by 1500. Our only company was a pair of Carp anglers to our right. We each had half a herring at either end of a weed bed and shared a lure rod, fishing mainly soft plastic lures over the weed.

We idled the time away chatting, spotting birds and playing “I spy” at which Isaac is a terrible, chuckling cheat! I expected to catch and as the sun sank below the bank small silver fish were active on the surface, things were looking good. Clear sky and setting sun meant the temperature dropped quickly and Isaac complained of cold, it was time to go and we hadn’t caught the fish I’d been confident of. Maybe I need to put a bit more effort in? Maybe the dropping temperature put the fish off? Maybe someone else had got there first…


17/11/13

The following week I had a trip to the special place, with Shelley joining me in the boat. I hoped to catch Pike and she hoped to catch everything else through the camera lens. Unfortunately the weather conditions did little to help either of us, very little wind with low cloud bringing drizzle and crap light for photography. We didn’t see the sun at all, not even at the ends of the day. We did see plenty of birdlife, the Harriers teased us by appearing when the cameras were stowed and ghosting out of range before we could be ready. By late morning I was anchored in the middle of a large bay. We’d been on the spot for long enough for me to check my watch and plan the next move but what was that?... A tick, tick, ticking baitrunner and a moving float! Hooks set, no mistake and a full on curve. The fish wasn’t as big as first hoped but was soon being held up for the camera. Another hour and another move later the same float was on the move again, this time it was just a jack but welcome all the same.

With no sun the darkness dropped on us suddenly and we packed up in a hurry, it was properly dark when we got back to the slip. Here we met Rich who’d had a similar day. There’d been a few Pike on the feed but we hadn’t found any whackers.


Elusive harrier



23/11/13

I had a spare hour first thing this morning, between dropping and collecting Isaac from his Saturday club. Not enough time to fish proper but an opportunity to chuck a lure here and there so I had another quick visit to a local water. With the sky clear I fancied having the sun on my back so chose the far side, creeping down to the edge to keep my shadow off the water. Lure choice was a springdawg counting down and fishing deep and slow to find the depths and any weed around. I mapped out a nice looking bay but failed to stir any Pike. The only time the lure went solid I managed to bank a personal best branch of about twenty feet in length. I managed a couple of smaller lumps of wood too, probably all casualties of last month’s storm, the wonders of 50lbs braid.

I’d been wondering about lures that would work well above and around weed and remembered the old Suick thriller in the lure box. I’ve caught a few fish on this, including my biggest lure caught Pike but have never really got to grips with it. I retraced my steps with the Suick but today did nothing to buck the trend. No Pike, not even a tap or follow but time well spent.

24/11/13

The following morning I had another spare hour so dropped onto the pit once again, this time fishing the opposite end. Once again I chose the lure rod and mostly fished a springdawg on my first circuit of this bay, nothing showing but depths and features noted. I retraced my steps with the wagtail and a cast along a tree line brought a tap on the rod, as the lure came into view so did a follower, just a small fish which drifted away, not to be seen again.

I experimented with a couple of crank baits, the grandma was maybe a bit too shallow but dived quickly, a long neglected Bomber long A had a subtler action and suspended nicely, I could fish this like a jerkbait more effectively than the Suick I’d tried previously, all food for thought. After trying a spinnerbait (must remember to pack a heavier one) and a shad I reverted to the springdawg and it was this lure that stirred a second fish. The first one had been small but this wasn’t. Running out of line I let the lure fall to the bottom, the Pike wasn’t interested, I got a good look as it lazily turned and drifted out of sight. It looked mint, I’ll be back.

These short sessions may not see me catch any fish but I have a feeling the odd hour here and there will turn out priceless in the long run. It also helps to occupy my mind and stop me thinking about the cricket.


A few weeks ago I was braving the obstacle course that goes with getting in and out of my loft and whilst rummaging I uncovered a box of books I hadn’t seen for a decade. It contained too absolute classics from the early eighties that I had read, re-read then read again. The first of these was “Carp Fever” by Kevin Maddocks. Many will remember that it was this book that introduced the fishing world to the “Hair rig” which standard now was an absolute revolution at the time. Carp Fever is a very mechanical manual type book which was very boring thirty years on but the anecdotal stuff towards the end was well worth another read. The other book was Rod Hutchinson’s “Carp strikes back”. Once again the technical stuff was very dated and I skimmed through those parts but this book is all about the stories. It covers a season on the famous Savay Lake and chronicles, in equal measure, the success and disasters of Rod and friends. At times it’s very funny but the great thing about it is the reader feels like he’s on the bank with the angler, willing him to get that fish in the net. I really enjoyed this re-read, the book is a classic and stands the test of time. Neither will return to the bowels of the loft but only one will be dipped into again.

In the absence of any decent fish photos, here's a Suffolk river fish from a few years ago.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Old haunts

I’ve spent my last three or four winters doing pretty much the same thing at the same places so this season I’ve decided to mix things up a bit. I’ll be fishing places that I haven’t looked at in decades and at some point I might even fish for things that don’t have teeth, we’ll see. The same old story, too many fish and not enough time.

So at the weekend I visited a couple of places I haven’t fished for many years. I had a lazy start and didn’t reach the first venue till late in the morning. Sadly this piece of water is sad to see nowadays, a once vibrant, pulsing fishery has changed drastically over the decades I’ve known it. A wise, experienced local angler pointed out the water is reverting to the form nature and geography intended for it. (He didn’t say it like that but I don’t want to give the game away). I had intended to travel light but inevitably took too much gear. First glance told me I should have left the deadbait kit in the car, the water was low and gin clear. I stuck a deadbait in a likely spot then cast a wagtail around on the lure rod. After a few casts a jack grabbed hold and the rod took on a curve. Sometimes when I’m lure fishing I just know a fish is going to drop off. This was one of those occasions and sadly I was right. I persevered and persuaded the fish to follow again but it wouldn’t take despite going through a few of my carefully selected lures. Nothing else occurred here so I slowly made my way along the bank, dropping a deadbait here and casting a lure there. Nothing happened. I didn’t even see a silver fish top let alone anything substantial. Needless to say I was the only one fishing. Nature may well be the cause of many of the changes to this fishery but I have absolutely no doubt that predation from both Cormorants and Otters are equally to blame. What can be done? Sadly nothing.

Before heading back to the car I dropped back into the first spot to see if that Pike was still about. Casting a ½ oz Spinnerbait it was no surprise to see the jack come speeding into the margins but I’d run out of room. Remembering something I’d read, (probably on the ‘Pike pit’ or its predecessor) I let the lure sink to the bottom and sure enough the Pike crept slowly towards it. After staring at the stationary spinnerbait for a while it flared its gills and sucked it up, disturbing the sediment and clouding the water so I couldn’t see what was going on. I decided I better strike just in case, the lure shot out into thin air. I waited for the silt to clear. The Pike was still there so I flicked the lure out passed it and retrieved. The fish pivoted and watched the lure pass by, I let it flutter to the bottom and once again the fish slowly closed on it. It was only inches away but this time didn’t look like it was going to pick it up, stalemate. I twitched the lure slightly and the Jack tensed, flared and closed in… but still didn’t take. I twitched again, the fish struck and so did I. The Pike was on for a second or two but again threw the lure after a couple of seconds. This fish didn’t want to play anymore, I hadn’t managed to catch it but that didn’t matter at all. I’ve caught some cracking fish from this place in the past, not just decent Pike but Tench, big Roach and even a surprise Chub when I was a kid. If I return to this water at some point for Pike, and I have a feeling I will, I must remember to leave the deadbaits at home.

I do very little lure fishing these days and had let myself forget that there are times and places where a lure will out fish baits. A decade ago when I was doing loads of lure fishing, I couldn’t see the wood through the trees and really over complicated things. I thought that mastering the next new lure would solve the puzzle and I’d catch loads of fish. I read loads about lure fishing, some very good advice and some just salesmen selling. Eventually, after picking the brains of good lure anglers, my friend Giles to name one of a few, I managed to simplify things. Break the water down into depth zones, top third, middle and bottom. Learn to use a few lures that work at each depth at different speeds, some lures work nice and slow, others need a faster retrieve. There are only four types of colour for lures. Natural, bright, black and white (arguably). Does colour matter? Probably. Wiser people than me recommend natural colours for clear water and brighter lures if it’s more coloured. In my box today; two springdawgs (different colours), a wagtail, a professor spoon, two spinnerbaits (different sizes), a shad, a curly tail jig and a replicant. This time, these places I figured I had all bases covered. If I had to pick just one lure, at any time of year, at any water it would undoubtedly be a 1oz spinnerbait.



Moving on, it was now well into the afternoon and time for another fishery. I found myself in a spot I hadn’t fished since the late eighties, this too had changed but counting down a springdawg is a great way to refresh memories on the topography of the place. First cast I found weed so cranked the lure back briskly. Weed didn’t deter a nice Pike from cruising up to investigate the lure, it turned away and disappeared, a fish I probably wouldn’t have known about without the sunglasses. I wasn’t checking the depths now I was trying to catch a Pike and after a couple of casts the fish appeared again but didn’t look like taking. My selections from the lure box didn’t tempt it or any others so time for a change of plan. I found two nice places to drop deadbaits and settled back with a brew. Let things settle down for a while then try again with the lure rod.



With the tea warm inside me I picked up the lure rod again and had a few more casts. I was just about to sit down again when I noticed a float on the move. This has happened very many times over the years, casting a lure may not catch me a fish but it often leads to a deadbait being taken. Unfortunately I picked up the rod and wound into absolutely nothing, bait gone. Half an hour later I was watching that same float when It plunged under water at speed, as I stood up I could see the float clearly a couple of feet down. It then slowly rose to the surface and once again the fish had dropped my bait. It was going to be one of those days.

A little move along the bank brought more of the same on the lure rod, a small fish following but not taking. This time the deadbaits weren’t touched. After a while here and with the sun beginning to sink I decided to try the original swim again. I kept my eye on the float and this time when it began to move I was on it quickly and set the hooks. The fight was one sided and she was netted very quickly which is just as well, by the time I put it on the mat the hooks were already in the mesh. With one rod left fishing and the light fading quickly it was time to pack up, one fish banked but loads learnt. Two hours later I was in the pub with my whole family, a pint of Adnams and a plate of food. Happy birthday Dad!



Sunday, 27 October 2013

Autumn

Over the last month I’ve spent most of my fishing time in my boat at my favourite wetland wilderness. The mild autumn has made this a very comfortable, enjoyable experience and from a fishing point of view it’s had a bit of everything. Nothing stays the same, the system changes, evolves through the seasons, this means it’s always interesting. The Pike always make us work but when they come the reward feels greater for that. 

I love fishing in the autumn, every species feeds hard but I can’t drag myself away from Pike at this time of year. Enjoy the novelty of mild weather Piking with the countryside still wearing a green coat, before the cold days come. 
It’s been so mild that many anglers have trotted out the old “too warm for Piking” line. Most of the people who tell me this rarely fish for Pike whatever the weather but there are Pikers out there that believe this too. This soon gets forgotten when the trout reservoirs open their doors, nobody gives back their Chew ticket if the weather is too warm… Talking of which, this place is still turning up whackers and I’m still content to be a vaguely interested spectator. Good luck to all with tickets.


Here’s some photos…


First of the season



Cranes



Big sky sunset



Catch the moment



Looking for lunch



Too big for bait



Still looking



Only takes a second



Home

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Kick in the teeth

As many people will only be too aware, eighteen months ago myself and many other Broadland anglers were angered that ill-advised dredging work was allowed to take place on the Thurne system. “Coincidentally” an outbreak of Prymnesium Parva followed, leading to a large scale fish kill. Just how many fished perished will never be known but I know the affected area well I can report that its Pike population was decimated. The BA finally switched its methods of operation and thankfully there has been no repeat. In the past few weeks that area shows signs that silver fish at least are returning in numbers, good signs. Sadly the Thurne has been hit with another disaster, one that man was powerless to prevent.

On Thursday 10th there were unusually high tides combined with strong Northerly winds. These in combination allowed the salt tides to push much further up all the broadland rivers than would normally occur. Early on Friday morning, many fish were seen dead and dying on the incoming tide, bizarrely most of these had sunk within an hour so the true extent of the kill will never be known. From experience we know that dead Pike are rarely seen, they just seem to disappear. As ever some of the Norfolk Pikers did their best to move fish and generally monitored the situation, reporting back to the EA who also did their best. Unfortunately their efforts were a drop in the ocean; as said, man was powerless. Thanks and well done fellas, you know who you are.



My own Pike fishing this autumn continued where I left off in the early spring; it’s been tough, challenging fishing in spectacular surroundings with one or two rewards along the way. A bit of good luck and a bit of bad but thankfully no disasters, touch wood…


Sunday, 15 September 2013

To plug or not to plug

Although I’ve spent the last thirteen years working in the tackle & bait trade I try not to let that creep into this blog. I hate over commercialism in angling, and particularly dislike fishing articles that are full of blatant plugs. I think I may have mentioned that before? For once I’m going to bend my own unwritten rules and mention the day job. One of the brands we manufacture at work is ‘Crafty Catcher’ and I’ve been using this bait all summer with pleasing results. In particular the ‘Fast food boilies’ along with associated wafters and dips, if I can catch on them, anyone can. More details here…   http://www.copdockmill.co.uk/crafty_catcher/index.shtml



While I’m in the mood I’m going to mention the other dreaded subject of the Carp angler and that is rigs. As you may have read in these pages I’ve mostly used Helicopter and Chod rigs this summer. This is mainly to combat the silt of the Marsh but I’ve become confident using them and they work on the other places I’ve tried them too. One thing common to both rigs is the length of leadcore leader of about one metre. I use the pre-rigged ones made by ACE which can be easily converted between both rigs by repositioning the beads that slide on them. For the Chod rig I use a short length of ‘Rigamortis’ also made by ACE, this stiff hooklength material can be easily shaped into a curve between your fingers. I like the Fox Arma point hooks, usually in size 6 and apparently the SR pattern is best suited to chod rigs so that’s the one I use. I tie an ACE pop up peg onto the ‘D’ as this makes mounting the bait so much easier than fiddling about with floss. 

For the helicopter rig I mostly use Fox Coretex coated braid to make a 9” hooklength, with the last few inches stripped back and tie on a Fox SSBP hook in size 6. I also use an Ace ‘kicker’ line aligner to angle the hook. I tie a fairly long hair and have recently added a small rig ring to the hook to give a ‘blow back’ effect. I’ve seen the modern Carpy trend for fishing really slack lines and thinking as a Pike angler that just screams “bad bite indication”, so I don’t do it. I do use flying back-leads to make sure the last few yards of line are laying on the bottom and hopefully not in the way. While I’m breaking my own rules I’ll add that all the rig bits, components and bait are available at Copdock Mill… Next month I will mostly be sticking a lump of dead fish onto hooks and wire then chucking it out.


The weather is certainly autumnal and the nights are drawing in, opportunities for short after work trips are scarce so when a small gap in the mad weekly routine appeared I had to take it. The end of work couldn’t come quick enough and I found myself at a wild, windswept lake by 1820. The wind was a strong North westerly whipping drizzle out of the gloomy skies, pretty unpleasant really but good fishing weather. I tried to repeat my previous successes by finding a quiet area at the end of the wind. My first choice area had a couple of anglers present so I went to the opposite end of the windward bank. I eventually settled in a bay I happen to like which was slightly out of the wind. This would make my short evening session more comfortable but once I was settled I had the feeling I’d compromised with swim selection, I should have roughed it a bit more.

Tonight I decided to stick to what works so fished identical helicopter/snowman rigs both baited with the usual boilie and fished amongst 30 or so free offerings. One was swung under an overhang to my left and the other flicked to a bed of lilies in the bay. I sat back in my chair but couldn’t really relax, it was growing dark already and was an unpleasant evening all round. After forty five minutes or so the lily pad rod beeped into life but I was slow out of my chair and the fish was well buried in the pads. I tried slackening off which led to the Carp taking more line off the Baitrunner but I still couldn’t get it out and eventually the hook pulled. Oh well. At least this endorsed my choice of swim and reminded me that I have a bait that Carp like and a rig that hooks them.

After another hour I’d had enough and packed up a little earlier than planned. Have I lost my immunity to crappy weather? I’ve certainly reminded myself that good weather makes fishing so much easier. I must be getting old.

Barring something unexpected that pretty much brings my ‘summer’ fishing to a close and what an enjoyable few months it’s been. I’ve done much more warm weather fishing this year and taken full advantage of the decent summer we’ve had. I’ve managed to push my Tench PB up by a few ounces and completely smash my Carp PB’s out of sight. It has to be said, it takes much more effort to catch big Pike these days but I’m not going to knock this Carp fishing lark!

I love Pike fishing in the autumn, I’ve always found it to be the most productive time of year and it’s still mild enough to make being outside a pleasure. Those that preach waiting for the first frost are usually people who haven’t done a lot of Pike fishing or are just repeating stuff they’ve read on internet forums. So in a couple of weeks’ time I’ll be launching the boat with the wind rattling the masts on the yachts in the yard, then I’ll be cutting through the waves, heading out into about a thousand acres of open water or about eight miles of channels and dykes. I can almost hear the wind rustling the still green reeds and feel the breeze on my face...  



Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Change

I’ve just had what is by my standards a really successful few days Carp fishing so what should I do this weekend? Go Bream fishing in Norfolk of course! After a lazy start Shelley and I found ourselves afloat on the Broad around lunch time on a bright breezy day, treated to a spectacular cloudscape in the big Norfolk sky. The day had risked a wet and premature end but I remembered the plug for the boat just in time. To begin with we spent an hour or so motoring around, avoiding the yachts and exploring, Shelley constantly pressing the camera button. This by happy coincidence also served to give my engine a thorough testing which it passed with flying colours.

When it was time to settle I needed to find a spot that ticked all the boxes. Natural beauty and wildlife is virtually guaranteed but it also needs peace & quiet, shelter from the South westerly wind and the showers the forecast had threatened and hopefully a few fish. The first three attributes were quickly ticked off with a move into a quiet bay that I happen to like. I had a channel of clear water between weedbeds running parallel to me and although it wouldn’t have been my first choice it looked good for a bream or two.



I rigged up two cage feeders with size sixteen hooks baited with corn on two foot hooklengths. The groundbait was a mixture of ‘Special G’ and Copdock Mill’s ‘Gold’. Two groundbaits I’ve found work well with Bream either on their own or mixed together. I started fishing with one rod and used the other to put a bit of bait out to begin with, it was only when I’d finished that task that I found the catapult in my bag. Too say bites didn’t come quickly would be an understatement but I eventually began to notice the odd tremor on the tips.

After about ninety minutes and a couple of thin air strikes I managed to hook a Bream which fought surprisingly well for its size. Not a monster but with a deep bronze back it was almost everything a Broadland Bream should be. I was confident of more and bigger so slipped it back without a photo assuring Shelley there would be plenty more to follow. In the next few minutes I struck thin air a couple more times then the action became erratic at best. Away in the west the sky was dark and heavy. I got the cuddy erected and everything covered just in time then the rain battered down for a while, flattening the water and rattling the rods. Half an hour or so later we were still dry and treated to a double rainbow.



In the end I didn’t manage to tempt any more Bream but we did drink plenty of tea and enjoyed a fry up while the cares of the week drifted away. With the evening approaching I lifted the weights and steered for a spot closer to the staithe. Here we were in a good position to watch the sunset and relax for a couple more hours so I chucked the rods out more in hope than expectation. The sunset was glorious and the fishing was a bit better here too, I managed another, smaller Bream and a beautiful little Rudd.

The sunset reached its finale as we motored slowly back to base in the fading light. I got the boat out of the water without need for a torch and we nipped into a local pub for a pint and seafood. From a fishing point of view a little disappointing but I’d caught a Broadland Bream and every other box had been well & truly ticked.

Monday, 2 September 2013

On a roll...

Busy, busy Saturday. The children are going back to school next week (or university in Shan’s case), Madi can’t wait but Isaac doesn’t want to stop playing Xbox. We had to go into town for new hair cuts, new shoes and loads of new stuff to fill pencil cases. Pizza hut for dinner by which time I’d spent a fortune. After all that we’d agreed that the evening would be Dad time so I dragged the children down to the club lake. 

The wind was a fresh North Westerly pushing down the far end which was handy because I could fish two rods for Carp in the main lake and the kids could float fish maggots in the small pool a few yards behind. I dropped a PVA bag of nut mix baited with fake corn close to an overhanging tree in the margins on the left and was planning to fish a boilie close in on the right. However a leaping Carp in the bay opposite distracted me, no one was fishing the bay so I just had to put a bait on it. The margin rod was fishing by 1630 but it took another half hour to get the boilie out there. This was not just because my dodgy eyesight was affecting my casting but I was also side tracked by untangling whips and unhooking fish. Madi was catching small Perch and Roach but Isaac couldn’t get a bite, much to his disgust! Eventually I got the boilie bang on target and catapulted about 30 freebies on top, then I was able to relax in the late afternoon sunshine.



After ninety minutes or so the freshening wind was still pushing into the bay and making things look very good for a Carp or two. If the fish had read all the books then they should be here and I should be catching…Isaac managed a couple of Perch on his whip by which time Madi had put hers aside and was concentrating on her latest book, the sibling rivalry had eased a bit. I was reminded that I was the only one of us not to have caught a fish but this wasn’t the reason I swapped sides with the nut mix margin rod. If that one had been picked up it would have been straight through my other line in seconds so I had to give myself a bit of room. I now felt content to sit and wait. Conditions looked good, had the fish read the script?

At 1840 I had a fast take on the boilie rod. I picked it up quickly and started walking backwards trying to steer the fish away from the snaggy bay. I only half succeeded, the fish moved away from the lilies but kited into the bay, there now was a line of overhanging trees between it and me. I had to endure a tug of war along the tree line with me gradually gaining line and the fish somehow staying out of the snags. I love my 2.5tc rods because I can really bend into these fish, unlike most Carp anglers with their pokers. I asked for help and Madi was soon beside me wielding the net but the fish was not done yet. Eventually it gave up and rolled over , I dragged a nice common over the net which Madi expertly lifted first time! She then trotted off up the bank and returned with the mat and scales, my daughter is a fast learner! I was surprised by the weight in the net and when I put the fish on the mat it was revealed as a very deep, thick set fish in lovely condition, apart from an Otter damaged tail which is all too common these days. Isaac who is used to catching fish exclaimed “Is that really a Carp?” The scales revealed a very pleasing weight indeed, another proper fish! A few quick photos then the kids watched as I slipped it back. Lovely job!!



Excuse the dopey face


I recast as soon as the mess was sorted, this time I got it right first time and once more catapulted 20 or so freebies on top. I settled back with a broad grin on my face not really expecting much else and not caring. The clock ticked round, the children wanted to go home and I was content so began tidying up the whips which were no longer being used. 

At 1935 I had a twitchy take on the same rod. I wasn’t sure what was going on so picked up the rod and began winding. There didn’t seem to be anything on the end…then there was…then there wasn’t…then there was… What had happened was a fish had picked up my bait and bolted out of the bay, away from the worst snags but through every weed bed along the way. When I eventually made contact it was in front of me, a heavy plodding weight which I put down to a nice fish and loads of weed. This fish kept going from one weed bed to another but I felt pretty relaxed with a big fish under my belt already and kept bullying it out of the weed. Once again Madi held the net and I had the fish almost over it before it powered off again. Eventually, a few minutes later we got the fish and a whole load of weed into the net and I had a second fish. With the fish resting in the water I peeled off loads and loads of weed to reveal a lightly scaled Mirror and what’s more it was a proper whacker!!


Every time I looked at the fish it grew, it was clearly my biggest ever Carp by a distance! Like the first the hook was firmly in the lower lip and wouldn’t have pulled out but you don’t know that when you’re playing them. The scales confirmed my suspicions; the fish smashed the PB set only three weeks previously. I held it up for the camera and Madi clicked away while Isaac stood saying things like “Wow! Are you sure that’s a Carp?” I returned the fish to the water and it sank away to invisibility. I was completely blown away, this is my heaviest brace of fish of any species and not only had I shared the experience with my children, Madi had netted them both for me! I packed the rest of the gear away in a total daze.


Two days later…I have the afternoon off work to spend a little more time with the children before the summer holiday ended. Five of us sat down to a big tasty, roast dinner and had a relaxed afternoon. At 1600 it was time for the kids to go back to their mum so Shelley and I loaded the car for another evening at the club lake. Bright and sunny with a moderate westerly, I parked at the windward corner and had a look in a swim with nice fishy looking margins. After a couple of minutes I saw a Carp drift under an over-hanging tree, that’ll do for me. This was a new swim to me so I cast a light lead around the swim just to get a little idea of where there was weed and which parts were clear, then started rigging up.

By 1645 I was fishing. First the helicopter rig was swung under an overhang to my right and 30 freebies chucked on top. Shelley dropped a similar rig to a tree on the left, this one baited with pellets. I chucked a third rod in the middle which we ended up sharing. This was maize with a PVA bag rig, a short cast into open, clear water with a few pouches of Maize catapulted over the top.

We didn’t have long to wait, barely half an hour later my right hand rod started bouncing, bending and beeping and before I knew what was happening I had a bent rod and I was dragging a fish away from the tree. A big Common Carp surfaced with dorsal erect then dived again, thankfully it was away from the tree. I turned to Shelley who had wound in the middle rod and was now standing with the net; “That’s another biggun”. “I know she said, “I’ve seen it”. This fish didn’t fight as hard as the two the other night and it didn’t take long to get it in the net and on the mat. It was another big fish, in fact it was my second PB Common this season and I grinned for the camera.



I got the rod back out quickly and baited up again with a nother few handfuls of boilies. We’d barely settled down before the same rod was away again and a short while later a small common was unhooked and returned. We decided then that the middle rod would be Shelley’s for the rest of the evening, after she’d recast it of course. And so it continued, twice more my same bait on the right was taken, both times I bullied the fish away from the tree then enjoyed a nice fight in the clearer water where Shelley netted it. One fish was a nice Mirror, the other a slightly smaller Common. As it was growing darker and we were soaking up the sunset, Shelley’s left hand rod signalled a take at last but unfortunately the culprit got away with it. Half an hour later we packed up by torch light.



So to sum up my summer so far, four months of learning about Carp and Carp fishing and mostly blanking followed by five weeks of catching. I suppose a couple of nice fish gives the angler a bit of confidence then we relax and make good decisions, one success leads to another. I’ve avoided Carp fishing for years but now I’ve had another go I’m really enjoying myself. 
Years ago when I used to fish for Carp I had to travel far and wide to find fish big enough to interest me, now I’ve had four whackers in four weeks from waters on my door step. I’m on a roll and long may it continue, right through the autumn with any luck.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Bank Holiday

We spent a very busy bank holiday weekend in a variety of different ways; Saturday at a Friend’s wedding (congratulations to Dale and Hayley, not forgetting Layla), Sunday soaking the sun at the Colchester cricket festival watching Essex thrash Derbyshire by 102 runs in a YB40 match. We also managed to get home to see the climax of the fifth test.  A bizarre end but probably a fair one and a 3-0 Ashes win! Monday dawned with clear bright skies so there was nothing to thwart our plan of doing a little fishing.



We rolled out of bed when we woke up, no alarm clocks, had tea and toast then set off. Shelley and I picked up my nephew Ollie whom I’ve been promising a fishing trip for some time. We headed deep into the Suffolk countryside to a group of pits that should meet our requirements. I hadn’t visited these lakes for a couple of months so was shocked to find them absolutely choked with duck weed, you could hardly see any water. My first choice area looked unfishable so we had a look at the piranha pool and found enough clear water here to enable us to fish a couple of rods. A couple of handfuls of floating pellets soon had our swim full of hungry Carp, I rigged up two rods to fish floaters while Shelley wandered around with her camera. It didn’t take very long before Ollie was into a fish and the first of many small Common Carp was dragged over the net. After catching one myself I handed my rod over to Shelley then played ghillie for a while, netting, unhooking and baiting up.


After a couple of hours here we moved over to one of the other pits and found an algae free corner where we could soak a couple of boilies, fished over a scattering of pellets. Carp moved in and out of our swim regularly but none seemed to drop down onto our baited spots. I tried feeding floaters again and one or two fish did show an interest but none where feeding confidently. We sat back in our chairs chilling and chatting which for me was much more relaxing and enjoyable than the bedlam of the piranha pool, despite not catching anything. We packed up at lunch time, dropping Ollie at his home before returning to ours for a siesta. 

After demolishing a large pepperoni pizza and a pot of tea we chilled out through the heat of the day. Having topped up the flasks and stashed some more food we ventured out once more, this time our destination was the club pit. I parked the car and we took a slow amble around the pit, it was no surprise to find a few anglers about on this bank holiday Monday but there was still plenty of space for us to go at. The walk around the water provided few fishy clues but I did bump into a friend, Mr P who was just setting up at the far end and we vowed to keep one another up to speed on the fishing via text. By the time we made it back to the car I still hadn’t seen any fish but the moderate North Easterly was pushing into the bay I’d fished last time out, this area was quiet so I was happy to settle in here for the evening, getting the rods out at around 1700.



My right hand rod was the PVA bag mix fished on an inline rig with fake corn as hookbait. The other was the now normal helicopter/snowman rig baited with a boilie and cast into a clear area amongst the far bank trees. This was baited by catapult with about twenty freebies. I was in the process of helping Shelley assemble another helicopter rig when my boilie rod sounded a few beeps. I looked round to see the line pulling tight and having learnt from previous mistakes I swept the rod back and immediately started to drag the fish away from the snags. This I managed easily and I soon had a reasonable weight of fish plodding around in front of me, then all went solid. I kept the pressure on and whatever was on the end came free, at this point I was thinking I’d hooked one of the rare but large Tench that reside in this pit. However I was very surprised to see a large Common Carp materialise in the clear water, before it knew what was happening I had it in the net!

With the fish resting in the net I got all the necessary bits and pieces ready then lifted it onto the mat. The hook was wedged perfectly in the bottom lip but came out easily. I held this cracking fish up for Shelley’s camera before slipping it onto the scales which revealed a surprising weight, my second proper Carp in a couple of weeks! I released it into the clear water and watched it sink away into the weeds, lovely!



A good fish after only five minutes, result! This surely would be the first of many? With things back to normal we got Shelley’s rod out and topped up the spots with more boilies. I text Mr P to let him know and he text back a little while later saying he was into fish too. It was a very pleasant evening chilling out in the fading sun, sipping tea and frying sausages. There were fish in the bay too, I watched two small Carp cruise in virtually under my rod tips; surely we just had to catch more fish? However after another couple of hours had passed only the wildfowl had managed to disturb my baits, annoying Swans and noisy ducks meant I had to recast both rods. Tricky casts amongst the trees combined with my dodgy eyesight meant this was easier said than done!

Around 1930 Shelley’s rod signalled a take but unfortunately her strike met no resistance, somehow the culprit had managed to drop the rig. She got the bait back into position and we sat back to watch the sun sink with renewed confidence, with light fading it just had to happen, didn’t it? Apart from the odd liner we had no more action by packing up time at 2100. That brought a lovely busy, bank holiday weekend to a close. I don’t know when I’ll get out fishing again, hopefully soon.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

In the club

Earlier this year I mentioned my local G.A.P.S. club had made some major changes at the top of their organisation. When I was last a member of this club around a decade ago, it was dominated by a small group of older gentlemen, virtually all match anglers, who had their own agenda and basically ran the club for their own advantage. After witnessing first-hand how that committee conducted itself I decided they wouldn’t be getting any more of my money to fund their nest feathering. 

Last Saturday 17th the club held an open day at one of its fisheries which I attended as part of the day job. The aim of the day was to showcase the club and its waters to attract new members. The day was particularly aimed at juniors and all of those who attended received a free membership on the day, Isaac was one of many to take advantage of this! The open day was a tremendous success from every point of view, everyone in attendance enjoyed themselves, most caught fish and the club got its message across. The new committee is a mixture of anglers from all disciplines, led by Carp anglers but I trust their promise to make G.A.P.S. a club for ALL anglers. I was so impressed by what I saw and heard at the open day, I showed my support by stumping up the cash to join the club.


A couple of days later I made my first fishing trip to a G.A.P.S. water for a decade. My first impressions were unfavourable, there were just too many anglers about but eventually Shelley and I settled into the relative quiet of a bay down the far end. It had been a bright breezy day and the North west wind had pushed down this end of the lake, which is why I chose the area. That and the fact the bay was quiet with no other people around. There were no fish showing to give any clues so the windward end of the lake would do.
So we began fishing, Shelley with the whip and me with two Carp rods. One cast to a bed of lilies in a snaggy corner on my left, this was baited with fake corn and a PVA bag of Maize & Hemp stick. The other rod was a chod & pop up cast to a nice long tree line to my right. This was baited with about a dozen boilies.

We had a pleasant evening chilling out but Shelley’s float didn’t dip and there was no sign of any Carp in the swim…until about 1945 when a decent fish rolled near the pads. Seconds later that rod ripped off and I was attached to a decent Carp, determined to get into the snags. I held on and bullied it out into open water where it took line off the reel. Just when I began to think I had it under control the hook pulled… bugger! I’m not sure how big it was, probably a mid-double by the feel but you never know. I recast with a fresh rig & bag as quickly as I could, feeling a bit deflated to be honest.

As the sky began to darken more Carp began to show in the bay and things looked good for another take. Around 2040 the same rod was off again and I was attached to another Carp determined to get in the snags. This one was smaller and I just got it away from danger when the hook pulled again. I can’t be too disappointed as it really was shit or bust fishing. As daylight was fading fast I decide to give it best and pack up. I’d blanked but my PVA bag mix is as attractive to the Carp as I thought it would be. I think I’m onto a winner here! Also I need to use bigger hooks when fishing near snags… Despite not landing any fish, this was a positive first trip.


A couple of days later I was back. Today was Isaac’s birthday and I was supposed to be elsewhere but family life doesn’t always go to plan so due to an unlikely set of circumstances Madi and I found ourselves at the club pit for an evening fishing. The weather was uncomfortable, grey and gloomy with little or no wind and steady drizzle punctuated only by heavier showers. On one rod I fished the PVA bag mix that had produced takes the other night, this was dropped next to convenient margin features. I moved it around the swim during the evening and never really felt confident in any of the spots I placed it. On the other rod was my favourite helicopter/snowman rig with a finely balanced hookbait cast to a convenient gap in the trees and baited up with about 25 boilies by catapult. With the rods in position the two of us took shelter beneath my little pop up shelter and spent an evening chatting and drinking tea. My daughter and I had a lot to discuss.

The lake seemed dead but to be fair it was difficult to really keep an eye on the water looking out of the bivvy door and peering through the rain. It was a surprise when after about ninety minutes the boilie was picked up and I was into a Carp that was determined to get into the snags. A brief tug of war ensued, my hook pulled and the Carp won, “Bollocks!!!”, “Don’t swear Dad!!!” I got an identical rig back into position as quickly as possible, topping up with another 20 or so freebies. It would have been more but Madi didn’t get the hang of the catapult.

The hands on my watch began to speed up and the light began to fade, it seems to do so quickly at this time of year, especially when I’m fishing. I thought I’d missed my chance once again but at around 2030 the boilie rod signalled another take, I hit it quickly and walked backwards to pull the fish clear of the snags, shit or bust. This time my hook held and I managed to drag the fish into open water but the battle was far from over. This fish was by no means big but refused to go in the net being patiently held by Madi and managed to wipe out my other rod too. Eventually Madi lifted the net under a plump Common Carp and I’d managed to catch my first Carp from this club’s waters since the late eighties.

After Madi done the honours with the camera it was virtually dark now, everything was a mess and I’d forgotten my head torch so there was no real option but to pack away and bundle everything into the car. Had I managed to get the rods out I’m confident I could have bagged another fish but to be honest when I set out I’d have settled for just the one.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Like buses

I arrived at the Marsh at 1930, disappointed to see two cars parked at my favoured end of the lake, surely my area would be stitched up? A brief walk around told me my preferred swim was vacant, only one angler was fishing, the other just watching, I knew both of them and was comfortable settling into the South east reeds. By 2000 I had two rods fishing, a helicopter/snowman rig on the left and a chod rig cast into the open water. I catapulted 25 boilies on top of each one then set about getting the bivvy up and all the kit sorted. For once I had a whole weekend of free time ahead of me, the longest session I’ve been able to spend at the Marsh. The conditions were on my side too, a nice westerly breeze pushed straight into my corner and the day had been relatively cool compared to recent weeks.

All was looking good, there was loads of bubbling in my swim (as usual) and I began receiving liners almost straight away. These may well have been Bream but if a shoal of these move in and feed, I may have some short term inconvenience but felt this feeding activity may draw in the Tench and Carp? My suspicions where confirmed by a twitchy take on the left hand rod which resulted in a Bream of about three pounds. This was quickly unhooked then I got the rig back out there along with another 25 or so boilies pulted on top. Just then I heard a shout from the friendly anglers to my right who pointed out an unwelcome visitor in the form of an Otter which bubbled and boiled through our swims and literally passed underneath my rods before thankfully disappearing. This put a halt to the Bream activity for a while but after an hour or so had passed I began getting the tell-tale beeps on the alarms again. I bade my friendly neighbours farewell about midnight then settled into my kip bag and bedchair for the night.


I was up and about at just after 0500, I had a plan to recast the open water rod to a snaggy area where I’ve seen fish rolling and bubbling during the early morning in the past. This cast landed bang on first time for a change. I’d had a little activity on the left hand rod through the night so recast this rod too with fresh hookbait and another 30 or so freebies. By 0600 I’d noticed there was quite a bit of bubbling in the open water so I quickly rigged up another chod on a third rod and dropped it into that area with another 25 freebies. All the signs looked good, fish bubbling in my area and a nice westerly still blowing into my face, I felt I was in with a good chance so climbed back onto my bedchair and dozed…

At just after 0700 I had a series of beeps on the left had rod and looked up to see the line pulling tight. I was unusually alert and was on the rod quickly, pulling into a heavy fish which heaved the rod tip right over. The fish kited from left to right across my swim, away from the snags and into open water without picking up my other lines. Glancing back to the reedbed I could see a huge cloud of bubbles from where my bait had been cast and another bubble trail leading away from it. By now I’d worked out I was attached to a Carp and it felt pretty heavy. It was under control now, plodding up and down the margins in front of me but unwilling to come up the shelf, which was lucky for me as the margins were a mass of lilies. My old, unfashionable 2.5tc rod had a nice curve and absorbed the lunges of this fish with ease. I’ve had my heart set on catching one of the big Mirrors that inhabit the Marsh so I suppose it was inevitable that it was one of the rarer Commons that surfaced in front of me. The fish rolled and boiled, tantalisingly just out of reach of the net, for several minutes but I eventually managed to drag it over the cord. Get in!!!


I left it in the net while I arranged the mat, set up the camera and tripod then sorted the scales and sling. On lifting the net I was surprised to find it was much heavier than I expected, on the mat lay a big Common Carp! The hook was wedged firmly into the lower lip, it was a great hook hold that wouldn’t have pulled during the fight but came out easily with my fingers. The scales confirmed that not only had I caught my first proper Carp for twenty years, I’d also caught my second PB of this summer! With a bit of thought and planning (thanks Dave!) I managed to shoot a couple of decent photos with the self-timer before I slipped the lovely old Common back into the lake. Bugger me I’d actually caught one!

With the rod recast and a few more boilies pulted on top I settled back onto the bedchair with a big grin. I enjoy challenging fishing so stubborn persistence is probably my best attribute as an angler, I refuse to be beaten and here I finally had my reward.

I was still smiling at 0850 when my long range chod rig literally tore off; before I knew it I had the rod in my hands, fully bent over as I walked backwards steering the fish away from the threat of the snags. This fish wasn’t as heavy as the first and I began to wonder if I’d hooked a big Tench, now that would be a dream brace! Unusually this fish done most of its fighting near the surface and the colour gave it away, it definitely wasn’t a Tench. I soon had this fish in the margins, where like the first it refused to come up the shelf. I eventually netted a strange looking ghostie Common thing. I’m not keen on these ornamental Carp, to me they have no place in ‘natural’ fisheries and I had no idea there were any in this ancient lake. However it had made my heart thump and I enjoyed a tremendous feeling of satisfaction in catching a second Carp from this difficult water. What’s more I felt I was in with a really good chance of catching more.


I spent a lovely day chilling out in the sun, drinking lots of tea (Carpy cliché) whilst listening to TMS, England battling back in the test match with quick wickets after a poor first innings batting. The conditions were still good, bright and breezy with the wind still blowing into my chops. Good conditions for another fish or two? I decided to try something different so wound in the open water chod rig, attached a PVA bag of crushed boilies and whacked it as far into the lake as I could. Meanwhile, back at the test match the Aussies were putting a good partnership together and England were feeling the pressure…

I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon spent chilling out with TMS as company. A Kingfisher zipped around and at one point threatened to perch on my rod before changing course. A family of Grebes were feeding close to my swim, picking off the surface dwelling Rudd which regularly leapt out to avoid the birds. At the other end of the lake two anglers began setting up for the night and away to my right another was trying to feed floaters. The ducks and gulls were making his life very difficult… I was marking time before the sun began to set when I felt my chances of more Carp or Tench would increase.

Shelley arrived in the evening, bringing fish & chip supper with her. With all three rods rigged and ready we sat chatting, putting the world to rights as usual. A fish (Carp or Tench) leapt near the snags and there were plenty of bubblers in the open water but not as much as the previous evening. By the time the sky began to darken all three of my rods had been recast and rebaited and I was completely happy with how I was fishing. The sunset behind the old trees made spectacular patterns of light and dark, then later on we were treated to a big clear sky full of stars. By 2300 it had become quite cool so we both retired to our sleeping bags for the night, Shelley commandeered the bivvy so I moved my bedchair into a little pop up shelter I’ve had for years but rarely use.

I’d hardly settled when I had a twitchy take on the open water rod, I was out of the bag quickly but whatever had caused the commotion was long gone. Around 0245 my left hand rod wouldn’t stop beeping either, as expected a Bream had hooked itself but this one was a lot bigger than the one I’d landed the previous night. Had I been less tired I may well have got the scales and camera out again but it was easier in the circumstances to unhook it in the water and get the rod back out there quickly. I dozed through the rest of the dark hours but was awake just after 0500 to recast the open water and left hand rods as both of these had been tired casts in the dark and I wanted to be certain they were in the right places. The morning was overcast and calm and there were far fewer bubblers in the swim than I would normally expect. Things definitely didn’t look as good as the previous morning so I climbed back into the bag.

I was up again at 0830 by which time there was a brisk wind blowing into the swim once again. With Shelley also stirring it was time to fire up the stove for a much needed cup of tea followed by sausage sarnies for breakfast. The wind kept piling into my swim but by the time breakfast was finished I felt the best chance of a fish had come and gone so began slowly tidying up. A twitchy take on the open water rod interrupted me and I swept the rod back to nothing… or was there? A Roach of about 8ozs came wriggling to the bank and that was my last action of the trip.

So after a gruelling spring and an inconsistent summer I’m very happy to have finally managed to bag myself a big Carp. However I really had my heart set on a big Mirror, no way am I disappointed that it was a Common because it gives me the excuse to keep fishing the Marsh. However the summer is passing by quickly, autumn is around the corner now so that big Mirror might have to wait until next year now. We’ll see.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Click

After a couple of settled weeks; mostly dry, hot and sunny weather we had a couple of overnight storms over the last few days. It rained heavily over Saturday night, the barometer dropped to 1004mb, its lowest level for over a month and the forecast for Sunday morning was dry and cloudy with a fresh south westerly wind. I had a chance for a couple of hours fishing in the early hours, before the children got up and the mayhem would commence. With the forecast conditions it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, provided I could drag myself out of bed that is. 

The alarm sounded just before 0500, I swung out of bed and sat there for a few seconds, should I just get back in for five minutes? No, that would be fatal I trudged through to the kitchen & put the kettle on. By 0530 I was at the far end of the lake with the fresh wind blowing into my face. There were a couple of other anglers present but the area I fancied was free and looked good. I cast a PVA bag rig baited with maize alongside the reed bed to my right then set up a boilie on a chod rig, the intention was to wait for signs of fish then cast to them. I didn’t have long to wait, a decent sized fish rolled off the tree line opposite, that would do nicely. First cast landed short but the second was bang on. This was just out of range for baiting up with the catapult but I fired 10 boilies along the trees leading up to it.

All I had to do now was settle back on my chair, make a brew and wait. A couple more fish rolled in the same area while the tea brewed and patches of bubbles regularly broke surface in the open water. There were definitely fish in the area but I’d been here too many times to get carried away. My thoughts were disturbed by a bite alarm, not mine unfortunately but an angler at the far end was into a fish. Judging by the length of the fight I guessed it was a Tench. I had short tugs on both rods but as I don’t go in for the modern trend of ridiculously slack lines I’m sure these were liners.

I’ve sat behind motionless rods here for so long that when my alarm sounded at 0610 it took a moment to realise what was actually happening, a proper take on the chod rig, before panic took over. I found myself holding a well bent rod with a nice weight plodding away on the other end, meanwhile my heart was racing, arms shaking and my legs were jelly and whatever was on the end was determined to reach the snags. The old and unfashionable 2.5tc Tricast took on a proper curve as I stepped backwards and tried to steer the fish into open water. I succeeded and the fish kited across me towards a bed of lilies but there was no way it was getting in there! I soon had it in the margins and I guessed I had a Tench on the end, this was confirmed when a large, dark paddle slapped the surface. It was a Tench and it was a very nice one indeed! After a couple of nervous moments with marginal lilies I dragged it over the cord, get in!


With the fish resting in the net I got the mat, scales and camera ready quickly. I wasn’t at all disappointed not to have a Carp in the net, I’ll never be disappointed with a Tench! On the mat it was clear this one was bigger than I first thought, long and dark with big fins and even with a spawn free empty belly it added a few ounces to my personal best! I have a tradition of very poor photography with Tench which unfortunately continued with this one too. One last look before slipping her back into the mysterious lake, lovely!



I recast and sat back with renewed confidence, there were other fish still rolling, maybe not Carp but there were heavy swirls from fish I’d be happy to catch. There were also clouds of bubbles breaking surface every now and again in the area too. Noise to my right and the Carper over there was into a fish which he lost in the lilies, he didn’t seem to give a shit so I guess that was a Tench too. Time passed quickly, I was startled by a couple more liners and sat on the edge of my chair hoping a fish would pick my bait up. I didn’t happened and by 0900 the bubbling and rolling had stopped, the kids would be up very soon so time to go.

At last I’ve finally managed to bag a fish on one of these short sessions. The conditions today were about as good as I could hope for but critically there were fish feeding where I expected to find them. Was this a one off, a lucky guess? Or, is this the first of many? Whatever, today things just clicked.  When will I be able to get back to the lake?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Interlude

Where have the last few weeks gone? Summer is well and truly here now and long may it continue but with all the other warm weather distractions I’ve had little time to fish. The Ashes series has arrived with a bang and the thought of another four (nine!) matches like the first test is almost frightening. This match will be compared to 2005 and I’m not sure I could handle another summer like that! There’s lots to do in the summer, lots of time for socialising while the good weather lasts, parties, festivals, pubs…something has to give. 

The easy place just doesn’t interest me at the moment, it’s the Marsh or nothing. No matter how badly I fair I just love the challenge. I’ve managed two recent trips using differing methods at opposite ends of the lake. Both times I felt I was well in with a chance, I had fish in my area but on both occasions I couldn’t tempt them to take my baits. Every time I fish the place I get frustrated by my futile attempts but when I reflect I’m full of ideas for next time. I’m not going to moan about hot weather after the year we’ve had but… from a fishing point of view a brief change to cloud and south westerlies will help. Then it can go back to warm sunshine again. At this stage of the season the lake is quiet and peaceful and it’s a great place to spend my time. I’ll have one of those bloody fish yet!

I have managed to read a couple of good fishing books lately, both written about Carp fishing and both by Dave Lane. I don’t much like the “how to” type writing so Dave Lanes anecdotal style is right up my street, he tells a good tale too, just like Rod Hutchinson did in “The Carp strikes back” a generation ago. His first book covers his earliest fishing and takes us from water to water as he strives, mostly successfully to catch bigger Carp. He eventually finds himself fishing the Colne Valley and much of the book is dedicated to the famous Wraysbury and the equally famous Carp that lived in there.

The second book is called “A Flick of the tail” and this one features Dave fishing many different waters and catching huge Carp from most. The waters and the fish are well known in the Carp world, it’s a shame that Pike anglers aren’t able to write in such clarity. Along the way he dips in and out of fishing a mysterious water known as “The Mere”, for the huge “Black Mirror”. Both the water and the fish become Dave’s nemesis and the final chapter tells of the time when their paths finally cross. I really enjoyed both these books, the stories of trying to track down a handful of big fish in very large waters is similar to the fishing I enjoy, albeit for different species.

Big party plans this weekend so no fishing and I hope the warm dry weather continues a little longer. However the year is zipping past quickly and soon I’ll be looking forward to a bit of this…