Tuesday 23 April 2013

Back to reality

Almost a month later than planned I found myself walking the banks of the Marsh for my first look at trying to catch a Carp from this mysterious lake. I arrived at around 1000 and spent an hour watching the water and casting a plumb rod around, trying to refresh my memory on depths and the bottom make up of a few swims. For once we had dry, bright, sunny weather which had brought a few anglers out but thankfully none were in the areas I fancied. I had a plan you see…famous last words!

Today the wind swung back to another ‘orrible Easterly so I wanted to fish on the back of this cold wind. In theory the afternoon sun should warm this end of the lake too. The forecast was for a cool night then the wind would swing to a South westerly tomorrow morning, which should in theory, also see the Carp moving around at this end of the lake. The fish rarely give any visual clues on this water so my little theory was all I had to go on. Unfortunately I had to leave the lake for a couple of hours work, would the swims still be free when I returned?

The answer was yes! By 1430 I had a couple of rods fishing over a nice scattering of boilies, a helicopter/snowman rig was cast to an overhanging tree while a pop up on a chod fished alongside a reedbed. I considered fishing a Zig rig but discovered I’d left some of the vital components at home, oh well another time. I then had nothing else to do but sit back in the warm afternoon and enjoy chilling out and watching the water. Despite my lack of success on this lake over the years I still really felt I was in with a chance today, we’ll see. I’ve decided to try leaving my baited rigs in place for much longer periods of time this year. Being a Pike angler at heart I’m used to recasting fairly often to search the water so I struggle with sitting on my hands. I’m thinking I might need to adopt a bit more of a stealthy approach this year, maybe casting too often with heavy leads could spook wary fish.

It was a nice change to be sitting in the sun which seemed hotter than forecast, sheltered from the cool wind my end of the lake was flat calm. Despite the spring weather the lake is still wearing its winter colours, the rushes are beginning to push new green shoots through but the beds of Norfolk reed are still in winter beige. I had a radio with me, no cricket this time but Town got an away point which was good in the circumstances. My eyes grew heavy after a while and I could easily have drifted off to sleep but I was determined to watch the water for clues. The reed stems beside me were knocking regularly as fish brushed through them but they looked to me like small fish, not the bigger Carp or Tench I was after.

At around 1900 I recast both rods and topped the bait up ready for the night. Both rigs landed bang on where I wanted them which doesn’t happen often. Lines were pinned to the deck with back leads, indictors turned up, landing net and unhooking mat ready. All I needed was a fish. As the sun set the skeleton trees were silhouetted against an orange glow, reflected in the calm water, loads of silver fish topped all over the lake, a pheasant called in the wood, song birds called goodnight and the night’s first bats swooped low. It was lovely-you should have been there. Everything looked great but I hadn’t had a bleep so what was I doing wrong? If I consulted the Carpy magazines I might deduce that I hadn’t drunk enough tea or ear-bashed the other anglers enough. Perhaps my rod rests were too far apart and maybe I should have folded my reel handles? Actually I’d made great effort in ensuring absolutely nothing in my set up matched.

By 2130 the temperature had dropped dramatically, in fact it was becoming bloody cold. A half-moon cast shadows and the sky was riddled with stars. It all looked too beautiful but I was cold so climbed into my kip bag. It had grown so cold that it was hard to believe I would be disturbed by a fish tonight. Normally I’d feel confident at first light but will it get warm enough quick enough? I crawled out of my kip bag to relieve my old man’s bladder around 0330 to discover a heavy covering of frost on all of my kit, bugger this back in the bag! It was the same story at 0630 when I next peered out of the bivvy door, not what I wanted or needed. I decided to trust my rigs and baits a little longer.

At 0900 I was sitting with a cup of tea, the wind had swung to a south westerly and the day was warming up but I knew my best chance of a fish had come and gone. I felt I’d done the right things fishing wise but had the cold night ruined my chances? Nearly all of my overnight sessions have ended like this which suggests I’m doing something very wrong. I need to start thinking ahead and doing things a little differently. I left the lake a little after 1030 but I’ll be back. 

After a few hours in the garden the lovely lady and I decided that as we didn’t want to do anything other than chill out for the rest of the day then we might as well do it by a lake somewhere. After last night’s blank I decided I wanted to see a bend in the rod so we drove to the easy place. A few handfuls of mixers soon had the Carp in Piranha mode and it wasn’t long before we were both into fish. It was fun for a while but once again the sun hid itself and the temperature dropped making things uncomfortable. We packed up early and headed home. This quick fix didn’t do the trick, I won’t catch the fish I’m after here so I have to knuckle down…

Thursday 18 April 2013

Spring at last!

For the first time this year we were treated to warm spring sunshine and it was too good an opportunity to miss. Isaac took a lot of persuading to get out of bed but very little coaxing to have couple of hours fishing. We arrived at the ‘Puddle’ a little after midday, all set to hammer the Carp on floaters. Warm weather and sunshine make life, and fishing, so much easier but we hadn’t bargained for the wind which was much stronger than forecast. Our first two choices of swim were already taken so we ended up fishing a new spot which had the wind blowing from left to right. With this in mind I began feeding floating pellets upwind of our swim, knowing the waves would carry them towards us. Usually there is an instant response but today it took a while to get a few fish moving and taking our freebies.

With the strong wind Isaac struggled to get his freelined bait out whilst avoiding the trees behind us, more lessons we all have to learn but I did help him a little today. It took a while to get fish taking floaters in front of us but by feeding little and often one or two fish obliged. Isaac was first to hook up and despite being a little rusty with playing fish he soon had a small common in the net, shortly followed by a second fish which was slightly bigger.

It seems the actions of a couple of fish feeding attract others and in time there were several fish moving into our swim, slurping down a few floaters, then moving off. A few minutes later this group of fish would circle into our swim again. I hooked the next fish and at this point Isaac’s competitive streak reared its head, with a cheeky grin he refused to hand me the landing net! I managed without help and netted the biggest fish of the day so far. We continued feeding little and often, the Carp continued to move in and out of our swim but bites did not come regularly, Isaac managed to catch a couple more and I added another to my tally. After a couple of hours we’d had enough, I’d caught the biggest fish but Isaac claimed victory with the most. It had not been as prolific as we’d come to expect but we’d enjoyed ourselves and I was very pleased to see Isaac playing his fish with confidence. I hope this is the first of many such trips this year.

The following day I was back, this time with Shelley for company. The weather was still pleasant and spring like so enjoying some comfortable time outdoors is still a novelty that we couldn’t pass up. The wind had dropped since the day before, we settled into a quiet corner and I began to chuck a few floaters in. As usual it didn’t take too long before Carp homed in on the food and as usual the action of fish feeding soon attracted others to join in. We caught fish regularly, mostly Commons which looked under nourished and sadly many had mouth damage from previous captures but Shelley caught a little Mirror that was absolutely mint.

We moved on to another lake where the fish are fewer but hopefully bigger. There were few Carp moving here but we found a sheltered, likely looking spot and settled back in comfortable chairs with mugs of hot tea. We spent the rest of the evening chatting and watching the birdlife. Blackbirds were busy in the bushes and a Woodpecker made an appearance opposite us, departing before we could get our cameras ready. Crows cawed in the trees and somewhere out of sight the Pheasants were making a right old racket, it was good to be out in the countryside. The fishing didn’t seem to matter but I did manage another small Common. Spring has been a long time coming which makes us even more determined to enjoy it while it’s here! The sun began to sink and the year’s first bats took to the air, we fished on until it was too dark to see then happily headed for home. 

I've well and truly shaken off the Carpy cobwebs, now for something more challenging.

Wednesday 10 April 2013


At last the temperature is beginning to creep up and it’s even getting to the stage where I might start thinking about believing spring really is around the corner.  The lazy wind is still stuck firmly in the east though, still blowing straight through us.  Despite this I was becoming desperate to wet a line as I hadn’t managed to fit a trip in for weeks, when I’ve had the time I haven’t had the inclination, due mainly to the shitty weather.  So a few weeks later than scheduled my spring season finally started with a short trip after work.

I decided some time ago to have a crack at catching a decent Carp this spring.  Yes I know Carp and Carp anglers are usually the butt of a little piss taking from this direction but I haven’t caught a proper Carp for nearly twenty years and it’s time I put that right.  I have two waters in mind, one easy the other more challenging, tonight I picked the former as I just wanted to see the indicators flying and a bend in the rod to help me get back into the swing of things.  I pulled into the car park at around six thirty and was pleased to find I had the whole place to myself.
One of the basic principles of angling is to first locate the fish you’re trying to catch.  Often this is done through experience based on the conditions amongst other things but with Carp, probably more than any other fish, this can often be done visually.  Tonight was a classic example, it didn’t take very long before I saw a couple of bow waves under some overhanging trees and my choice of swim was made.  The next principle of fishing is to present these fish with something they like to eat, preferably remaining undetected whilst doing so.  Two snowman rigs were under-armed into position with a dozen or so freebies thrown around each one.  I didn’t want to put too much bait out as this is a mistake I probably make more than any other and the water is still pretty cold, in theory the fish won’t be eating much.  Bait was some boilies from Crafty Catcher which are brand new on the market this spring.  With everything set up all I had to do was make a brew and chill out.

Literally five minutes after starting my right hand rod was away and I found myself attached to my first Carp of the season which fought hard in the shallow water.  Unlike most real Carp anglers I like to bend my rods so it didn’t take too long to get this fish in the net, a nice plump Common of above average size for the water but not big enough to get a real Carp angler excited.  The hook hold was in the middle of the bottom jaw (is that the right terminology?) which I’m led to believe is exactly where it should be, there is a Carpy cliché for this but I refuse to use it!  I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, everything had gone to plan just like clockwork.  The only dampener was damage to the Carp’s tail and a few other scratches which suggested a close encounter with an otter at some point.
It had been cloudy all day and rain had been forecast but only now in the fading light did it arrive, just a little drizzle, not worth bothering with the shelter.  For a while Carp continued to move in my swim but as the light faded these became less frequent and I scanned the water wondering if it was worth moving.  An hour had passed by then but my mind was made up when the same rod rattled off and another Carp was hooked.  This one was smaller and soon in the net; a plump, humpbacked ghostie looking thing which like the first was hooked perfectly in the bottom of the mouth.  Out went the rig again with another handful of freebies.  I decided to check the left hand rod and found a bit of rotting leaf attached to the hook, was this the reason nothing had happened on this one?  Note to self, put some dissolving foam in the bag next time out, I’m learning.

Another hour passed, it got properly dark and the drizzle kept coming and going.  To really relax when fishing after dark I have to be well organised and comfortable, to be honest I was neither.  I’d achieved what I set out to do, so decided enough was enough, time to pack up and head for home.  Things  won’t always be so easy this spring, that’s for certain!

In the past I’ve been highly critical of one of the local angling clubs in my area. Like the post here for example; http://fishingsgreat.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/nostalgia.html
The ‘Gipping Angling Preservation Society’ was the first fishing club I ever joined and I spent most of my youth fishing this club’s waters but this club has always been at least a decade behind the times and I’ve only been a member for two of the last twenty seasons.  I’m happy to report that there has been a major change in the personnel running this club and I have high hopes it will become an organisation worth joining once again.  There’ll be more news on this as the weeks pass, watch this space…