Wednesday 19 June 2013

Making the most of summer

Life had caught up with me, I needed a big fix of fresh air, countryside and fishing and I needed it straight away. I arrived at the Marsh later than expected but was pleasantly surprised to find only two other anglers in attendance and ‘my’ area free. By 2000 I was settled in and fishing with two rods, a chod/pop up cast to the trees and a helicopter snowman placed alongside the reeds. An area in between, near a dead tree was baited with 100 boilies and I began the waiting game.

The day had been a mixture of sunshine and cloud with a southerly wind blowing across the swim. As darkness deepened and the bats came out to play a couple of large fish rolled in open water, I was pretty sure at least one was a Carp. Will they move in onto my bait? Should I chuck a zig at it? A Tawny owl announced nightfall and I climbed into the bivvy, what would the night bring?

The answer was nothing, not a beep on the alarms. Even the dawn chorus seemed subdued save from the efforts of the cuckoo. The early morning period passed in a similar vein despite it being bright and breezy with a fresh westerly blowing into the swim. No fish were showing and I had zero confidence, what should I do next? I made a snap decision and moved off the water, baiting up before I left. I may be back…

After a quick pit-stop I was fishing the easy place by 1230. I’d had a brief look around and decided on the 2nd point, despite a few fish rolling in the middle bay. I was banking on Carp moving out of the snags and onto the far bank spot I’d discovered last time. My first cast saw the snowman taken before I’d even put the rod on the rests, the result was a strange, peach coloured ghostie Mirror thing. The rod was soon back on the spot with a dozen or so freebies on top. For my other rod I baited the gap on the left with Hemp/Maize and fished plastic baits on a Chod rig, just for a change and to see what happened.

I added a small PVA bag of crushed boilies to the heli rig every cast and this rod was in action regularly. I had five more takes on this in all, 2 lost 1 aborted and 2 more landed. The spot is definitely a good one and no snag problems from this angle, also the Heli rig is working! The same can’t be said for my Chod rig. I switched between the fake maize/corn and a boilie and received pulls on both but nothing hooked itself. I think I need a heavier lead and a tighter line for it to be effective. Heavy rain came in the afternoon and I took shelter in the car but this became boring. After 4 hours fishing I’d had enough so braved the rain and bundled everything in the car. This quick fix had only produced small fish but had been worthwhile as I’d learnt plenty.

After another pit stop I planned my return to the lake with mixed feelings. I still want to catch one of those big Mirrors but in reality time is running out. I’ll have even less time when summer gets into full swing and I’m losing motivation for fishing the place. The fishing is hard, however I approach it and for whatever species I’m fishing for. Sitting behind motionless indicators just isn’t interesting enough for me. Up until this weekend it has been very busy which spoils things too. Maybe the truth is I’m not just up to the challenge, perhaps I need to go away and remind myself of all the things I’ve forgotten about before I take on the challenge again? However, just one more trip…

I needed a total change of scenery so ignored “My area” and fished the other end, on the right hand side. My view was a scenic little lily fringed bay that screams Carp. Opposite me a row of overhanging trees then further to the right Norfolk reeds, more lilies and trees on a rarely trodden bank. It was to this area that I cast my left hand rod, rigged with a chod and pop up. No freebies necessary as this area had been baited lightly this morning. For my other rod I had plenty of options but elected to drop a helicopter/snowman rig to a gap between the lilies and the tree. Here I catapulted about 25 boilies. By now the rainstorm was long gone and I was treated to a calm, sunny evening, however an ominous cloud had me scrambling to set the bivvy up double quick, though in the end it wasn’t necessary. With my dodgy eyesight it took a few casts to get the rigs where I wanted them but by 1945 I was happy, settled and prepared to wait.

Half an hour later movement on the surface had me setting up another rod. I couldn’t be sure what species was responsible but it had to be worth putting a Zig out just in case… A few minutes later ‘something’ rolled close to my right hand rod, the signs were good. Shelley joined me for an evening of chilling by the water, for once we had a thoroughly pleasant evening for it. We were treated to the usual birdsong and aerobatics but no action on the rods. Just after 2300 Shelley went home, I wound in the zig and climbed into the kip bag, come on fish!

As usual I awoke at regular intervals throughout the night and in the early morning but sadly I wasn’t woken by fish.

I was up and at ‘em by 0600 but there seemed to be little showing. As the morning wore on the usual bubbling took place around this silty bay. Over the years casting to these has proven fruitless but I couldn’t resist dropping a spare rod into the area, this time baited with fake Corn. This got the expected result. I felt I should have caught something on the rod cast to the tree and couldn’t resist checking my helicopter rig, surely it must have tangled? No it was fine and the bait still smelt good but obviously none of it had been good enough for the fish.

Shelley returned and I fried our breakfast then slowly tidied up. Something heavy swirled in the pads so the bonus rod was wound in and the zig deployed in hope not expectation. By 1030 all was tidied and the fish had defeated me again. However I had enjoyed this trip and I’m definitely not done with the place yet! My grand plan has not put a fish in the net but I still feel positive that with a change of approach I can make something happen.

It just happened to be father’s day so Madi and Isaac made a picnic and the three of us headed off for a walk into the beautiful Suffolk countryside. We went up and down hills, through fields, copses and woods along paths we’d never trod before. The picnic went down well and we rested on the edge of a wood on top of a hill before meandering our way home where I stretched out on the settee and the children kept me awake with pleasant chattering until it was time to go back to their mum’s. It was a lovely afternoon.

My Dad was always a reluctant angler, his only reason for going was to keep me happy but I think he enjoyed himself once we got there. I hadn’t planned another fishing trip but it was father’s day and my dad hadn’t caught a Carp for about thirty years and with the good weather holding, tonight was an ideal opportunity. Along with Shelley we headed for the piranha pool, nothing too challenging tonight. I fed mixers and set up a couple of floater rods then dropped a boilie down the edge for myself.

The Carp eagerly slurped at the floaters but were shy of the hookbaits to begin with but after a bit of experimenting with baits and a dip in some flavour things clicked. However the first take came to the boilie rod only minutes after dropping it in and this turned out to be the biggest Carp I’ve caught from this pool so far. Another funny ghostie thing was held up for the camera. The next fish came to this rod too but eventually it was Dad’s turn and he soon had his first fish for many years in the net, without even getting out of his chair. After that we hooked fish regularly on the floaters, finishing with about a dozen between us, Shelley catching the most.

I crammed a lot into this weekend, lots of time spent in the countryside with people I love and some much needed solitary time too. I managed to catch a few fish but still no sign of the one I really want. It’s time to do things a little differently.

Sunday 9 June 2013

More of the same

A day in London saw me ending up totally stir crazy but Sunday came around and I had time for a few hours at a lake, but which lake? I ended up driving to the easy place on a hot sunny afternoon, praying there wouldn’t be too many cars parked up. Thankfully there wasn’t. I headed for the oldest lake, which holds the bigger fish, apparently. Three anglers were pole fishing close to the first car park but my favourite area was completely free and I had plenty of choice. I heard one of them complain "Here comes the method feeder brigade..." as I walked past, not sure what that means?  I walked around and found fish quickly, plenty in the middle bay and a few in the end bay. I opted to fish the channel connecting the two with a couple of snowman rigs to the marginal trees while I fed a few floaters. After an hour I was fishless so could no longer ignore the large group of fish in the snags to my right, time for a move.

The fish soon began responding to the floaters I was feeding, there were one or two bigger ones amongst the group too. Meanwhile I dropped a snowman rig along the margin to my right with about a dozen freebies chucked on top. At first the Carp slurped down the floaters eagerly and I was soon into a decent fish, a nice Common wallowed around and allowed me to draw it into the net. My best fish of the season so far for sure so out came the scales but it was not as heavy as I expected. Another slightly smaller common soon followed but then the fish became more wary. I switched to using a pop up boilie as bait so I could cast further which got me a couple more fish including a nice Mirror but ducks interrupted my feeding and the bigger fish that were beginning to look very catchable drifted away.

The boilie rod had remained untouched to begin with so I moved it to a clear area on the far bank, hoping fish would drift along out of the snags. I was feeding the first of a dozen free boilies when the bait was taken almost straight away but I lost a small fish. Takes came fairly regularly on this spot but angles and snags saw me losing a couple more through hook pulls it really was hit and hold stuff. Eventually I landed one which freed itself from a snag after putting the rod back on the rests and waiting. I moved the bait to the right a bit more and managed to land a couple more by giving myself a bit more free water to play with. After each take I fed 10 or so more boilies. Eventually with the floater fishing drying up I moved back to my original swim as this gave me a better angle to land fish off this spot and it worked with one more fish. I packed up with 7 Carp in as many hours, good fun and plenty learnt. 

After my quick fix at the easy place it was back to the hard water for another short evening trip tonight. Once again I settled into the quiet area after a warm sunny day to find the breeze blowing into my face. As usual I cast a snowman heli rig to the reeds and baited the area with about 30 frees. For my other rod I changed tactics and fished a Zig rig a foot down. I was settled and chilling by 1845.

At 1925 I had a twitchy pull on the reedbed rod and as I hadn’t had anything like this so far this season I struck in desperation. Probably a liner… I recast with another dozen freebies then the same rod ripped of an hour later. A proper take this time but it had stopped before I reached the rod. Was the lead too light? Probably not as the Baitrunner should have negated that. A positive sign at last, my methods and bait will work! I baited up with another dozen boilies, just in case. A little after nine I noticed a patch of bubbles in the open water off the reeds so wound in the Zig rig and replaced it with a chod and a dozen more frees scattered over the area. Rudd swirled at dusk and something larger rolled near the reeds but no more fishy pulls. I packed up as the first bats arrived at 2145, hopefully there’ll be time for another go at the weekend.

For once my run of good fate continued and with Isi for company I arrived at the lake to find my preferred swim available. I took my time setting up and we were settled by 2000. I had no doubts about tactics either, my usual helicopter/snowman rig received the addition of a small PVA mesh bag filled with crushed boilies and a couple of pieces of dissolving foam into which I pushed the hook. I was hoping this would help my hookbait land cleanly. I was happy with my first cast so I scattered about 40 boilies over this area and the first part of plan A was ready for the night. My second rod took rather longer as I kept buggering up the cast but I eventually settled for one of many that fell just slightly short. This was a Chod rig and pop up as I couldn’t be sure of what would lay below the water here. I had intended to bait this area up from the adjacent bank but my lively ten year old needed distracting with his float and maggot set up. By the time all was ready there were a group of anglers socialising within sight and I didn’t want to draw too much attention to what I was doing. In the end my hookbait was the only food in the area. Fish were splashing in the snaggy area beside me, were they spawning? Were they Tench or Carp? I hoped not.

The day had been warm and bright with a North Easterly wind which didn’t abate and the temperature began to drop. The evening passed quickly with me setting up camp and Isaac catching a Rudd every chuck. It was nice to see him doing it pretty much all himself, baiting up and unhooking his own fish. We heard a Cuckoo from time to time as well as the laughing Woodpeckers. Rather less welcome were the Swans swimming into our lines. Isi got bored with catching Rudd and demanded food so the stove was fired up and sausages soon sizzled. With the whip out of the way I baited the margin area with hemp  & maize  then plopped a pop up rig baited with plastic onto the spot. The Bats were out by the time we’d eaten so with a hot dinner and a mug of tea in his belly Isaac retired to his bedchair in the bivvy and I settled into mine out under the stars. 

I took a while for me to drift into slumber land, I ran things through my head and for some reason I was confident I’d got things right, I was confident things would happen tonight. The sky darkened for a while and then began to lighten but save from a couple of beeps to each of the boilie rods, nothing occurred. I was out of the bag for a slash at 0530 but felt the cold so climbed back in and drifted back to sleep.

At 0725 a series of beeps on the chod rig found me out of the bag with bleary eyes, what was going on? A couple more beeps to the same rod, ‘that has to be a fish?’ I staggered over and wound down, fish on! Something plodded on the long line and didn’t want to come in. All went solid but I kept the pressure on and walked backwards…the line freed suddenly and I had to gain line quickly, something was plodding on the end again, then went solid for a second time. I tried to keep pressure on…then everything went slack, the short hooklength had parted.

We left the lake an hour later after a hasty fried breakfast. Isaac caught a few more Rudd while I tidied things away and that was that. On winding in the reedbed rod I found the bait and hair wrapped round the back of the hook and tangled, no chance there! Live and learn. Despite the fish loss I felt upbeat, two consecutive trips where I’ve had takes so I’m getting things right. Best of all I’m learning from my mistakes, back at home I fine-tuned my leaders, getting everything spot on as opposed to ‘that’ll do’. Then after a trip back to work for supplies I tied up new rigs with bigger hooks and stronger breaking strain hook lengths. I’m relearning stuff I’d long forgotten about all aspects of Carp fishing and the next time I fish I’ll be better prepared. Hopefully that will be soon!