Sunday, 29 July 2007

Carp Fishing - Session Update 28/07/07

Well after finally managing to catch a carp last weekend it's back to business as usual for this week with another blank.
This weeks carp fishing session was a grueller, there was a stiff northerly wind blowing into the shallows and spotting carp wasn't easy, in fact I didn't actually see a fish until the wind dropped off in the evening.
Things looked promising early on, I covered the same area I caught from last weekend assuming the carp would visit the area at some time in the day, after all, the area was what I consider a natural hotspot, an area the carp would visit often in search of food. Conditions were very similar to last weekend, the only difference was the wind being a bit stronger. 10 minutes after casting out the left hand rod was away with a full blooded run, I hit it and played the fish in, for some unknown reason it just didn't register that it might not be a carp. The fish came in easily and I assumed it was swimming towards me. Once under the rod tip I gingerly applied a bit more pressure to the fish and up popped a small bream about 3lb in weight, not quite what I was after really!. I unhooked the fish in the water to avoid getting my landing net slimey and it swam off strongly none the worse for its quick trip to the bank.
The day passed slowly after the bream, nothing showed so it was just a case of sitting tight and waiting for the carp to give their presence away. At around 7pm the wind dropped a little and I began to notice the odd carp showing and bubbling, sadly, they weren't quite in the area I was fishing although I could cover them with a bait as the swims either side of me were empty. I shuffled the rods around a bit for the last few hours, just dropping stringers where the carp were showing but this week my efforts were in vain, these particular carp are well fished for and everytime a lead landed on them they would move away from the disturbance. This game of 'cat and mouse' went on for the rest of my session with me dropping baits in the area the carp showed and the carp moving away from the area. Unfortunately short session carp fishing doesn't allow you time to wait for the carp to come to you, you have to get your baits in front of the fish, last week it worked for me and I caught one, this week the carp just weren't in the mood. Eventually, the rain began to set in, Rather than get wet I called it a day half an hour early and collected another blank for my ever growing collection.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Carp Fishing - Day Session

Carp fishing in the north west is hard work, some of the big carp waters up here have low stocks of fish that come under a lot of pressure. It's difficult enough actually getting on fish in the first place, especially if you're a weekend angler like me!.
Up until yesterday I'd been without a carp since the first week in may, it's late july as I write this and the last two and a half months has been a complete blank. Turning up last on friday doesn't help get a decent swim and sitting out my valuable time in a poor area with no carp is just demoralising. Despite not being able to get near the fish I've stuck it out in the hope a wind change will bring the fish into my swim or a lone carp might come accross my bait but it's very rare for this to happen on our tough north west meres.

There comes a time when you have to stop and take stock of what you're doing and I've reached that stage, the weather has been poor for weeks now and my carp fishing has suffered. I just couldn't face another blank night in the rain so I opted for a 'runs water' and some short day session carping on saturday.

My last carp back in early may, one of the stockies at 16.12

The lake I chose to fish was a decent size at around 16 acres, there's always going to be room to move and with plenty of carp in there I was always going to be in with a chance of catching. I had a walk round the lake and found carp showing in a couple of areas. As I knew the lake well I figured the shallow end would offer me a good chance of a fish. There was a gentle northerly wind pushing into the shallows and occaisionally a carp would push it's nose up to be followed by some profuse bubbling.
I got myself set up and placed a pva mesh stringer and a single pop-up in the area I'd seen carp showing. Once again the rain moved in and for a couple of hours in the afternoon I was stuck under the brolly watching it bounce off the floor, not exactly enjoyable weather to be carp fishing in but at least I had a couple of baits in the same area as the fish for once!.
At just on 5pm as the rain got lighter the right hand rod top knocked and the line tightened up then fell slack again, I knew the scenario well, I'd just been done by one of the cute carp that inhabit the lake. I recast to the same area but over the next half an hour it was obvious by the carp shows that they were moving out of the shallow area I was in and back towards the centre of the lake. I'd been watching one particular area and carp after carp had showed for over an hour prior to my aborted take, as the wind dropped off I noticed that this particular area they were in was absolutely fizzing!. I only had one choice and that was to move, I packed the gear away from under my stealth brolly as best I could then got wet doing the rest. It didn't take long to install myself in a new swim, the fish were pretty much on the edge of my casting range but reachable with a good cast, again I opted for a stringer on one rod and a single pop-up on the other, both cast to the same area which seemed to be full of carp!.
After casting the rods out I settled down and sorted the rest of my gear, by now it had stopped raining so I left the brolly down in order to be able to see more of the water. The rods had been out for perhaps half an hour when the stringer rod ripped off without warning, I can't tell you how happy I was to see my baitrunner going into meltdown again after so many blanks!. I was on it in a flash and an uneventful fight followed, I had a bed of pads down to the right but some side strain on the way in prevented any potential problems and after 5 minutes or so I slipped the net under my first carp in two and a half months, a common that went 13lb exactly, not a massive fish but when you've been biteless for so long it's just the tonic!.

First fish for two and a half months, not massive at 13lb but most welcome!

The area was still fizzing so after a quick photo I slipped the fish back and recast another stringer to the area, carp continued to show and bubble, one big fish in particular kept crashing out of the water whilst others around it rolled and bubbled but despite them being very active I never received any more action, had I stayed on after dark I'm sure there would have been more action but time run out on this occasion, I wasn't complaining, a carp on the bank is just what I needed to get some confidence back.

Tight Lines

Monday, 16 July 2007

Carp Baits - Chick Peas

Chick Peas are very much a favourite carp bait of mine these days. They have made a good change bait from the usual boilies, maize or tiger nuts that I've been using for a long time.

For preparation I soak my chick peas in cold water for at least 24 hours then I boil them for around 20 minutes in order to make them softer, this process also kills off the seed and prevents the chick peas from sprouting. Its important to soak and boil them as dry chick peas expand a lot when they are put in water and a bait that's not been soaked and boiled properly could be dangerous to the fish so its vital they are prepared correctly.

Preparing Chickpeas for Carp Fishing, click to watch

Chick Peas...carp love them!

Chick peas take both flavour and colour very well although I never really bother doing this myself as they work very well in their natural form. I like the fact that they are very visible in the first place and to be honest, I don't see the point in spending money on flavours or colours when it's just not necessary, the carp bait companies might think its a great idea to shift some additives but chick peas really are a superb bait just as they are and theres little point in making things more expensive, carp fishing costs enough as it is!

Presentation wise, I like to fish my chick peas snowman style, rather than fish two of them on a hair I use an Enterprise fake dog biscuit as the top bait. I trim the fake biscuit down with a knife so that it looks just like a chick pea, the cut down fake biscuit is similar in colour to a chick pea and being a pop-up it makes for a superb 'balanced' presentation. The picture below shows my simple knotless knot presentation.

Snowman chick pea rig, a well balanced presentation!

Using a cut down fake dog biscuit also helps keep the bait on the hair, chick peas are quite a soft bait, generally they stay on the hair but sometimes they can be soft enough to come off on a stiff cast, or they may come off when winding in giving the impression you've been fishing without a bait, the fake enterprise dog biscuit prevents this and acts as a buffer for the real pea underneath. I've used this presentation to very good effect when fishing single hookbaits at long range, in fact the picture of the mirror accompanying this piece was caught at 120 yards plus on a single hookbait snowman presentation.

Chick peas are an extremely under rated bait for carp fishing, I've taken them onto some of our most pressured cheshire and shropshire carp lakes and they have never let me down. They make a very good and very cheap alternative to the standard boilie approach that the majority of carp anglers use these days, the only real draw backs with them are that you can't fish them much further than 30 yds without spodding due to their size and weight, and they are not what you would call 'small fish proof'. If your water has a large head of tench and bream and you're targetting carp then chick peas might not be the right choice of bait. If theres no problems with tench and bream on your water then I'd give chick peas a go because the carp love them.

A stunning 23.08 cheshire mirror in full winter colour, caught on the single/snowman chick pea presentation above.

Tight Lines

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Carp Fishing - Linear Fisheries

I've been travelling down to Linear Fisheries Oxfordshire waters since 1996,making sure to pay at least a couple of visits every year. Back in the late 90's there was no Brasenose or Oxlease, for me, these overstocked waters are strictly for the 'Argos Carpers' and they are not waters I'd visit myself.
Its Manor, Hardwick and St Johns that hold my interest, all contain the kind of fish you travel all that way for in the first place so I concentrate on these three waters and forget about the rest.

St Johns mirror caught one Sunday afternoon, nearly everyone has gone home and the nearest angler is on the road bank at the opposite end of the lake!.

The first thing I would recommend when going to Linear, is to fish midweek, as it gets really busy at the weekends, I reckon the perfect arrival time is about 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, this is because most people have left, or are just packing up. I've lost count of the number of times I have arrived to find both Manor and Hardwick empty at this time!.
My approach on arriving at Linear, is to spend some time walking around the lakes. Naturally, I'll start on Manor first, this is because it contains the most 30's and the largest fish so finding fish on here is first priority. If I fail to locate any fish, rather than just guessing, I will look at the next best option, which is Hardwick, this contains the next largest/most 30's. If a good walk around those two lakes doesn't reveal any carp then I will move onto St Johns and carry on looking. It's very rare to get around all three of these lakes without finding some carp tucked away in a corner somewhere. If I find fish on Manor, I will set up straightaway, however, if I locate fish on Hardwick or St johns, I will make a note of where they are, then leave them be for a while, this is so I can re-trace my steps back to Manor, and see if there is anything that's been missed. Basically, I'm looking for the largest fish I can find on any of the three waters.
Should I get on the fish and they move then I'll move with them, if this isn't possible then I'll take a look at the other lakes to try and locate some more fish. This tactic has paid dividends a few times when I've moved from one lake to another in mid session and had a result. It pays to keep an open mind about which lake to fish, by deciding on the day, based on where the fish are, you will find more success than picking a particular lake/area before you even arrive.

Hardwick 30 caught after a night on Manor, the fish moved off on Manor and I found fish close in on Hardwick and moved lakes, this 31lb 2oz mirror was the reward for my effort.

On the location theme, Linear fish are known to follow the wind, if they are not directly on the end of it, they will almost certainly be in the windward half of the lake somewhere. It's basic good practice to check out the windy end of the lakes first, yet so many people just don't seem to bother!.
Once found, the carp are not too hard to catch if you use a cautious approach and be a little bit different. My favorite tactic is the single hookbait or a very light scattering of bait fished to showing fish. By not baiting up heavily, or using a spod, I don't risk spooking the fish and I get my bait right amongst fish that are feeding. Believe me, it doesn't take them long to find a single hookbait. Should the fish decide to move, its just a matter of moving with them, if you have a large bed of bait down you can be reluctant to move off it, even if the fish are showing somewhere else. Theres also the fact that most Linear anglers turn up and spod for England, often ruining their chances of a fish before they've got their hookbaits out!, I personally only give them a lot of bait if they actually look like they are up for a big feed and thats not very often.

Stunning 22+ Fully Scaled Mirror, I went round all 3 lakes twice before I found the fish on Hardwick!.

On the bait side of things, it seems that most people seem to spod a mixture of particles and pellets, then fish boilies or maize over the top. I'm not a fan of spodding on top of pressured fish so I just fish either maize, a tiger nut or a boilie over a light scattering of bait, or use a single hookbait if I can't bait up quietly with a catty.
The old saying 'it's better to spend one hour in the right spot than a whole day in the wrong one' is the theory behind my approach, not just on Linear's waters, but everywhere else too. The key to catching on Linear's waters is to keep your eyes open and be prepared to move when it's necessary, don't put all your eggs in one basket regarding which lake you fish and how much bait you put in. If you just turn up and go through the motions, you're more than likely going to be sitting there watching somebody else catch, work at it and stay on the fish and sooner or later they'll make a mistake and it's usually sooner!.

A big Hardwick 20 that came as part of a six fish catch after moving twice to keep on them.

Tight Lines

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